Since I've become a working woman, I've replaced sneakers with pointed pumps, backpacks to briefcases ( ok, purses but alliteration got the best of me) and my old coffee shops with happy hours. The last one was my hardest goodbye but my new life of nine to five does not support an evening caffeine binge and thus I defected, becoming a happy hour regular.
I spend most of my time in the Downtown Gables area, or the south eastern part of Miami, FL and proudly became a familiar face at most of the local eateries. Back in the days of frequenting cafes, I designated certain spots for studying, meeting friends and anything in between; in the same spirit, I have assigned an importance to the frequented bars, restaurants and cafes that have turned 5 o'clock into 5o'time-to-clock-out with a slider in one hand and a wine glass in the other.
So without further ado, here are my 5 at 5 (o'clock) Gables Go Tos (from calm and casual to lively and trendy).
Grazianos Market (M-F 4-8 PM) $
A versatile choice, Graziano's Market is a spacious, multi-purpose eatery that has food ranging from small South American sweets to full meals but from 4 - 8 PM, it is a carnivore's paradise. For $9.99, you can choose from a burger ( with or without egg), choripan (delicious chorizo wrapped in french bread -- a favorite of mine) or two empanadas, accompanied by a glass of house wine or beer. Having tried all three, I believe that all choices satisfy. There's no pressure at Graziano's, with many splitting a bottle of wine and lingering in good company. It is my happy hour go to when I need somewhere to focus on some work ( yes, they have wifi!) to enjoy a bite over good conversation without pretension.
Ortanique (M-F 5-7 PM) $$$
Only having tried Ortanique for the first time last week, the Miracle mile mainstay made my night( and list!). Having a happy hour pricing on bites and drinks, Ortanique sports a lengthy wine list with $4 off all wines and cocktails, and a smaller list of the snacks, which go for $8 a small plate; their Caribbean island flavors are not lost on this menu. The ambiance is that of an older, upscale Coral Gables restaurant; if you're looking for a crowd, this is not the place. With calm chatter surrounding you, it is a spot for a low key night.
Recommendations: Jerk Chicken Quesadillas and a glass of Bordeaux
The Local (M-F 5-7 PM) $$
True to its namesake, it is frequented by locals looking for a sweet spot to enjoy a Giralda sunset. While less price- conscious, the quality of food is never amiss at the Local. With charcuterie, salads and burgers, the artful menu has a plate for everyone -- the one on a diet, the meat eater and the one who can blind taste test the cheese and preserves combo with their pinot pairing ( yes, I am the latter). Anyway, while their menu is satisfying, none of it is on happy hour. The Local is a clear choice when I want quality creations with a few glasses of wine or a cocktail, which are offered half off, as is their entire adult beverage list. After your hard day has brought you to a treat yourself mentality, you will feel rewarded after the experience.
Recommended: Their ever-changing cheese & charcuterie platter paired with a delicious Albariño
Copper 29 (M-F 5-8 PM with Wednesday Ladies Night!) $
Unlike the nocturnal Saturday scene you may know Copper to have, their happy hour is a few notches calmer and easier on the wallet. With a handful of bar bites and sips that range from $7-9, you have plenty to munch on and subside the buzz you caught from a few of their Passion Martinis (that and their half-off wine list!). In no time, you'll be swaying to the music and maybe even gain confidence enough to join some of the crowd that is already gathering around the bar. While earlier in the week there tends to be a tamer atmosphere, this space gets increasingly exuberant. This is a spot for someone who is looking to have a lively night without missing work the next morning!
Recommendations: The Truffle Mac & Cheese and Buffalo Chicken Flatbread
& last, my most favorite and apparently least photographed:
Bulla (M-F 5-7 PM) $$
BOO-YAH! I've found the place to be on a Friday night and their tapas will have you coming back every other day of the week. More akin to Copper, sans the dim lighting, the happy hour is one of the most popular in the area, with half off sips, bottles and pitchers (no food, unfortunately)! Usually, I skip the packed bar and ask for a high top table, since they honor happy hour at their tables. Bulla is a high-spirited space during the early evening and is my go-to for a few drinks and conversation. Without explanation, the Spanish-styled space encourages you to come in your best skirt or slacks and spend a few hours enjoying a pitcher of their white sangria with friends and family.
Recommendation: Huevos Bulla, Croquetas de Jamon and their White Sangria
Gables Honorable Mentions for Sips:
1. 77 Sports Bar -- Highly recommend their $7 mojitos!
2. Fleming's - Pricey wine on a dime