Miami Cheat Sheet: Where To Go In This Party Town

BillyMelnyk-SohoBeachHouseMiami, a city mostly known for its intense nightlife and as a vacation spot, is also home of one of the most well-known art festivals in the world: Art Basel. With over 75,000 people visiting town for a week of arts, music, parties and world-class museum exhibitions, Miami turns into the perfect storm. So many things to do and places to go, where to start? We got you covered.

Billy Melnyk is your perfect guide. He’s a marketing guy focused on hospitality and technology. He works with Bacardi in Miami managing a team that handles the best restaurants, cocktail bars, and hotels across North America. An early-stage investor in a few start-ups, He’s also a marketing consultant engaged on various projects with friends and mentors some of his former team members who have taken on some entrepreneurial projects across brands, technology, and hospitality.

Want to know more about his experience? Keep reading to discover his Miami Cheat Sheet!

When did you move to Miami and why?

I used to own nightclubs and a DJ agency so was in Miami every year for Winter Music Conference. After so many trips on the beach side, I found myself one March wandering around the Design District looking at amazing furniture and galleries then through Buena Vista, Little Haiti, and the new Midtown district. The diversity was electric and inspiring and I had a vision that it was my new home. I moved shortly thereafter from Toronto. At the time, Miami’s boom was bust – the construction had stopped. I moved into the Design District for a few years then to Wynwood, which is going through expedited gentrification. It’s been amazing to see the cranes go back up in the city and the incredible progression of the city’s communities – downtown, midtown, design district, brickell, sunset harbor, south pointe park, north beach.

What do you like the most about it?

Miami is going through a cultural renaissance at present – it’s an amazing time to be in the city and get involved. There’s inspiring artists, designers, architects, and marketing heads colliding and collaborating, and developers who totally get it. There’s also a start-up culture that’s building fast, so there’s an anticipation of collaborations and companies pushing forward for a great future.

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What would be an ideal day in Miami for you?

I’m up before the sun so the ideal day starts in the dark. Jog with my toy fox terrier ‘Sir Charles’ around Brickell Key, swim a few laps at Icon Brickell, then head to Wynwood for a quick protein shake and Acai bowl at Jugo Fresh and an espresso macchiato from Panther Coffee. Panther is always jammed so I head to the one on Purdy in Sunset Harbor to hit the communal table for a couple of hours to bang out emails and calls. Usually there’s some friends in town so try to hit the Standard Spa for the Hammam and some ceviche and avocados with salt by the pool.

In the late afternoon, I’d take friends to the iconic Stiltsville, a group of houses located in the ocean where locals used to party back as far as the 30’s. This was the first real private club and legendary events were held here for many years. Now, there’s some great ghosts holding court in the few buildings that remain and it’s worth checking out as something uniquely MIA.

Later, it’s key to hit some great Mediterranean food at Mandolin where they connect Turkish and Greek culinary concoctions on their outdoor patio in Buena Vista, and then hit the clubs. Late night snacks at Gigi for sure.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the city?

It’s necessary to hit the beach on a regular basis, but it’s hard to get to the water each week. As I’m in the hospitality business I’m always checking out the new spots and with Miami you get an incredible dichotomy of the old and new, so it’s beautiful to see new construction inside the art deco framework. With many new hotel projects on the horizon my favorite thing to do lately is to hit some hard hat tours and see the new hotels and clubs coming our way.

Share with us your top picks for Miami:

Miami Cheat Sheet by Billy Melnyk

By Hayo Magazine

Current resident of Miami, Billy knows the low-down on Miami's best spots. 

  • Top Restaurant: Boater’s Grill

    By Hayo Magazine

    Located in No Name Harbor – a tasty restaurant in Key Biscayne, mostly accessible by boat.

  • Top Restaurant: Estiatorio Milos

    By Hayo Magazine

    By Costas Spiliadis – some of the best food in Miami, and the service is impeccable.

  • Top Restaurant: Makoto

    By Hayo Magazine

    Inside Bal Harbor Shops. You can go look at the Koi fish under the glass in the mall, than eat some sashimi at Makato. Great cocktails a solid sake list. 

  • Shopping Spot: Cottage

    By Hayo Magazine

    The pre-eminent men’s wear spot in Miami. The owner, Ariel Burman, curates some great lines and the shop has solid vibes. Good place to hang and try on clothes on a Saturday afternoon. 

  • Shopping Spot: BASE

    By Hayo Magazine

    One of the best shops in North America. Creative jewelry, limited edition clothing lines, great swimwear, and a music bar that has introduced me to many new artists.

  • Shopping Spot: Alchemist

    By Hayo Magazine

    Alchemist in the 1111 building parking garage. Hard not to be inspired when you’re inside a Herzog & de Meuron.

  • Cuban Food: El Exquisito

    By Hayo Magazine

    A place(s) to eat great cuban food (cuban, latin or caribbean). There’s an anticipated opening from Chef Alberto Cabrera called Little Bread, a Cuban inspired sandwich shop right off Calle Ocho.

  • Nightlife: Grand Central

    By Hayo Magazine

    Aramis Lorie books the best acts in Miami in his concrete wonderland 

  • Nightlife: LIV

    By Hayo Magazine

    Still one of the best nightclubs in the world. Dave Grutman puts on the biggest show in the city. 

  • Nightlife: The Electric Pickle Company

    By Hayo Magazine

    Electronic artists, with a tight sound system, tucked in the Wynwood district 

  • Weekend Spot: The Standard Spa

    By Hayo Magazine

    It's a vacation hideout inside a vacation kinda town. It makes you feel like you’re far away yet so close. 

  • Cocktail Bar: Ball & Chain in Little Havana.

    By Hayo Magazine

  • Cocktail Bar: The Regent Cocktail Club

    By Hayo Magazine

    Ask for Julio Cabrera and Danny Valdez – the masters at work.

  • Cocktail Bar: Lure

    By Hayo Magazine

    Rob Ferrara takes the helm at this key cocktail spot. They recently opened an adjacent rum-centric bar called Rum Line, which is worth a visit.  

  • Cocktail Bar: Broken Shaker

    By Hayo Magazine

    Miami’s newest institution – Elad and Gabe built an incredible installation in the Freehand hotel on Indian Creek.

  • Brunch Spot: Cecconi's at Soho House

    By Hayo Magazine

    I personally like to hit Cecconi's at Soho House. The room is perfect and there’s always good friends to bump into through the omelette line. 

  • A place you go to all the time: Zuma

    By Hayo Magazine

    Life’s good when your local spot is Zuma. I live across the street and visit as much as possible. The bar program is amazing with creative cocktails.

  • Favorite Coffee Shop: The Market Coral Gables

    By Hayo Magazine

    I always get the Pregger’s Brain (I realized after it was developed for those that are pregnant) with a shot of Panther Coffee cold brew. It’s the spot. 

  • Cuban Coffee: Versailles

    By Hayo Magazine

    People watching and a cafecity at the Versailles walk-up window – it really doesn’t get more Miami than that. 

  • A place with a view: Juvia

    By Hayo Magazine

    World class restaurant and the coolest view in Miami. They have a trinity of Japanese, Peruvian, and French cuisine. Hit the patio for sunset and then the bar for drinks. Get the Purple Rain!

You can also save this list and use it on your next visit to the city! (Just click the SAVE icon besides the heart and enjoy!)

Top 3 restaurants in the city

Boater’s Grill – Located in No Name Harbor – a tasty restaurant in Key Biscayne, mostly accessible by boat.

Estiatorio Milos by Costas Spiliadis – some of the best food in Miami, and the service is impeccable.

Makoto – inside Bal Harbor Shops. You can go look at the Koi fish under the glass in the mall, than eat some sashimi at Makato. Great cocktails a solid sake list.

Favorite spots to go shopping

Cottage is the pre-eminent men’s wear spot in Miami, tucked inside the Sunset Harbor community. The owner, Ariel Burman, curates some great lines and the shop has solid vibes. Good place to hang and try on clothes on a Saturday afternoon.

BASE on Lincoln Road is one of the best shops in North America. Creative jewelry, limited edition clothing lines, great swimwear, and a music bar that has introduced me to many new artists. Some of my favorite music over the years has come from BASE.

Alchemist in the 1111 building parking garage. Hard not to be inspired when you’re inside a Herzog & de Meuron.

Places to eat great cuban food

El Exquisito in Little Havana, Isla Canarias for the best croquetas in town. There’s an anticipated opening from Chef Alberto Cabrera called Little Bread, a Cuban inspired sandwich shop right off Calle Ocho that everyone’s talking about.

Your preferred nightlife spots

Grand Central – Aramis Lorie books the best acts in Miami in his concrete wonderland

LIV – still one of the best nightclubs in the world. Dave Grutman puts on the biggest show in the city.

The Electric Pickle Company – electronic artists, with a tight sound system, tucked in the Wynwood district

Favorite weekend spot

The Standard Spa is a vacation hideout inside a vacation kinda town. It makes you feel like you’re far away yet so close.

I’m often at the dog beach on Key Biscayne on the weekend too so my pup can run in the water with his friends.

Favorite cocktail bars

Broken Shaker – Miami’s newest institution – Elad and Gabe built an incredible installation in the Freehand hotel on Indian Creek.

Lure – Rob Ferrara takes the helm at this key cocktail spot. They recently opened an adjacent rum-centric bar called Rum Line, which is worth a visit.

The Regent Cocktail Club – ask for Julio Cabrera and Danny Valdez – the masters at work.

Ball & Chain in Little Havana.

Sweet Liberty – a most anticipated opening from John Lermeyer

A place to go for brunch

Miami is not a strong brunch city, but that’s starting to change. Hakassan executes dimsum, Zuma has an all-you-can eat Japanese sushi and izakaya style brunch with champagne and sake, La Veinte has a Mexican spread with crazy cheese dishes and creative Mexican specialities, Michael’s Genuine has a la carte options to share, but I personally like to hit Cecconi’s at Soho House. The room is perfect and there’s always good friends to bump into through the omelette line.

That place that you go to all the time

Zuma. Life’s good when your local spot is Zuma. I live across the street and visit this global restaurant as much as possible. The bar program is amazing with creative cocktails and Jennifer Wagoner as the head sommelier and Sayoko Iteo running the sake program.

Favorite coffee shop


MKT in Coral Gables where I always get the Pregger’s Brain (I realized after it was developed for those that are pregnant) with a shot of Panther Coffee cold brew. It’s the spot. Of course you have to hit one of the Panther Coffee locations when you’re in Miami.

Cuban coffee?

People watching and a cafecito at the Versailles walk-up window – it really doesn’t get more Miami than that. For another key authentic spot with great scenery, there is no better place than El Exquisito Restaurant, next to the Tower theatre and across from Ball and Chain in the heart of Little Havana. My friend Gabe Urrutia, who was raised in Miami suggests ordering your cafecito with:
 GORDITO DE LA CALLE OCHO (Sandwich with Plantains, Croquetas & Cantimpalo)

A place with a view

Juvia. World class restaurant and the coolest view in Miami. They have a trinity of Japanese, Peruvian, and French cuisine. Hit the patio for sunset and then the bar for drinks. Get the Purple Rain at the bar made with Grey Goose Cherry Noir vodka and chichi morada from Peru.

 

Joanna Riquett
Joanna Riquett

Joanna is the founder and Editor-In-Chief of Hayo Magazine. Her areas of expertise include content strategy, travel writing, community building, and creative explorations around publishing and media.

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