Goh at one of her favorite local haunts, Root & Bone; Photography by Brandon Schulman

Serena Goh

Blogger, The Spicy Stiletto

| East Village

Initially, fashion and food might sound a bit like oil and water, but an underlying appreciation for quality, beauty and creativity spins a common thread— it’s what inspired us to create CITIPHILE in the first place. It also happens to be the motivation behind Serena Goh’s blog, The Spicy Stiletto. Originally from Southern California, Goh is a NYC transplant who finds as much inspiration in her closet as her kitchen; whether she is traipsing around the streets of the East Village or exploring exotic locales abroad, she regularly posts portraits of herself in envy-inducing outfits (all shoppable FYI), plus round-ups of her favorite bites and recipes for seasonal, at-home cooking. We spent a day with Goh walking around her neighborhood and not only did we learn that overalls, when black, can be chic, but that indulging in what is arguably NY’s juiciest pastrami (if you haven’t yet swung by Harry & Ida’s, go immediately) is always a good idea, no matter the time of day. Here, she sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: It depends on my mood: SakaMai (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) for Japanese, The Boil (MAP IT, x) for low-key seafood and an ice cold beer, and more recently, Rosie’s (MAP IT, x) for tacos and margaritas. Food and ambiance are the two things that help me determine whether or not I’ll go back for seconds, thirds or fourths.

COFFEE OR TEA: I’m normally a coffee drinker, but Cha An Tea House (MAP IT, x) has an extensive tea list which I love. Also, even though I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, I love the variety of Japanese pastries.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Gramercy Tavern (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). Their menu is seasonal so I usually order whatever they recommend. 

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A Bloody Mary. The”best” is debatable: I like Prune (MAP IT, x) for more of a classic style, while Estela (MAP IT, x) adds an interesting twist to theirs. I’m biased because my boyfriend is a bartender and I think he knows how to make well-balanced cocktails. He’s currently working at one of my favorite East Village bars, Mace (MAP IT, x); the “Cinnamon” (cinnamon-infused pisco, creme de pêche, oat orgeat, lemon juice and egg white) is a must-try.

GIRLS NIGHT OUT: The thing I love about New York City is that you never know where the night is going to take you which is especially true when I’m with my girlfriends. We can start the night seeing a show at somewhere like Bowery Ballroom (MAP IT, x) or Jules (MAP IT, x) for some jazz and maybe end the night at Sing Sing on Avenue A (MAP IT, x). We love seeking out new restaurants or cocktail bars in any given neighborhood and could stay there chatting all night too; I like Pouring Ribbons (MAP IT, x) if I’m in the mood for a quiet night.

MUSIC PICK: My musical interests include anything from classical to EDM; I’m pretty flexible. I really like Elvis Guesthouse in the East Village (*Location now closed)— they host a variety of DJs and up-and-coming artists.

BEST BRUNCH: Always changing. I can find myself chowing down on a waffle Benedict at Root & Bone (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) or taking the escalator to dim-sum heaven at Jing Fong (MAP IT, x).

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Nolita— some of the best street style and the most interesting characters.

HEALTHY STAPLE: Dimes (MAP IT, x) for an acai bowl.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Tangy goat milk with salted caramel topped with pistachios at Victory Garden (*Location now closed); the pastrami sandwich at Harry and Ida’s on Avenue A (MAP IT, x).

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: Midnight ramen at Takashi (MAP IT, x).


REGULAR AT: I usually grab coffee during my morning walks with the dogs at OST Cafe (*Location now closed). It’s convenient, but they also make a great iced latte.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: Lil Frankie’s on First Avenue (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)— cozy ambiance, good wine and good food. Then move on to a neighborhood favorite like Angel’s Share (MAP IT, x) for a nightcap. 

CLOSET CHECK: My style is casual and streamlined. Dover Street Market (MAP IT, x) is a favorite place of mine where you can find one-of-a-kind pieces to splurge on. I also love The Frankie Shop in the Lower East Side (MAP IT, x).

BEST HOME DÉCOR: I’m constantly inspired by Scandanavian décor— minimalistic and airy with nomadic accents that make a house feel like a home. Even though buying everything new is most efficient for New York City, I enjoy the process of collecting special pieces or working with local designers to design something. My boyfriend and I love visiting thrift stores and flea markets on the weekends and we have a very similar vision of creating our own world where old meets new. 

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: The Upper Rust (*Location now closed) or Pink Olive on 9th Street (MAP IT, x) have perfect little knick knacks for last-minute gifts.

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: Bumble and Bumble (MAP IT, x) is my go-to for anything hair. Allen Thomas Wood (x) is my favorite stylist. Over the past year, I started going to more bathhouses too; I’d recommend Aire Ancient Baths in Tribeca (MAP IT, x).

FIT PICK: I’m a member at David Barton Gym (*Location now closed)— Juel Bedford’s (x) pilates class is the best. In general, I enjoy running or cycling, then incorporating low-impact workouts like pilates and yoga into my routine.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: There are far too many daily New York moments to account for.  I guess the one that stands out in my recent memory is when I randomly ran into a psychic who gave me some very specific details about my past and future. CP

Serena’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Matcha from Cha An; Goh’s accessories; Dessert at Gramercy Tavern; Breakfast at Root & Bone. Second Row: Womenswear at The Frankie Shop; Rosie’s; Footwear at Intermix; Green curry at Dimes.


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