If you haven't heard of Dimes, a trendy, veggie-centric restaurant in Chinatown that opened in September 2013, it could be because it's the size of a shoebox. Or it may be because owners Sabrina De Sousa and Alissa Wagner are not seeking Food Network fame or Jean Georges-level culinary accolades.
"We're New Yorkers, we're young, and we're really smart with what we eat and put in our bodies," De Sousa says. But while their raison d'être is matter-of-fact, their concept is anything but.
Dimes mixes influences from international cultures with downtown New York cool to create a concept that's aesthetically interesting (in the space and on your plate), taste-bud stimulating, and decidedly healthy to boot.
After meeting at Lovely Day in the East Village, De Sousa (who worked in management) and Wagner (a chef who studied at Natural Gourmet Institute), traveled to Southeast Asia, Morocco, Cuba, India, Mexico, and Italy, where they gathered inspiration for ingredients and flavor combinations. After gushing about a local juice bar in Patagonia, they decided to open a restaurant.
The menu—a global mash-up
"Alissa comes up with one ingredient and bases a flavorful palate around what she likes," De Sousa says. "She uses texture and a contrast of flavors to balance things out, but always keeps it simple."
That translates into global mash-up dishes like orange-date museli with chilled rolled oats, argyle cheese, farmers yogurt, coconut, and banana for breakfast, a veggie sandwich with black sesame, hard boiled egg, avocado, pickled carrots, red onion, and greens for lunch, and a flageolet bean bowl with tarragon, seared bok choy, roasted sunchoke, pickled carrots, and kale hazelnut pesto for dinner.
Dimes sources seasonal, organic, and local ingredients whenever possible, and serves a daily fresh-pressed juice. Kale, pineapple, lime, apple, and basil is a common one.
And despite the trendy downtown vibe, you won't find any mason jars or refurbished whimsical objects atop your table. The design is clean and bright with white-washed walls and tables. Succulents and weekly artful wildflower arrangements provided by the owners' personal friend, Marisa Competello of Meta Flora, balance the space's simplicity.
De Sousa, a self-proclaimed lifelong "health nut," also sells her handmade, all-natural Dimes beauty products—a rose water spray, lip balm, and salt scrub—at the restaurant.
For a spot this cool and delish, it's surprising (and refreshing) that entrees range from $14–$18, a steal when it comes to high-quality, clean eating in the area.
Says De Sousa, "It’s affordable and it’s not complicated. You can come in and have an egg sandwich or have a chia pudding that's super healthy and nutrient packed." One question: can we have both? —Jamie McKillop
For more information, visit www.dimesnyc.com
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