NYCGuide

Where to Eat in Dimes Square

The best places to eat in the sceney microneighborhood of the Lower East Side known as Dimes Square.
Where to Eat in Dimes Square image

photo credit: Le Dive

Call it a cultural phenomenon, a living meme, a “microneighborhood,” or just a vibe, but don’t call it a passing fad. It’s clear that the little corner of the Lower East Side known as Dimes Square has carved out an identity for itself, and it has staying power. There are plenty of annoying things about Dimes Square—you can’t grab a cup of coffee without having to listen to some guy in a $200 beanie talk about his latest project—but there’s also a lot of really good food packed into the span of a few blocks. Here are our favorite places to eat in Dimes Square.

The Spots

photo credit: Liz Clayman

Bakery/Cafe

Lower East Side

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastKeeping It Kind Of HealthyPeople WatchingVegetarians
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Dimes is the restaurant that started it all, and we like the vegetable-forward New American food here. Sure, all the fixtures look like they were purchased at the MoMA design store, and you’ll be surrounded by the kind of people who inspire Nolita Dirtbag memes, but think of it as an exercise in urban anthropology. Order a wheatgrass margarita and some togarashi potato wedges with green goddess aioli. It sounds silly, but no one here is judging.

At the entrance to Wu’s Wonton King, you’ll find tanks filled with crabs, and you might see someone taking a whole roasted suckling pig to go. If you’d like one for yourself, you’ll have to call ahead and order it in advance, although you can always just go with a roasted duck. The menu here is huge, it’s great for sharing, with everything from cold, marinated jellyfish to some garlicky, crispy chicken, and a family-style wonton soup that comes in a bowl that looks like a giant’s teacup. So bring a group. There are a lot of big round tables, and one of the best things about this place is that it’s BYOB.

Getting a table at Cervo’s is a pain in the butt. The restaurant does not take reservations and on any given night, you’ll be told to come back in an hour, sometimes two, and on weekends, often three. Don’t give up. If you can’t beat the micro-influencers, join them. Once you’re sitting with a martini and a plate of crunchy shrimp heads, you’ll be glad to be part of the scene. Your efforts will be rewarded with manila clams in vinho verde, a block party feel, and all the vermouth you can stomach.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

If Dimes Square had a neighborhood bistro, what would it look like? Would it have bright red floors? Faux marble pillars? How about some funky ’80s-esque light fixtures and a bust of the Virgin Mary? That sounds about right, and it’s exactly what you’ll find at Casino. This Lower East Side restaurant is all about ambiance—but the food isn’t an afterthought. The Mediterranean menu is hearty and unpretentious, with options like pappardelle with smoked lamb shoulder ragù, and a filet mignon with lobster roe au poivre. The latter might sound fussy, but it’s actually satisfying, a bit messy, and weirdly nostalgic. And that’s Casino in a nutshell. Try this place for your next casually extravagant night out, and don’t skip the cocktails.

It should come as no surprise that this natural wine bar is kind of annoying. But that buzzy, annoying energy is part of why you come here (and visit Dimes Square in general). The space itself is fairly small, with a handful of stools and a single row of tables, but the seating-filled plaza out front has plenty of room for anyone who wants to sniff natural wine. Share the big chunk of lightly smoked salmon with a friend, get a $17 glass of orange wine from Portugal, and eavesdrop on the people wearing high socks with loafers seated next to you. This place doesn’t take reservations, so you might have to wait an hour for your table, but you should find that wait reassuring. It’s how you know you’re in Dimes Square.

If funky natural wine served in razor-thin glasses and ’90s hip-hop jams are your perfect pairing, Tolo should be your next Dimes Square reservation. It manages to skirt some of the annoyingness of the surrounding restaurants, and the regional Chinese cooking is tasty and unpretentious. Maybe it’s because there aren’t many seats, maybe it’s because the restaurant still has the awning from the previous tenant (an old Chinatown cafe), but Tolo feels like it attracts a more nonchalant crowd than its neighbors, and for that, we respect it.

Yes, this little Greek spot is still packed every night, and contrary to what some popular TikTokers might say, it doesn’t “suck now.” Is it the best Greek food in New York City? No. But you can get pretty good little lamb chops for under $30, excellent carafes of natural wine for $24, and it’s a great place to try out a slightly daring outfit. Know that they don’t take reservations, so you will have to wait for a table, and that once you get in, it will be filled with packs of shrieking patrons having sooooo much fun.

This all-day Malaysian cafe is walk-in only, and like most good restaurants in this area, it’s always crowded. Fortunately, the crowd here is a little less try-hard than at some of the spots just around the corner. Snag a stool or one of the small tables, place your order at the counter, and wait patiently for your bowl of life-affirming pan mee to arrive. They also make hand-pulled teh tarik to great dramatic effect, and if you can’t decide what to order, try one of their “no idea” sets. They also serve all-day breakfast, which means all-day Milo french toast.

Corner Bar, the restaurant in Dimes Square’s opulent Nine Orchard hotel, is the kind of place where you’ll suggest meeting up with your most fashionable, influential friends. The smattering of French and Italian bistro classics isn’t exciting, but it’s all very good. Sure, you might pay $36 for shrimp cocktail, but it might be some of the best shrimp cocktail you’ve ever had.

If you want all the good parts about Dimes Square (the high-quality food and a reason to dress like you’re an extra in The Matrix), but none of the crowds, then Carlota should be high on your list. It’s a tapas spot that often gets overlooked because it’s right next to the vibrant Bar Belly, and we prefer it that way, because we can always get a table. Go with a few friends for some olives, croquetas, and a glass of Spanish red, and make conversation over the built-to-share chorizo katsu sandwich.

There's vegan food that tastes great *for vegan food* and then there's great food that just happens to be vegan. JaJaJa falls into the second category, and it’s one of our go-to spots for a casual weeknight dinner or a taco-centric brunch that's secretly full of vegetables. Some of the menu items here are dead-ringers for your Tex-Mex favorites, like their nachos, which are piled with faux-rizo, refried beans, crema, salsa, and queso. Others, like the crispy pescado tacos, offer a fresh take. You might read the phrase "chipotle almond butter" and wonder whether that belongs on a fake fish taco. It does.

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