Inside New York: Alissa Wagner and Sabrina De Sousa of DIMES

Inside New York: Alissa Wagner and Sabrina De Sousa of DIMES

The Inside New York
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years ago Alissa Wagner and Sabrina De Sousa were
waitressing together at the Thai Nolita restaurant Lovely Day and
daydreaming of owning their own restaurant. A few years later, they
took a trip to Patagonia and were re-inspired to bring their dream
to fruition so they started planning the perfect menu, ingredients
and aesthetic. Upon their return, they struggled to find a location
until Sabrina serendipitously stuck her head out of the window of
her flat in Chinatown one morning and saw a ‘To Rent’ sign
protruding from what is now DIMES deli and that was that.

Originally just a grab and go, the tiny deli has grown into a
small restaurant group of three locations with Alissa acting as
head chef and Sabrina in charge of business development and front
of house. The original café remains the neighbourhood centrepiece
offering all their bowls and dishes to go, then there’s the
marketplace which sells products the two “really believe in” and
across the street is a sit-down restaurant filled with
pastel-coloured art deco furniture.

When asked what the restaurant scene was like pre-DIMES in New
York, Alissa tells us: “I don’t want to say male-driven, but it was
very dark.” Sabrina adds: “It was very heavy and everything was
sort of comfort-foodie.” Since its opening, DIMES marked a shift in
the paradigm towards ‘lighter’, more playful restaurants on the New
York scene. (The name DIMES highlights the fact that this is a
female-run business – dime is slang for girl.)

So what should you order when you go to DIMES? According to
Alissa: “Some of our most popular dishes are our acai bowls, our
chia pudding, our rice bowls for sure, we do a black rice pudding
which is popular, it’s a Japanese-style bowl, with pickled
vegetables and seaweed. I think we are always looking for new
ingredients, and different ways of approaching vegetables and food
in general.” Part of what has maintained DIMES’ success is their
unusual ingredients – you’ll find them using garnishes such as
apple blossom and at their marketplace you’ll find an incredible
perfume brand called Regime de Fleur, which is edible.

Despite the innovation, element of ‘surprise’ and intrigue that
they pride themselves on, most important to them of all is that
DIMES is and remains accessible, and an integral part of the

A New York eating guide by Dimes

Soba-ya – part of a cluster of Japanese
restaurants in the East Village. It’s a fantastic soba restaurant
that also serves other amazing specials using simple and very
purist ingredients.

El Rey – a great vegetarian restaurant run by
friends of ours.

Angelica Kitchen – the quintessential
vegetarian restaurant in New York that’s still relevant today.

Superior Burger – a really interesting take on
vegetarian dishes.

Explore more of
The Inside New York video series.

Photos by Nathan Ellis Perkel