Dimes Square has become one of New York’s must-see areas. We list the best bars.
The only constant in New York is change. More than 800 restaurants closed during the first year of the pandemic, but more than 1,100 new ones opened in the year after. Nightlife in lower Manhattan has been rejuvenated and improved, as many streets have been closed off to traffic, and bars and restaurants now have more room for outdoor service. One particular cluster of fun establishments can be found on the edge of Chinatown – close to the micro-neighborhood known as Dimes Square.
The small triangle of road intersections where Canal Street meets East Broadway has long been known as Dimes Square, after the popular local restaurant Dimes. The square is a reliable gathering-place for interesting people, and now also features dozens of Lower Manhattan’s better restaurants and bars.
As twilight falls, the outdoor seating here is a great place to sample natural wines from Jura with a small bowl of radishes and butter from Brittany, and watch what author Jane Jacobs referred to as New York’s unique sidewalk ballet.
As New York recovered from the terror attacks of 2001, it was Robert de Niro who had the passion to open restaurants, start film festivals and breathe new life into the southern tip of Manhattan. During the pandemic, Lower Manhattan’s hardest working restaurateur was probably Yudai Kanayama, who runs a half dozen izakays here – bars serving Japanese food. The nicest of these is Dr Clark, which serves warming rustic food from Hokkaido, the snowiest island in northern Japan. On weekends, the bar is packed with a younger clientele singing karaoke.
The newly opened Nine Orchard Hotel is the district’s most exclusive hotel, raising some eyebrows among the younger bohemians who hang out in some of the more basic local bars.
The hotel’s spacious lobby is home to Corner Bar, run by one of New York’s most interesting chefs, Ignacio Mattos, whose culinary innovativeness has also made Estela restaurant a modern classic. The relaxed atmosphere is similar to a French brasserie and the kitchen is a modernized New York steakhouse, so it’s possible to eat a very satisfying vegetarian dinner, or just enjoy drinks at the beautiful bar.
A wave of elegant Korean restaurants have opened in New York in recent years. At Reception Bar, a simple menu of well-prepared Korean home cooking is joined by an ambitious bar, specializing in cocktails based on Korean soju. The bar manager is a veteran of the Four Seasons, but the atmosphere here is pleasantly unpretentious.
The eastern edge of the historic Chinatown is called Two Bridges, wedged as it is between Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, complete with subway rattling from above. Market Street is still home to the frantic selling of Chinese foods, with fish markets and small stands serving dumplings. Mr Fong’s has established itself as the most charming local bar in the neighborhood, a little oasis where the city’s younger art scene meets old regulars in the late afternoon for beer and simple cocktails.
Text by Martin Gelin