Dining Out: Escape from the daily grind at Cocoa Grinder


It’s the best of both worlds at Cocoa Grinder’s new Third Avenue location, and the proof is on the plate.

“We believe in the idea of balance,” said owner Abdul Elenani, whose menu boasts a handful of both healthy and appetizing options. “We have healthy and nutritious items as well as sweetness with our desserts.”

Elenani, who also owns the flagship Cocoa Grinder at the corner of 86th Street and Fourth Avenue, prides himself on the modern look of the new eatery, which he designed himself.

“I’ve been self-motivated since I was 14,” said the owner, who comes from a family of restaurateurs who own a number of chain coffee shops and eateries across the city.

That motivation shines through both in the ambiance of the restaurant and the quality of each dish on the menu.

First, we sampled a special hummus plate – complete with bell peppers, carrots, celery and pita chips. While it isn’t always on the menu, the creamy, flavorful hummus (which kept us snacking even with a meal on the way), was perfect in texture and can be had for just $8.

Next up was a dish Elenani is particularly proud of, and we can attest as to why. The joint’s Steak and Gorgonzola Wrap ($9), filled with marinated sliced steak, creamy Gorgonzola cheese, arugula and pickled red onions, packed a serious punch of flavor. The tender, juicy steak paired perfectly with the crunchy onions and sharp cheese, and had us wishing we had seconds.

The wrap paired well with one of the menu’s “bites” – classic sweet potato fries ($4), which come with a choice of three dips: curry ketchup, chipotle aioli and garlic aioli. We indulged in the curry ketchup which had a spicy yet sweet flavor that kept us double dipping.

To top off the healthy, albeit delicious meal, we quenched our thirst with one the concoctions from the juice bar. We sampled the Joint Helper (available for pick up — 12 ounces for $5, 16 ounces for $6 and 20 ounces for $7) which featured pineapple, kale, lemon and ginger. The tangy kick of the lemon and ginger paired with the sweetness of the pineapple was a match made in healthy heaven and created a seamless continuum of flavor.

Cocoa Grinder’s coffee, perhaps what most patrons would think to stop in for, is also not to be forgotten. We sampled a piping hot cappuccino which managed somehow to be both bold and smooth, supporting Elenani’s claim that everything at Cocoa Grinder is done with balance in mind.

“Everything is made fresh, in-house,” Elenani said. “There is something for everyone [here] and all kinds of people, every demographic can enjoy.”

Elenani hopes that Cocoa Grinder will be a franchise by the end of 2016.

8511 Third Avenue
Mon – Sun: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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