Yogi Shapiro’s dad opened Dharma’s in 1982 and first started working there as a kid during summer breaks. Then he followed his own life path, getting a geology degree from UCSC and working in the field for several years. In 2003, Yogi began managing Dharma’s after attending a yoga retreat. He describes Dharma’s as laid back with a new-age ambiance boasted by spiritual art and bright green plants.
Yogi defines the menu as “conscious food” with diverse international influences, with every item 100% vegetarian and many dishes totally vegan. Fresh Thai spring rolls highlight the appetizer offerings, and the Gardener Salad is also a hit, with popular dressing choices like lemon tahini and vegan bacon ranch. The (Not) Chicken Chow-Mein is another crowd-pleaser, as is the Bo Thai, an adaptation of traditional Pad Thai. The Brazilian tapioca and almond shortbread raspberry tart are dessert favorites.
Hours are 11am-8pm daily. GT asked Yogi about returning to work at Dharma’s and the ethos there.
What did you gain from your time at the yoga retreat?
YOGI SHAPIRO: After a career transition, I went to find my purpose moving forward. I learned how to work with more drive, a better work ethic and a sense of incorporating service and community into my life. Twenty years later, I still feel like a beginner, but one who has improved.
What is Dharma’s philosophy?
We don’t aim to only serve vegetarians, vegans and health-conscious people. We welcome everyone. There is a big movement among people to improve their well-being through nurturing the mind-body connection. We have done our job if we can serve as an element in this process.
Dharma’s, 4250 Capitola Road, Capitola, 831-462-1717; dharmasrestaurant.com