Lexington Candy Shop — 73.8 decibels

Lexington Candy Shop

Lexington Candy Shop

Lexington Candy Shop is a New York City landmark.  Founded in 1925, it’s been a neighborhood favorite for over 90 years, and the decor looks like it may have had its last make over back in the 1940s.  The menu features standard diner fare of breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, and a variety of hamburgers, including a butter burger (it’s exactly what it says it is–a burger with a big pat of butter on top).

We were seated near the front door, so the decibel reading includes street noise (the front door was open), along with chatter between the manager manning the cash register and regulars.  The place was more than half full, and music played in the background but the volume was very  low.  Overall, we found the space to be pretty comfortable during out lunch time visit.

If you are craving a perfect old school diner experience, you won’t go wrong at Lexington Candy Shop.  It was a perfectly comfortable space.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday:  7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

nue (at the corner of 83rd Street), New York, NY 10028

WEBSITE

Lexington Candy Shop

McNulty’s Tea & Coffee — 68.2 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

You’ll step back in time as you enter McNulty’s, a West Village tea and coffee purveyor that has been in business since 1895.  Looking around the small but well stocked store confirms the suspicion that much of that time was spent at the current Christopher Street location.  Look up and you will see the patched tin ceiling, look down and observe the dinged brass scale still serviceable after decades of use.  And be sure to breathe deeply as you wait for your order and enjoy the musky smell of freshly ground coffee comingling with the clean scents of the black, green, and herbal teas.  There are a range of coffees from all parts of the world (and flavored coffees for those who like that sort of thing).  There is also a large selection of loose, tinned, and bagged teas, coffee makers, tea pots, and related goods.

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

McNulty’s has two grinders and when both are working there will be noise.   That said, during a  short visit that included the use of one of the grinders the decibel reading was a very manageable 68.2.   If you love tea or coffee, McNulty’s is not to be missed.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Sunday: 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Summer hours: Closed Tuesdays

LOCATION

WEBSITE

McNulty’s Tea & Coffe

Lion Brand Yarn — 70.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

This yarn store is owned and operated by Lion Brand Yarn and only their yarns are available for purchase (for higher end yarns go to Purl Soho).  Still, it is one of the largest and most comfortable yarn stores in the city.  The store is fairly roomy and nicely laid out, and there is a large table in the back where customers can knit or crochet and get free guidance from the very friendly staff.   Lessons are offered there or on the second floor.  If a lesson is being taught at the back table, or there is a table full of knitters, the sound level will reflect that.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

It can be library quiet during a weekday, but it was 70.8 decibels when we visited on a busy Sunday due to background music, a table full of knitters receiving informal instruction from an exuberant instructor, and lots of chatter.  Though noisier than usual, it was still pleasant.

A restroom is available for customers.

HOURS

Monday through Wednesday: 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Saturday: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

LOCATION

34 W. 15th Street (betw. 5th and 6th Avenues), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Lion Brand Yarn Studio

Le Moulin Cafe — 75.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Le Moulin Cafe is a cute neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot in the Upper East Side that is designed for Francophiles.  The cafe offers savory dishes, coffees, and baked treats.  We stopped by for a quick coffee and a treat, opting for the madeleines, which were very nice.

The reading is for the seating area in the front of the cafe, near the bakery counter and small grocery section featuring packaged French products.  The cafe wasn’t too crowded, but it wasn’t empty either.  The reading is a bit higher than we anticipated, no doubt due to sounds of people entering and leaving the cafe.  We found that the space easily allowed for conversation without strain.

Le Moulin Cafe is a pleasant spot.  Well worth a visit for a coffee and a comfortable chat.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

1439 York Avenue (betw. 76th and 77th Streets), New York, NY 10075

WEBSITE

Le Moulin Cafe

Old John’s Luncheonette — 74 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We think you’ll agree that 74 decibels was not bad for a Sunday brunch, particularly since there were more than a few small children near our table.  Background music was playing in the front of the restaurant by the small three-seat counter, but we were in the back near the busing station, so the music wasn’t a problem (though we heard occasional pings from dishes hitting each other).   We wouldn’t say our brunch time visit was peaceful, but it wasn’t bad.  The place was packed and the floors were tiled, but there were upholstered banquettes and high ceilings and room to sit–we weren’t sitting cheek to jowl with our immediate neighbors.  Hard to know if weekday lunches are about the same noise level, but Old John’s can’t be busier–every table was taken during out visit.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Old John’s Luncheonette serves typical American diner fare.  It is worth considering if you are visiting Lincoln Center or contemplating a stroll through Central Park and want a quick and inexpensive nosh.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (near Amsterdam Avenue), New York, NY 10023

WEBSITE

Old John’s Luncheonette

Meskerem — 71.6 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Meskerem is a West Village Ethiopian restaurant located on MacDougal Street in the heart of NYU’s main campus.  It offers a very inexpensive and tasty vegetarian combo special at lunch ($10 + tip weekday, a bit more on the weekend).

Lunch time visits tend to be less crowded.  While the background music was a bit louder than we would have liked, it was more than manageable and always interesting.   Service is relaxed but attentive.   Expect a louder space in the evening.

HOURS

12:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. every day

LOCATION

124 MacDougal Street (betw. 3rd and Bleecker), NY, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Meskerem

120 Park Avenue — 69.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

This is the first time that we recommend avoiding a space that registered under 70 decibels.  Why?  120 Park Avenue’s privately owned public space (POPS) is a covered,  climate controlled indoor space that is stark, cold, and uncomfortable.  The space is so live that every cough, cell phone conversation, or unexpected sound is amplified, bouncing sharply off of all the hard surfaces and rebounding around the room.   Usually indoor POPS are nicer because the space is meant to be enjoyed by building tenants, but not this one.

The tables and chairs provided for the public looked a bit old, but they exist.  There also is plenty of stone bench seating.  Some people were eating during our visit, but there were a number of cell phone users.  And every time someone dragged a chair across the floor, the reading jumped–the sound was so jarring and loud that its effect was not unlike the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.  Apparently no one knows how to pick up a chair to move it to the preferred spot, because it happen a number of times during our short visit.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

It was clear that the reason for the low reading was that the space has very high ceilings.  Other than that, there were no other elements that mitigated or softened the noise.

If there are public bathrooms available, we couldn’t find them.

This is a space that people use but do not enjoy.  Many appeared to use the space to make phone calls as they wandered through.  We found the 120 Park Avenue POPS to be absolutely uncomfortable and our least favorite POPS to date.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

LOCATION

120 Park Avenue (at the corner of 41st Street), New York, NY 10017

WEBSITE

NYC overview of the 120 Park Avenue POPS

Keens Steakhouse — 71.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Lunch was had in Keens’ pub, which was a pleasant 71.4 decibels.  There was unnecessary background music–no one was listening to it–but it wasn’t overpowering.  As usual, one’s experience will depend, in large part, on one’s immediate neighbors–a sad but true fact in any public space.  So, when a loud and whiny customer was seated near our table, the meter jumped a hair.  Fortunately, things improved when lunch was placed in front of him and he tucked in.  Relief!

The pub wasn’t completely filled, so we can’t say whether the space would remain relatively pleasant if packed, but as we walked past the busier bar and dining room we noted that they were relatively quiet as well.

Keens is well worth a visit for very hungry carnivores.  They are known for their mutton chops, which are delicious and huge!  That said, a smaller, more manageable version of the chop is available in the pub.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 11:45 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Saturday: 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Sunday: 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

LOCATION

72 W. 36th Street (near the corner of 6th Avenue), NY, NY 10018

WEBSITE

Keens Steakhouse

Sons of Thunder — 75.1 to 76.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

With a name like Sons of Thunder one wouldn’t expect to find a pocket of quiet, and one would be right.  Sons of Thunder is located in that unnamed stretch of the city by the Queens Midtown Tunnel exits, bordered by Murray Hill to the west and Turtle Bay to the north.  We found the  noise level to be tolerable–barely–but think it’s worth a visit for their take on poke, a Hawaiian raw fish salad that they serve over steamed rice or tortilla chips.  We really enjoyed the poke over steamed rice–it was fresh, delicious, and a fairly healthy meal.   They also offer chili and hotdogs, french fries, and shakes.  It’s an odd menu, but the crowds prove that it works.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The noise level of the space varied depending on where you were at any given time.   There was  loud music blaring in the  back dining room, thanks to a large speaker mounted by the entrance to the space.  Most of surfaces in the dining space were hard, except for some  fabric covered panels mounted on the back wall.  The panels must have absorbed some sound, because despite all the hard surfaces, the blaring music, and a nearby table of six chatty and loud co-workers seated near us, we were able to tolerate the noise level.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We followed our first review with a very short second visit a week later.  That visit clocked in at 75.1 decibels.  This time we focused on the hot dog options, which did not disappoint.  What was disappointing was the unnecessarily loud music in the dining area.   Despite the lower decibel reading during this visit, we believe the music was louder during this second visit than the first but there were fewer fellow patrons as we visited shortly after Sons of Thunder opened and before the crowds descended.  Because the space has a lot of unforgiving hard surfaces, it will never be pleasant.  But if the music volume was reduced just a few notches, the space would have been fine.  As it was, it was merely tolerable.

Sons of Thunder is not a place for lingering.  To be frank, if it didn’t serve really good food in a in a park of the city not known for its food scene, we wouldn’t have bothered reviewing it.  To be safe, aim for off-peak hours.  Avoid if crowded.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Closed Sunday

LOCATION

Street (betw. 37th and 38th Streets), New York, NY 10016

WEBSITE

Sons of Thunder

The Greek — 75 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our visit to the The Greek started off a little louder that we would have liked but the space got quieter as the early lunch time customers began to leave.   It was fairly busy when we arrived, and for good reason.  Service was attentive–the staff could not be nicer–and the food was good.  There was background music playing through out our visit,  but it was actually in the background and it was appropriate (traditional Greek ballads).

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The space at The Greek shines.  It is very comfortable there, and feels a bit like a private club in the back dining area where we sat.  Wood paneling and a padded banquette help to muffle noise, as did the use of textiles to cover doorways.   It is an attractive, comfortable space, much more comfortable than the decibel reading may suggest.  Well worth a visit.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

458 Greenwich Street (betw. Watts and Desbrosses Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

The Greek