Woorijip Korean Restaurant– 72.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Woorijip Korean Restaurant is a great place for a quick, cheap meal in that sliver of midtown known as Koreatown.  The lunch buffet is only $7.99/lb, and they offer pre-packaged meals too.  It’s perfect for what it is, and its fresh and tasty buffet options include many vegetarian dishes along with bulgogi and other meat-based offerings.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The space was surprisingly calm given how busy it was–almost every seat was taken.  Tables are communal, so if you see an empty chair, it’s yours.  There were some couples and groups, but they chatted quietly to each other.  Korean pop was playing in the background, but the volume was very low.  We were surprised at how comfortable we were in this very busy dining room.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Woorijip is the place to go when you want to eat and run, but not because you are racing through your meal to escape the din.  No, Woorijip is highly recommended if you are looking for good cheap eats in relatively pleasant surroundings in midtown.  You will be hard pressed to find a better value.

HOURS

8:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. every day

LOCATION

Street (betw. Broadway and 5th Avenue), New York, NY 10001

WEBSITE

Woorijip Korean Restaurant

Superiority Burger — 76.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Superiority Burger has deservedly received raves for its first-rate vegetarian and vegan food.  It occupies a tight space, with seating for maybe seven people.  There are no tables, really, just  tiny table tops that swing out to allow you to sit.  The feeling is not unlike sitting at a children’s desk in elementary school.  In short, it’s not particularly comfortable, but it gets the job done.  You order, you eat, and you leave.  Superiority Burger is not a place where you linger.

It was loud when we entered because of the music, but when the song finally concluded things improved with the next tune.  Because of the limited seating, it really can’t get too loud even with a space full of hard surfaces (mainly subway tile, metal, and glass).  The menu has seven items: three sandwiches, one side, two beverages, and gelato or sorbet, but specials are posted as well.  We didn’t care about the short menu as we would have been happy ordering everything that was listed.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Given the name of the place, and the hype surrounding their famed burger, we ordered one with cheese (real cheese, but a vegan cheese is also available) and a side order of their burnt broccoli salad.  The burger was delicious and the broccoli salad was outstanding.  Superiority Burger lives up to the hype.  Despite the (initially) louder-then-needed music and quirky seating, we would recommend a visit.

HOURS

Wednesday through Monday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Closed Tuesday

LOCATION

Street (betw. 1st Street and Avenue A), New York, NY 10009

WEBSITE

Superiority Burger

 

Andrews Coffee Shop — 77.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Andrews Coffee Shop is a diner on the corner of 35th Street and 7th Avenue in the heart of midtown.  The noise level was better than the reading may suggest.  The noise profile was higher due, in part, to a manager inexplicably putting a landline phone on speaker, set at the highest volume, while he was trying to contact some who didn’t answer until after 20 rings .

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Even with all the flat screen tvs, most of the sound was due to the very busy staff bustling back and forth and kitchen sounds.  The place was packed during our visit.  In fact, no tables were available so we sat at the counter.  We tried to determine if music was playing in the background, but we couldn’t tell to be frank.  If yes, the music volume was very very low.  The noise level was mostly due to voices and kitchen sounds.  We found the space very tolerable and were surprised by the reading because we expected it to be under 75 decibels.   Finally, the food was fine and everything looked freshly made.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

If you are looking for a quick nosh in midtown, you could do a lot worse than Andrews Coffee Shop.  The place is bustling for a reason–it’s a clean space that offers decent diner favorites at reasonable prices for midtown.  Though it was very busy, we found the space to be tolerable.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

nue (at the corner of 35th Street), New York, NY 10018

WEBSITE

Andrews Coffee Shop

Black Cat LES — 69.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Black Cat LES is another nearly perfect coffee shop in the Lower East Side.  We really liked the feel of this space.  Yes, there was background music, but it was playing at the best possible volume.   If a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop insists on playing background music, Black Cat should be used as the example of how to play music comfortably.  We guess that on a range of one to ten the volume was set around two or three–high enough to be heard but not so high as to interfere with conversation.  It was perfect.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The design of the space feels organic, as if the owners added bits and pieces that they acquired over time.  It’s dotted with padded chairs and upholstered armchairs and sofas, which no doubt help to absorb sound.  Most of our fellow customers were glued to their laptops, but a few fellow patrons sat together and chatted, including a family of five with two young children.   One nearby customer was talking urgently to an unseen friend, but otherwise the room was fairly quiet.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Black Cat LES is what a bohemian coffee shop should be: a casually quirky space where conversation is easy.   Add in very good coffee–a latte with a double shot of espresso was fairly priced and delicious–and there is no reason not to visit.  If you live in this neighborhood, we just found your new neighborhood coffee shop.  You’re welcome.  The only black mark we could find was the jarringly loud electric hand dryer in the restroom, which appeared to be a used Xlerator slathered with red paint.  While not ideal, it did not mar an otherwise delightful visit.   Black Cat LES is definitely worth a visit.

HOURS

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

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Clifton and Attorney Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Black Cat LES

 

High Street on Hudson — 81.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We normally avoid new or notable places because they tend towards the boisterous, but this NYC location of a Philly fave restaurant received nothing but raves, so we aimed for a Thursday lunch to avoid the evening crush.  When we arrived we saw that about half the tables were taken, but even with empty tables we were confronted with a wall of noise.  We braved on and managed to eat a rushed meal.

Reviews have mentioned that High Street breads are fabulous–and they are–and we loved our side order of Sicilian cauliflower.  That said, we won’t be back.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Why?  High Street was too loud from the get go despite being less than half full–ear plugs had to be deployed.   We can’t even contemplate how loud a packed house at night would be, which is a real shame because place is getting a lot of deserved buzz and the food was delicious.  But delicious food served in an echo chamber with music that is too loud and trebly simply is not enjoyable.  Even if the music were lowered it unclear if the space could be comfortable.  Once again, the typical design culprits were present–glass, glass, and more glass–and we could hear the people around us raising their voices to be heard.

High Street on Hudson has a take away counter.  Use it.

HOURS

Monday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday and Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Note: Hours are for summer; winter dinner hours will close an hour later

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of Horatio Street), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

High Street on Hudson

 

Hi-Collar — 71.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We had been meaning to visit Hi-Collar for years but never quite made it there.   That ended on a very hot July afternoon when we found ourselves nearby and went in to cool down with a coffee and, we hoped, strong air conditioning.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

On its website, Hi-Collar explains that the name is a “Fashion-alluding term popularized during the Japanese Jazz Age” that symbolized “Japan’s flirtation with the West.”   By day, Hi-Collar is “a Western-inspired Japanese cafe -popularly known as kissaten – specializing in siphon coffee & Kissaten menu,” but at night it becomes a sake bar.

We were in luck that hot day.  What an interesting place, and comfortable too (the air conditioning was more than sufficient for the heat wave that we had been experiencing).  Hi-Collar was full of Japanese expats enjoying a coffee and a nosh, and everyone was talking softly.

The space is small, just one long counter offering coffee many ways–pour over, aero press, and siphon–and a selection of snacks, including spongy Japanese pancakes that we will definitely try next time as the smell was lovely.  When we entered Hi-Collar, we thought the background music was Sinatra singing his classics.  Well, no.   As we listened carefully it became apparent that what we were hearing was a cut-rate Sinatra–we didn’t know who–and somehow that added to Hi-Collar’s charm.  It just seemed right that they went with fake Sinatra instead of the real thing.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

After wandering around the hot New York City streets, Hi-Collar’s cold brew coffee with a scoop of dense vanilla gelato hit the spot–it was just perfect.  Refreshed, we were ready to brave the sweltering city streets.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Hi-Collar is absolutely delightful– we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.  Yes, it could have been quieter if the music were lowered or turned off, but, frankly, the music added to its charm.  Food is available all day and night, but the kitchen closes one hour before the place does.   And don’t miss a visit to the bathroom at the end of the room.  It’s pretty and offers a dazzling (if obsessive) array of toilet options.

 

 

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

 

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to  1:00 a.m.

Friday and Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Note: Kitchen last call at is an hour before the closing time.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 1st and 2nd Avenues), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Hi-Collar

 

L’Express — 75.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

L’Express is a perfect example of when a restaurant with a reading of 75 decibels is so uncomfortable that we cannot recommend that you go there.  We raced through our meal when we visited on an early Sunday evening.  The culprit?  It was the music.  Sure the design elements could have been more forgiving, but the place was far less than half full–only three other tables were occupied–and there were maybe seven people at the bar.   A flat screen tv hovered over the bar, but we couldn’t hear it over the music, which was a forgettable mash of bland pop played too loud with an echo-y reverb that we felt as well as heard.  What purpose did it serve?  The other customers were speaking with their companions–no one was listening to the music.

Our meal at L’Express was fine, but we won’t return.  After all, if L’Express was this uncomfortable on an early Sunday evening, imagine how unpleasant it must be when it’s busy.  Avoid.

HOURS

Open 24 hours every day

LOCATION

(betw. 19th and 20th Streets), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

L’Express

Pizzetteria Brunetti — 75.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Pizzetteria Brunetti is a reasonably priced restaurant located in the West Village.  We visited at lunch time and took advantage of their $10 lunch options, which included pizzas, salads, and sandwiches.  We opted for a pizza and salad and it was more than enough food for two people.  Throw in a couple of glasses of wine, and you can dine leisurely for about $20 each.

Our visit would have been perfect but the space is a bit live and there was unnecessary background music. The volume wasn’t oppressive, but we could hear people trying to speak over the music.   Once again, the music selection did not add anything to the experience other than frustration.  Throw in one or two louder than average people and the meter soon crossed 75 decibels.   In the end, though, the space wasn’t so loud that we regretted staying, but we were not entirely comfortable either.

That said, the food was good and the prices are great for the West Village.  We noticed a small garden in the back.  It wasn’t open during our Friday lunch time visit, but we were told that it is usually open in the evenings.

We can recommend that you visit Pizzetteria Brunetti for lunch but suggest that you proceed with caution for dinner, particularly if the space is full.  The back garden should be a safer space, however, as most restaurants try to keep the noise level down so that they don’t have to deal with complaints from nearby residents.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

626 Hudson Street (at Jane Street), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Pizzetteria Brunetti

 

Phebe’s — 70.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We have walked by Phebe’s many times and on one hot summer day we actually walked in.  Immediately we heard music that was louder than we would have liked, and certainly too loud at first, but we suspect that the song that was playing when we entered was someone’s favorite–it featured a long guitar solo and once the song was over, the volume was decreased.  Although things improved once the volume was lowered, we found the music to be fairly trebly which some people find uncomfortable.

The bar was mostly full during our visit, but there were plenty of empty tables.  We sat in a small alcove off the entrance.  There was a small wall separating the alcove from the bar but the sound still spilled over.   An open door let in street noise.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Despite the street noise and music, we would recommend a visit to Phebe’s.   While it was not calm, it was good enough.  Add in great service, good food, and very good prices, and Phebe’s lands on the tolerable list.  That said, we would have assumed that it is probably raucous at happy hour, brunch, and late week dinners, but our excellent waitress told us that brunch is fine if you visit between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.–the space gets a bit rowdier afterwards.  She added that there is a DJ on Thursday and late week dinners are louder.  Phebe’s has a back room and two alcove areas, so you may be able to find a quiet nook even on busy nights.

HOURS

LOCATION

(at the corner of E. 4th Street), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Phebe’s

 

Tout Va Bien — 76.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Tout Va Bien started serving hungry theatergoers in 1948, and it claims to be the oldest French bistro in the Theater District.  It’s a nice casual place with some kitschy Francophile design touches that offers a very reasonable lunch pre fixe of $14.95 (for an appetizer (pate is $2 more), entrée (four choices), and dessert (four choices, two require supplement)).  A dinner prix fixe is offered as well.

We thought the small space was comfortable, but the room was  less than half full when we got there.  Halfway through our visit a  table of six chatty and somewhat loud co-workers—including one who amused his co-workers by imitating animal sounds–were seated near us and the decibel meter inched up.  Still, the space was fine even after the party of six came in–it was definitely tolerable.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Other patrons aside, there was some unnecessary music from a radio station playing in the background, but the volume was very low.   A flat screen tv showed a soccer game but the sound was turned off so it did not contribute to the soundscape.  We found the space to be surprisingly tolerable given the fairly low tin ceilings, fake brick walls, and tile floor.  The upholstered banquettes and wood paneling must have absorbed or deflected some of the sound.

Tout Va Bien occupies a small space with not many tables, so unless the place is packed with it should be manageable.  Certainly a Thursday lunch was fine, and we would recommend it for a pre-theatre dinner or a reasonable prix fixe lunch.

HOURS — VERIFY HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.  and 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 8th and 9th Avenues), New York, NY 10019

WEBSITE

Tout Va Bien