Everyman Espresso (East Village) — 69.7 to 70.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited the East Village location of Everyman Espresso twice, and both times we found it to be a very relaxed space.  During our first visit on a Wednesday afternoon, most people were working on laptops, with just one chatty, but not particularly annoying couple engrossed in conversation nearby.  Music played softly in the background and was mostly fine, if unnecessary.

One thing we couldn’t help noticing was that the espresso machine was one of the quietest we’ve heard.  We suspect the reason for this is because it’s on the front counter, with the working bits facing the back wall.  In many coffee shops, the espresso machine is on a back or side counter facing the seating area.  In any event, the coffee-making noises were really manageable and they didn’t feel jarring or startling at all.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

On our second visit a week later, the place was nearly perfect.  The only thing we would change is to lower the background music, but the noise level is still very low compared to many places.   As before, the coffee machines were not a distraction, and the crowd was very relaxed.  If the background music were lowered or shut off, the space would be perfect.  But it’s nearly there and that’s pretty fabulous.

If you are looking for a comfortable spot in the East Village/Union Square area, Everyman Espresso should be on your short list.  There is plenty of seating and the place is pretty comfortable.  Throw in very good coffee and great service, and there’s no reason not to go.  Recommended.

HOURS

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

Tuesday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. 3rd and 4th Avenues), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Everyman Espresso

La Bonne Soupe — 71.2 to 75.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We’ve visited La Bonne Soupe for lunch on three separate occasions, as it’s conveniently located a few blocks away from The Museum of Modern Art.  On our first visit, we had a very pleasant late lunch at this midtown French bistro.  The door was open to the street–and there was street noise–but it really did not impact the noise level in the place.  The main space was at least half full, and the other patrons were chatty, but the space was really comfortable.  There were a couple of obvious reasons for this: background music was actually in the background, there were upholstered banquettes lining the room, and the cloth-covered walls appeared to be padded.  The design decisions, coupled with restraint with regard to the background music, kept the noise at reasonable levels.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our second and third visits were in late autumn, so the door was not open to the street, but the dining room was packed.  On both occasions we were seated near the loudest part of the first floor dining room–tables situated near the bar.  This area is bustling, as the busboys come over to replenish glassware and to grab utensils to reset tables, and the very friendly bartender has a booming voice.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Still, despite the chatter and glassware noise, we would still recommend a visit but would suggest that you ask for a table furthest away from the bar or ask if there is a free table on the second floor.  While we haven’t eaten in the second floor dining room, we popped up for a quick visit and discovered that it was quieter than the first floor.  There also appears to be a back dining space on the first floor, but it wasn’t clear whether customers were seated there during lunch service.

Long and short, La Bonne Soupe is a good safe option for bustling midtown.  The sound level is mostly manageable, the food is good, service was fine, and the meal was reasonably priced for the location.

HOURS

Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Monday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m..

LOCATION

WEBSITE

La Bonne Soupe

Think Coffee @ Bowery & Bleecker — 71.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Think Coffee’s Bowery location was packed but quiet when we visited.  Why was it quiet?  Because most of the customers were members of the laptop brigade and they spent their time  staring intently into their laptop screens as they silently sipped their coffees.  There were a few chatty couples present, but they weren’t screamers.  And while the space had mostly hard surfaces, an unfinished wood floor probably helped absorb some sound.

But the primary reason the space was fairly comfortable was the absence of loud music.  There was music playing during the first few minutes of our visit, but then it stopped.  Which was a very good thing, as the piece that was playing had to have been the single most annoying thing ever–the “music” was a series of high-pitched synth sounds, with no voice, no other instruments.   Fortunately, it only lasted a minute or two, and once it was turned off, the space was perfectly fine.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We must note that although it wasn’t a particularly hot day when we visited, the air conditioner was set on max–it felt like we were sitting in a meat locker.  Perhaps we shouldn’t have ordered cold brew coffee, but it hit the spot and at only $3.50 for a large serving, they were a real bargain for downtown Manhattan.   Think Coffee offers free wifi at some locations but not one.  Still, the laptop brigade has adopted this spot, which is why you can enjoy  it.  Recommended.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Sunday: 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

1 Bleecker Street (at Bowery), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Think Coffee

Russ & Daughters Cafe — 78.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were pleasantly surprised about the noise level at Russ & Daughters Cafe–it wasn’t bad at all for a very busy, celebrated place.  Every food site has written it up, and the food is very good, so of course there was a wait (45 minutes at 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday in August).  As a consequence, almost every seat was taken during our brunch time visit, so we think the decibel reading can be relied on for lunch and dinner as well.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were seated in the front dining space.  The music was a bit louder than we would have liked, but in the end it was tolerable and sometimes more than tolerable (depending on the song), which was astonishing given that every surface in the front was hard.  We can only speculate that something was done to mitigate the noise.  Did the rounded ceiling helped to deflect sound?  Maybe, but we can’t be sure.  The back dining room is separated from the front, which helped, but the kitchen was open.  That said, the open kitchen occupied the space between the front and back dining areas, so kitchen noises didn’t intrude as much as one might have thought.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Whatever the reason, the space was not as loud as we anticipated.  In fact, we thought the space felt more comfortable than 78.5 decibels.   So, despite the hype and crowds, Russ & Daughters Cafe is worth a visit.  Yes, it could be a bit more comfortable, and it would have if they just lowered the music, but in the end it’s tolerable and the smoked salmon makes the visit worth it.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Rivington and Delancey Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Russ & Daughters Cafe

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine (Fulton Street) — 75.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We used to eat regularly at a Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine near our workplace, but they lost their lease or otherwise closed.  We missed their filling and tasty takeaway, but generally avoided eating in because it was so loud and crowded.  So when we happened upon a new location of  Sophie’s near our old work space recently, we had to go in and check it out.

Sophie’s is a local chain of Cuban restaurants.  They have a cafeteria line for ordering sandwiches and platters to go, but also offer table service if you are eating in.  The food is freshly prepared, delicious, and filing, but it’s not necessarily the healthiest option.  If you manage to eat all of your lunch, you can skip dinner, and maybe even breakfast the next day.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Because we remembered Sophie’s as being really loud, we were very pleasantly surprised by the Fulton Street location.  So surprised that for the first time ever we opted to eat in.  This location of Sophie’s isn’t calm–it can’t be with the crowds–but it was manageable.  The music volume was low, which made all the difference in the overall noise level in the space.  Drop ceiling tiles probably helped too, as the place was otherwise filled with hard surfaces.   Remarkably, the noise level was very tolerable from start to finish, which was pretty impressive given that the place was packed when we arrived.

We don’t know if this Sophie’s is an anomaly, so the review and our recommendation is limited to the Fulton Street location.   If you are in the Financial District and are jonesing for some Cuban food, or you are very hungry and want a big, satisfying lunch, go to Sophie’s on Fulton Street.  The food is tasty, filling, and very inexpensive for what you get, and the dining space should be tolerable even if packed (and it is often packed).

Note to hot sauce fans: Ask for the green sauce.   It varies in strength depending on the heat of the jalapenos used when they make the sauce–and they make their own hot sauce regularly–but it is always delicious.  Just try a little before you douse your entire meal with it.  There is also a white garlic sauce, too.   We suggest getting them both and experimenting.  And don’t forget to get a guava and cheese empanada for dessert.  It’s served warm and it’s fantastic.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

LOCATION

76 Fulton Street (at Gold Street), New York, NY 10038

WEBSITE

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine

Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen — 68.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen isn’t a calm or peaceful place yet we still recommend it.  The noise level would have been perfect if they weren’t playing Ukranian music videos on a flat screen tv.  That said, the volume was tolerable even if the music was unnecessary.  So why do we recommend a visit?  Because Streecha isn’t your typical Manhattan restaurant.

Streecha feels like a church basement because it is, essentially.  According to EV Grieve,  it “is a fundraising arm of the St George Ukrainian Catholic Church up the street.”   You enter and approach the counter at the end of the dining room to place your order.  Then sit at one of the communal folding tables.  The tables are covered with plastic tablecloths, and the chairs are stackable.  A basket of plastic utensils sits on one of the tables–help yourself.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The menu and hours are limited.  Your choices are borscht, pierogis, cabbage rolls, sausage, or the special.   We got the special, which were pork meatballs with pasta.  It was tasty and it cost $4.  No, that isn’t a typo.  We spent $4 for lunch in the East Village in 2016.

Yes, had they turned off the music videos, or just lowered the volume, the space would been really pleasant.  But to be frank, it may have killed the vibe.  Streecha is perfect the way it is.   Certainly the Japanese tourists who came during our visit agreed.   Just go.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Closed for the summer

LOCATION

Street (betw. 2nd and 3rd Avenues), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Foursquare: Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen

 

Hungarian Pastry Shop — 72.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our visit to Hungarian Pastry Shop was surprisingly relaxed given how crowded it was–there were lots of students hanging out during our visit.  We ordered at the counter and found our way to a small table.  When an order is ready, a name is called and acknowledged, and someone ferries your order to you.  We thought the coffee was good enough and a Napoleon wasn’t as sweet as it looked (which was a good thing).

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Importantly, despite being crowded the place was calm.  Why?  No music!  The benefits of not playing music is on display at Hungarian Pastry Shop.  Even though the space was almost fully occupied, and at least half of the occupied tables were small groups of friends chatting with each other, the other half could comfortably work on their laptops or read a book. Yes, a real book.  And yes, it was comfortable enough to do it.

And that’s the word that’s best used to describe this place, comfortable. The coffee is decent, not great, and the pastries looked better than they taste, but the space is comfortable and for New York City that’s saying something.

Hungarian Pastry Shop is located across the street from St. John the Divine.  It’s worth a visit.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

LOCATION

nue (at 111th Street), New York, NY 10025

WEBSITE

Hungarian Pastry Shop

 

Woorijip Korean Restaurant– 72.2 decibels

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

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