Seaport Smorgasburg — 82.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

As charmless as a typical mall food court, as annoying as the original Smorgasburg outdoor locations (though no strollers), the only reason to stop by the Seaport Smorgasburg is if you are a tourist, you are in the Seaport, and you are very hungry. The food is a bit better than typical food court offerings–and a bit pricier, too–but NYC has lots of these food courts now and they all seem to feature the same players.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

In the end, this location of Smorgasburg feels like it could be at any destination space in any big U.S. city.  There was unnecessary music playing a bit too loudly in the background, a constant mechanical hum, lots of hard surfaces, and lots of people.  It’s an uncomfortable space that is meant to get you in and out as quickly as possible.  Our reviews involve actually using the space as intended–i.e., ordering and eating a meal when reviewing a restaurant–so we ordered a few items and waited for them to be announced.  When they were, we went to the quietest spot we could find and ate as quickly as possible.  It was a relief to take the last bite and leave.

There is no reason to plan a visit to Seaport Smorgasburg unless you must (can’t think of why, but who knows?) or you step in to use the public restrooms.  If you are compelled to order food here, take it to go or eat very quickly.  One mitigating factor is booze.  You can buy some.  It may help.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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

Closed in winter

LOCATION

11 Fulton Street (betw. Water and Front Streets), New York, NY 10038

WEBSITE

Seaport Smorgasburg

Russ & Daughters Cafe — 78.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

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

Lombardi’s Pizza — 80.5 decibels

Lombardi's

Lombardi’s

Lombardi’s claims to be America’s first pizzeria as well as the birthplace of New York style pizza.  It’s been going strong for over 100 years and is an established tourist destination, which explains the almost full main floor dining room during a midweek lunch service.

The restaurant’s design features mostly hard surfaces–tile floor, glass, metal–and they are unforgiving.  When completely packed, which is likely most evenings, the noise level must be unbearable as there is a full bar along one wall that must be jammed with people waiting for an available table.  And there are always people waiting for a table on nights and weekends.

If you are doing a pizza history tour and absolutely must visit Lombardi’s Pizza, go during off hours and hope for the best.  Otherwise, bring your ear plugs or avoid.

HOURS

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

Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of Mott Street), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Lombardi’s Pizza