Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen — 68.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

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

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

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

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

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

Bengal Tiger — 78.2 decibels

Bengal Tiger is a decent no-frills Indian restaurant located in midtown.  Ordering takes place at the counter, but it’s not a typical steam table affair.  Rather, the food comes out from a concealed kitchen.  Our meal was good, not great, but it was filling and inexpensive for its location (a little under $10 for two entrees, rice, and naan).

The sound level was manageable by the counter but loud where we were seated (near the exit) due to unnecessarily loud music and three loud customers.  As soon as two of the loud customers left things noticeably improved, even though the last loud customer was exuberant and occasionally squealed with laughter.   This cannot be helped and was not the fault of the restaurant, but the loud music made screaming (and squealing) inevitable.

Bengal Tiger was never peaceful or serene, and the noise level only improved after the loud couple  left, leaving the room a lot more tolerable and allowing for conversation without much strain.  Because it offers good food at a great price for its location, Bengal Tiger is going to be busy at lunch time and one should expect that it will be fairly loud.  Your best bet is to visit during off hours or take your food to go.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 5th and 6th Avenues, closer to 6th), New York, NY 11019

WEBSITE

Bengal Tiger

 

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