Phebe’s — 70.8 decibels

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

 

Maman (Tribeca) — 76 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by Maman’s Tribeca location for a quick nosh one Friday afternoon. This location of the Maman mini-chain is open for breakfast and lunch only.  It’s a pretty space, but we got the worse seat in the house–at the counter looking into the kitchen. We understand the aesthetic reasons for an open kitchen–there is a bit of spectacle in watching the chefs prepare your meal–but it also is a really efficient way to introduce high-pitched china-meeting-stainless countertop and mechanical sounds into the dining space.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Fortunately, the kitchen sounds were the only obvious source of unpleasant noise.  Otherwise the space, which was half full during our visit, was fine, despite the competing conversations. There was background music, which, though unnecessary, was playing at a volume low enough so as not to affect the soundscape.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The space is pretty, and the Maman name is well regarded, so we were surprised by the less than fabulous Croque “Maman,” the predominant ingredient of which was the bechamel sauce.  No one likes a dry Croque Monsieur, of course, but this was drowning in sauce. Because of their reputation and user reivews, we chalked it up to an off day.  Given that quiet places are hard to find in Tribeca, Maman is an acceptable option.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Can purchase items to go an hour earlier each day and until 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

(betw. Franklin and White Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Maman

Han Dynasty (East Village) — 75.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The East Village location of Han Dynasty was less than half full when we arrived for lunch, but it quickly filled up and was at least half full by the time we left.  Overall we found the space merely tolerable, which raises concerns for the noise levels when the space is packed.  Han Dynasty has lots of hard surfaces with few few elements that could absorb sound, though unframed art work may have mitigated noise a hair.  Once again there was one overarching factor for the less than optimal soundscape: the music was too loud.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Yes, it could have been worse–our ears weren’t bleeding, after all–but we found the space to be  rather live, and the music (odd choices, by the way) just dominated the soundscape.  There were lots of work groups in the place and they were chatty, but their voices were manageable.  If the music were lowered a couple of notches, the space could have been comfortable.  It was, instead, merely tolerable, and that depended, more on less, on the song that was playing at any given time.

Han Dynasty offers very reasonable and tasty lunch specials.  If the place is packed and the music volume is as loud as it is at lunch, the noise level  probably will be intolerable.  That said, we tolerated the noise level during our visit, but wish it was better.  Why not aim for comfortable?  We suggest that you proceed with caution.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 12th and 13th Streets), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Han Dynasty–East Village

Walker’s — 72.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Walker’s is a longstanding neighborhood bar and restaurant in Tribeca–the go to place for nearby residents.  Despite Tribeca’s reputation as an exclusive neighborhood favored by celebrities, Walker’s is definitely not a place where you would expect to find a scene.  Rather, it’s the place you go with family and friends to enjoy good renditions of American staples–soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, brunch favorites, and hearty pasta, steak, and seafood entrees.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Walker’s has three distinct spaces.  It would be best to avoid the front room if there is a game on.  While it’s the biggest space, It’s also where the bar is located and there are a couple of flat screen tvs.  If there’s an important game we are sure it will be very loud.  That said, while it was noisier when we arrived, it was pretty mellow when we left.

Walker’s also has two narrow dining spaces, and they are usually much quieter than the bar area.  Our visit during a crowded Saturday brunch was pretty pleasant even with a screaming baby (the screaming, fortunately, was short-lived).  Music played in the background, but it wasn’t too loud.  Despite the crowd–and the occasional fuss–the space was perfectly fine and we enjoyed our visit.   Recommended.

HOURS

11:00 a.m. to 3:45 a.m. every day

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of Varick), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Walker’s

Karczma — 71.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Karczma is a lovely Polish restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a neighborhood that still has a large Polish population.  There is a bar in the front with a few tables on the opposite wall, and further back there is a dining room.   Unsurprisingly, the menu offers Polish home cooking served by women in traditional dress.

All of the booths in the dining room were taken during our lunch time visit, and there were only a few tables free.  Most tables were occupied by couples or groups, so there was plenty of conversation (and beer).  Polish music played softly in the background, yet the dining room was perfectly pleasant.  No doubt the decor helped, as it featured a fair amount of unfinished wood and was decidedly old school–the antithesis of the Industrial look responsible for much of the loudness at most restaurants today.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

If the place is packed it will, of course, be louder.  That said, the dining room was over half full during our visit, plus a handful of people at the bar, and it was perfectly fine.

Our lunch was big, fresh, and tasty.  Filling doesn’t come close to describe it.  Somehow we managed to finish it, convinced that we wouldn’t have to eat until the next day (and we were right).  Note that it’s a meaty menu, so it’s not the place to bring your vegan friend.

HOURS

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

Monday through Thursday: 12:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. Manhattan and Franklin Streets), Brooklyn, NY 11222

WEBSITE

Karczma

Katsu-Hama– 75.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Katsu-Hama is a calm oasis in midtown.  The menu features panko-breaded fried pork or chicken cutlets.  They offer a number of lunch specials for all appetites, including a seafood katsu option.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The decibel reading for our visit was higher than we would have guessed, because we found the place to be very comfortable, even relaxing.  Although we were seated in the front where parties of one or two are placed, we believe the reading fairly reflects the entire space as we checked out the back dining area and found it to be consistent with our experience up front.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Calm is the word that best describes Katsu-Hama.  Instrumental jazz played very softly in the background.  Nearby diners chatted, in person or, sigh, on their phones, but it wasn’t bad–no screamers.   We did pick up some kitchen sounds, but they weren’t jarring or pingy.  The space is not live, and the low lighting and soft music really make for a relaxing experience.  We highly recommend a visit to Katsu-Hama.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. 5th and Madison Avenues), New York, NY 10017

WEBSITE

Katsu-Hama

Mimi’s Hummus (14th Street) — 73.5 decibels CLOSED

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The food at Mimi’s Hummus is absolutely fabulous.   We think it’s the best hummus in the city, and many food writers and sites agree.  All around us plates were emptied, leaving not a crumb–ours were wiped clean.  Yes, it’s that good.

Mimi’s first Manhattan location is a small space with lots of tile and glass, so we were apprehensive when we entered.  But the side walls in the dining space sport wooden panels with uniform holes that look like they may have sound abatement properties.  Or not.

Perhaps the wooden panels helped to keep the noise level at a reasonable level, we aren’t certain, but there was one thing that could have been done to make the space really comfortable but was not–lower the music.  Once again what could have been a comfortable space was made merely tolerable because the music volume was too loud.  In addition, the sound system gave certain songs an odd reverb or echo-like quality that could be felt as well as heard.  There was no reason for playing the music at the volume  we experienced, as most people were engaged in conversation with workmates or friends.

Without the music the space would have been ideal.  At least it wasn’t so so loud that we ran out screaming–it’s tolerable.   And the food is so good that it’s still worth going to Mimi’s even with the music volume higher than we would like.  One hopes that they consider turning down the volume going forward, because the space would be much more comfortable.

Although we paid a  lunch time visit, the place was busy enough to give a good indication of what one could expect when it is packed.  It’s a small space, so it is not likely that the noise level will top 80 decibels, but that’s a low bar.  Please, Mimi’s, lower the music.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

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

WEBSITE

Mimi’s Hummus

Khe-Yo — 65.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

What a lovely place!  Khe-Yo offers “Laotian-inspired Southeast Asian cuisine” in the heart of Tribeca.  It wasn’t very crowded when we arrived for a Tuesday lunch, and was mostly empty by the time we left.  So while the reading suggests that it was absolutely serene, please keep in mind that  Khe-Yo will be louder when full.

That said, Khe-Yo has a balance of hard and soft surfaces.  The wood floors are unfinished and the brick walls are not sealed, both of which could possibly absorb some sound, something that isn’t likely with more highly finished surfaces.  Fabric wall hangings are placed around the main dining area, and they probably helped to abate sound–they surely didn’t reflect it.  Upholstered banquettes circled the room, adding yet another relatively soft surface.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There was music was playing in the background during our visit.  It was at a perfect volume–loud enough to recognize what was playing but not so loud as to force people to scream over it–and the choice of music was neither jarring nor inappropriate.

We enjoyed our meal, and our Vietnamese coffees–one hot, one iced–were first rate.  Khe-yo’s space is attractive and comfortable, and we found it very relaxing.

Given the vibe of the place and the materials used in its design, we think that Khe-Yo should be tolerable even when fairly full.   You will be hard pressed to find a more relaxed, comfortable spot in Tribeca.   We were very happy with our visit and intend to return to confirm that Khe-Yo is  comfortable during dinner or brunch service.

HOURS

Monday through Wednesday: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Thursday and Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Saturday: 12:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. West B’way and Hudson Street), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Khe-Yo

 

Mae Mae Cafe — 68.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Mae Mae Cafe is located in what is now called Hudson Square, that formerly unnamed few blocks south of the West Village and west of Soho.  It is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, with dinner served only on Wednesday evenings.

We visited during a Friday lunch time and found it to be a comfortable space.  There were some kitchen sounds, but not many.  Music played very softly in the background, for the most part, with the volume creeping up a hair louder than we would have liked when a Nirvana song came on.  When it ended, the volume eased down to its previous level.

The room was at least half full when we entered, but the place emptied over our short lunch.  It is unlikely, we assume, that the space would be under 70 decibels if completely full, but it should be manageable.  Mae Mae Cafe is a small place, and while there are no textiles or other soft surfaces, there is a lot of wood and not as much glass, tile, and metal as one finds in a typically loud, live place.

In the end, we can safely recommend that you check out Mae Mae Cafe.  The space is mostly comfortable, and both the food and service were very good.

HOURS

Monday and Tuesday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Thurssday and Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Closed Saturday and Sunday

LOCATION

Street (betw. Hudson and Varick Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Mae Mae Cafe

 

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