Rosa Mexicano (Lincoln Center) — 79.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We went to the Rosa Mexicano located just across the street from Lincoln Center to meet up with friends who were attending a midday performance.  The space began to fill up as the other patrons streamed in to what is one of the larger restaurants nearest to the Center.

As soon as we walked in we knew that the space was going to be live, as there was a large expanse of glass in the front of the space on both levels.  Fortunately there were curtains and a textile floor covering, but it didn’t appear that the textiles helped to absorb much of the sound.

We were seated on the second level.  It was fairly noisy, with the main source of the noise  coming from the other guests.  This is one of the few times that the noise was primarily due to voices rather than music.  In fact, we weren’t even certain if music was playing.  If it was, we couldn’t hear it because of the chatter.  We suspect that the second floor is louder than the first floor, most probably because the chatter from the first floor was wafting up and adding to the chatter on the second.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Rosa Mexicano was fairly crowded but not packed during our lunch visit.  We think the combination of the hard surfaces and the lack of a barrier between the two floors made the second floor hard to tolerate. The space simply wasn’t pleasant, and we would advise that you proceed with caution. There aren’t many options that are as close to Lincoln Center, so either plan to eat a little farther away or pack a pair of ear plugs.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 62nd and 63rd Streets), New York, NY 10028

WEBSITE

Rosa Mexicano/Lincoln Center

Hudson Diner — 73.4 decibels CLOSED

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by the Hudson Diner in the West Village for brunch one Saturday.  The Hudson Diner is a friendly neighborhood place, a favorite of nearby residents, many of whom are regulars. It offers basic American diner standards–a safe bet for burgers, breakfasts, and sandwiches–but its voluminous menu also offers Greek specialties, salads, seafood, chops, and pasta dishes.

The place was fairly crowded during our visit, but the soundscape wasn’t bad at all.  There was music playing in the background but the volume was so low that you could barely hear it.  Chatter predominated, with the sounds of the staff shouting orders to the short order cooks standing out.  Still, for a place that is bustling–and there was a lot of turnover–73.4 decibels is very respectable, particularly at brunch.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Hudson Diner has plenty of seating, so there generally isn’t a wait even during the height of brunch.  It’s worth checking out if you want something quick and relatively inexpensive in the West Village.

HOURS

6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

Street (betw. Barrow and Grove Streets), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Hudson Diner

Maggie Reilly’s — 72.7 to 73.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Located at the point where upper Chelsea meets Hudson Yards, Maggie Reilly’s is a cosy spot in a restaurant-poor part of town.  There aren’t a lot of options in the area because it is right across the street from the Hudson Yards construction site,  a multi-block project that is in the process of being developed into a mixed used area of large commercial and residential buildings.

We visited Maggie Reilly’s twice.  Our first visit was during a not very crowded brunch, so we realized that it might not be the best measure of the place. There is a bar in the front of the house that is surely loud and boisterous at happy hour or when there is an important game playing on one of many flat screen tvs, but the back dining room is a smaller and quieter space.

The dining area floors are lightly finished wood, and there is an upholstered panel running along the length of the room–there weren’t many hard surfaces. Unnecessary but interesting music was playing a hair louder than we like during our visit, but it wasn’t blaring. One of us finished off a tasty full Irish breakfast, while the other enjoyed a salad. The coffee tasted like it was freeze-dried and not brewed, but it’s a bar not a coffee shop. The staff was friendly and, except for the music, we were happy with our visit.

On our second visit we again were in the back dining room, but this time we came for a mid-week lunch.  Once again we enjoyed our visit but there was one glaring drawback–the music volume was too loud and trebly.  It was a real shame, because the music only served to make an otherwise comfortable space merely manageable.  What made it worse was that, unlike our brunch visit, the music was bland, generic, modern-day bubblegum pop.  Absolutely forgettable and totally unnecessary.  That aside, we enjoyed our very tasty burgers.

Based on our two experiences, we think lunch and brunch at Maggie Reilly’s should always be fine unless there is a big important game or some other event playing on the multiple tvs.  The noise level at dinner will depend on the day, with a greater likelihood that the space will be relaxed earlier in the week. Happy hour, especially later in the week, should probably be avoided, as the place is pretty popular and Maggie Reilly’s offers a special of a sandwich or burger plus a beer for $10 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.

Kitchen open daily 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. | Saturday and Sunday brunch served until 4:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 29th and 30th Streets), New York, NY 10001

WEBSITE

Maggie Reilly’s

Trestle on Tenth — 75.3 decibels CLOSED

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Trestle on Tenth offers Swiss cuisine in the upper reaches of Chelsea.  We visited Trestle on a Saturday for brunch.  On entering we noticed that the music was a bit louder than necessary, but as the place filled up–and just about every seat was taken by the time we left–the volume was either lowered or it assumed its rightful place in the background. Whatever the reason, the music level was fine after the first few minutes.

An unsealed brick wall and unfinished wood floor may have mitigated the sound reflection otherwise caused by the large expanse of glass at the front of the space.  We were unsure whether the slatted wood ceiling also helped.  One thing was clear–the space didn’t feel live even though there were few elements to absorb sound.  In fact, we  found the soundscape to be at least tolerable and sometimes approaching comfortable.

Overall we were happy with the sound level at Trestle onf Tenth.  While it wasn’t quiet, no one should expect quiet at a popular restaurant during a usually busy time.  In fact, for a fully packed spot at brunch, we were very happy with our visit.  It didn’t hurt that Trestle offers really tasty, filing breakfast dishes.  We recommend a visit.

HOURS

Sunday and Monday: 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday through Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

(at the corner of 24th Street), New York, NY 10001

WEBSITE

Trestle on Tenth

 

Everyman Espresso (Soho) — 69.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Canal Street location of Everyman Espresso is smaller than the East Village location.  Only a couple of chairs at two small tables and a few benches are available for seating, but they were more than enough to accommodate all who entered on a Thursday evening.

LIke the East Village location, the espresso machine in this location of Everyman Espresso was one of the quietest we’ve experienced.  We assume that Everyman uses special noise-sensitive machines, or maybe it’s because the espresso maker was situated so that the noise making elements face away from the seating area (similar to the East Village location).  Whatever the reason, it is appreciated, particularly since many of the surfaces are hard and more than capable of bouncing the sound around the small space.  Wood slats on the ceiling may have helped deflect sound, but other than a couple of mats on the floor (probably there temporarily to sop up rain), there were no textiles or softer materials to absorb sound.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We liked this location as much as the East Village spot, but note that since it is smaller it doesn’t have a restroom (the East Village location does).  That aside, the Canal Street location of Everyman Espresso is a nice little niche of serenity near chaotic Canal Street.  It’s worth a visit.

HOURS

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

Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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

LOCATION

(betw. Canal and Grand Streets, closer to Canal), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Everyman Espresso (Soho)

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

Pippali — 72.3 to 73.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We really loved our meals at Pippali, which had the best reviews on popular rating sites among the many Indian restaurants in Curry Hill (Lexington Avenue between 26th and 29th Streets). We  visited at lunch time on three separate occasions, and enjoyed Pippali’s reasonably priced and filling thalis (choice of two vegetarian, three chicken, three lamb, and two seafood entrée options). The thalis come with an appetizer, vegetable of the day, dal, raitha, pickle, naan, basmati rice, salad, a papadam, and dessert–it’s quite filling and everything is tasty.  Pippali also offers biryani and tandoori specials.

No surprise then that Pippali draws a sizable crowd at lunch. During our first visit, the space was easily more than half full and many tables turned over during our stay.  As with many places, the background music was a little louder than it needed to be.  Since the music featured traditional Indian music, it tended to favor high-pitched sounds which some people may find uncomfortable. That said, most of the sound was from customer chatter, as the place was filled with pairs or groups of work colleagues.  Given how busy it was–and there was a lot of conversation going on at almost every table–we were surprisingly comfortable.  We suspect that the padded banquettes and chairs may have helped (or perhaps we were distracted by the wonderful food?).

Our second visit on a slower Monday yielded a 72.3 decibel rating, which was perfectly fine.  Again the music was a bit louder than we would have liked, but it was more noticeable at first as the dining room was not very crowded.  As more customers came in, the music became less obvious.  The food was as lovely as always, and service was attentive.

We recorded a reading of 72.4 decibels on our third visit.  Because our visit was on an observed federal holiday, there were fewer tables of coworkers dining with us.  Indian music was playing a bit too loudly when we first stepped in, but shortly after we were seated the volume was lowered and mellow bossa nova played for the rest of our visit. Once the music was properly in the background the space was perfect.  Conversation was easy, there were no distractions, and the meal, as usual, was wonderful.

If high-pitched music is your personal nemesis, you may want to consider whether you should  visit Pippali.  If not, we would highly recommend a visit, as the noise level was very manageable and the food was excellent.  And given that the restaurant was busy during our first visit and most customers were engaged in animated conversation, we think that it’s a safe bet that the noise level at dinner would be similar or, at most, just a few decibels higher.  Go!

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

(betw. Park and Lexington Avenues), New York, NY 11016

WEBSITE

Pippali

Govinda’s — 65.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Located on the bottom floor of the Hare Krishna Temple on Schemerhorn near Nevins, Govinda’s is not to be missed.  On the Temple’s website they extoll the virtues of Govinda’s, inviting the public to enjoy “great Vegetarian food at affordable prices and served to you in a peaceful stress free environment.”  And they delivered on what they had promised.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Govinda’s is located in a large meeting room.  A buffet style counter is set up by the entrance, to the space.  You wait in line, tell the server what you want, pay, and find a free seat at one of the large shared tables throughout the roomy space.  It feels like a church basement and not a restaurant for good reason, but this church basement restaurant is packed with believers and non-believers who enjoy a good vegetarian nosh.

Govinda’s features one entree that changes every day–eggplant parmagiana was offered when we visited–and a number of side dishes.  You pay for the number choices you want: two choices are $7, and a combo plate of eggplant Parm, string beans, cabbage and potatoes, and a very tasty slaw set us back $10.  A “complete meal,” which must feature everything, is only $12 and apparently is enough food for two people.  Free bread and unlimited water or orange lemonade (very good and refreshing) come with the meal.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There were lots of coworkers (it’s located near city government buildings) or friends chatting as they ate during out visit, and music playing in the background, but it the soundscape was mostly comfortable.  The room was half full when we first entered but quickly filled up; it was nearly full by the time we left.  Because the space is roomy and there is a drop ceiling, the sound level was more than manageable.  The only thing that made the space less than perfect was the sitar music, which can be a bit trebly–if high-pitched sounds are your personal nemisis, you may want to avoid Govinda’s.  That said, the space is very comfortable and it’s easy to carry on a conversation here.

If you enjoy a good vegetarian meal in a fairly relaxed setting, you must stop by Govinda’s.  Note that Govinda’s is only open for lunch Monday through Friday, and it is cash only.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Closed Saturday and Sunday

LOCATION

305 Schermerhorn Street (betw. Nevins and Bond Streets), Brooklyn, NY 11217

WEBSITE

Govinda’s Vegetarian Lunch

 

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

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