Gila’s Nosh — 70.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Gila’s Nosh is a nice little place located in Kips Bay.  Even though it’s home to plenty of hard surfaces, including the floor to ceiling glass front window and entrance, It’s too small to get uncomfortably loud (the  drop ceiling tiles probably help).  There was unnecessary music playing during our visit, as usual, but it wasn’t not too loud.  We were surprised to find a place this calm on 23rd Street, which is, after all, a busy cross town road.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Gila’s Nosh is perfectly fine for a nosh or a coffee.  The food is Middle Eastern/Mediterrenean, with very good, friendly service.  It’s a nice alternative to the chains that proliferate around this area.   We recommend a visit.

Note: There is scaffolding next to Gila’s Nosh which may make it appear to be closed, but the restaurant is open.

HOURS

9:45 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

. 23rd Street (betw. 2nd and 3rd Avenues), New York, NY 10010

WEBSITE

Gila’s Nosh

 

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

Milk & Hops — 71.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Milk & Hops focuses on beer and sandwiches featuring a selection of good cheeses.  A BLT was served naked on a plate–just one pickle slice and one cornichon cut in half–but the bacon was very good and crisp.  Ten beers are available on tap (you can get your growler filled here, too); the selection rotates so check the website for what’s on offer.   Flights are available, with four 4 oz. servings for $10.

Although the design choices favor hard surfaces–everything is covered in marble and subway tiles–the sound level was a reasonable 71.6 decibels during our visit.  No doubt the high ceiling helped, but we must note that the reading was taken on a not very busy Saturday afternoon.  Given the design choices, it is likely the space will be noisy when crowded.  Still, it’s worth poking your head in to check.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Milk & Hops also has a small market selling hipster staples (McClure pickles, Mast Brothers chocolate, etc.) and, of course, a really good selections of beers to go.

HOURS

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

Thursday through Saturday: 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Milk & Hops

Hungarian Pastry Shop — 72.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

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

 

Joe Coffee (Lexington Avenue) — 76.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Lexington Avenue location of Joe Coffee was crowded when we arrived.  A long table with stools placed around took up most of the space; a ledge ran along a wall providing some additional seating.  The space was tight as a line of people waiting to order snaked around the seating area, making for a less than pleasant experience.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

This location of Joe is a very live space.  It was tolerable but not comfortable.  One annoying customer who droned on to anyone and everyone was distracting, and in a small space there is no escape.  Unnecessarily loud music did not help.

If you really need coffee and you’re standing on Lexington Avenue between 74th and 75th Street outside of Joe, sure, consider it.  But if you want a calm, comfortable spot to enjoy that coffee, we suggest keep on walking.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

nue (betw. 74th and 75th Streets), New York, NY 10021

WEBSITE

Joe on Lex

La Bonbonniere — 76.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

La Bonbonniere is an old school diner on 8th Avenue, where the West Village folds into the Meat Packing District.  It’s a neighborhood favorite that feels like it’s been around forever, the go to place for breakfast or a burger.  In short, it’s the kind of place every neighborhood should have (and, miraculously, it still exists in the West Village somehow).

The place was relatively full during our lunch time visit, so full that we had to sit at the counter.  The front door was open to the street since the weather was mild.  Despite the open door, the street noise wasn’t that bad.  There was no music playing, which helped a lot.  The only real noise was from the staff talking to each other and the short order cook’s metal spatula hitting the grill top.  It’s an open kitchen, so that can’t be avoided. The sound was more noticeable for those of us who were seated at the counter; kitchen sounds should be less obtrusive at the tables.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Overall, for a full place with a door open to 8th Avenue, La Bonbonniere was quieter than we  expected.  It’s not calm, but it is at least tolerable.  It is a good, Inexpensive option in the West Village.  Cash only.  Odd hours.

HOURS

Monday: 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Wedensday: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

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

Saturday and Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

LOCATION

nue (betw. W. 12th and Jane Streets), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

La Bonbonniere

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

 

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

Joe Jr. Restaurant — 76.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The decibel reading was a surprising 76.4 for our visit to Joe Jr.  Surprising because the reading was higher than we would have guessed, but Joe Jr. Restaurant is a small space with lots of hard surfaces and plenty of chatter (including a few patrons who appeared to be hard of hearing).  The reading also reflects the hum of the grill and the sounds of dishes being stacked and binned–the kitchen is open, so you will see–and hear–your meal being made.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Every once in a while a space will read over 75 decibels yet will be tolerable.  Joe Jr. Restaurant is one of those places.  And the place was fairly crowded during our lunch time visit, so an off-hours visit should be quieter.

Joe Jr. Restaurant is well worth the visit if you are looking for very good diner fare.  Eater NY rated its burger the best no-frills burger in the city.  We concur, adding that the fries were pretty good, too, and the service was friendly and efficient.   If you want to experience what’s left of old New York City, Joe Jr. shouldn’t be missed.

HOURS

Open 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day (may vary on holidays)

LOCATION

167 3rd Avenue (at the corner of 16th Street), NY, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Joe Jr. Restaurant menu