Peter McManus Cafe — 65.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

What a pleasant surprise we had when we ducked into the Peter McManus Cafe, an Irish pub located in Chelsea, for a quick midweek lunch.   The pub, which was founded in 1932,  has been in its current location since 1936.   We can vouch that it looks like very little has been done to the interior since that time (which we think is a good thing).  The cafe has a bar in the front that is lined with stools, with a few tables and two or three flat screen tvs playing the game du jour.  In the back there is a dining room that is open to the bar area, but somewhat shielded from bar noise.

When we arrived all the tvs were on in the bar and dining room, but only one tv in the bar had the volume turned on.  This was not a problem at all, as it could easily be heard by the patrons sitting at the bar but was merely a background hum in the dining area, where we had our meal. With a decibel reading of 65.3, this was one of the most peaceful lunches we have had in a long time.

There is no question that the place was so quiet because is wasn’t crowded. In fact, the bar was only half full and the dining room was mostly empty.  That said, we think lunches generally should be comfortable, particularly in the dining space.  Our suspicion was confirmed by our friendly and efficient waitress who said that lunches tend to be quiet unless there was a big game on tv.  She noted that the space tends to be louder at dinner, but added that the jukebox in the front did not play in the dining area.   And no surprise, she confirmed that the place will be packed and noisy anytime there is a big game.

Peter McManus Cafe felt more like a pub with food than a restaurant, but they turned out a very freshly made and tasty club sandwich.  There are at least a dozen beers on tap and another dozen in bottles, plus an extensive list of whiskies from around the world.   More importantly, the place felt like a real neighborhood bar, and it was clear that the patrons lining the bar were regulars.

If you want to enjoy a beer and a burger in relative peace, head on over to the Peter McManus Cafe.   Neighborhood bars are a real rarity in Manhattan.  Enjoy this one while it’s still around (just don’t come during the Superbowl).

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 am.

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

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Peter McManus Cafe

Almondine Bakery — 73.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We believe that Almondine makes the best baguette in the city, so when we were in Dumbo recently we had to stop by and pick up a couple for later.   And since we were there, we stayed for a quick lunch.

Almondine offers a nice selection of savory items–sandwiches, soups, and quiche.  It also has lovely croissants, cakes and tarts, and the best fruit danish in town.  Really, just order the danish (it’s half-apricot, half-pear, and totally fabulous).  On the weekends raspberry beignets are available.  If you are there when they are freshly made the scent of raspberries washes over the entire space, and you’ll agree that the it’s worth a trip to Dumbo for the beignets alone.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Almondine’s decor sports a lot of glass, metal, and brick,  and yet the small space is mostly comfortable. In fact, the reading was higher than we expected but was probably due to two cranky toddlers who were subject, along with the rest of us, to an endless parental rant. The reason the space was comfortable was that there was no music playing.  Even a live space can be comfortable if there is no music, and Almondine proves it.  As a result, we can easily recommend you stop in for a nosh at any time.

So definitely stop by Almondine if you are in Dumbo.  Have a coffee and a quiche, and don’t forget to grab a baguette or two (and a fruit danish) on the way out the door.  You’ll thank us.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. Main and Dock Streets), Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY 11201

WEBSITE

Almondine Bakery.

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

Telegraphe Cafe — 75.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Telegraph Cafe was fairly busy during our visit, but despite being completely full it was comfortable.  It’s a small space with a handful of tightly packed tables to the right of the entrance and stools lining the counter and the front windows.  Despite having a large glassed front, the sound level was manageable.  We assume that window shades, which had been drawn halfway down, helped to absorb or deflect the sound.

Music was playing during part of visit, but the volume was low so it didn’t add much to the soundscape.  All told, given how crowded the space was, we were quite happy with the sound level and would gladly return.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Telegraphe Cafe offers breakfast and lunch items and well made coffees.  In an neighborhood that offers few comfortable options, Telegraphe Cafe is worth visiting.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 6th and 7th Avenues), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Telegraphe Cafe

 

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

 

French Cafe Gourmand — 74.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

You will be hard pressed to find a more comfortable coffee shop/cafe in the Financial District than French Cafe Gourmand.  It is a small space with only five tables for two plus two stools sharing a ledge.  Because it is so small, it is unlikely to get too loud and should always be manageable.  We didn’t hear music during our visit, which helps, but the size is the main reason the space is mostly comfortable.

The owner of the cafe is genuinely French and she serves a lovely selection of fresh and tasty salads, soups, and sandwiches.  There are nice pastries as well–if you like cheese danish this is the place to order it.

French Cafe Gourmand is an odd place for the Financial District, which is a good thing.  It’s hard to find a coffee shop that isn’t a chain (or feels like a chain), the food is genuinely good, and the space is a little quirky.  One black mark: like many small coffee shops in the city, the cafe does not have a public restroom.  Never fear.  The nearby World Trade Center Transportation Hub sports a large mall with plenty of clean bathrooms.

French Cafe Gourmand is the most civilized coffee shop in the Financial District.  We recommend it.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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

LOCATION

9 Maiden Lane (betw. Broadway and Nassau Street), New York, NY 10038

WEBSITE

French Cafe Gourmand

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

 

Cafe Luka — 75.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Cafe Luka is more of a diner than cafe.  It serves standard American diner favorites, like wraps, sandwiches, and a pretty good burger.   It’s fine for what it is but it could have been a lot more pleasant if they just lowered the music (or shut it off as no one was listening to it).

Other than the music, the other layers of sound were manageable.  A flat screen tv was prominently placed, but we couldn’t hear the audio.  The chatter was fairly quiet even though the place was full.  In fact, we had to sit at the counter as no tables were free.  Kitchen sounds occasionally colored the soundscape as a bussing station was situated near us, but the bussing noise was manageable,  as was the staff chatter as they ran the orders back and forth.  The only reason for a lackluster review was the music.  It was unnecessary and intrusive.

In the end, Cafe Luka was tolerable.  If you are in the neighborhood and looking for a quick, basic meal, you could do worse.

HOURS

6:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. every day (may be open slightly later on Fridays and Saturdays to accommodate customers)

LOCATION

nue (betw. 70th and 71st Streets), New York, NY 10021

WEBSITE

Cafe Luka

 

Sweet Life Cafe — 72.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Sweet Life Cafe is a neighborhood diner in the far West Village populated with a steady crew of regulars.  We stopped by for a quick lunch.  The music was a hair louder than necessary but most of the sound came from the chatter between the owner, waitresses, and customers.  In fact, we were asked if we were familiar with a recently released movie (we weren’t) out of the blue by the affable owner/manager.  It’s that sort of place, where anyone at any time may ask you a question as if you were part of the general scene.

In fact, Sweet Life is the sort of place that you assume exists only in other neighborhoods but you don’t expect to find in the West Village with its astronomical commercial rents.  Fortunately, you would be wrong.  Sweet Life Cafe is a genuine neighborhood place, an old-school diner where you can have breakfast all day or sandwiches, burgers, and other typical offerings.  The burgers were tasty and reasonably priced for the village, too.

The decor is nostalgic–tin ceiling, a couple of banquettes, old-fashioned tables and chairs–and it had an older crowd during our visit.  Even with the music and convivial group conversation, the place is fairly comfortable.  Definitely check it out if you want a tasty, inexpensive meal in one of the friendliest places in the West Village.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Greenwich and Washington Streets), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Sweet Life 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