Escaping The Noise. : One of the dirty secrets of the restaurant business is the real reason why restaurant dining rooms are so acoustically lively. The truth is that it’s hard to hear the people sharing your table, and be heard by them on purpose. Restaurant patrons who have to shout to be heard will leave the restaurant sooner than those who can talk at conversational volumes. Then the restaurant can recycle those tables to a new bunch of customers. Although the restaurant owners and managers may not be aware that this is what they’re doing, they have felt the everlasting vogue set by other restaurants. And so it is that the most often-used sentence in restaurants is “What?”
Here is a list of restaurants where the ambient sound is tolerable. I have ranked them according to a mix of pleasant background noise and the food and service the place accords. The dozen best of these lead the list. Another thirty-eight are selected by the same criteria, but they are listed in alphabetical order. I have left comments about some of the most interesting low-volume eateries.
Two more things. A lot of restaurants are quiet at times, and noisy at others. This has to do almost entirely with the number of people in the place and the time of day. Galatoire’s, for example, is intolerably noisy during lunch on Friday, but easy to talk and hear in at Sunday dinner. I will show these with a “Quiet Hours” note.
Thing Number Two: Any list of fifty best New Orleans restaurants by any criteria will be a list of very good restaurants. The ones near the bottom of this list are all excellent places to dine.
As always, I welcome suggestions of restaurants that ought to be included on this list–or left out.
1. Commander’s Palace. Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 1403 Washington Ave. 504-899-8221. The upstairs Garden Room is much louder than the main dining room downstairs. So where do most diners go? Downstairs.
2. Clancy’s. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 6100 Annunciation. 504-895-1111. The king of the 1980s Creole bistros, Clancy’s has small spaces, lots of glass, and a noisy bar. So don’t sit in the bar.
3. Brennan’s. French Quarter: 417 Royal. 504-525-9711. As big a restaurant as the newly-restored Brennan’s is, most of the rooms are on the small side, and the windows and furnishings prevent noisiness.
4. Dakota. Covington: 629 N US 190. 985-892-3712. When it’s full, the main dining room can be quite loud. But it usually isn’t, so it’s good.
5. La Provence. Lacombe: 25020 US 190. 985-626-7662. Big, beautiful, windowed, out in the country. . . perfect place to linger over a big dinner.
6. Brigtsen’s. Uptown 4: Riverbend, Carrollton & Broadmoor: 723 Dante. 504-861-7610. High ceilings, doors and windows make Frank and Marna’s place look bigger than it is. Also intimate and usually quiet. But some nights, it can get a bit louder.
7. Café B. Metairie 1: Old Metairie: 2700 Metairie Road. 504-934-4700. Having the tables scattered around the whole space keeps it quiet.
7. Cafe Lynn. Mandeville: 2600 Florida St. 985-624-9007. Tables spaced well apart, with nobody kicking up a ruckus.
8. R’evolution. French Quarter: 777 Bienville (in the Royal Sonesta Hotel). 504-553-2277. Big, beautiful place with many handsome rooms. Never a problem talking here.
9. Pascal’s Manale. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 1838 Napoleon Ave. 504-895-4877.
10. Carrollton Market. Riverbend: 8132 Hampson St. 504-252-9928. Small restaurant, small noise.
11. Muriel’s. French Quarter: 801 Chartres. 504-568-1885. It’s either the brick wall is the magic of the resident ghost that make this a good spot for a dinner a deux.
12. Apolline. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 4729 Magazine St. 504-894-8881.
. Annadele Plantation. Covington: 71518 Chestnut St. 985-809-7669. In a 1850s building, it’s hard for noise to get a toehold. Beautiful place.
. Annunciation. Warehouse District & Center City: 1016 Annunciation. 504-568-0245. All the dining spaces are small, and this alone brings the noise down.
. Antoine’s. French Quarter: 713 St Louis. 504-581-4422. The tall ceilings covered with sound-unreflective mementos. Keep it down–unless it’s a private dinner for a hundred. Which can’t help but be noisy.
. Balise. CBD: 640 Carondelet St. 504-459-4449.
. Bistro Orleans. Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 3216 West Esplanade Ave. 504-304-1469.
. Bosco’s. Mandeville: 2040 La Hwy 59. 985-624-5066. Concrete floors ought to make it loud in here, but they don’t.
. Broussard’s. French Quarter: 819 Conti. 504-581-3866. The main dining room is very large, and when it fills, it gets loud. Best dining room–the one past the bar on the courtyard.
. Cafe Adelaide. CBD: 300 Poydras St. 504-595-3305. A big restaurant
. Chophouse. CBD: 322 Magazine St. 504-522-7902. The original home of the Bon Ton Cafe has brick walls and big windows, both of which keep the sound down. The greatest danger is from the musicians who are here most of the time. Depends of the repertoire.
. Coquette. Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 2800 Magazine St. 504-265-0421. Brick walls, high ceilings, much glass tones the dBs down.
. Court of Two Sisters. French Quarter: 613 Royal. 504-522-7273. The main dining room is outdoors. Have you ever been in courtyard with too lunch noise ?
. Cypress. Metairie 3: Houma Blvd To Kenner Line: 4426 Transcontinental. 504-885-6885. The rooms are small and reached through a mini-maze of hallways.
. Delmonico. Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 1300 St Charles Ave. 504-525-4937. The bar can get loud, especially when the piano gets going.
. Desi Vega’s. CBD: 628 St Charles Ave. 504-523-7600. The expansive dining room with its many windows make it less noisy than its brother restaurant Mr. John’s Steakhouse.
. Fausto’s. Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 530 Veterans Blvd. 504-833-7121. Even when it’s full, it’s not too loud. Smaller than it looks is why.
. Flaming Torch. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 737 Octavia. 504-895-0900.
. Kenton’s. Uptown 2: Washington To Napoleon: 5757 Magazine St. 504-891-1177. The dining rooms and outdoor tables are well srranged.
. La Petite Grocery. Uptown 2: Washington To Napoleon: 4238 Magazine. 504-891-3377. A peculuiarity. It’s always full, but some night’s it’s good for talking. On others, it’s seriously loud. Best luck is had in the corners.
. Lakehouse. Mandeville: 2025 Lakeshore Dr. 985-626-3006. 1840 mansion overlooking Lake Pontchartrain. Outdoor tables are the best.
. Mais Arepas. Warehouse District & Center City: 1200 Carondelet St. 504-523-6247.
. MeMe’s. St. Bernard Parish: 712 W. Judge Perez Dr. 504-644-4992.
. Mosca’s. Westwego: 4137 US 90. 504-436-9942. The bar is always louder than the dining rooms, because it fills up faster.
. Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar & Fish Grill. French Quarter: 1327 St. Charles Ave. 504-267-016.
. Namese. Mid-City: 4077 Tulane Ave. 504-483-8899.
. Nuvolari’s. Mandeville: 246 Girod St. 985-626-5619.
. O’Brien’s Grille. Gretna: 2020 Belle Chasse Hwy. 504-391-7229.
. Peppermill. Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 3524 Severn Ave. 504-455-2266.
. Rib Room. French Quarter: 621 St Louis St. 504-529-7045.
. Steak Knife. Lakeview: 888 Harrison Ave. 504-488-8981. I haven’t seen this excellent Lakeview steakhouse full in a long time, but even when it’s busy it’s good for catching up with friends.
. Tomas Bistro. Warehouse District & Center City: 755 Tchoupitoulas. 504-527-0942. Beautiful French-Creole cafe, with thick brick walls and waving wall coverings.
. Tony Angello’s. Lakeview: 6262 Fleur de Lis Dr. 504-488-0888. I guess that the small number of tables per square food explains the quietude.
. Tony Mandina’s. Gretna: 1915 Pratt. 504-362-2010.
. Trenasse. CBD: 444 St Charles Ave. 504-680-7000. A long dining room spreads the sound out.
. Water Street Bistro. Madisonville: 804 Water. 985-845-3855. Except at Sunday brunch, not usually full enough to blow out your eardrums.
. Windsor Court Grill Room. CBD: 300 Gravier. 504-522-1994.
. Zea. Kenner: 1325 West Esplanade Ave. 504-468-7733. I’ve never liked the music here, but the rest of the sound is kept under control.
. Zea. Slidell: 173 Northshore Blvd. 985-273-0500.