8 NYC Restaurants Where You Can Actually Hear Your Friends
Let’s bring good convo back
Whether you're treating Mom to afternoon tea, getting the squad into formation or trying to actually get to know your blind date, finding a place to eat in this city that doesn’t involve going hoarse can be challenging.
Here are eight NYC gems where comfort and conversation don’t come at the expense of tasty food.
Should you find yourself hungry before a night out in the East Village, the front room at Huertas makes for a perfect meet up. As it turns out, Basque-inspired small plates (oh heyyy, spicy chicken croquetas) are made infinitely more enjoyable when you can talk about them with your tablemates. Diners interested in a more intimate setting should check out the back room tasting menu, which just so happens to be one of the most affordable in town. Win-win.
107 First Ave. (at E. Seventh St.); 212-228-4490 or huertasnyc.com
You’ll find clean lines, colorful plates and a calming atmosphere at this vegetable-forward restaurant in the Smyth Hotel in Tribeca. It’s perfect for when you want to get a little dressed up and try adventurous small plates (at a civilized volume, of course.)
85 W. Broadway (at Chambers St.); 212-220-4110 or littlepark.com
Pine-paneled walls and small plates speak (quietly) to the general low-key LES vibe, but the roomy space is unique for the neighborhood. Conversation is possible (and totally audible) whether you’re sitting at the kitchen counter, the bar or in the dining room.
Finding a decent restaurant that’s equal parts fun, relaxed and homey is like catching the train just as you come down the subway steps: often wished for, rarely granted. Add in delicious, uber-Instagrammable food and you get Oiji, the downtown Korean comfort food joint critics geek out over for a reason.
119 First Ave. (at E. Seventh St.); 646-767-9050 or oijinyc.com
Lucky for us, this just-off-the-beaten-path spot in Hudson Square is mostly tourist-free. Plus, linen-covered acoustic panels stretch across the ceiling, so raising your voice won’t be necessary when you’re raving about your amazing burger.
508 Greenwich St. (at Spring St.); 212-641-0654 or housemanrestaurant.com
THE LITTLE OWL
West Village date-night favorite The Little Owl offers a romantic, low-key energy that feels like New York...just at lower decibels. And those gorgeous windows looking out onto a lovely street corner don’t hurt, either.
90 Bedford St. (at Grove St.); 212-741-4695 or thelittleowlnyc.com
Trade the hustle and bustle of the city for a brief moment by pretending you’re in Paris. At Lafayette you and your dining companions will feel relaxed yet tres chic, regardless of whether you’re lingering over coffee and pain au chocolat at the bar, or enjoying lamb chop tagine in the dining room.
380 Lafayette St. (at Great Jones St.); 212-533-3000 or lafayetteny.com
There’s a reason David Chang’s restaurants are always packed: Magic from the kitchen brings a hungry, boisterous crowd. But if you want to experience those big flavors in a more subdued environment, check out Midtown outpost Má Pêche. The larger space and quieter music means you can eat comfortably and catch up with your visiting college roommate.
15 W. 56th St. (at Fifth Ave.); 212-757-5878 or mapeche.momofuku.com