From the Forum – Relatively Quiet Restaurants

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Relatively Quiet Restaurants:

“My parents are coming into town in the next couple of weeks and my boyfriend and I are taking them to dinner the night they arrive. My mom has been here many times over the years so I’m not looking for anything particularly DC. The main problem is that they are both very hard of hearing, which doesn’t mix well with a lot of restaurant noise, so I’m looking for recommendations of restaurants that are relatively quiet and moderately nice in the downtown, U Street, Columbia Heights, Admo area.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!”

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53 Comment

  • Judy at 14&W if you go earlier in the night (gets loud later on). They have a side dining room too if you all need to talk loudly. Very low-key. The service is great if you flag down the bartender/server when you are ready to order or want something. Otherwise, he’ll just assume everything is fine and will leave you alone. There’s always tables available so you can stay as long as you’d like; there is no pressure to vacate your table.

    • Judys is the best! But it is El Salvadorian, and very much so. If your parents are down with that then it’s the best place in town. And the cuajada is bomb.

    • Almost any restaurant is going to be fairly quiet if you go early enough (one reason why I prefer to eat dinner on the early side). I really like 701 and Cedar (both downtown); not cheap but both do a theater menu, another reason to go early. If you want to spend even more money, try Vidalia.

  • A bit pricey, but Plume at the Jefferson would meet your needs.

  • New Heights restaurant in Woodley Park is a little pricey but very quiet even when there are many customers. And the food is great.

  • Little Fountain Cafe in Adams Morgan

  • Mourayo in Dupont is great for a quiet meal. That’s where I take my parents when they’re in town.

  • I thought about this question before my parents visited the last couple of times too and these places were successful.
    1) Pho 14 on 14th and Park–good prices and food, relatively quiet, quick service
    2) Highlands on 14th and Crittenden–very low key, inexpensive, and enough seating at dinner
    3) The Coupe (restaurant side…on the left when you come in rather than the bar on the right) on 11th and Monroe–lots of seating, fairly quick service, and a wide variety of dinner options from burgers to steaks to breakfast

    These might not be the most exotic choices one could come up with, but they seem to work!

    • I’ve never seen “The Coupe” and “quick” mentioned together before.

    • I had dinner at the Coupe on the restaurant side, and it was incredibly noisy. Granted, it was a Friday and back when they first opened, so maybe things have changed since then.

    • Highlands is good weekdays, the good cheff does not work there weekdays. They have not decided yet what they are. More a carry out to me. The clerks scream and stomp like elephants. And are rude sometimes. Hope they improve one day.

  • Tortino: great food, good atmo (and pretty quiet)

  • Room 11 forever

    • I second that. Go to Room 11 after rush hour (7:30+) and get a table outside, weather permitting. It’s fairly quiet in the neighborhood at that hour. (I also just have to say that their BBQ burger is one of the best burgers I’ve had!)

  • Table in Mt. Vernon/Shaw was fairly quiet when I went there and we sat downstairs. I can’t speak for the roof area which is a more popular place to sit.

    • It’s definitely quiet on the roof too. I might not bring my own parents there just because the service can be so wildly unpredictable. I’ve been seated there an hour late even when I had a reservation. That said, I’ve also had some of my favorite meals in DC there.

  • Mug of Glop

    Some of my suggestions – Room 11, Mourayo, Tortino – have already been mentioned, but I’d also recommend Etto on 14 and Q. It was pretty quiet both times I’ve been there (once inside, once on the porch/sidewalk). I’d qualify that the Room 11 and Tortino dining rooms are *mostly* quiet, but the spaces are kind of small, so one loud party will dominate the noise level.

  • justinbc

    It’s not in NW, but Ninnella definitely meets all your other needs and has a beautiful view of Lincoln Park.

  • Cedar in penn quarter is pretty quiet.

  • My father is also hard of hearing. I have taken him to Restaurant Nora, Obelisk, and Birch & Barley which have all been quiet enough to hold a conversation over great food. I believe Birch & Barley is busier on the weekends, so perhaps it would be a better option for a weeknight meal.

  • Bombay Club is fairly quiet. I think Tom Sietsma puts a decibel rating in his reviews, so many search WaPo for that?

  • Maple in Columbia Heights, Mandu or L’enfant in AdMo, Red Hen in Bloomingdale

    • I love Red Hen but the main reason I don’t want to go back is because of the noise. I’ve been three times and it’s always been hard to hear. Shame because it’s only 2 blocks away.

      • Ah! It’s been a while, so I could certainly be remembering incorrectly.

        • I too love Red Hen, but all that exposed brick amplifies your typical din to a point where you have to consciously speak up in order to be heard.

      • Yes – I went to Red Hen last week – Tuesday night, so not terribly boisterous, (though remarkably full for a Tues. night) Not awful, but definitely NOT quiet. Group of 5, we could mostly hear each other with mild shouting. My throat was only slightly sore next day.

        I still think it’s stupid that anyone goes out to eat where they cannot have a conversation!!! Crazy!!!!

  • Big Bear Cafe in Eckington and Floriana in Duport are both nice and quiet.

    • Big Bear is a great suggestion for dinner, especially if you already live in the hood. I’ve all the dinner options that I’ve tried, and it’s fairly quiet for dinner service.

    • Big Bear is wonderful for dinner — delicious food at really reasonable prices and it’s generally pretty quiet. I think my own parents would hate it, but if they were the sort of people who would like it, I would absolutely bring them here.

  • Siroc downtown is super silent.

  • Bobby Van’s on 15th Street, across from the Sofitel. Big, high-backed booths that make you feel like you’re the only table in the place. The bonus with my hard-of-hearing dad is that the menu is pretty traditional, so he could always find something he liked.
    Farmers Fishers Bakers in Georgetown might be good. My husband and I used to go there a lot back when it was Agraria because it was one of the few places we could eat and have a conversation. The acoustics are bad, but it was hardly ever crowded enough to be an issue, and the food is wonderful. I think this new iteration comes from the people who brought Founding Farmers.

  • The Fourth Estate Restaurant at the National Press Club downtown is extraordinarily quiet. I don’t think anyone knows it is there or accessible to the public, but the food is quite good, and there always seems to be some sort of Travelzoo deal to save some money.

  • Tosca and Bistro d’Oc downtown are both quiet. Tosca is an expense-account type place – very classy and expensive. Bistro d’Oc may be one of the last family run places downtown, classic French, very cozy, cheap by DC standards. Both are great.

  • Las Canteras in admo is one of my favorite places to go when family is in town. Food is always great and relatively affordable (also the pisco sours are amazing). Plus it never seems to get too crowded so it’s a good place for conversation.

  • Dino’s Grotto, especially on the earlier end. It’s a great parent restaurant because Dean is rather amusing, and it’s super-delicious at reasonable prices.

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