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Noisiest restaurants in the Triangle?

Hey folks, I'm wondering which restos you feel are the loudest, most bustling places around. Normally I want to avoid noisy restaurants. But now I have a 14 month old baby who, though generally well behaved, has a charming little habbit of giving out 4 or 5 good screams during mealtime. Just to, you know, remind us all that he's there in case we forgot. In a noisy restaurant, it's no big deal, but in a very quiet place it's disruptive. Also, when there's a lot of activity around, he gets less bored and therefore less loud. The best noisy restaurants we've gone to so far are Pop's and Talulla's. Any other ideas?

May this phase be a short one.

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  1. You mean you've found a quiet one around here? I've been to too many otherwise very pleasant restaurants in the Triangle where you can't hold a conversation the person across the table from you due to the extreme noise level.

    The Spouse has posited that these restaurants deliberatly refuse to put in noise dampening decor elements because they somehow assume that diners will equate excess noise with trendiness, ie, this is the "happening" place to be.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rockycat

      While this may be of little consolation to the problem of finding yourself in noisy restaurants, I've never known anyone to actually purposefully make design choices with the intent to make a place noisier. I've been involved in the design of numerous places (some of which are admittedly noisy) but it has always been a battle between going after a certain look and the effect that will have on the acoustics. Sometimes things don't work out as well as you had hoped and sometimes (probably the case more often than not) you simply don't have the money to spend on the things that will make your place more quiet.

      I also know plenty of people who run restaurants and each and every one of them are looking for ways to reduce the ambient noise.

      Likely the biggest issue is that many chefs tend to appreciate a rather sparse asthetic and that hardly makes a place quiet. Many of the features that can dampen the sound can soften or clutter the look too much and are also quite expensive to keep up (read: varnished wood and metal hold up better than carpet and velvet).

      I've caught a ton of well deserved flack for the noise level in my place and have so far thrown a bunch of money into a new floor to address that. It's still noiser than many would like but, then again, it's a small place without a lot of walls. I'll do more as I can afford the upgrades.

      At any rate, not sure if this helps. Perhaps I simply wrote it because it breaks my heart that people think restaurants are purposefully choosing to make their restaurants unpleasantly noisy.

    2. Crook's Corner in Carboro or is it Chapel Hill? has delicious food but is so noisy that the last time we ate there my ears were ringing as if I'd attended a rock concert.

      I vowed to never eat there again except during mild weather when we could eat outdoors on their patio.

      Industrial strength ear protection is needed.

      1. City Beverage can be pretty noisy when things are in full swing, but it also seems to me to be a place where no one would really care if the little guy let out a yelp or two. I have to say, I am one of those people who equates a bit of noise with a happening place to be (the Chinese call it "renao"), but there are some quiet places around here, aren't there for those of you who enjoy peace and quiet with your entrees. What about Nana's? I remember Provence as being fairly quiet.

        1. 411 in Chapel Hill...especially if you sit in the covered patio/courtyard area.

          1. Elmos Diner for casual breakfast/brunch...Both Carrboro and Durham locations are great for kids. I am surprised to see Pop's on your list, durhamois, as I typically equate that restaurant with a romantic night out (small tables, dim light, close seating) -- I suppose it could be a little noisy, but I would say that it seems "trendy-noisy" instead of "kid-noisy!" Fosters market always has lots of little ones running around. Also, for casual Asian -- though perhaps not the most kid-friendly menu -- try Chai's noodle bar and bistro on Erwin Road. Not a place where people would mind a little kid noise. All these places are a little more casual than Pop's and Talulla's, but I don't have kids yet and am guilty of being one of the people who try to avoid sitting next to the table with toddlers at fine dining establishments. :) I adore kids, but no kidding, had a chicken nugget land in my plate recently when I sat withing throwing range.

            1 Reply
            1. re: shoneycu

              Our little one is a chowhound in training... He eats spicy korean tofu, malai kofta, baba gannoug, and ropa vieja. No mcnuggets coming from our table!

              Thanks for all the suggestions. Chai is a pretty good idea, I hadn't thought of that. Really I find most casual dining spots to be okay with kids. It's more the special occasion stuff. We have tons of babysitters around, but sometimes we really want to have a nice dinner out together as a family. Plus, we want to get him familiar with different cuisines and dining etiquette from an early age.

            2. Magnolia Grill can get quite noisy, partly because the tables are spaced so closely together. It's the only thing that has detracted from otherwise great dining experiences there.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bbqme

                But in fairness to the original poster, I wouldn't recommend bringing a 14-month-old to Magnolia Grill.

              2. Two Raleigh recommendations, 518 West is deafening at times, and recently I went to 18 Seaboard (review forthcoming, just haven't had time for more than a quick post!), and they were pretty loud as well.

                2 Replies
                1. re: OrganicGal

                  Riviera on Wilmington at Hargett in Raleigh should do just fine. I have never been able to hold a conversation with my date there it is so loud. And their white truffle oil and malt vinegar pommes frites are TO DIE FOR!

                  1. re: Chapel Will

                    I agree with you wholeheartedly on the pommes frites. I have been to Riviera three times in the past month or so and they seem to be both inventive with their dishes (they custom-made one with no dairy for my SO who has an allergy and did a great job) and, above all, consistent. I have ordered the same entree twice and it was wonderful on both occasions. The only drawback I found was overcooked salmon but that seems to be expected in the Triangle unless you are cooking it yourself.

                    One funny thing about Riviera though - I think the noise level has dropped considerably because they have put pieces of carpet up underneath the stools and chairs! Go check it out the next time you are in there. They said it cuts down on noise reverberating off the hardwood floors.

                2. We've often brought our eighteen-month-old to Chamas in Durham. It's the perfest restaurant for a toddler. A kid could not possibly cause a disturbance. To boot, the food is pretty good.


                  1. We're in the same boat, we've got an 8 month old and we like to take her out about once a week to get her into the habit. We've had good luck (as you have) at Talullahs, and Merlion was a great place for her. Not a special event place, but Owens 501 is perfect for kids and the food is surprisingly good. The maitre d at Provence has two small daughers himself, and so he's especially understanding. And the new owner of Vespa has a young son, and has gone out of his way to make us feel welcomed when we bring in Lulu (not awesome food, but a comfy enough place). Milltown is plenty loud enough and the food is good. Good luck!

                    1. Pop's and Elmo's were places where I took my daughters when they were that age. They are sufficently noisy and quick, both benefits for your intended purpose! Elmo's lacks a little in the quality food dept though. Several of the larger Mexican joints worked well too. El Rodeo and Torreros were sufficent if lacking authenticity. Crook's works.