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Tapas-type food, not too noisy?

Looking to go for a birthday dinner with my mom. We both love small plates (need not be spanish, though spanish tapas are great), but most tapas places I've been to have you almost sitting on the person next to you, hard to hear each other, which isn't really my mom's scene. Any recommendations for places that don't fit that mold?


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  1. i've heard alta's is outstanding but, since i haven't been, i can't comment on seating. i LOVE otto which serves small dishes as well. the food is amazing. it's a very busy place but i didn't find it especially loud and cluttered.

    1. Solera may fit the bill. They serve tapas in the tight quarters of the bar area up front, but also serve Tapas in the quiet dining room as well.

      I brought my parents here a few months ago and they had a nice time.

      Nothing FABULOUS, but average.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jenniebnyc

        I agree about Solera, if you sit in the dining room you will have plenty of elbow room. You won't rush back for the food but it is okay. I also love the rec for Otto if you want Italian. If your mom has not been there yet, she would probably enjoy it. I was recently there with a large group on a busy Saturday night and we had no problems with noise.

      2. I think ALTA is a great choice. Very creative and delicious small plates and in a room big enough to not be on top of other diners. In fact if you go on the early side, it can be downright peaceful in there.

          1. You could try Urena. They have tapas in addition to their regular entrees.


            1. Just walked in the door after celebrating a big birthday at Alta. We did the whole shebang. Everything on the menu. Considering this, the food was just wonderful and except for the first dishes coming to quickly, it was wonderful. Didn't notice the noise as there were 9 of us. All in all, it was a terrific dinner for the 9 of us. And enough food that we waived the white flag in surrender.

              1. I fifth Alta. Great for talking.

                2 Replies
                1. re: lutkie

                  I have reservations for Alta, thanks hounds! Looking at the site I found the following suggestions for Alta, any additions or deletions to this list? goat cheese w/ honey, the ribs, the enormous whole shrimp, the spinach salad, asparagus, lamb meatballs, brussel sprouts, bacon-wrapped dates, Red Bliss Potatoes, Fork-Crushed & Fried, with the chimichurri steak and duck described as not bad

                  1. re: Produce Addict

                    Goat cheese with honey, lamb meatballs, and bacon wrapped dates are all phenomenal. I haven't tried your other choices. I would also encourage you to try the crab manicotti if it is still on the menu. I'm not sure how often they change it. You will love Alta. I'm glad so many people have discovered it though nervous for the next time I need to get in there!

                2. Reporting back--I have to say I was quite dissapointed with Alta, some things were quite good, most were only ok. As a general rule they used too much cream and sweeteners. The marinated olives were delicious and the smashed potatoes with trout creme fraiche was yum, those were my favorite items. Also quite good were the goat cheese balls, though they degenerated quickly once they cooled down (eat quick!). The arugula salad was fine, a little too much vinegar. Then there was just a few items that were oddly sweet, smoked eggplant was not too smoky and it was topped with honey which did not go at all (the dish wasn't bad, just not better than fine), the lamb meatballs were prob the biggest dissapointment since so many love them, but they too were oddly sweet, too much of some sort of spice (if not sugar!), no gamey flavor at all. My mom loved the bruseel sprouts, but I've had better versions of them elsewhere (probably because they were also covered in creme fraiche). Also tried the crab cannoloni (assuming that's what foodie4life was referring to)--not too much oomph, just a lot of creaminess with all that creme fraiche. For dessert we got the chocolate fondue which was pretty good, salty (which I like but might be unexpected to others), could have used a more powerful chocolate to make it zing.

                  On the other hand the ambience was really lovely, just what I was looking for when I made the request (we sat upstairs). Alas that wasn't enough to make me return.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Produce Addict

                    i just reccommended cafe espanol on carmine street to someone looking for great tapas and sangria. you should definitely try it as well sometime. it's lively, but not too loud or boisterous. the food is great and the service is so friendly. might have fit you bill!

                    1. hmmm, i'm sorry to hear your experience at alta was subpar. that would've been my suggestion as well for a quieter meal. i disagree that otto is quiet. everytime i've eaten there, it's usually a screaming match with the table next to us. altho, the food is cheap and good, i love the cheese platters!

                      1. Tia Pol across the street from the Empire Diner has great and authentic Spanish tapas. But it's noisy and crowded and very tiny. If you're fortunate enough to arrive early and grab one of the few tables in the back, you may more comfortable. And away from the bar, you may even be able to listen to each other. Patatas bravas are always good, and my favorite Pimientos al Padron.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: zorba

                          Inasmuch as I really like Tia Pol, the table wait plus the tall backless stools may not be suitable for the OP and his/her Mom to be comfortably seated on.

                        2. I know I'm too late on this one but...if you need another one for the future, the upstairs dining room at Beyoglu is a good (and very tasty) Turkish small plates choice. You pretty much can't go wrong with anything on the left side of the menu. But definitely go for the upstairs dining room is you want quiet--the downstairs dining room is much livelier.

                          1. Surprising that alta was disappointing--it's always one of my top recommendations. I also just went to boqueria and thought it was wonderful...definitely a crowded place, but the tables in the back weren't uncomfortably close and we really enjoyed ourselves.

                            1. I agree - Alta can go either way -- and sorry this was a bad one....I suggest bar dining there next time -- just more intimate and somehow more reliable.

                              1. totally too late, but for future reference (i can't believe i didn't mention this before), a great japanese with japas (sharing little dishes) is typhoon on st marks, just west of first ave. it's my favorite japanese restaurant in the city that is totally affordable.

                                sushi is not their strong point, but more cooked dishes. i've been going here since it opened and knew the manager that made the menu awhile back. my faves: avocado salad with crab meat, saikoro beef (garlic marinated cubes and veggies with jalapeno dipping sauce), super dynamite (skillet sizzling assorted seafood baked), mentai spaghetti (roe spaghetti), udon (small portion, good to share at end of meal), takana rice with shrimp (yummy fried rice w/ japanese pickles), karei kara (whole fried flounder, with ponzu dipping sauce)... the menu is great and the drinks cheap. definitely a place to check out. my mother loves this place and takes all her friends.