Shhhh. Hear it? That's the conversation you're having over dinner at a restaurant. Really. It's possible.

We asked readers to let us know their favorite quiet spots for dinner - ones where the acoustics are such that you can have a conversation without shouting.

Some, like Donna Schmale, wrote, "You must be kidding! If I let you and the world in on our favorite quiet spot to eat, it won't be that anymore."

Others, such as Larry Klein, passed on favorite restaurants and a few tips:

"If you want a quality place to eat where you can really control the noise level, I suggest staying home," he writes in an e-mail.

Then he added a few tips:

• Ask for a table outside.

• Never eat in the bar area.

• Never sit against a hard wall.

• Request seating away from children.

Readers suggestions for favorite restaurants that are quiet enough for conversations - in alphabetical order:

Amber Restaurant & Gallery, 7000 E. Tanque Verde Road, 296-9613.

Sue Ressler recommends a table in the corner next to the window.

Anthony's in the Catalinas, 6440 N. Campbell Ave.,299-1771.

"My favorite restaurant for food, ambience and conversation without 'eavesdropping' is Anthony's," writes Ann Kuperberg.

The Arizona Inn, 2200 E. Elm St., 325-1541.

Marshall A. Worden says the Inn "is good for conversation" and even the bar is quiet enough to visit.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Road, 883-2702.

"The snack bar and restaurant can be very peaceful," writes Jeri Jahnke, all the way from Oswego, Ill.

Bazil's It's Italian, 4777 E. Sunrise Drive, 577-3322.

"My husband and I . . . love to sit in one of the very private booths where the lighting is dim and the mood romantic, sip a glass of wine and take some unhurried time to reconnect," writes Ellen Hunt.

"We do not have to worry about other conversations around us since it is a very private place, and the noise level is low."

Bistro 44, 6761 E. Tanque Verde Road, 298-2233.

"The atmosphere allows us to have a nice quiet evening and be able to talk without yelling over everyone else's conversation," writes Sandra Goggins, who adds she loves the food. Bistro 44's name came up several times in our informal survey.

"You can talk and hear what your companions are saying, too," says Earl Wettstein.

Cody's Beef 'n Beans Steakhouse, 2708 E. Fort Lowell Road, 322-9475.

"When I want to talk with a good friend or if my hard-of-hearing father-in-law is here, Cody's is the place to go," writes Peggy Chalk.

Dolce Vita Restaurant, 7895 E. Broadway, 298-3700.

"With the small sparkly white Christmas-type lights scattered throughout, they've succeeded in making it a warm and cheery place with a subdued atmosphere, and I am never aware of other conversation," writes Tiffany Stone Miller in recommending this quiet spot.

Gold, 245 E. Ina Road in the Westward Look Resort, 297-1151.

William C. Moeller writes that though it can be pricey, it is quiet and good.

Howard A. Richmond II agrees with Moeller. "The tables are spaced well apart, and the floor is carpeted to help keep the restaurant quiet," he writes.

It is closed for the summer for dinner, though breakfast is served. Dinner starts up again in September.

The Grill at the Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, 5501 N. Hacienda del Sol Road, 529-3500.

"Dinner is always peaceful," writes Marshall A. Worden.

Janos, 3770 E. Sunrise Drive, on the grounds of the Westin La Paloma Resort, 615-6100.

The restaurant "is always fine in terms of sound," says Worden.

Gene Carlson agrees.

"The only restaurant I can recommend where you can have fine cuisine, an atmosphere of quiet and intimacy, and great 'non-hovering' service is Janos," he writes.

Jerry Bob's Family Restaurant, 7885 E. Golf Links Road, 721-8888.

"Breakfasts and service are excellent and, even close to the kitchen, the noise level is low," write Sam and Phyllis Turner.

La Placita Cafe, 2950 N. Swan Road, 881-1150.

"Quiet and excellent Mexican food," say the Turners.

Las Margaritas Restaurant, 6011 N. Oracle Road, 297-8341.

Lois and Howard Smith find the quiet ambience fine for conversation.

Lavender Restaurant, 77 E. Paseo de Golf, Green Valley, 648-0205.

Hank Deutsch claims the restaurant is a "Five Star Shhhh" one.

Le Rendez-Vous Restaurant Francais, 3844 E. Fort Lowell Road, 323-7373.

Several readers listed Le Rendez-Vous as a favorite quiet spot to dine.

Get "table 22 in the main dining room," recommends Sue Ressler.

Lodge on the Desert, 306 N. Alvernon Way, 320-2000.

"We think (Lodge on the Desert) is the most romantic, quiet and lovely (and best-kept secret) setting in town," write Morleen and Don Novitt.

Mama Louisa's Italian Restaurant, 2041 S. Craycroft Road, 790-4702.

Lois and Howard Smith say that "90 percent of the time, conversation is effortless."

McMahon's Prime Steakhouse, 2959 N. Swan Road, 327-2333.

It's a wonderful place to have a secluded dinner, says Lynn E. Greenes.

Sue Ressler recommends a booth against the north wall in McMahon's main dining room.

New Delhi Palace, 6751 E. Broadway, 296-8585.

"Whenever my husband and I crave a comfortable and calm dining experience, we head to New Delhi Palace," writes Juleen Audrey Eichinger.

"The noise level in the restaurant itself encourages conversation."

Pastiche Modern Eatery, 3025 N. Campbell Ave., 325-3333.

"Excellent food, and a booth or table is generally quiet," write Sam and Phyllis Turner.

Rio Cafe, 2526 E. Grant Road, 323-5003.

Several diners swear by Rio and its quiet atmosphere.

"The table that we prefer is at the very front of the restaurant behind the entry alcove," writes Bill Brown.

"You can have an intimate conversation at lunch or dinner."

Rusty's Family Restaurant, 2075 W. Grant Road, 623-3363.

"A quiet sports bar? Hard to imagine, but here it is," write Bob and Lois Fisher.

Rusty's "is a typical bustling sports bar, except . . . they have a tranquil back room. Sure, the flat screen TVs are back there, even itty bitty ones in the booths, but the sound is always barely audible, if not off altogether."

Stuart Anderson's Black Angus Steakhouse, 5075 N. Oracle Road, 293-7131.

This restaurant was suggested by several readers. "I always ask to be seated in the back because the booths wrap around you (they are high), cocoonlike, and it's almost like you are alone," writes B. Clark.

And this from Dale Sloan: "The high-back upholstered booths insulate you from surrounding noise of other diners; the carpeting and fabric help absorb sound."

"We meet all our out-of- town friends and family there to enjoy quiet conversation," writes Peg Schmidt.

Thai China Siam Restaurant, 5849 N. Oracle Road, 293-9199.

"It is a small restaurant with soft lighting and quiet, soothing music," write Mike and Mary Rhodes.

"There are no harsh echoes, and you rarely notice the people around you. The setting seems to encourage soft conversations."

Listen up! Time to get a hearing test

Just because you can't hear a conversation in a restaurant doesn't mean you have poor hearing.

It could just mean it's too loud.

But, there are indications that it might be time to get a hearing test, says audiologist Lou Berry Cheek, founder of Adobe Hearing Center.

"Misunderstanding what people are saying is an indicator," said Cheek. "The voice is loud enough, but you think they are saying something else."

Other signs that the ears may need some help, according to Cheek:

• You frequently have to ask people what they said.

• You respond to what you thought you heard rather than what was said.

• You have difficulty understanding people when they aren't facing you, or when they drop their face or turn away from you.

• You feel others mumble or don't speak clearly.

"The most common hearing loss is difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds," said Cheek. "Then you miss the consonants."

Cheek says hearing aids have gotten much more sophisticated than they were a decade ago - they are small and are better at isolating sound.

But, she adds, there are things the speaker can do if your hearing is going.

"The speaker should get your attention first," she said. "Then you are in at the beginning of the conversation. And if someone could tell you when the topic changes," it helps the hard-at-hearing to take notice.

And think you're going to escape this hearing-loss thing?

Not likely.

"The older we get," said Cheek, "the more likely it is we have hearing loss."

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at kallen@azstarnet.com or 573-4128. Kathleen Allen