Let’s cut to the chase here - when it comes to Thai food, nobody has it better than Los Angeles. America's only official Thai Town exists right here in East Hollywood and it's slam-packed with some of the best Thai restaurants we have in this country. Not to mention as a whole, LA's home to the largest Thai population outside of Asia. So the party certainly doesn't stop in East Hollywood.
From romantic, family-run spots in Beverly Hills to 30-year-old strip mall Valley joints, the bar for Thai food is set so high in this city, you have absolutely no excuse to be eating subpar versions. So put down that lukewarm pad thai you bought from the grocery store, take out some cash (seriously, nobody takes cards) and go experience the best this city has to offer. Here are the 24 Thai spots you need to know about.
A kid takes over his parents' family Thai restaurant on the Sunset Strip and turns it into the greatest Thai restaurant we have. Tale as old as time, right? Hardly. What the people over at Night + Market (and its equally fantastic Silver Lake location) have been doing for the past few years is nothing short of incredible. The food is both traditional (grandma’s old recipes are still being used) and continuously pushing the envelope. Not to mention an atmosphere that is one giant, beautiful party.
If Night + Market is the hot prince that everybody wants to f*ck, Jitlada is the old Queen that’s done taking your crap. The decades-old Thai Town spot in many ways is the true heart and soul of LA’s Thai scene. Its kitschy dining room is a must-visit (and a good spot to catch a celebrity) and its massive Southern Thai menu has absolutely zero regard for your pretty little spice preferences. Plain and simple - Jitlada is for the big boys and girls. But those who stay will be rewarded with some of the best Thai food in this city.
Greetings from LA’s best (and most important) Thai restaurant you’ve never heard of before. Located up in the outer fringes of North Hollywood, Sri Siam has been around for over 30 years and is Thai royalty when it comes to its influence over this city. The crispy rice salad that blew your mind over at Night + Market? Sri Siam’s been doing it since the 80’s. Also, don’t be surprised if your server (i.e. the owner) pulls up a chair next to you and starts chatting - that’s just how things are done here. Best thing on the menu? The off-the-menu radish cakes. Drop what you’re doing and go get them now.
The thing about Sapp Coffee Shop is that it’s a legitimate coffee shop. But not the terrible kind that sells you $6 drip-who-gives-a-shit, full of people talking about the Oregon coast. Walk in here at any point in the day and you’ll find old Thai men sitting in the corner, drinking coffee by themselves, and simply reading the newspaper. And while we certainly condone joining them, you’re really here for the beef boat noodle soup. It’s fragrant, savory, and downright soul-curing. There isn’t a bowl of soup we want more on a sick day.
In the world of restaurant names that don’t instill any confidence in the customer, Luv 2 Eat is a perennial powerhouse. That said, it’s also become an LA Thai staple. Located in the same Hollywood strip mall as that Pizza Hut you always go to by yourself and only tell your diary about, Luv2Eat’s menu covers a lot of ground and doesn’t really focus on any one region. You can come in and order pad thai, your egg rolls, and Tom Yum soups and walk away thrilled. But your real best bet is to focus on the Phuket dishes, where spice levels are through the roof, but so is the flavor. The Phuket crab curry is a must.
Amidst all the chaos of Grand Central Market, you might miss Sticky Rice at first. But inside this food stall in the center of the market is a wonderful secret. And that secret is the best beef panang curry in the city. The rest of the menu is pretty fantastic too, but something in that curry speaks to us (and you) unlike anything else. It’s sweet, savory, a little spicy, and that braised beef so truly melt-in-your-mouth that chewing feels optional.
A great Thai restaurant and also a sports bar? Count us in always. Hoy-Ka has established itself as one of LA’s finest not only because of their excellent food, but also for having a space different than anyone other. The wooded interior has a fun tavern-like feel to it and with plenty of TVs playing sports on them, you won’t have any trouble finding a reason to drink. The pad ka prao, with its fried egg-topped tower of white rice, is an obvious must-order.
Pailin isn’t the most well-known name in Thai Town, and its dime-sized space (seriously maybe eight tables total inside) isn’t going to jump out at you driving down Hollywood Blvd. But it’s delicious. It’s all about Northern Thai cuisine here and that means one thing - khao soi. For anyone unfamiliar with the dish, it’s essentially a curry noodle soup and god’s greatest gift to mankind. Pailin has the best version in town. The tiny space is colorful and kitschy and a perfect quick lunch spot. The spicy shrimp balls are another must-order.
You’ve probably never considered drinking a glass of red wine with your bowl of green curry before, but Same Same is here to change that. Located in a dark Silverlake strip mall, Same Same took the place of a well-run neighborhood Thai restaurant and converted it into a casual wine bar. Except one thing - they kept the old Thai menu and made it even better than it was before. Good wine, great food, and a welcoming atmosphere you never really want to leave? All aboard the Same Same train.
We appreciate a restaurant that calls it like it is, and at Spicy BBQ, expect to get Thai-style BBQ and expect to get it real spicy. But this six-table strip mall spot at Normandie and Santa Monica has much more than just a few excellent plates of BBQ pork. The spicy jackfruit salad, the pork patties, the chili dips, and a khao soi we think about late at night when the lights go out make this colorful, tiny spot as good as it gets.
Located in the far-flung universe of Northridge, Lum Ka Naad is admittedly a bit of a hike, but it’s worth it. The modern restaurant has a seemingly large menu, but you’re narrowing it down to two sections - “Northern Cuisine” and “Southern Cuisine.” These are the dishes specifically from the owner’s home regions, and they are incredible. You’re going to start with the turmeric shrimp soup from the South and work your way up to the kang ho in the North (essentially drunken noodles with the vegetables in a curry rub). Delicious food and a geography lesson. Everyone wins.
Thai brunch anyone? Otus is actually the second iteration of a once-popular Thai spot called Kinaree that burned down a few years back. But don’t cry too many tears - Otus is so much better. The modern space is great and food is across-the-board excellent. But the breakfast/brunch situation is what really sets it apart. The Kai-Kata (Thai-style eggs and sweet sausage served in a skillet) is fantastic and comes with cup of Thai coffee. Hangover bonus: Breakfast is served all day.
This family-owned, neighborhood spot at Pico-Robertson isn’t just on this list because the food is excellent. It’s on this list because it’s actually pretty romantic as well. With white tablecloths and a glass-enclosed wine rack in the back, Si Laa certainly has a more upscale feel compared to the others on this list, but not in the way that makes you resent it. Prices are still reasonable, the waitstaff is insanely friendly, and pat yourself on the back - you just nailed date night. The crispy duck and hidden treasure are absolute must-orders.
Toluca Lake is best known as that place where thousands of sad adults walk around on their lunch hour wondering if they’ll ever make the leap out of the corporate studio world. But it should also be known for something else - The Rustic Spoon. One of the most criminally overlooked Thai spots, Rustic Spoon seems like just another filler restaurant from the outside, but inside they are dishing out healthy, affordable, and truly tremendous Thai food. This probably isn’t the most authentic menu in town, but the cinnamon chicken curry with roti bread is so special, we’d drive here whether it’s lunch hour or not.
Thai Patio does not have the best food on this list. However, it has something that almost nobody else does - an atmosphere that’s as much of a party as the one you probably just came from. Roll into Thai Patio at 3am on a Saturday night, and you’ll be greeted with 100 other late night revelers, creating as good of a late night drunk scene as you’ll get in LA. The move at Thai Patio is always the noodles, with their drunken noodles (coincidence?) among our favorite in town. Then sit back, soak up that tequila, and listen to the teenage girl on stage singing an acoustic version of “Man, I Feel Like A Woman”.
Probably due to the fact it sounds like an all-girl group from Calabasas with a noon start time at Coachella, Summer Buffalo doesn’t really get the credit it deserves. But make no doubt about it, this place is great. And with locations in Burbank and on Melrose, it serves two areas largely in need of some quality Thai food. The vibe inside is modern and cute, and you could even pull off a casual date here. Must-orders include the salmon curry noodle, isaan sausage, and their pad kee mau. Bonus lazy alert: free delivery.
The tricky thing about Pa Ord is there are three locations now, all within a very short proximity of each other, including two with Sunset Blvd. addresses. And to make matters worse, the menus vary from location to location. The good people at Pa Ord are clearly just trolling LA at this point, so we’ll make it easy on you - go to the #2 location in Hollywood at Sunset and La Brea. Here you can find their legendary Tom Yum soup, their boat noodles, and all the curries you could want. It’s also the only location with an online menu for take-out orders.
The other late night option when all the tables over at Thai Patio are full, Ruen Pair is ideal for that 2:30am run when you’ve got a friend who’s only ever had pad thai, and another friend who’s got a hankering for rabbit feet. The menu at this restaurant is expansive, and no matter how experienced of a Thai eater you are, you’ll find something for yourself. Just make sure to order multiple salty egg and turnip omelettes for the table - everyone will agree they are life-changing.
Rodded is an all-around solid Thai restaurant, but if you aren’t here eating the duck noodle soup, you’re doing your life a disservice. This bowl of glory might not have the finest curb appeal of all time, but something about it just hits every correct note possible. Rich, savory, and not in the least bit oily, this is one of the best single dishes in Thai Town. We also highly recommend getting the wontons for dipping. Freedom alert: You get to choose your own noodle to put into it.
You’ve no doubt passed Siam Sunset a hundred times and just assumed it was a closed down portion of the adjoining America’s Best Value Inn. But it’s very much open and home to the best traditional Thai breakfast in town. Open every day at 6am, this is where you go to eat some porridge and Thai donuts, sip on some instant coffee with angry old men, and feel like you are nowhere near Southern California.
Despite being smack in the center of Thai Town (in the always crowded Thailand Plaza), Red Corner still feels like a bit of secret. All the lunch-goers and late night drunk crowds go to either Thai Patio or Ruen Pair, and right there in the middle sits Red Corner. Perhaps the modern little spot isn’t known for anything in particular, but that said, it’s still very good across the board and has a much calmer atmosphere than it’s neighbors. Also, $2 beers before 9pm.
LA has a number of vegan Thai restaurants, and for the most part, they’re terrible. Save for Araya’s Place, of course. The Beverly Grove strip mall joint actually started in Seattle and has been around for almost 30 years. And while we’ll always prefer our curry with meat, we’d be lying if we said didn’t often think about their avocado curry while laying in bed at night. The green curry itself is outstanding, but the avocado mixes so well with it, you wonder why it’s not more of a thing. If you’re a vegan, you can’t get much better than this place. And if you’re not, the statement still stands.
Located in a dingy East Hollywood parking lot next a California Donuts, Yai isn’t exactly going to lure you in on its looks. Nor is the big, fat B rating from the City Health Dept hanging from its window. But as soon as you enter the place and see every table full and individual menu items hand-written in marker on construction paper taped around the walls, you realize that B clearly stands for beyond perfect. Yai specializes mostly in dishes specific to Bangkok so stick to the boat noodles, pad thai, and their fantastic pork with broccoli. Also, they might have the best white rice we’ve ever tasted. Is that a thing?
Leave it to Pasadena to get all fancy on us. Saladang Song is the sister restaurant to Saladang Garden next door, and is arguably even more beautiful than the original. The menu is also much stronger. It goes the more traditional Thai route and is slightly more expensive, but you can still pick up an excellent plate of pad se ew for $10. Also, if there’s a better scene to eat some salmon curry and watch the sunset in LA than that back patio, we don’t know it.