photo credit: Jakob Layman
Whether it’s a child, a boat, or a sixth toe, naming something is an extremely important process. After all, it’ll determine how most people in the world actually view it. Naming restaurants is no exception. A great name won’t necessarily make a great restaurant, but a bad one could be its kiss of death. Summer Buffalo is a very good restaurant with a bad name, but we’re here to tell you - it’s worth taking seriously.
It’s not that we have anything personal against the words summer and buffalo next to each other, it’s that they mean absolutely nothing in this context. Are you a girl group from Calabasas with a noon set time at Coachella? An all-inclusive massage retreat your handsome pottery coach keeps trying to sell you on? In this case, it’s a modern Thai restaurant on Melrose serving some of our favorite Thai food outside of Thai Town.
With floor to ceiling to windows, repurposed shiplap on the walls, and shelving holding old soda bottles and strategically-placed canned goods, the interior of Summer Buffalo feels more like an Etsy showroom than a place to pick up a solid pad thai. But a solid pad thai they certainly have - along with a khao soi, Isaan sausage, drunken noodles, and one of the best tom kha soups in the city. Summer Buffalo might not be the most authentic, down-home Thai cooking in LA, but everything here is delicious, comforting, and affordable. And after a long week of faking our way through adulthood, those are the things what we need the most.
Other things we need in our lives? Flexibility. Whether you’re looking for a cute spot to catch up with your crew, or crippled with exhaustion and need Thai food delivered right to your face, the buffalo has you covered. There’s parking in the back if you want to pick-up on your way home and they open at 11am every day if you need a quick solo lunch spot that doesn’t rhyme with lipotle.
Ignore the name and take Summer Buffalo for what it is - an extremely solid Thai option in a neighborhood in need of one. Now go sign up for that massage retreat.
Tom Kha Soup
All of the yes. This coconut milk-based soup is the exact combination of sweet, spicy, and creamy we want after a long day of playing adult.
This fermented pork sausage isn’t the best version in town, but it’s definitely a solid appetizer for the table. Although - don’t order it for delivery, it doesn’t travel all that well.
Chicken Curry Noodle
Call it chicken curry noodle or khao soi or god’s gift of eternal happiness - it doesn’t matter. We love this dish so much, and at $9.50 for a massive bowl, it’s also a really good deal.
Pad Kee Mau
Pan-fried flat rice noodles, chicken, and eggs - the holy trinity of curing a Sunday hangover.
Sweet Sassy Sole
Easily the most fun item to order out loud while waving your finger in the air, this guy is actually pretty delicious too. The fish is perfectly fried and comes topped with crispy basil leaves you’ll be eating like potato chips.