photo credit: Teddy Wolff

Thai Diner image

Thai Diner



$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysBrunchDate NightImpressing Out of TownersLunch
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When Dorothy said there’s no place like home, it was obvious she hadn’t been to Thai Diner. Dot’s not to blame. She had a lot on her plate, a plate devoid of disco fries slapped with massaman curry. For us modern New Yorkers—even those who, like Dorothy, continue to drag around a gaggle of flawed men—there’s no place like Thai Diner. Home is just where you go between visits.

You might know this place as the second coming of Uncle Boons, Nolita’s finest basement restaurant that sadly shut down during the pandemic. Thai Diner is from the same owners, and its menu immortalizes many of Uncle Boons’ greatest hits. Holdovers include a classic banana blossom and rotisserie chicken salad—still fiery, vegetal, and lemongrass-sloshed. And that gorgeous sundae still has your name on it, waiting for you at the end of your meal with almost as much palm sugar whipped cream and candied peanuts as it has coconut gelato hiding underneath.


photo credit: Teddy Wolff

We loved our meals at Uncle Boons over the years, but we can’t help but think of Thai Diner as the restaurant Uncle Boons always aspired to be. The inside of this corner spot quite literally sparkles like a disco ball, with golden Nolita light hitting its bamboo-weaved walls and bakery case of cakes and pastries. Unlike Uncle Boons, the booths inside Thai Diner comfortably accommodate groups. Most importantly, every section on Thai Diner’s menu has undeniable “f*ck yeah″ energy. You could stick a candle in any dish–be it the phat see eiw or the baan salad with crisped rice–and call it a birthday cake.

Rémy Martin

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

In a city overflowing with neighborhood Thai restaurants, Thai Diner stands out because it follows through on the promise of its name. Big booths come equipped with coat hangers, bar stools are fastened to the floor, and servers bust through swinging doors holding diner concoctions we thought were only possible with the help of psychedelics at a sleepover in Bushwick. Our favorites include a comforting plate of cabbage rolls stuffed with turkey and jasmine rice, and a sai oua breakfast roti whose blend of textures would win Project Runway.

The very same restaurant also makes regional Thai specialties ranging from Northern khao soi to Southern-style roti and ripping hot, wok-fried noodles typically eaten in Bangkok. Order these dishes with just as much enthusiasm as you do the diner revamps. Because (and we don’t say this lightly) the entire menu is flawless.

Thai Diner’s only downside lies in the fact that it’s perpetually mobbed, although we can’t fault the restaurant for being busy. When you stop by, this place will be filled with a mix of people who embody Nolita Dirtbag and tourists who know what’s up. More to the point, you’ll see a group loyal to one of the best restaurants in NYC. That group should include you.

Food Rundown

Baan Salad

Considering all the intriguing dishes on Thai Diner’s menu, you might be thinking, “Are you seriously recommending a pile of romaine lettuce?” Trust us on this one. The heat from the Thai chilis in the tamarind-ginger dressing sneaks up on you. That spice is then countered by crispy puffed rice, creamy avocado chunks, and pickled red onions, all working together to change your mind about boring romaine salads. You can add a protein to the plate –like tofu or chicken–but this is also satisfying all by itself.
Thai Diner image

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

Thai Diner Egg Sandwich

Now is a good time to address the assumption that a great breakfast sandwich requires bread, since Thai Diner’s excellent version comes on a buttery roti. The roti keeps all of the sandwich elements tightly compact so that every bite includes the same layers and flavors. From top to bottom, you’ll taste herbaceous sai oua sausage, a mash of mayo and scallions, a soft egg crepe covered in oozing American cheese, and a few slivers of fresh Thai basil.
Thai Diner image

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

Thai Tea Babka French Toast

If this breakfast-that’s-basically-dessert sounds sweet, that’s because it is. Sweet tooths (teeth?) unite. Instead of syrup, you’ll get a tiny saucer of salty condensed milk. Our strategy: get some Thai tea butter in every bite.

Thai Disco Fries

Thai. Disco. Fries. Three little words everyone should want to hear in their lifetime. (“I love you” works too, we suppose.) Thai Diner’s crinkle-cut fries come draped in thick, gravy-like massaman curry, plus crunchy peanuts and some cooling coconut cream. Eating this dish feels similar to forking through poutine or maybe even hugging your favorite people, only with the taste of warming spices and a distinct nuttiness.
Thai Diner image

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

Yum Kai Hua Pli

It’s not a question of whether you should chomp into this spicy banana blossom and rotisserie chicken salad served with cashews and fried shallots. (You should.) The question is whether you want it served with jasmine rice or on a plump sesame seed bun, which miraculously holds up against the lemongrass-chili dressing. We say go for the sandwich if you’re comfortable with spice, and opt for rice if you usually need some heat relief.
Thai Diner image

photo credit: Alex Muccilli

Stuffed Cabbage Tom Khaa

Could the 20th Century Jewish immigrants who lived not so far from Mott Street have anticipated their ancestors losing their gourds over stuffed cabbage at Thai Diner? Absolutely not, for about 400 reasons. But we’re certain they’d be thrilled by the freshness of this turkey and mushroom-stuffed dish. Each of the three pieces soak up a ton of the limey coconut milk sauce made with galangal and basil. Another very cool thing about this dish: Thai Diner uses jasmine rice in the mix, but, taste-wise, there’s nearly no sign of it.
Thai Diner image

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

Khao Soi Kaa Kai

Our favorite part of this creamy Northern curry is how the crispy fried noodles soften when you mix them with the warm curly noodles and pickled mustard greens. The version served with chicken is fantastic, since the drumstick meat falls apart without much prodding, but the vegetarian option with rainbow chard has a ton of flavor too.

Phat See Eiw

Want a more deluxe experience than what you’ll get from your typical phat see eiw? Get Thai Diner’s stellar version of this ubiquitous wide-noodle dish with prawns.
Thai Diner image

photo credit: Alex Muccilli


Aesthetically, Thai Diner’s tiny, monster-shaped coffee cake sets our hearts aflame. But the best tasting dessert we’ve had here remains the Uncle Boons Coconut Sundae, served with candied peanuts that taste exactly like the inside of a Heath bar.

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