Lers Ros is one of our favorite big group restaurants. You can almost always get in at one of the locations (our vote's with the grungy original on Larkin or this location in the Mission), they can accommodate nine people at the drop of the hat, and the food is delicious and relatively cheap to share.
That last bit is the key - Lers Ros does a great job with the classics for less adventurous Thai eaters, but also has a huge selection of "out there" options for those looking to experiment. In fact, we'd argue it's essential that you order at least one completely new dish every time you go, preferably with a main protein that seems a little freaky.
It's through this process that we've discovered some of our favorites - the alligator comes to mind - and we find something new and awesome with each visit. The menu is so gigantic that it might take 50 visits to cover it all. And then you've got to get after the specials. We laid out our favorites in the Food Rundown below, but there are probably 20 other items we've tried and enjoyed.
Lers Ros, we salute you. We always walk out stuffed, stimulated, and satisfied, with our wallets largely unharmed. Very few restaurants come through on all these dimensions. More should.
Som Tom Poo salad
A Thai meal without a nice papaya salad is barely a Thai meal at all. The raw crab takes this one in a distinctly San Franciscan direction. No comment on the name.
Kra Duk Moo Tod
Fried pork spareribs? Who's going to say no to that?
Pad Kra Pow Moo Krob
The star of the menu. It's pork belly, but they've managed to turn the skin into the texture of a thick potato chip. The insane crunchy skin mixed with the tender pork meat and fat makes for incredible "mouthfeel." As in, we want to feel this in our mouth, over and over.
Tom Kha Kai
Coconut soup with a killer spicy kick. It comes in one of those cool donut-shaped bowls with fire in the center, and you get to scavenge with the ladle for the best chicken or prawn pieces (go prawn). Just a perfectly executed soup.
Larb Moo/Phed Yang
Nice spicy duck bits that you wrap in lettuce and dress up with some lime. An awesome balance of hot/sweet/sour, which we've been told is the essence of Thai food. After eating this, you'll be a believer. (As an aside, does "moo" mean "duck" in Thai? This amuses our six-year-old minds.)
Pad See-Eew/Pad Thai
If someone at your table must have this, get it. We admit it's not the worst idea to have some carbs as a base for all the spices. Lers Ros executes on the basics, but they're not standouts.
The only dish name that's not in Thai because we couldn't find it on the website. Regardless, this exists and you should get it. We feel like we're doing the world a service by eating alligator - protecting the people of Louisiana and Central Florida, one hunk of spicy gator meat at a time.