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photo credit: Melissa Zink

The Thonglor image
8.6

The Thonglor

Thai

Lower Nob HillUnion Square

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerLunch
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The Thonglor is a well-kept secret amidst tourist-saturated Union Square. The tiny Thai restaurant only has eight tables, so snagging one is a lot like accessing the city’s hottest speakeasy—except instead of hidden doors or off-menu cocktails, The Thonglor treats you to a parade of hearty curries, nose-clearing papaya salads, and the most flawless pad thai ever. 

Dinner at this Lower Nob Hill spot is the restaurant equivalent of the perfect pump-up album you listen to top to bottom, no skips. Even if you do have to wait in the slightly narrow hallway that faces the open kitchen, tables turn over quickly thanks to the efficient staff who navigate the narrow gaps between tables seamlessly. Once you’re finally seated and flipping through the long-ish menu of Thai standards, you truly can’t go wrong—spicy, sweet, and salty flavors are turned up to the max.

The Thonglor image

photo credit: Melissa Zink

The Thonglor image

photo credit: Melissa Zink

You’ll second guess all the pad thais you’ve had when you eat The Thonglor’s version. The noodles have the ideal chew. And the amount of flavor packed into every single bite will inspire a chorus of impassioned “whoas” from everyone at your table. It blows every past iteration out of the water. The same goes for, well, everything else on the menu. Be sure to get into the sweet and spicy pad gra pow with ground pork, and funnel the richly spiced panang or red curry into your mouth.

All this to say, a trip to The Thonglor is one you’ll think about for weeks—maybe even multiple presidential terms—after. Regardless of whether you’re downtown running errands or need to take three separate bus lines to get here, just get here. And prepare to never look at another pad thai the same way again. 

The Thonglor image

photo credit: Melissa Zink

Food Rundown

The Thonglor image

photo credit: Melissa Zink

Pad Thai

The benchmark for all future pad thais you’ll eat. You may wake up in the middle of the night, weeks later, dreaming of getting your hands on one more bite. Any self-respecting noodle enthusiast needs this.

The Thonglor image

photo credit: Melissa Zink

Red Curry

The optimal sweetness to spice ratio means this is on our table every time we’re here. It’s so good we’d take down a bowl while sitting in a sauna.

The Thonglor image

photo credit: Melissa Zink

Pad Gra Pow

Ground pork is the move when you order the pad gra pow. It’s saucy, slightly spicy, and great for sharing.

The Thonglor image

photo credit: Melissa Zink

Tom Kha

Get this velvety soup packed with tofu and veggies, which soak up the liquid and transform into little broth bombs in your mouth.

Papaya Salad

In The Thonglor-verse, “spicy” means you’re down for a nose-running, eye-watering sort of burn. Let the tears flow—this is fantastic. If your tongue tingles from just reading the words “Thai chili,” consider this your warning.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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