Los Angeles’ famous Thai Town has one of the highest concentrations of amazing Thai food in the United States. When the Immigration and Nationality Act passed in 1965, the Thai American population began to soar and it really took off in the late 1970s. Everyone needs to eat, and wants a taste of home — and thus, restaurants began to open. Word of the delicious food spread beyond the Thai community, and now you would be hard-pressed to find an Angeleno who hasn’t sampled the cuisine at least once.

Looking beyond Thai Town, there are Thai restaurants all over the vast urban sprawl of Los Angeles and its surrounding cities. In our experience, all Thai eateries tend to be happy to serve up familiar favorites like Pad Thai noodles, Tom Yum soup, or papaya salad. But, many have exceptional house specials that are specific to regional cuisines of Thailand, too. After you’ve dined at a few places and tested out some new dishes, you will notice the differences between Northern, Central, and Southern Thai food.

While Thai food is often known for being spicy, you do have options for the heat level. Maybe you’re skittish around heat and don’t want your tongue burnt, or maybe you’re ride-or-die for bird’s eye, either way it’s going to be delicious. Next time you’re in Los Angeles and have a craving for Thai food, be sure to check out one of these restaurants.

1. Pa Ord Noodle

Pa Ord Noodle has two locations. The first one opened in 2002 around the western end of the Hollywood Boulevard strip in Thai Town. The newer spot is oddly not that far away, just a few blocks south on Sunset Boulevard and across the street from a couple of notable rival Thai restaurants. While Yelp reviewers note that there isn’t a noticeable difference in the quality of the food, there’s more ambiance and attention to decor in the dining space of the newer location.

At Pa Ord Noodle, you can order up the standards like Pad Thai and Pad See Ew to get your noodle fix. And of course, you’ll find curry options and a la carte mains with your choice of protein. But, the restaurant really lives up to its name with its hot, sweet, and sour Tom Yum soup by adding noodles to the broth. This makes for an especially cozy meal during a brutally-cold Los Angeles winter when temperatures drop to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (sarcasm intended — but it’s still worth ordering).

2. Chao Krung

Located in the Beverly Grove neighborhood a few miles southwest of Thai Town, Chao Krung has been a go-to in Mid City for 50 years. The second generation of the family-owned restaurant took over several years ago, with one daughter taking over operations, and another daughter given the reins as executive chef. The dining room was updated and redesigned, and Chao Krung’s menu was revamped to include contemporary foodie-friendly riffs on traditional dishes and a wide variety of proteins, such as Cornish hen, squid, duck, and mussels. The daily specials are rotated so you can try new options on each visit.

Thai Town also features various prix-fix tasting menus, with one from Chef Amanda Maneesilasan entitled Sum Rup. It’s a special event and only served on the third Thursday of every month. You’ll enjoy six courses for $75 and recent dishes included Yum Som O (Thai fruit salad that, in this case, featured grapefruit) and Koi Nuea, a spicy filet mignon tartare. There’s also an optional wine pairing for an additional $45. You can book a reservation via Resy.

3. Panvimarn Thai Cuisine

For non-Angelenos, Panvimarn Thai Cuisine should be noted as being quite the distance from Thai Town with its Long Beach location that opened in 2009. But, it does go the extra mile; it not only serves tasty food, it pays careful attention to eye-popping plating. The ambiance and decor in its spacious two-story establishment make it a perfect spot for special celebrations and large gatherings. Panvimarn lives up to its name that translates to "alike paradise."

For an appetizer, we would suggest the Money Bags, which are chicken and shrimp dumplings stuffed into a whimsical wonton wrap that visually looks just like its moniker. Be sure to snag the Paknavin pork ribs from the grill. The soft shell crab curry is an excellent choice paired with white rice. And you can’t go wrong with the jungle noodles. With the spice levels here, you may want to get some Thai iced tea to put out the fire in your mouth. If you’re feeling especially thirsty, the bar is happy to help you out with signature cocktails, beer, wine, and sake.

4. Isaan Station Thai Street Food

Isaan Station focuses on preparing street food in a sit-down environment. There are more than a few recipes that use Thai sausage and jerky recipes. Thick slices of deep-fried Isaan sausages are a go-to order, and fried rice can be served up with either beef jerky or pork jerky as a protein.

Don’t sleep on the grilled meats, which range from fish to pork to chicken, or the various larb options on offer. We’d also like to shout out the multiple variations on papaya salad, including one with pickled blue crab. And, for the shrimp lovers out there, they’ll give you the whole head-to-tail experience.

This is a cash-only establishment, so hit up the ATM in advance to be prepared. And be advised that Isaan Station Thai Street Food is a bit more within the realm of Koreatown. That’s great news if you’re especially hungry, because you can do a food crawl and get the best of both worlds.

5. Ruen Pair

You can’t get more Thai Town than Ruen Pair. Sitting proudly on one of the thrones within Thailand Plaza – arguably the heart of the Thai Town neighborhood – Ruen Pair has been a mainstay since 1996. Within the plaza, it’s neighbors to several other Thai restaurants, a Thai grocery store, and also Bhan Kanom Thai, which serves traditional Thai desserts to enjoy on the spot or to-go.

It’s a place you definitely want to take a newbie to Thai food and indoctrinate them to the wonders of the cuisine and the culture. Ruen Pair offers up all the safe bets like chicken satay, egg rolls, and Pad Thai. But it’s also a spot for eaters who’ve covered all the basics and are looking to expand their horizons. There are several funkier riffs on the standard papaya salad that feature raw crab and raw shrimp. And if you enjoy offal, the restaurant has you covered with more than a few stews and curries that will please your palate. For those who dig on swine, try the Thai BBQ pork fried rice or the crispy pork served with Chinese broccoli.

6. Sapp Coffee Shop

Sapp Coffee Shop does not serve coffee — just amazing Thai food — and the name has an interesting history. In the 1970s, a motel in East Hollywood had a small diner and rented the space to Chef Jintana Noochlaor under the terms that American-style breakfasts be served and Thai cuisine would pop up in the evenings. After word of mouth spread, in 1982, Noochlaor was able to open Sapp (which translates to "delicious") as its own Thai food-only location a few doors down the street.

With the menu at Sapp inspired by Noochlaor’s Bangkok roots, there are many great options including a nod to the eatery’s diner origins with a "Thai Omelette" that involves ground pork and rice. You also can’t go wrong with the jade noodles, which, as the name suggests, are a striking shade of green and feature a combo of duck, crab, and barbecue pork. But what you really need to order is its famous boat noodle soup, which can feature either pork or beef. For the eater who loves everything, order it that way and you’ll get beef two ways in the form of meatballs and sliced steak, as well as tendons, liver, tripe, and a topping of pork rinds.

7. Amphai Northern Thai Food Club

As the name suggests, Amphai Northern Thai Food Club began for those in the know — although it was named one of the 101 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles by the LA Times in 2019 so it’s safe to say the word is out. There’s no secret handshake involved to get inside, though. It’s a casual spot on Sunset Boulevard and is a bit of a cramped space with very limited seating. If you dine in, expect to see a cafeteria style setup where you order at the counter. It doesn’t have a website, but does have an Instagram page where you can ogle the food.

Amphai Northern Thai Food Club specializes in down-home Northern Thai recipes in a nod to the chefs’ ancestral region. Keep an eye out for the "The Gaeng Gaeng," a selection of various mouthwatering Thai curries. If it’s your first time going, you absolutely cannot miss out on the Khao Soi — opt for either chicken drumsticks or beef as your protein. As one Yelp reviewer put it, "If I were on death row and had to choose my last meal, I would have the Khao Soi from this place. It’s that good."

8. Sri Siam Cafe

Although Thai Town is currently the preeminent hub of the Thai community in the Los Angeles area, Thai immigrants also began settling in the San Fernando Valley in the 1950s. You can still find some great restaurants in that neck of the woods, and one of our favorites is Sri Siam Cafe in North Hollywood that’s been in the biz for over 30 years.

While we like to try new things with each visit, we’re particularly enamored with its crispy rice salad. Delightfully-crunchy fried rice morsels are paired with ginger, mint, peanuts, Thai sour sausage, and a potent chili lime dressing that, all combined, makes the perfect opening act for the rest of your order.

We’re also big fans of ordering the fried trout that’s served whole — bones removed — and topped with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, lime wedges for tang, and onion crisps and peanuts for crunch. An addicting sweet and sour sauce is drizzled on top. Sri Siam also offers up soft shell crab, fresh water prawns, and a bevvy of potent curries. There’s a blackboard of daily specials on the wall, but it’s written in Thai — so if you’re curious what’s on there, just ask your server.


NIGHT + MARKET Chef Kris Yenbamroong was named Food & Wine Best New Chefs 2016. The restaurant has multiple outposts in hot spots including Silverlake, Venice Beach, and West Hollywood as well as the Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas. The experience is always a 360-degree, full-blown celebration of Thai cuisine. The dining rooms are festively-decorated to add to the party atmosphere, and the beverage program is top-notch with Chef Yenbamroong being a James Beard Foundation award finalist in the category of Best Wine Program in 2019, too.

Note that the menus and hours vary from restaurant to restaurant, but NIGHT + MARKET’s tasty party wings are a reliable bar snack staple. While the menu features mainstays, other dishes rotate and are offered seasonally. One of the unique dishes you may find at the Silverlake location is a tantalizing lamb shoulder stew in a Burmese curry sauce, and in West Hollywood, the specials might include crispy fried whole sea bream, a riff on Khao Soi with a punch of turmeric in the curry. Note that, at the time of publication, the Venice location is only open for dinner.

10. Luv2eat Thai Bistro

Located near Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue not far from all the tourist attractions, Luv2eat Thai Bistro is owned and operated by a talented duo. Chef Fern graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with high honors, and Chef Pla grew up in a culinary family with grandmother, mother, and father all having experience either running their own restaurant or in the kitchens of luxury hotels.

Luv2eat Thai Bistro’s food tends to veer towards Southern Thai cuisine due to their connections to the region. Known for its sunny beaches, you might want to go with seafood when you order. The signature Phuket curry on offer can feature either blue crab or fish, but both are bolstered with vermicelli noodles, a hard-boiled egg, and spiked with just the right amount of pickled carrots and papaya for some pucker.

For those who aren’t seafood fans, there’s plenty of other options. Pork pops up frequently on the menu, including crispy pork, braised pork leg, BBQ pork over rice, and a marinated skewered pork meat that’s an iconic Thai street food dish — but be cautioned that during peak hours this particular order will take up to 30 minutes.

11. Jitlada

Jitlada is arguably the grande doyenne of Thai restaurants in Los Angeles. When you visit, you’ll spot autographs and cartoon doodles from celebrity fans adorning the walls. Jitlada has been open since the late 1970s but changed ownership in 2006, with Sarintip "Jazz" Singsanong and her brother Suthiporn "Tui" Sungkamee taking over. The unique story behind Jitlada involves a tourist from Chicago who noticed a portion of the menu that wasn’t in English, sampled the dishes, and eagerly offered translation assistance so that anglophone guests could enjoy the offerings.

The menu at Jitlada is so extensive it nearly rivals that of the Cheesecake Factory (but don’t expect any crossover). For beef lovers, we love the Crying Tiger, and the Morning Glory is a popular noodle dish. To hone in on the notorious translated menu, though, look for the Southern Thai section, which has a multitude of options for pretty much every meat you could possibly desire, from chicken to lamb to lobster to frog legs.

There’s also an off-menu "Jazz Burger" that earned raves from the late food critic Jonathan Gold — but, its availability is very limited and not guaranteed. No matter what you order, don’t forget to finish with a dessert of mango sticky rice.