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.