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A spread of Thai food on a wooden table.
A selection of Thai dishes at Corthaiyou.
Gary He/Eater NY

29 Thrilling Thai Restaurants in NYC

From classic curries and basil stir fries to regional specialties such as sour sausage and spicy larbs

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A selection of Thai dishes at Corthaiyou.
| Gary He/Eater NY

Over the last few years, Thai restaurants have been one of the fastest growing dining segments in New York City. And with the advent of places specializing in regional cuisines, the Thai scene has been more exciting than ever before. Today, there’s the fiery food of Isan in the northeast, the mellower food of Chiang Mai near the Burmese border, oodles of noodles from Sukhothai, the curries of central and southern Thailand, the urban cuisine of Bangkok (including the unique food of its Chinatown), and the Malaysian-leaning gastronomy of the peninsula.

While several Thai restaurants sadly closed since the last map was published (Mondayoff, Maison Bangkok, and Lamoon — to be replaced by Jai Sang Ma), even more new ones have arisen to replace them — along with highly recommended old favorites, as this map shows.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Thai Market

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Dressed up like a street market, this Manhattan Valley Thai spot specializes in a menu with Bangkok flair and is a great place for those who are especially fond of curries. Green is the spiciest, closely followed by Panang. Filled with minced shrimp, the Thai market crepe is another high point. A lunch special packs the place in the early afternoon hours.

A bowl of chicken curry with a pale green broth.
Green chicken curry
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Malii Thai Kitchen

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Flavored with lime and fish sauce, and on the sweet side as a result of its pineapple component, the duck salad distinguishes itself with twice-fried morsels of duck, which are crunchy and a bit smoky, too. The menu covers an amazing amount of territory given the small size of the kitchen, but everything I’ve tried has been good, especially a shredded-beef massaman curry served with a flaky roti rather than with rice.

A bronze and shiny salad of twice fried duck morsels rests upon a lettuce leaf.
Duck salad
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pure Thai Cookhouse

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The dozens of Thai restaurants along Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen pose a dilemma: which one to choose? Pure Thai is part of a mini chain that also includes Land on the Upper West Side, helmed by David and Vanida Bank. Each has a different emphasis, and Pure Thai offers noodles from several parts of the country, such as the crab and pork noodles of Ratchaburi, or Nakhon-Pathom duck noodle soup. Curry puffs are the best in town. The papaya salad made with raw crab is not for the timid.

Green papaya salad with raw crab
Blue crab green papaya salad
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Lum Lum

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Replacing the well-regarded Pam Real Thai Food, Lum Lum (“delicious” in Thai) is the work of Sommy and Mo Hensawang, who hail from the Ayutthaya province north of Bangkok. Some of the recipes are their mother’s, including an arresting squid soup thickened with ink. Fresh herbs are heaped upon the plates and made spectacular use of in rice casseroles, salads, and noodles, and the spice level is in the 90th percentile unless you request otherwise.

A black broth with squid rings, scallions, and red chiles on top.
Squid-ink soup at Lum Lum.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pye Boat Noodle

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“Pye” refers to the oars used to propel boats along the canals of the Thai capital. Pye Boat Noodle, tricked out like a Quonset hut to make you feel like you are on the edge of a canal, serves noodles akin to those cooked by boat vendors. “Boat noodles with pork” is authentically thickened with pig blood, but for the squeamish, there are a dozen other choices, including yen ta fo, featuring an assortment of seafood, the broth rendered pink with fermented bean paste; and bamee phoo moo dang hang — sauceless egg noodles with pork belly, a very rich dish.

A bowl of noodles with chopsticks laid across the top on a stool.
Boat noodles with pork at Pye Boat.
Tanya Maithai/Eater NY

Thai Nara Halal

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The food at this Woodside gem hails from the southernmost part of Thailand, adjacent to Malaysia. That means creamy coconut milk curries presented as soups that feature egg noodles instead of rice, and Thai-leaning versions of things like roti canai, possessing a chunkier, more vegetable-filled dipping sauce, with a rare beef version available. Lots of seafood on the menu, and all meat is halal at this institution representing the cuisine of the southern region’s Muslim minority.

Beef roti, the bread wadded, the dark  curry in a bowl.
Beef roti at Thai Nara.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Sripraphai

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It has been more than 30 years since a modest Thai bakery in Woodside started by Sripraphai Tipmanee morphed into a full-blown restaurant. Sit in the leafy rear garden, and admire the cascades of flowers. The lengthy menu is all over the place, nearly all of it good. From Isan sour sausage to mango sticky rice to umpteen curry and noodle choices, you can’t go wrong here.

Sripraphai’s flower bedecked garden
In summer months, the backyard garden is the place to sit.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hug Esan

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There’s no stinting on the fish sauce and other sharp flavors at the affectionately named Hug Esan, via owners (and sisters) Chiraporn Sornphoom and Jariya Charoenwong, and chef Jintana Khamphaiboon. The fascinating, delicious, and frequently fiery Isan menu runs to chicken with jeaw sauce, toasted rice salad dotted with sour sausage, crab omelet served over rice, whole fish, plus the usual larbs and papaya salads.

At peak times, tiny Hug Esan is often filled up.
The convivial scene inside Hug Esan.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ayada Thai

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This Elmhurst restaurant founded by Duangja (Kitty) Thammasat is often cited as a favorite Thai restaurant in town. The menu has lots of dishes you’d find in Bangkok, some of them introduced to New York City for the first time. One such dish is a raw shrimp salad with a marinade of fish sauce, garlic, and chiles, said to be inspired by Japanese cuisine, while curries and whole-fish preparations are additional strong points. There’s an additional (and very good) branch in Chelsea Market.

Pork leg, greens, and dipping sauce.
Pork leg lunch special at Ayada.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Zaab Zaab

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While the city has enjoyed a rich collection of Isan restaurants from the northeastern section of the country bordering the Mekong River and Laos, this new place plunges deeper into the cuisine than any other, with several novel dishes and organ meats galore. Located amidst Elmhurst’s thriving Thai Town along Woodside Avenue in a small, modern space, Zaab Zaab’s menu via chef Aniwat Khotsopa runs to duck larb; tilapia marinated in lemongrass, rubbed with salt, and roasted; and tom hang — a steamed assortment of cow tripe, spleen, and intestine with two dipping sauces.

A whole fish, white rice noodles, and thicket of herbs and lettuce.
Roast tilapia, Isan fashion at Zaab Zaab.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Eim Khao Mun Kai

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It’s a tribute to Elmhurst as a Thai neighborhood that the large population of restaurants includes a couple that specialize in only one dish. In this case, it’s Hainanese-style chicken from China’s southernmost region, offered from a Thai perspective. The bargain set meal includes a quarter chicken poached in an aromatic broth, rice cooked in the same broth, a dark consomme, and a few slices of cucumber. Chicken is halal.

Slice skinless chicken with rice and broth on the side.
Hainanese chicken with all the fixin’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Chao Thai

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This old-timer and tiny pink palace of Thai food was once a twosome, but the more ambitious branch south of the LIRR overpass is now history. The neighborhood is left with an Elmhurst original that was one of the first to excite us with Isan regional fare. It’s impossible to forget one’s first taste of pig leg with special sauce, squid salad, chicken larb, or the unforgettable bar snack moo yang — grilled strips of pork with a sweet glaze, served with fresh herbs.

An orange awning with green lettering over a tiny storefront.
Early Isan restaurant Chao Thai has a famously pink interior.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This East Village heavy hitter boasts a pair of specialties, including multiple noodle varieties from Sukhothai in Central Thailand, and soups and other culinary highlights of Udon Thani in northern Thailand, via owners Chidensee Watthanawongwat, Kittiya Mokkarat, and Supatta Banklouy. The menu also has some Thai Chinese dishes from Bangkok (see Noods N’ Chill below for more), including koong karee — shrimp in egg sauce.

Shrimp in a thick yellow sauce.
Koong karee, shrimp with egg sauce.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Top Thai Vintage

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This sibling of an older restaurant on Sullivan Street is one of a growing number of halal Thai restaurants in the city, which means among other things, no pork. And this proves to be not the slightest impediment to a distinguished Thai menu, under chef Supachai Voradirek. The northern Thai khao soi chicken soup, with two kinds of noodles, is star of the show, and there’s also a fine spicy duck salad and whole red snapper with a variety of sauces (try sour curry sauce).

A ring of braided spine hand pies around a dipping solution with cubed cucumbers in it.
Chicken curry puffs may have been of Dutch origin.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Somtum Der

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While its sister restaurant Kiin Thai disappeared during the pandemic, Somtum Der forges ahead making several versions of its eponymous green papaya salad, plus a more general menu that focuses on the food of Isan, the region along the Mekong River that bulges in Thailand’s northeast. Don’t miss the larbs, either. Yes, some very fiery food is available, but you must request the heat.

A heap of shredded green papaya with a haystack of dried fish shavings on top.
One of eight green-papaya salads at Somtum Der.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Terra Thai

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Opened a year ago by Karuna Wiwattanakantang and Norawat Margsiri, who previously ran a Thai restaurant of the same name in Boulder, Colorado, Terra Thai specializes in complete Thai meals for around $10. Their focus is the street food of Bangkok, and one wonderful meal includes basil chicken, chewy and pungent, served with rice, pumpkin, and a poached egg. A vegetarian version of pad Thai is another good choice.

A mince of chicken in a black pastic tray with rice, poached egg, and pumpkin.
Basil chicken is street food in Bangkok.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Amarin Cafe

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Thai Café was the first restaurant of its type to open on Brooklyn’s North Side, and now there are at least 20, of which eight-year-old Amarin seems to be the best. Don’t expect a wide range of regional dishes, but a solid list of old favorites that includes a full roster of curries and stir-fries, plus a pleasingly diverse appetizers list, is available. Among them is a wonderful quartet of fish cakes red with chili paste.

Three reddish discs with salad on the side.
Red curry fish cakes at Greenpoint’s Amarin.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Thai Diner

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Located on the busy corner of Mott and Kenmare, right on the way to the Williamsburg Bridge, this restaurant is now the defacto flagship of the once-mighty Uncle Boons empire. A lively outdoor cafe — serve yourself from a window — has been built out on both streets, but indoor dining in a diner-like setting is also available. The menu encompasses a host of lovable and sometimes quirky dishes. The eggy breakfasts fulfill the “diner” designation, and chicken larb redefines the dish in fried chicken terms. Finally, beef massaman curry delights with its peanut sauce and tiny potatoes.

A heap of breaded chicken nuggets with brownish red dipping sauce and raw vegetables on the side.
Chicken larb in its oddball Thai Diner interpretation.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Lan Larb

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Legendary Thai chef Ratchanee Sumpatboon (Chao Thai, Poodam, Zabb Elee, and Larb Ubol) was the founding chef at Lan Larb, and much of her menu remains though she has left the restaurant. Watch the soups, in particular: kui teiw ped will likely be the best duck soup you’ve ever tasted. In the last couple of years, the restaurant has increasingly emphasized the food of Chiang Mai, which is quite distinct from Isan fare, which includes whole fish with chiles wrapped in a banana leaf, braised pork belly in herb sauce served with sticky rice, and a variety of novel curries.

Thai seafood soup with shrimp and squid in a very dark broth.
Seafood soup with glass noodles.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Wayla is a stylish, semi-subterranean, labyrinthine Thai restaurant on the Lower East Side, helmed by chef Tom Naumsuwan. Among the less-usual dishes, and tweaked takes on more familiar ones, moo sarong is a favorite: savory pork meatballs carefully wrapped like tiny baseballs with noodles, and furnished with a sweet dipping sauce, making one of the best apps, especially if you intend to skip the noodles as your main course.

A ring of noodle globes in a basket with a dipping sauce.
Moo sarong noodle basketballs at Wayla.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Noree Thai Bazaar

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Who would’ve thought a Korean fried chicken chain would spawn such a good Thai restaurant? But Bonchon Chicken has done just that at Noree Thai Bazaar, owned by restaurateur Andy C. Lau. It seeks to resemble a Thai night market, with drinking and snacks to be consumed therewith an important part of the formula. There’s an enhanced emphasis on satays, each brochette perfectly grilled, with choices running to shrimp, chicken, pork, and a host of vegetables, whether marinated in lemongrass, dunked in peanut sauce, or rubbed with cumin, Xinjiang style. Lots of exceptional curries, salads, and noodles, too.

Meat impaled on side by side sticks with a peanutty dipping sauce.
Pork and chicken satays are street food staples.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Eat Gai

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One of a small crop of restaurants in the city specializing in khao man gai, the Thai spin on Hainanese chicken rice, Eat Gai was originally founded in the East Village in 2018. Still under chef Mukda Sakulclanuwat, it moved to a new space in Essex Market right before the pandemic, and added Thai fried chicken to its menu, along with other dishes on a daily basis — consult the overhead chalkboard before you order.

A black plastic tray with poached chicken and cucumbers on a very dark background, a plastic container of soup on the side.
Khai man gai (Thai Hainanese chicken) at Essex Market.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ocha is a modest neighborhood place with a short but intriguing menu, executed exceptionally well. Most of the commerce there is carryout, though a small but comfy eating area is provided at tables with blue-checked cloths. Fried rice is a high point, with choices running to vegetarian duck, pork, or calamari; so is choo chee curry flavored with lime leaf and basil, and such snacks as curry puffs, vegetable dumplings, and kyo koong tod — wontons wrapped around a filling of ground shrimp, garlic, and chiles and fried crisp.

Fried wonton chips with a reddish sauce on the side.
Kyo koong tod at Ocha.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Noods N’ Chill

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Like the name says, this Williamsburg Thai restaurant specializes in noodles, but also offers a subspecialty in the Chinese immigrant cooking of Bangkok, as conceived by Benjaporn Chua, Preawpun Sutipayakul, and Jirawat Sutipayakul. That means a weekend brunch centered on congee with a number of add ins, and everyday dishes that run to duck, blood boat noodles, and spicy chicken wings with a sweet dipping sauce. Truly, there’s something for everyone, from adventuresome souls to the timid of tongue.

In the foreground a bowl of white rice soup flanked by two bigger and more colorful side dishes.
Congee with side dishes.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Under owner Prasneeya Praditpoj and chefs Chetkangwan Thipruetree and Sunisa Nitmai, Tong (“gold”) was one of those brave pandemic debuts when it opened nearly three years ago in what looks like an ex-garage near the border of Bushwick and Ridgewood. It specializes in kub klaem — small plates, including grilled pork jowl with a tamarind-chile glaze, green papaya salad heaped with a lattice of dried catfish, and smoked eggplant with a boiled egg and coconut jam on top.

A blue bowl beneath out of focus, eggplant and sliced boiled egg inside.
Smoked eggplant with boiled egg and coconut jam
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Mao Mao

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Like your Thai restaurant to resemble a dimly lit cocktail lounge, such as one might find in Bangkok’s night zones? Well, Mao Mao is your place. The entrance is at street level, but seating is down a steep flight of stairs at random sofas and tables, while videos, often of an inscrutable sort, flicker overhead. The food is unexpectedly fantastic, concentrating on Thai drinking snacks such as fried chicken wing with sour chile powder, pork Isan sausage, chive dumplings, and peanuts with lemongrass and lime leaves.

A pile of glistening salad with tendrils of beef woven throughout.
Beef laab nua khom at Mao Mao.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Nuaa Table

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Located right on hopping Vanderbilt, where a dining area in the middle of the street has banished cars, Nuaa Table offers the familiar cuisine with lots of colorful bistro flourishes and creative plating, along with inventive dishes and a section of street food, including lots of noodles. A street-style Bangkok stir fry of pork chunklets and basil comes topped with a runny deep-fried egg, while a banana blossom salad packs a good deal of heat and sourness, served with greens and herbs for wrapping bitefuls.

A dark oblong bowl with a jumble of julienne ingredients sided with boiled quail eggs and greens.
Banana blossom salad in Prospect Heights.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ugly Baby

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There’s nothing ugly about this baby, via chef Sirichai Sreparplarn, who has raised the bar further where Brooklyn’s Thai food is concerned. The menu is totally revamped since the restaurant’s pandemic pause, and now reservations must be made via Instagram, and orders for one menu placed 24 hours in advance, though another menu allows spontaneous dish selection. Still, it’s one of the best Thai restaurants in town, with epic heat available in some dishes.

A hand holds a small cup of red fluid, as if to dump it in a colorful bowl with sliced brisket in it.
Beautiful beef soup — how can the baby be called Ugly?
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Bangkok Degree

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This hidden gem near the top of the hill is the best Thai restaurant Park Slope has yet fielded — though the neighborhood has long had many agreeable places with unadventuresome menus. Bangkok Degree is presided over by two chefs, Chusak Srithongsul and Wirot Sirimatrasit: The first ran a restaurant in Thailand showcasing grandmother recipes, while the second is a veteran of the Elmhurst Thai scene. The result is a menu with street food from Bangkok, regional recipes from around the country, and invented dishes, sometimes using luxury ingredients.

A conical pile of salad with dark tea leaves and shredded raw beet and carrot on top.
Thai tea leaf salad at Bangkok Degree.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

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Thai Market

A bowl of chicken curry with a pale green broth.
Green chicken curry
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Dressed up like a street market, this Manhattan Valley Thai spot specializes in a menu with Bangkok flair and is a great place for those who are especially fond of curries. Green is the spiciest, closely followed by Panang. Filled with minced shrimp, the Thai market crepe is another high point. A lunch special packs the place in the early afternoon hours.

A bowl of chicken curry with a pale green broth.
Green chicken curry
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Malii Thai Kitchen

A bronze and shiny salad of twice fried duck morsels rests upon a lettuce leaf.
Duck salad
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Flavored with lime and fish sauce, and on the sweet side as a result of its pineapple component, the duck salad distinguishes itself with twice-fried morsels of duck, which are crunchy and a bit smoky, too. The menu covers an amazing amount of territory given the small size of the kitchen, but everything I’ve tried has been good, especially a shredded-beef massaman curry served with a flaky roti rather than with rice.

A bronze and shiny salad of twice fried duck morsels rests upon a lettuce leaf.
Duck salad
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pure Thai Cookhouse

Green papaya salad with raw crab
Blue crab green papaya salad
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The dozens of Thai restaurants along Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen pose a dilemma: which one to choose? Pure Thai is part of a mini chain that also includes Land on the Upper West Side, helmed by David and Vanida Bank. Each has a different emphasis, and Pure Thai offers noodles from several parts of the country, such as the crab and pork noodles of Ratchaburi, or Nakhon-Pathom duck noodle soup. Curry puffs are the best in town. The papaya salad made with raw crab is not for the timid.

Green papaya salad with raw crab
Blue crab green papaya salad
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Lum Lum

A black broth with squid rings, scallions, and red chiles on top.
Squid-ink soup at Lum Lum.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Replacing the well-regarded Pam Real Thai Food, Lum Lum (“delicious” in Thai) is the work of Sommy and Mo Hensawang, who hail from the Ayutthaya province north of Bangkok. Some of the recipes are their mother’s, including an arresting squid soup thickened with ink. Fresh herbs are heaped upon the plates and made spectacular use of in rice casseroles, salads, and noodles, and the spice level is in the 90th percentile unless you request otherwise.