Food & Drink

LA's 14 Best Thai Restaurants NOT in Thai Town

Tiffany Tse Published On 06/15/2015 Published On 06/15/2015
Laure Joliet

A while ago, we told you about the best Thai restaurants in LA, which almost all happened to be within a two-square-mile block in Thai Town. But LA is, like, a billion square miles, which is why this list is even more helpful, probably: these are LA's 14 best Thai restaurants NOT in Thai Town.

Sticky Rice

Sticky Rice 

Downtown
What you're getting: Kanom krok
The tasty street fare at this Grand Central Market joint makes you feel as if you’re in Bangkok (except without the backpackers and Ping-Pong shows). The creamy panang beef curry and coconut rice are musts, but even-mustier is its meal-ending, freshly made, piping-hot kanom krok (aka plump, palm-sized morsels of fried coconut custard).

Laure Joliet

Night + Market

West Hollywood
What you're getting: Grilled pig collar
Another Thai spot with a menu based on snack-style street food, this one’s basically a pork lover’s paradise. Fill your stomach with crunchy fried pig tail, fatty grilled pig collar, and a sour sausage/raw cabbage combo, which is much better than it sounds. No, like, a LOT better. (Also, make sure to check out its equally great sister restaurant, Night + Market Song, in Silverlake.)

Ayara Thai

Ayara Thai 

Westchester
What you're getting: Poached salmon curry
The rich and creamy (yet not overpowering) curries at this family-owned Thai restaurant are lick-off-the-plate worthy. Our picks? The poached salmon curry, swimming in a red coconut-y sauce reduction and Ayara’s Toast -- an appetizer of ground pork and shrimp fried over elephant-shaped bites of toast. Annnnnnnnnnnd you’re drooling.

Natalee Thai

Natalee Thai 

Multiple locations
What you're getting: Siam Spring Rolls
There’s no Thai dish that this place can’t rename with a cutesy moniker (i.e. Garlic Goodies, Duck Delight, and Siam Spring Rolls), and also no Thai dish that isn’t worth eating, which makes the Natalee Delight the go-to order; it gives you a sampling of its best appetizers, like beef satay, shrimp cakes, and stuffed wontons.

Gala Thai

Gala Thai 

Multiple locations
What you're getting: Any $10 lunch special
Head here for bang-for-your-buck lunch specials, which include dishes like steamed fish in curried coconut milk and spicy basil pork. For a 10 spot, they’ll give you super-generous portions, plus a drink, salad, rice, and -- in case you’re not comatose yet -- fried dumplings.
 

Isaan Station

Koreatown
What you're getting: Larb
When you’re in the mood for Northern Thai food with a kick, head to this K-Town spot and order any of its larb salads, which are dressed with a pungent mix of lime, mint, onion, cilantro, and serious runny nose-inducing spice. You’ve been warned.

The Taste Kitchen

The Taste Kitchen 

Culver City
What you're getting: Khao soi
What the restaurant lacks in space it makes up for in menu options -- like more than a dozen different variations of flavorful noodles, curries, and rice dishes. You can’t go wrong with the khao soi (egg noodles steeped in a rich yellow curry sauce) and delicious pumpkin curry.

Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle

Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle 

Silver Lake
What you're getting: Deep-fried taro
Yes, there’s too-cool-for-you hipster art on the walls at this neighborhood spot, but don’t expect dumbed-down Thai food here. Instead you’ll find dishes for the slightly more adventurous Thai eater, like deep-fried crispy taro and a rambutan/shrimp salad tossed in a creamy coconut-lime dressing.
 

Renu Nakorn

Norwalk
What you're getting: Nam kao tod
In-the-know Thai people (and soon: you!) swear by this place, and its nam kao tod (think crispy rice salad) is the stuff of legends. It’s made with deep-fried rice and fermented pork sausage, as well as a hodgepodge of unpronounceable Thai herbs and sauces that give the dish its signature spicy, lemony bite.

Chilly Mango

Chilly Mango 

Pasadena
What you're getting: Pork fried rice
“Moist” -- that universally hated word -- is really the only way we can describe this hole-in-the-wall’s Thai-ifed fried rice, which always comes perfectly fluffy and flavored with fish sauce.

Shelley Huang

Thai Original BBQ 

Carson
What you're getting: Pad Thai
Sure, you have to drive all the way to Carson for it, but this place serves a killer pad Thai -- neither too dry, nor too soggy -- thanks to fresh, chewy, al dente noodles (plus, it doesn’t skimp on the shrimp). Oh, and since it's known for BBQ, you might also want to get its juicy, fall-off-the-bone spare ribs.

Gindi Thai

Gindi Thai

Toluca Lake
What you're getting: Drunken noodles
This hidden gem’s located in Toluca Lake -- which means, of course, it also serves sushi and pomegranate and lychee martinis. But its Thai fare is super solid, including tangy tamarind-flavored Chilean sea bass and drunken noodles that clearly took advantage of all those martinis.

Ekkamai Thai Restaurant

Ekkamai Thai Restaurant

Mar Vista
What you're getting: Tom kha kai
Right after pad Thai, tom kha (coconut/lemongrass soup) and tom yum (hot and sour soup) are the most recognizable Thai dishes stateside. Thankfully, Ekkamai makes both exceptionally well, filling its classic tom kha with aromatic flavors and its tom yum with extra limy zing.

Emporium Thai Cuisine

Emporium Thai Cuisine

Westwood
What you're getting: Crying Tiger Beef
This spot’s most-raved-about dish is the Crying Tiger Beef: thin, tender, well-marinated strips that you can wrap up in lettuce leaves. As for dessert, if you still have room after its tangy/sweet mango sticky rice, go for the homemade Thai donuts, which are churro-like morsels covered in condensed milk and crushed peanuts.

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Tiffany Tse is a freelance contributor for Thrillist and still remembers watching her first Ping-Pong show (Bangkok, circa December 2006). Find out what she’s up to on Twitter at @twinksy and Instagram at @twinksy.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Sticky Rice 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (Downtown)

This Grand Central Market joint has tasty street fare that makes you feel as if you’re in Bangkok (except without the backpackers and ping pong shows). You must try the creamy penang beef curry and coconut rice, but even-mustier is their meal-ending, freshly made, piping hot kanom krok (AKA plump, palm-sized morsels of fried coconut custard).

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2. Night + Market 9041 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Hollywood)

From LA-raised Thai chef Kris Yenbamroong, this critically-acclaimed ode to Thai street food in West Hollywood is doling out a rotating menu of spicy salads, pad thai, curries, and so much more. The far-from-ordinary Northern Thai plates certainly aren't the Americanized cuisine you're used to in LA, so trust your gut and order whatever looks good. By the way, a meal at Night + Market isn't complete without an order of coconut ice cream for dessert.

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3. Ayara Thai 6245 W 87th St, Los Angeles, CA 90045

At this family-owned Thai restaurant, the rich and creamy (yet not overpowering) curries are lick-off-the-plate worthy. We recommend the poached salmon curry, swimming in a red coconut-y sauce reduction and Ayara’s Toast -- an appetizer of ground pork and shrimp fried over elephant-shaped bites of toast.

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4. Isaan Station 125 N Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004

This Thai spot has its bases covered with a large menu featuring just about anything and everything Thai, from rice dishes to salads to grilled and deep-fried selections.

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5. The Taste Kitchen 3970 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230 (Culver City)

Though short on space, this restaurant has over a dozen different variations of flavorful noodles, curries, and rice dishes. Try the khao soi (egg noodles steeped in a rich yellow curry sauce) and delicious pumpkin curry.

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6. Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle 4356 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029 (Silverlake)

Yes, the hipster vibe at this neighborhood joint is unmistakable, but don't expect any poser Thai food here. What you'll find is things for the slightly more adventurous Thai eater, like deep-fried crispy taro and a rambutan/shrimp salad tossed in a creamy coconut-lime dressing.

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7. Renu Nakorn 13019 Rosecrans Ave, Norwalk, CA 90650

Thai people in-the-know swear by this place and their nam kao tod (think crispy rice salad). It’s made with deep-fried rice and fermented pork sausage, as well as a mix of unpronounceable Thai herbs and sauces that give it the signature spicy, lemon-y bite.

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8. Chilly Mango 950 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106 (Pasadena)

Nestled on Colorado Boulevard just a few blocks from PCC is Chilly Mango. You have to try this hole-in-the-wall's Thai fried rice which can only be described by the universally hated word, "moist," and it always comes perfectly fluffy and flavored with fish sauce.

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9. Thai Original BBQ 4055 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90020

Yes, you have to drive all the way to Carson, but Thai Original BBQ has a killer pad thai -- not too dry, not too soggy -- thanks to fresh, chewy, al dente noodles (plus, they don’t skimp on the shrimp). And they are known for their BBQ so you might want to try their juicy, fall-off-the-bone spare ribs as well.

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10. Gindi Thai 4017 W Riverside Dr, Burbank, CA 91505

Hidden in Toluca Lake, this Thai gem also serves sushi and great pomegranate and lychee martinis. But their Thai food is totally solid and includes a tangy tamarind-flavored Chilean sea bass and drunken noodles that clearly took advantage of all those martinis.

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11. Ekkamai Thai Restaurant 13223 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

Stateside, tom kha (coconut/lemongrass soup) and tom yum (hot and sour soup) are the most recognizable Thai dishes after pad thai. Ekkamai makes both exceptionally well, filling their classic tom kha with aromatic flavors and their tom yum with extra lime-y zing.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
12. Emporium Thai Cuisine 1275 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (Westwood)

The thing to get: the Crying Tiger Beef with thin, tender, well-marinated strips that you can wrap up in lettuce leaves. And if you still have room for more dessert after their tangy/sweet mango sticky rice, go for the homemade Thai donuts, which are churro-like morsels covered in condensed milk and crushed peanuts.

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