Food & Drink

LA's 14 Best Thai Restaurants NOT in Thai Town

Published On 06/15/2015 Published On 06/15/2015
Laure Joliet
Sticky Rice
Laure Joliet
Ayara Thai
Natalee Thai
Gala Thai
The Taste Kitchen
Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle
Chilly Mango
Shelley Huang
Gindi Thai
Ekkamai Thai Restaurant
Emporium Thai Cuisine
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1. Sticky Rice 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

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

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 Cuisine 6245 W 87th St, Los Angeles, CA 90045

Tradition is at the forefront of Ayara Thai Cuisine, the intimate, family-run restaurant in Westchester. Founded by a husband-wife team of expats who learned to cook in their mothers’ and grandmothers’ kitchens in Thailand, Ayara’s authentic menu is full of family recipes, from-scratch dishes, homegrown herbs and spices, and soul. Regional dishes shine, like rich and creamy curries, flavor-forward broths for tom yum and other soups, and spicy proteins fly off the wok. While pad thai is typically pegged as an Americanized dish and not reflective of tradition, the noodle and peanut plate at Ayara is listed as “The Origina Pad Thai,” and is an unadulterated version, an homage to the way the dish is supposed to be served.

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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

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

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

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.

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12. Emporium Thai Cuisine 1275 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

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.