The 14 Best Thai Restaurants in NYC
Celebrate Thai New Year at these eateries.
Thai food in New York City is, and has always been, incredible. Classic spots like SriPraPhai have been around for decades alongside nearby Thai supermarkets and shops in the thriving Thai communities of Woodside and Elmhurst, Queens. There’s also no shortage of fresh up-and-comers throughout the city that celebrate regional specialties—sprinkled with some restaurants inspired by nostalgic and home-cooked flavors while others have more daring menus and alluring cocktail programs.
Whether you’re looking to try a completely new dish, burn your tongue off with papaya salads, or just want a reliable pad thai that will deliver sweet-tart flavors, there’s something here for everyone. And with it being Songkran, or Thai new year (Thailand’s biggest national holiday where water is splashed to cleanse away the prior year), we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to indulge in spicy curries, flavorful noodle soups, and other Thai treats. Here are our 14 favorite Thai spots in NYC—and yes, we definitely recommend heading to Queens for a day-long Thai food excursion.
Opening a restaurant in NYC already comes with its own unique set of challenges, but doing so during the pandemic requires tenacity—just like the East Village Thai noodle bar, Soothr, and the generations-old recipes they cook with. After debuting as a takeout joint last May, the eatery has since launched onsite dining and delivers on incredible Thai flavors and an enticing cocktail menu inspired by precious and auspicious gems in Thai culture. Go for the pomelo salad, topped with fried shallots and plump shrimp, that offers a serious refreshment to the palate while noodle soups have the right amount of heat—both in temperature and spice.
How to book: Reservations for indoor dining and heated outdoor seating available via Resy. Order delivery and takeout via Bento, UberEats.
After delaying its opening to last August due to the pandemic, Tong in Bushwick is a stellar spot for Isaan cooking hailing from Thailand’s northeastern region bordering Laos. Here, executive chef Chetkangwan “Jade” Thipruetree’s hometown of the Thai city, Khon Kaen, is reflected in the menu. The naem khluk, a tongue-tingling crispy rice salad with lumps of fermented sausage, is properly spicy. Diners can also deviate from the typically sweet and nutty papaya salads of central Thailand and get tum poo plara instead, made with funky fermented anchovy paste and deeply savory crab.
How to book: Reservations available for indoor dining and heated outdoor dining via phone at 718-366-0586. Order takeout and delivery via website.
Originally founded in Elmhurst in 2008 (but now with a second location in Chelsea Market), Ayada offers Thai food the way many Thais eat: spicy when necessary, funky with dashes of fish sauce, and always delectable. The spot’s fried catfish salad is an experience in itself, with bits of ground fish that’s deep fried until crispy and cut by strands of sour mango and nutty cashews. The larb is bright with Thai chilies, fresh lime juice, and slivers of raw shallots. Dishes marked as spicy are genuinely spicy, so be sure to order a Thai tea or lychee sangria to cool off.
How to book: Indoor seating and outdoor seating is first come, first served, call 718-424-0844. Order takeout and delivery via DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, Seamless, Uber Eats.
EIM Khao Mun Kai Elmhurst
Eim, which means “full” in Thai, specializes in khao mun kai—the Thai version of Hainanese chicken and rice. And at this street food-inspired eatery, the signature chicken offerings are available steamed, fried, or roasted, and accompanied by fragrant ginger rice cooked in chicken fat, chicken gizzards and liver, and a clear broth with softened daikon to wash it all down.
How to order: Storefront for takeout only. Cash only.
If you love seafood, add Fish Cheeks to your list right now. Happy hour oysters clock in at a dollar a piece and are topped with crispy shallots and a zesty lime and chili sauce. The signature coconut crab curry is must-order: velvety in texture with ample heat and a generous amount of lump crab meat. An order of the whole branzino is a sight to behold, with wheels of lime and slivers of fiery red chili sprinkled among cloves of garlic in a cilantro broth you’ll want to drink at the end. You can also opt for grilled cuttlefish, a bouncy appetizer served with a chili dip. And if seafood isn’t your thing, well, the pork cheeks, zesty fried chicken wings, and corn salad are just as appealing.
How to book: Reservations for indoor dining and outdoor dining available via Resy. Order takeout and delivery via ChowNow.
Khao Nom—which literally translates to dessert—is one of NYC’s best destinations for those craving Thai sweets. While delicious (and reasonably priced) savory menu items—from corn fritters to Thai-style curry puffs ranging from $10 to $14—make for excellent snack options to start a meal, the biggest draw to this Queens spot are popular picks like black sticky rice pudding drenched in sweetened coconut milk; silky pandan tapioca noodles in a coconut milk broth; Thai-style sundaes with roasted peanuts and corn toppings; and bouncy taro balls with a gently poached egg are all traditional options.
How to order: Indoor seating and heated outdoor seating is first come, first served. Call 929-208-0108.
Lamoon specializes in northern Thai food with offerings seldom found in other NYC Thai restaurants. And the entire signature menu is worth exploring; especially for dishes like the kanom jeen nam ngew—a vermicelli noodle soup dish flavored with earthy red cotton flowers and shrimp paste, topped with tart pickled mustard greens and pork ribs—which is already hard enough to find in Bangkok. The herbaceous sai oua is full of the makrut lime leaves and lemon grass. And the hnam kadook moo is an off-the-menu signature must-order with a recipe passed down throughout generations: Expect a funky and tart plate of fermented pork ribs that’s unlike anything else available in the city.
How to book: Indoor dining available. Order takeout and delivery via website.
Known for its reasonably priced lunch menu with generous portions, Lan Larb is a no frills (and delicious) Thai eatery in Downtown Manhattan. Lunch specials range from $11 to $17 and come with either chicken larb or tofu larb, in addition a choice of crab rangoon, an egg roll, or choice of soft drink. Thanks to a sprinkling of crushed peanuts, the tom yum noodle soup features a nutty flavor and evokes Bangkok noodle stalls with warmth, comfort, and spice. The pad thai hits all the right notes that’s sweet, savory, and a bit tart due to lime and tamarind. And if you’re looking to try an entirely different seafood noodle soup option, go for the yen ta fo with its pleasant shades of pink.
How to book: Reservations for indoor dining and heated outdoor seating available via phone at 646-895-9264. Order takeout and delivery via website Caviar, DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, Seamless, Uber Eats.
Look by Plant Love House
Look is part of the Plant Love House restaurant group, which also runs Noods N Chill in Williamsburg and Mondayoff in Kensington. All three joints are a family affair and this homestyle aspect is also honored in the cooking, with meals that are comforting in taste while still having a flair for flavor. Dining at Look (which in Thai translates to child), can feel like snagging a meal at a Thai grandmother’s house. Recommended dishes include the guay tiao moo toon, a hearty noodle soup with slow cooked pork ribs, and the seasonal hor mok pla, a savory and spicy fish custard served in a banana leaf boat.
How to book: Walk-ins. Order takeout via Grubhub.
Pure Thai Cookhouse
Shophouses in Southeast Asia are a common architectural style where the ground floor space can often have a generations-old family run business. Pure Thai Cookhouse takes inspiration from this approach for a cozy experience in Hell’s Kitchen with family recipes and noodles made inhouse. Choose from kanom jeeb, root vegetable curry puffs, wok braised proteins of your choice, and five signature noodle dishes like Ratchaburi crab & pork dry noodles; Pa-Yao beef noodles; and a guay tiew moo bo lan special.
How to book: Indoor seating and outdoor seating is first come, first served, call 212-581-0999. Order takeout and delivery via website.
Thanks to its consistency, expansive menu, and genuinely delicious food, since opening in 1990, SriPraPhai in Woodside is considered as one of the greatest OG Thai restaurants in NYC. Yes, favorites like pad thai, drunken noodles, and vivid tom yum soup can be found here—but the popular spot carries some heavy hitters, too. Go for the shrimp paste fried rice for a unique and umami-forward dish; tom zap for a more adventurous version of tom yum with liver and tripe; and rad na for the saucier version of pad see ew. Bonus points: SriPraPhai has amazing vegetarian options for all your plant-based friends.
How to book: Walk-ins. Cash only.
Somtum Der originally hails from Thailand, and offers the same flavors and experiences one would find at their Bangkok locale without having to travel thousands of miles. The restaurant specializes in dishes that are Northeastern Thai, or Isaan, so be sure to get the classics like larb and grilled pork neck. In addition, there are eight versions of papaya salad to choose from (including one flecked with salted duck egg) and deep-fried options—like chicken thighs and Isaan sausage—are a must. And for anyone looking to really do it up Isaan style, be sure to accompany your meal with a basket of sticky rice.
How to book: Walk-ins.
Opened in February of 2020 by wife-and-husband team (formerly of Uncle Boon’s) Ann Redding and Matt Danzer, Thai Diner offers Thai dishes with a mix of diner-inspired classics in a vibrant setting surrounded by plants, lacquered wood, and pops of color and excitement comforting from all sides. Breakfast items (available until 5 pm) include the Thai Diner egg sandwich with cheese and Thai tea babka French toast with salty condensed milk syrup. Additional dishes include Thai disco fries smothered in massaman curry; a classic hamburger; stuffed cabbage with tom khaa; and throwbacks like Uncle Boon’s khao pat puu.
How to book: Indoor dining and Thai greenhouse heated outdoor dining is first come, first served. Order takeout and delivery via website.
Wayla is all about homestyle Thai food in an atmospheric setting. Here, the restaurant’s basement-level seating is moody in a romantic way, with private booths on the sidewalk for some seclusion and an outdoor backyard garden perfect for spring dinners and summer brunches. With the kitchen helmed by Bangkok native, executive chef Tom Naumsuwan, dishes can range from the very traditional (moo sarong is considered to be an ancient recipe passed down through generations), to the adaptive (pad kra pow with brussel sprouts aren’t common in Thailand, yet this version is worthy of your attention). Pair it with signature cocktails infused with Thai flavors like pandan and tamarind.
How to book: Reservations for indoor dining and heated outdoor dinings available via Resy. Order takeout and delivery via website.