Get us in your inbox

Search
Uncle Boons Sister
Photograph: Courtesy Uncle Boons Sister

The 13 best Thai restaurants in NYC

The best Thai restaurants in NYC include elevated takes and street fare-style bites

Edited by
Will Gleason
Written by
Time Out New York contributors
&
Abbe Baker
Advertising

When it comes to Southeast Asian cuisine, there’s so much more than the cartons of pad thai you might order from your go-to delivery restaurants. While Queens still reigns supreme when it comes to “authentic” Thai fare, other neighborhoods including Hell’s Kitchen and the East Village are home to some standout spots showcasing regional dishes. Dig into piquant bowls of khao soi, spicy papaya salads and some of the best dumplings in town at these Thai restaurants in NYC.

RECOMMENDED: Find more of the best restaurants in NYC

Best Thai restaurants in NYC

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Carroll Gardens

Tucked away on a quiet stretch of Smith Street in Carroll Gardens is a Thai restaurant that will keep you coming back for more self-inflicted pain. It may not be scientifically proven, but spicy food is addictive—and especially at Ugly Baby. Whether you’re ordering the Laab Ped Udon or the Khao Soi, the servers will warn you over and over to be careful. If not, you’ll go against their advice and end up begging for more of the cooling cucumbers to ward off the heat.

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Elmhurst

The menu of this pretty little Thai restaurant attracts foodies citywide: Not only does it span the culinary regions of Thailand, but it includes twists from Japanese fare thanks to the owners’ experience working in Bangkok’s Japanese-based hotels. Even if you skip the sushi-inspired dishes, the spicy, incredibly complex curries (around $20) are still a radical departure from most pad thai-pushing joints.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Jackson Heights
  • price 1 of 4

Beware: What Arunee's menu calls "medium-spicy" is, in fact, hellaciously hot. Chili peppers are ladened among many dishes, including Yum Sam Krob, Tom Yum Goong and Guay Tieow Kee Mao. More delicate tongues can rest easy with the rich, mild Pad Woonsen and Mussumun Curry. 

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • East Village

If the refreshing flavors of Somtum Der are any indication, Isan cuisine is the antidote to the too-sweet noodles Americans commonly mistake for Thai food. Take a seat in the bright, wood-paneled dining room, and soon you’ll see why this restaurant is always packed to the brims. Som tum is the namesake dish of the eatery, a papaya salad made in several variations. Choose the Tum Thai Kai Kem: It’s flecked with bits of soft-cooked, salted egg yolks, which provide a soothing counterpoint to the heat of the chilies. It hurts so good, so get it as spicy as you can stand.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Elmhurst

This nondescript eatery brought to you by a mother-daughter team is worth the trip to Elmhurst. Pata Cafe first opened in 2016 with an emphasis on various coffees and teas before becoming what it is today—a Thai food destination doling out soulful Isan fare. The interior, too, with its wood beams and lush greenery, is just as inviting. 

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Woodside

Woodside's destination eatery offers distinctive, traditional eats like catfish salad or Green Curry with Beef: a thick, piquant broth filled out with roasted Thai eggplant. The dining rooms, which sprawl out over two levels and a garden, are packed with lip-smacking Manhattanites who can be seen eyeing the plates enjoyed by Thai regulars, mentally filing away what to order the next time.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • East Village

Although Thai menus in America can seem homogeneous, the country’s cuisine is rather diverse. Which is why there’s a good chance you won’t recognize much of the fare at Zabb Elee. The low-key basement spot focuses on the fiery, funky foods of northern Thailand, and the roster is a challenging one, with categories like tod (fried meats), som tum (papaya salads) and yang (grilled meats) making up more than five dozen choices. You wanted real Thai food, it taunts, let’s see what you’ve got. How about a tiny skewer of blackened gizzards? The snack features chicken parts obliterated over an open flame. Or opt for the fried chicken (kai tod), succulent meat marinated in a tenderizing mix of Thai herbs and lime.

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Lower East Side

Located in a basement storefront on Forsyth Street, you might just miss Wayla upon first glance. With little signage pointing you in the right direction, down the steps is a secret Thai restaurant and bar oasis not to be missed. The new LES spot from offers home-style dishes prepared by Chef Tom Naumsuwan like Pad Prik Khing and Som Tum Thai, inspired by his growing up in Bangkok and hanging out at the markets there. Wayla means "time" in Thai, and you'll want to spend some of yours at their secret backyard decorated with rugs and outdoor chairs with charming lighting. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • price 1 of 4

This small Hell’s Kitchen canteen by husband-and-wife team David and Vanida Bank of Land Thai Kitchen is a gem among the dozens of Thai–American restaurants lining Ninth Avenue. Foodies rave about this authentic hole-in-the-wall serving budget-friendly wok dishes and crowd pleasers like the Wok Chili Turmeric with Beef and Rachaburi Crab and Pork Dry Noodles.

Nora Thai
  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Williamsburg

Head to this Astoria charmer for traditional Thai hawker fare and noodle soups dished out in a space that channels old-school Bangkok. Tables feature tin water cups straight from Thailand and plastic holders for chili sauce, sugar and other condiments that accompany bowls of beef boat noodles topped with crispy pork rinds.

Advertising
Wondee Siam II
  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Hell's Kitchen

Chowhounds rhapsodize about Wondee with an enthusiasm that borders on mania. At this operation in Hell’s Kitchen, the food is deliciously authentic—a welcome change from standard satays and noodles. Crispy Pork Basil is loaded with red pepper, basil, garlic and oyster sauce, while the BBQ Chicken is marinated in herbs and served with yellow curry rice and sweet chili sauce.

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Nolita

Brought to you by Ann Redding and Matt Danzer fame—owners of the now-shuttered Michelin-starred Uncle Boons—comes their younger sibling Thai Diner, a glorious and kitschy standout in Nolita offering up craveable street fare. As it is a diner, breakfast here is served all day; the house egg sandwich comes with cheese, sai oua herbal sausage, Thai basil, all wrapped in a roti. Other takes on diner classics here include Thai Disco Fries smothered in massaman curry, the Fried Chicken Sandwich with nam prik noom green chile paste and the Classic Hamburger with American cheese.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Noho
  • price 2 of 4

Named for what is arguably the most tender part of the fish is exactly what you’ll find at Fish Cheeks, a vibrant eatery in Noho specializing in brilliant Thai seafood dishes. Owned and operated by brothers and Thailand natives, the food is a celebration of their upbringing; Grilled Branzino arrives with a cashew garlic sauce while the fiery Rainbow Trout Pad Cha is ladened with habanero chili, acacia leaf, basil and green peppercorns.

Looking for more great restaurants?

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising