The best Thai food in San Francisco

Explore funky, spicy, complex and challenging flavors at these four outstanding spots for Thai food in San Francisco

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/ Kris Vera-PhillipsBasa fillet at Marnee Thai Restaurant

The best Thai food in San Francisco goes far beyond standard takeout fare. If you’re on the hunt for superior pad Thai, fiery curries or other authentic dishes, we’ve selected the best San Francisco restaurants for regional Southeast Asian cuisine, from the Mission and the Haight to Inner Sunset and Outer Richmond.

San Francisco’s best Thai food

Marnee Thai

3 out of 5 stars

With a menu of more than 50 items (not including the daily specials), Marnee Thai offers a deep dive into regional cuisine. Chef Chai Siriyarn's menu focuses mainly on Siamese fare from Central Thailand, but he also covers specialties from the north and south, including turmeric- and ginger-seasoned noodle curries and Indonesian-style chicken satay. Local favorites include green papaya salad, Tom Ka Gai (sour-spicy coconut chicken soup), Hor Mok (steamed snapper in curry mousse with cabbage in a banana leaf bowl), pad Thai, and curry dishes. If it's on the menu, don't miss the morning glory—a delicate spinach-like green—sautéed in soy bean and garlic sauce.

Inner Sunset

Thep Phanom

3 out of 5 stars

Be sure to book in advance at Thep Phanom—and once you're there, be sure to order the tom ka gai (coconut chicken soup) as a starter. The “angel wings”—fried chicken wings stuffed with glass noodles, grilled prawns stuffed with crabmeat, and prawn and pumpkin curry—are universally popular choices. After more than 25 years, chef Pat Parikanont's neighborhood fave is still going strong, often touted as one of the top Thai restaurants in San Francisco.

Lower Haight

Khan Toke Thai House

3 out of 5 stars

Locals sometimes overlook this attractive, traditional Thai restaurant, which has anchored the Outer Richmond dining scene for decades. But it should be considered by anyone looking for an authentic experience. Slip off your shoes, sit on a low bench (with a padded back support) and enjoy fiery, colorful curries, excellent pad thai and noodle dishes, and specialties such as Saam Kasart, spicy beef, chicken and pork sautéed with young bamboo shoots in a secret berry sauce. At $25, the Thai Royal Dinner, which includes appetizer, soup, salad, two entrees and dessert, is a bona fide bargain.

Outer Richmond

Lers Ros

3 out of 5 stars

Don't let the hard-to-pronounce name (something approximating Lairt Rot, but with soft Ts) or the six-page menu deter you from trying owner-chef Tom Silargorn's take on Thai cuisine. Traditional curries, stir-fries and pad thai noodle dishes get original spins here in dishes such as Pad Kra Prow Moo Krob (pan-fried noodles with crispy pork belly), garlic and pepper rabbit, shredded green papaya salad with salted eggs, and Lers Ros's signature duck larb—a salad of roast duck, red onions and lettuce wedges seasoned with chili, herbs and tangy-salty lime dressing. Since first opening in the Tenderloin, Lers Ros has added two, more upscale outlets in Hayes Valley and the Mission.