Ayada Thai

From Bangkok street food to Northeast Thai specialties—10 top Thai spots in NYC

By David Farley

If Thailand and New York City somehow collided over the streets of the Big Apple it would (hopefully) look and taste a lot like the below ten restaurants—all of which serve superlative Thai cuisine that offer up a true taste of this sumptuous Southeast Asian nation.

Ayada Thai
Big flavors are the big hit here at this Queens mainstay. Think: a mountainous plate of green papaya salad sprinkled with incendiary birds eye chiles and doused in tangy fish sauce, or fried whole red snapper topped with a semi-sweet chile sauce.
Neighborhood: Elmhurst MAP

Khao Kang
You won’t find a menu or get any table service at this popular Elmhurst spot. All the dishes are laid out before your eyes, bubbling and steaming in chafing dishes, beckoning for you to dip and dig in. Known as a raan khao kaeng in Thailand, this type of casual eatery serves up non-fussy, already cooked fare. Point to dishes that look good and you’ll soon be rewarded with a heaping plate of curries, ground meat salads, and spicy veggies.
Neighborhood: Elmhurst MAP

Ugly Baby (photo: Melanie Rieders)

Ugly Baby
The beauty of Ugly Baby is not just the high-quality Thai fare but the hard-to-find Thai dishes on the menu: sting ray curry, fried pork intestines, and Bangkok beef brisket soup, are just a few of the unusual items to discover at this Brooklyn restaurant. Another refreshing aspect is their honesty—dishes that deserve it are forthrightly labeled “brutally spicy” and “stay away spicy.”
Neighborhood: Carroll Gardens MAP

Sripraphai
There once was a time when you had to travel to Queens to get great Thai food. And when locals pointed you to the borough, this Woodside restaurant was basically the place they were telling you to go. Despite increased competition on the Thai dining landscape, Sripraphai still shines and sparkles and is worth a trek to Woodside to dine here. The menu is big but there are almost no wrongs here. Even the usually boring pad Thai will dazzle your taste buds.
Neighborhood: Woodside MAP

Pok Pok NY (Photo credit: Evan Sung)

Pok Pok NY
Chef Andy Ricker may not have been born in Thailand, but he certainly cooks like it. Located in Brooklyn’s Columbia Street Waterfront District, on the west side of Cobble Hill, Pok Pok does outstanding takes on the regional dishes of Thailand and Southeast Asia, focusing on the North and Northeast of Thailand, where chef Ricker has spent years slurping noodles from the most talented Thai grandmas in the land.
Neighborhood: Columbia Street Waterfront District MAP

Som Tum Der
An outpost of a Bangkok restaurant that goes by the same name, this East Village spot serves the cuisine of Isan, the northeastern part of Thailand. First timers should get the spicy green papaya salad and don’t think twice about getting the pork larb—just order it. We guarantee you’ll be back for more.
Neighborhood: East Village MAP

Kiin Thai Eatery

Kiin Thai
While many new-ish Thai restaurants in New York have gone super regional, this Greenwich Village spot does homestyle pan-Thai fare—and they do it very well. The Sai Oua sausage, Khao sol with chicken, and fried chicken thighs over sticky rice are all worthy of plopping yourself down here amongst the NYU crowd.
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village MAP

Thaimee Table
Talented chef Hong Thaimee juggles traditional and creative Thai fare at her East Village restaurant. You may come for the old school pad Thai or the sumptuous drunken curry noodles but you’ll return for the “Thai taco,” pork belly wrapped up in piece or roti, or the excellent “Thai burger,” a beef patty topped with curry paste and a relish of green papaya.
Neighborhood: East Village MAP

Uncle Boon's Sister (photo: Alex Muccilli)

Uncle Boon’s Sister
A spin-off of the popular nearby spot, Uncle Boon’s, the sister in question is a very casual and diminutive restaurant serving a small menu of Thai comfort food, such as house-made pork sausage sitting a top a pile of shredded green papaya and a flaky curried lamb pastry.
Neighborhood: Nolita MAP

Look by Plant Love House
It might seem like a mouthful of a name, but this Brooklyn spot is actually a mouthful of Southeast Asian goodness. Despite their claim of “plant love” in the name, the restaurant does meaty Thai street food. You may find pork blood noodle soup on the menu one day or a dish of jumbo shrimp, pork patties, and bacon bobbing in a chile paste soup the next day.
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights MAP

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