Best Thai food in San Francisco

Best Thai food in San Francisco
Best Thai food in San Francisco

SF is a hotbed for Thai food, with everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to food trucks and authentic, family-run mainstays. Whether it’s the hole-in-the-wall or a high-end establishment you’re looking for, these restaurants serve up the best Thai food in San Francisco, where you can find favorites like Pad Si Eve and Khao Soi with -Also innovative fusion. Flavorful dishes from Southeast Asia.

No matter what city you are in, we have the place for you. From the original Leers Ros (a local Thai legend) to Thai Idea and House of Thai, Tenderloin is the best neighborhood to find family-run joints. For more modernized traditional fare, head to one of the Mission’s many new and trendy restaurants, where spots like Farmhouse Kitchen and Hawker’s Fair are whipping up contemporary spins on classic dishes in party-like settings. And then there’s Qin Khao, a Michelin-starred masterpiece that will take your taste buds on a journey you won’t soon forget.

Whatever your style, the best Thai food in San Francisco goes far beyond pad thai and green curry, and these are the restaurants to try right now.

Best Thai food in San Francisco

  1. Kin Khao

From the decor to the bold curries, everything is colorful and casual at this Michelin-starred Thai restaurant. Kin Khao – which means ‘eat rice’ – is the passion project of Chef Pim Tekmuanwivit, who was born and raised in Bangkok. (Their stated mission: ‘To liberate their beloved Thai cuisine from the tyranny of peanut sauce.’) All of Tekmuanwivit’s products, meat, and seafood are sourced from local Northern California purveyors.

Dishes are shareable and generously spiced, from ‘pretty hot wings’ glazed with fish sauce, garlic marinade, tamarind, and Sriracha to dry-fried Duroc pork ribs in turmeric curry paste. Don’t miss Qin Khao’s modern spin on curries like rabbit green curry or mackerel gang som sour curry.

  1. Marnee Thai

Chef Chai Siriarn opened the first Marni Thai in 1986, before becoming the takeout staple of Thai food it is today. Siriyam grew up in Bangkok and learned to cook from his mother; Their influence is evident in the traditional flavors and bold spices of their dishes. Today, Sirium’s two restaurants – one at inner sunset, the other at outer sunset – specialize in aromatic, tongue-tingling cuisine from central Thailand. Specialties include Kao Soi Chicken and Mussamun Chicken Curry.

  1. Farmhouse Kitchen

This inviting Mission restaurant has a festive atmosphere, from the shiny penny tiles to the upbeat soundtrack. Even the food is bright: the popular fried chicken served with blue rice (tinted with blue pea florets) and yellow potato curry. Co-owner Ling Chatterjee and husband Kasem ‘Pop’ Sengsawang are the same pair behind Kitchen Story at Castro and Blackwood at Marina. Of the three, this place serves the most authentic Thai fare. The pair focuses on high-quality ingredients and locally sourced produce. Beef short rib, braised until it falls off the bone and then slathered in Panang curry, is a stand-out.

  1. Lers Ros

Leers Ros has been a mainstay of Thai food since chef-owner Tom Narupon Silgorn opened his original location at Tenderloin in 2008. He has since expanded his scope to oversee three modern, stylishly appointed outposts in the city. A native of Thailand, Silagorn is known for serving authentic, unsweetened spicy dishes. (You won’t find sweet-sweet curries or lang pad thai here; even the chili paste is made in-house.) Hearty, savory dishes like pork ribs, noor tod (fried, minced beef), and Bone-in fried eel.

  1. Thai Idea Vegetarian

Vegetarians and vegans rejoice: This popular Thai restaurant is completely meat- (and fish sauce) free. The space is cozy, yet cozy, with dark wooden booths and dim lighting. Although the menu focuses on vegetables, there are also plenty of meatless options for chicken, shrimp, catfish, lamb, and beef. Imitation meat skewers, samosas, and ‘wing bum’ (deep-fried veggie-chicken wings) are popular appetizers, while curries – ranging from pumpkin to fish-free- to ‘seafood’ – are mainly recommended.

  1. Nari Thai

Opened in 2019 by the team behind Kin Khao, Nari Thai is one of the newest and most exciting Thai restaurants in SF. While Qin Khao has more of a relaxed, party vibe, the feminine leans toward the more sophisticated side of the spectrum. Located at Hotel Kabuki in Japantown, the large and elegant dining room features banquettes with greenery, large windows, and Thai-inspired fabrics.

The menu at Nari – which translates to ‘lady’ – is lively and varied, with appetizers such as spicy mango salad and seafood curry in banana leaf. Key entrees range from chicken tossed in a skillet to a tender lamb shank in Massaman curry in a bright curry paste.

  1. House of Thai

House of Thai has been serving classic, simple food for almost two decades. Stunning American Thai fare, the menu is spicy and extensive, from curry and noodle dishes to plates of rice. Start with specialties such as ka moo (a fiery pork-leg stew), moo Grob gra pro (pork belly flavored with peppers, onions, peppers, and basil), or deep-fried catfish. The latter comes topped with shiitake mushrooms, carrots, onions, peppers, and ginger and is dipped in a house-made plum sauce.

  1. Hawker Fare

Chef James Sihbout is perhaps best known for his Michelin-starred prix-fixe restaurant Comis in Oakland. But this colorful, casual Lao Issan restaurant is his passion project, serving up dishes inspired by his mother’s cooking. Dishes are sour, spicy, and salty, from green beans tossed with curry paste and smoked bacon to Isaan BBQ chicken, which is prepared for 24 hours, rubbed with lemongrass and turmeric, and chili garlic and tart. Served with tamarind dipping sauce.

  1. Ben Thai Cafe

The food at this Nob Hill Cafe seamlessly blends traditional Thai, Chinese and Indonesian influences into inventive flavor combinations. (The sibling co-owners borrowed many complex dishes from their Thai parents.) The menu includes sautéed dishes, seafood, skillet noodles, and curries from across the map.

is an American-Thai inspired oxtail soup cooked with carrots, tomatoes, and cabbage; A northern Thai khao soi (egg noodles, chicken, and crispy pork in a red and yellow coconut curry), and a Chinese-Thai-influenced roast duck soup with hearty, fatty strips of meat and thick, chewy noodles are packed. Start with the crunchy crab pancakes, which are served with a tangy vinegar dipping sauce.

  1. Blackwood

Honestly, it’s not. But Blackwood serves up some seriously delicious fusion fare. The vibe is stylish and upscale, from the pillow-laden banquette to the front-facing fire table. The menu offers traditional favorites, such as pad thai, fried rice, and egg rolls with a modern twist. It also offers some unexpected options, such as fried chicken, a fried chicken breast served with yellow curry, and a Thai-inspired burger with asparagus, bell pepper, the heart of palm, basil, Khao Ji, and Green Curry Sauce. Wash it down with a selection from the impressive beer and sake list.

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