10 Spicy and Savory Thai Restaurants That Kick Up the Flavor

Thai cuisine in New York City doesn't generally get the type of praise it deserves. People order it as a hangover cure from the confines of their couch, or lazily pick up take-out on their way back from the gym. But take a little time to understand the intricacies of Thai food, and you'll quickly realize that your cold pad thai just isn't cutting it when so many other options abound. 

Take Zabb Elee in Jackson Heights, for example. They earned a well-deserved Michelin star in 2015, making it the first Thai joint to receive the prestigious honor. Or what about Uncle Boons? A fun take on Thai fare, located in a trendy eatery in downtown Manhattan, they're shelling out cocktails that will make your head spin and grilled meats that will make you sweat just looking at them.  

These two spots are just the tip of the iceberg, and below you'll find 10 worthy restaurants that will surely shift your Thai-brain from Thursday take-out to Saturday's main event. For every budget, and nearly every corner of the city, our list breaks down the spots you can't miss. 

Ready to dive right in? Pack up your chopsticks and join us on a whirlwind tour of the best Thai in New York City. 



Helmed by chef wonder Andy Ricker, Pok Pok NY is Thai food for hungry hipsters and the people who love them. Ricker's made a name for himself with his interesting menu and gaggle of celebrity endorsements (including a visit from Bourdain), but...  Read More



If your grandma decided to open a Thai restaurant in one of the hottest neighborhoods in town, she'd end up with something that looks like Lovely Day. An unassuming Thai fusion joint plopped down in Nolita, the diner booths and quaint patterned...  Read More



When Zabb Elee opened their East Village outpost after years of serving exclusively out of their Queens digs, Thai purists went wild. Fast forward a few years later and foodies are still flocking in droves to 2nd Avenue for an authentic Isan...  Read More

Garment District


Another stellar Thai joint, and another peek at Isan influence. This Hell's Kitchen standby says that it takes its culinary notes from street vendors all the way up to high-end restaurants. One taste off their menu and you won't care where they...  Read More



A relative newcomer on the block, Uncle Boons is high-end Thai food served up in a basement space in Nolita. Its cool vibe seemingly oozes out of the walls, but what's more impressive is what's coming out of the kitchen. Along with a collection...  Read More

East Village
Somtum Der
Photo courtesy of Somtum Der


Come here for more Isan Thai, and brace yourself for the heat. The restaurant's key dish - appropriately named som tum - is a spicy papaya salad that Somtum Der makes in eight different variations with varying degrees of heat. Luckily for...  Read More



At Thai Market on Amsterdam Ave, you'll again have to fight the crowds for a taste of the good stuff, but it's worth it. The lunch special is a particularly good deal, and delivery is also available, but if you opt to eat-in, expect star service...  Read More



Authentic Thai reigns supreme at this casual Woodside kitchen, where walk-ins are welcomed with a friendly smile and the fare runs from Panang beef to catfish fried to a golden crisp. The vegetarian menu is nearly as long as the regular one, so...  Read More



Pure Thai Cookhouse calls Hell's Kitchen home, and has a steady stream of regulars every day of the week. Boasting an open kitchen, affordable dishes and a laid back vibe, the 35-seat space reminds us a little of a country cottage, complete with...  Read More



One of the best bang-for-your-buck restaurants in NYC, Ayada's where to go if you don't shy away from the heat. In a NY Times review a few years back, the writer admits that his meal here (and the birds-eye chilies, in particular) brought him to...  Read More


Meet Andrea Wien

Andrea Wien was bitten by the travel bug from an early age, and has lived in New York, Seattle, Cleveland and Sydney, Australia since 2007.

When she's not traveling or planning a trip, you'll...  More About Andrea