For fans of food that’s spicy, sour, and acidic, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as Thai cuisine. That is, assuming diners explore all that the Southeast Asian country’s food has to offer beyond familiar dishes such as pad thai and yellow curry. In San Francisco, Thai food fans have a broad range of restaurant styles and specialties to choose from including an upscale Thai restaurant that approaches classic dishes with a Californian sensibility and, of course, casual neighborhood favorites well-suited for weeknight dinners.Read More
9 Thrilling Thai Restaurants in San Francisco
The city’s finest Thai restaurants span Michelin-starred stunners and cozy neighborhood standbys
Chef and owner Pim Techamuanvivit’s Nari, located on the ground floor of the Hotel Kabuki in Japantown, earned its first Michelin star in June thanks, no doubt, in part to the talents of chef de cuisine Meghan Clark. In an elegant and airy dining room, the Nari team draws diners with sharable portions of chicken stir-fried with sweet and spicy curry paste or eggplant in bumbai curry. For a full taste of what the restaurant has to offer, opt for the $125 chef’s pick menu.
This Thai restaurant is tucked inside the Parc 55 hotel near Union Square, but it’s no tourist trap — Kin Khao received a Michelin star in 2015. Chef-owner Pim Techamuanvivit and chef de cuisine Adam Sproat pack plenty of flavor into California-ized versions of familiar Thai dishes like the mushroom har mok made with coconut cream and served with crispy rice cakes or the plah pla muek, a tangy plate of charred local squid.
Sai Jai Thai
Venture to this humble restaurant in the Tenderloin, allegedly a favorite of movie star Keanu Reeves, classic and unabashedly spicy Thai cuisine. Per the San Francisco Chronicle, the most famous dish on the menu is the barbecue pork shoulder, which gets coated in a fish sauce marinade before being grilled. The restaurant offers delivery in-house (though in a limited capacity due to staffing) and is available via Doordash.
Find this low-key Thai restaurant in a small space on Geary Boulevard. The Michelin Guide-listed restaurant comes from siblings Tanya and Jim Suwanpanya, the latter of whom brings fine dining experience to the endeavor. It explains why dishes such as scallops in lemongrass and a dessert of ice cream smoked over a candle tableside show so much finesse. You can’t go wrong with any of the curries, which hold nothing back in terms of spice.
Also featured in:
Muukata6395 might be San Francisco’s first and only restaurant specializing in mu kratha, a style of Thai barbecue where diners grill their food on a table-top charcoal grill. Open since March 2023, it keeps the lights on until midnight — a serious boon to the Richmond District’s night owls — and diners can choose between a small or large set for barbecue. Each includes a chef’s choice assortment of raw meat, seafood, and vegetables cooked on the metal mu kratha pan, with broth and two dipping sauces for the meats.
Also featured in:
Lers Ros Thai
Lers Ros Thai sports three locations across the city, making it a popular option for a casual weekday lunch or takeout option for a night in. The all-day menu can only be described as sprawling, spanning dozens of options for appetizers, salads, noodles, and curries. Owner-chef Tom Silargorn doesn’t shy away from serving some unexpected protein options (think quail in chile paste or sir-fried frog legs) but you can also order pad see ew, green and yellow curry, or tom yum soup.
The Inner Sunset neighborhood packs this corner restaurant that blends Korean and Thai foods for a dining experience that’s notable even in the area’s crowded dining scene. For a more classic Thai option in the area, you’ll want Marnee on Irving, but Kothai small plates like kimchi rice balls and a riff on ceviche stand out for being well-executed and flavor-packed.
Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine
This growing chain has planted outposts across the Bay Area, plus in Los Angeles and Portland, and remains popular for noodle soups, red and green curries, rice paper rolls, and house specialties like Thai southern-style fried chicken. But what Farmhouse might be best known for is its highly aesthetic design — think faux flowers that crawl up the wall, glowing neon signs, and colorful cocktails tailor-made for Instagram.
Funky Elephant SF
For years, fans had to head to the East Bay for a taste of chef Supasit Puttikaew’s Thai comfort food at Funky Elephant. But as of July, there’s an outpost in the city on Valencia Street. The favorites include party wings and yum kai dao, or fried egg salad, along with Puttikaew’s take on kao mun gai, a poached chicken dish with a fermented soybean sauce.