There's more to Thai food than the peanut butter heavy pad thai from your local takeaway, y'know. We live in a city that has more places to eat and drink than we frankly know what to do with, so believe us when we tell you that London's best Thai restaurant might just be hiding right under your nose. Or down your street. As a staple part of most savvy Londoner's diets, Thai cooking has – whether in the form of a refreshing papaya salad or aromatic tom yum soup – managed to make itself one of the city's best-loved cuisine. Furthermore, the sheer versatility of the food and the high and low-end dining options available make it a suitable choice for a Friday night takeaway or a dressed-up dinner date. It's difficult to go wrong with a Thai restaurant.
Festooned with lashings of fish sauce and chilli, it's a bold cuisine you can feel actively smacking every part of your tongue, a flavour sensation capable of reminding you of a specific time and place, a moment of where you give yourself completely over to taste. Sadly not every Thai restaurant in London is able to hit that same beat of ecstasy. Restos like Smoking Goat, 101 Thai Kitchen and Supawan are prime candidates for being the best Thai restaurants in London but that doesn't mean there aren't still plenty of disappointing Thai joints that serve bowls of over coconut-milked red curry and nondescript noodles that are nothing but Thai in name.
We're here to help you avoid those failures and guide you to the best Thai restaurants you can eat and drink at in London. You'll find your regular old pad thai and massaman curry houses here as well as the places that specialise in more regional cuisine. Whether you're in the mood for a slightly shabby BYOB or a white table cloth fine-dining operation, here are the best Thai restaurants in London. In, of course, no particular order.
22 of London's best Thai restaurants
1. 101 Thai Kitchen
352 King Street, W6 0RX
If you live in West London and have yet to visit 101 Thai Kitchen, you're doing it wrong. This King Street staple serves some of the best Isaan cuisine going in the city and has definitely earned its place as one of the best Thai restaurants in London. Its bright pink exterior and simple interior are home to a series of animated dishes (we're talking som tum, sausage, laab and so much more) with flavour dimensions that'll transport you into another realm of pleasure. The service is lively and you'll be made to feel like a regular the moment you take a seat. While the ever-changing blackboard of specials is – without a doubt – the move to make, you can't really go wrong with the safe-hold choices of stir fries, noodles, and rice either. Many of the dishes at 101 use pla ra (a flavouring made from salted, fermented fish) instead of regular fish sauce – a commitment to a rib thumping, potent fishy flavour that makes this Roi Et-borne restaurant one of our absolute faves.
593 High Road Leytonstone, E11 4PA
Every meal at Singburi is a reminder of what we wish eating out could be like all the time. No faffing about with OpenTable, no poring over an online menu, no stressing about potentially over or under-dressing. All you've got to do is call up the E11 eatery for a booking, show up on time and prepare to be blown away by some of London's best Thai cooking. It's BYOB, too, so make sure to bring your own roster of bevs along for the ride. All of the blackboard specials – while they last – are essential orders and owner Sirichai Kularbwong ensures that you'll never leave Singburi unsatisfied. Drunk and full? Quite possibly. But unsatisfied? Never.
3. Smoking Goat
64 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
Ben Chapman knows how to do restaurants. In fact, two of his have made this list of the best Thai restaurants in London. There's something intangible about the man's places that just get "it" – and Smoking Goat is no different from Kiln when it comes to that it-factor. Having taken to its new home in Shoreditch like a duck to water, this Thai barbecue joint serves some of the most affective, emotion inducing Thai food going. Just you try to stop your mouth from watering and your pulse from racing when a whole fried plaice, all crisp, flaky and scattered with fresh mint and chillis, is placed in front of you. The wings have justly become the stuff of legend, the wine list is bustling with natural and biodynamic bottles, and the occasional Offal Monday sessions that Smoking Goat host are probably the best way there is to start a week and the best way to get your lamb testicle fix this side of London. Smoking Goat hasn't lost a step since it opened. Long may it bleat on.
4. Esarn Kheaw
314 Uxbridge Road, W12 7LJ
Shepherd's Bushwhackers will be well aware of Esarn Kheaw and its express lunch menu. £6.95 can net you a generous plate of glass noodle pad thai between 12pm-3pm on a weekday and we'll be damned if there's not a better way to spend a lunch hour than sweatily working your way through that mound of gorgeousness. Interesting Esaan dishes like the 'Tiger Cry' (charcoal grilled strips of sirloin steak, served with a hot chilli sauce) and ox tripe soup hit a spot that many lacklustre Anglo-Thai restaurant can't seem to reach.
5. Supawan Thai Food
38 Caledonian Road, N1 9DT
When it comes to fresh and fun places to eat in Kings Cross, you can't really do much better than Supawan. This simple Thai restaurant never disappoints at delivering a consistently excellent spread of Southern Thai cooking. Ram your table with geng gai normai red curry, tom yum noodle soup, toa hoo nueng kiing steamed tofu, and – God Dammit, just order everything to be honest. It's all good, and it's all rather reasonably priced, too. Even if you make the trip to wolf down nothing but a plate of morning glory, you'll be feeling super won over.
6. Som Saa
43A Commercial Street, E1 6BD
Located just off Spitalfields Market, Som Saa started as a well-intentioned street food pop-up in London Fields and his since found itself transformed into a corker of a permanent restaurant. Som Saa has certainly grown into its looks – confidently serving uncompromising plates of nahm dtok pla thort (whole fried sea bass) and mu parlow braised pork. The restaurant hasn't been without its controversies – chef Shaun Beagley was fired from Som Saa last year following a slew of offensive social media posts – though founder Andy Oliver is keen to prove that Som Saa remains a positive bastion of Thai cuisine with its high-quality dishes inspired by the pared-back cooking of the country's North Eastern region.
7. Siam Central
14 Charlotte Street, W1T 2LX
This Charlotte Street restaurant specialises in 'Thai tapas'. What's Thai tapas, you ask? Well, it's Thai food, served on smaller plates. Yes, that may sound a tad concept-heavy but it's actually just a neat way to try a range of dishes without having a glut of food leftover. The tapas combos are definitely the best bang for your buck at Siam Central, however, larger portions of drunken noodles and panang curry are equally capable of holding their own on the menu. Siam Central is a great weekend lunch spot if you're in the area. As for the drinks, we'd recommend a pint of the Kirin Ichiban on draught or a refreshing glass of pinot grig to pair with some of the menu's spicier offerings.
8. Reun Thai
100 Fulham Palace Road, W6 9PL
Reun Thai's been hammering out heaps of pad thai to Hammersmith residents since 1999. For those of you that aren't great at maths (ourselves included) that means it's been in the food business for over two decades now. Any eatery that's able to keep customers coming in for that long is obviously doing something right, and that "something right" in this case just so happens to be good Thai cooking. There's nothing fancy about Reun Thai; the set menus are affordable and the drinks are cold. If you do want to push the boat out, you can always plump out for the Reun Thai luxury seafood set. Costing £35 per person it's the most extravagant option on the menu but bear in mind that that menu also includes a bottle of house wine or four beers. Quality at that cost is what makes Reun Thai one of the best Thai restaurants in London.
58 Brewer Street, W1F 9TL
New wave Thai restaurants don't get much newer or wavier than Kiln. They also don't get much better. British produce is used to full effect on the menu in this kitsch and cosy restaurant. Kiln's hogget is specifically bred for the restaurant by Phillip Warrens Farmers, and it shows; that Thai rendition on a such a typically British hunk of meat epitomises the Kiln ethos through and through. An ethos you'll quickly find splattered on your blouse if you get overzealous in your eating. The seafood is delivered every morning and, yes, the hype surrounding the clay pot baked glass noodles is very, very real. Festooned with swathes of Tamworth pork belly and brown crab meat, that hero dish comes in a hot little bowl of love. Kiln is a reminder of why we think London is one of the best food cities in the world.
72 Highbury Park, N5 2XE
Beginning its edible existence as a street-food stall back in the halcyon days of 2016, Farang has gone from strength to strength over the years. The North London bricks and mortar has got a Michelin Bib Gourmand and a deserved reputation as one of London's top Thai restaurants to match. Farang is one of the first places that most people will tell you about when you ask for a Thai restaurant recommendation and, just this once, it seems that "most people" aren't wrong. Sebby Holmes' tasting menu (at £40 a head) is one of the more fascinating in the city though even if you're ordering a la carte the spicy jungle curry of tiger prawns with pak choi, green beans, samphire, and green peppercorns isn't exactly a bad way to go. In proper 2019, fashion the vegan dishes also do absolute bits.
110 St John's Hill, SW11 1SJ
KaoSarn is basically the BYOB of your dreams: an instant swipe right when you're in the mood for good eating and a good time. The portion sizes are ample for combatting any excessive alcohol consumption, the prices are more than reasonable considering the quality of the food, and the vibe is irrepressibly fun. What more could you want on a Saturday night? Not much, we'll tell you that. KaoSarn is an easy place to eat and a surefire crowd pleaser that's highly unlikely to be turned down by anyone. The fact that there's three in South London tells you that KaoSarn's grub is in high demand. It is cash only, mind. So, don't forget to hit up an ATM before you BYOB.
12. The Heron
Norfolk Crescent, W2 2DN
The Heron is a pub with a difference. That difference, of course, being that it serves some rather cracking Thai food out of its kitchen. Located just off Edgware Road, The Heron is somewhere that you'd be forgiven for thinking is just your typical British public house. Yet, nestled downstairs, above the hubbub, is where you can find some surprisingly excellent Thai cooking. The Heron's had this Thai connection going on for over a decade now. Though the team in the kitchen has had a bit of a change up over the years (and it's admittedly not as good as it used to be), The Heron is still well worth a visit – if purely for the novelty of eating such very Thai food in such a very un-Thai location. Is it one of the best Thai restaurants in London? Quite possibly. Is it one of the best Thai restaurants in a pub in London? Almost definitely.
Desiree West and John Chantarasak's AngloThai is one of the hottest food residencies going at the minute. The restaurant's most recent pop-up at The Dairy's Counter Culture was received by Clapham (and critics) with open arms. Marrying together traditional Thai recipes and flavours with modern techniques and seasonal British ingredients, the restaurant's unique dishes are all the rage with everyone from square mile yuppies to clout goggle-clad arts students. Brixham crab with wild ramson broken rice and a resolutely Thai take on doughnuts filled with pandan leaf custard round off a menu of big hitters. Pair that with AngloThai's low‐intervention natural wine program and you'll struggle to find a trendier way to eat Thai food.
Follow AngloThai on Instagram to find out where it'll be popping up next.
14. The Pineapple
51 Leverton Street, NW5 2NX
If all you associate with pub food is Curry Club at Wetherspoons then it's high time you got to some better pubs, pal. Restaurants in pubs can sometimes be absolute worldies. And, if Asma Khan's residency at The Sun & 13 Cantons is anything to go by, capable of kicking off a restaurant empire. While the Thai at The Pineapple is hardly a trendy Thai residency or pop-up (see AngloThai and Jeow Jeow for that), it does do more than just serve microwaved food out of a boozer's kitchen. Which is why we've whacked it on this guide to the best Thai restaurants in London. Don't go in expecting Michelin-starred grub, obvs. But if you find yourself in a pinch around Kentish Town with a hankering for some cracking pad Thai to go with your pint, The Pineapple is the place for you.
15. Lao Café
60 Chandos Place, WC2N 4HG
With a focus on Laotian and Isaan cooking, the Lao Café is a regional restaurant that knows what it's doing. Moving from a pop-up into a permanent site is never an easy transition to make, nevertheless, having been spearheaded by the wonderful Saiphin Moore of Rosa's Thai, the Lao Café doesn't seem to have encountered many road bumps along the way. Traditional Laos cuisine is given room to stretch its legs and run roughshod all over the Numskull living in your mouth department at Chandos Place. The hot pots are spicy and the rice irrepressibly sticky and if you're about to pipe up on why a Laotian restaurant is on our list of the best Thai restaurants in London: don't. Lao Café's Northern Thai dishes like laab pla (a deep-fried whole fish) are just as punchy and impressive as its Laos-inspired cooking. Disclaimer: multiple visits are required to ensure you get a proper culinary comprehension of all that's on offer.
16. Paolina Thai Cuisine
181 King's Cross Road, WC1X 9BZ
Paolina is a family-run Thai restaurant that does exactly what it sets out to achieve. Which is feed you, and feed you well. Classics like massaman curry and drunken noodles are as good as you'll get from any of the other best Thai restaurants in London. Regional offerings like chu chi pla (crispy red curry fish fillet) and pad prig tai orn (stir fried beef with green peppercorns, wild basil and fresh chilli) are, well, also good. The prices though? The prices are fucking extraordinary. Each set menu – designed for two to consume – is a bargain in its own right and great for both experienced Thai food lovers and newcomers alike.
17. Marie's Cafe
90 Lower Marsh, SE1 7AB
Marie's Cafe is a grower, not a shower. While it might not be the prettiest restaurant going, the friendly atmosphere and earnest food should be enough to win you over. Either that, or you'll absolutely hate it. There's no in-between the two. Selling Full English breakfasts in the morning and decent Thai food (at more than decent prices) throughout the rest of the day, Marie's is unique in its culinary offering. A proper London hodge podge of different cultures passing the baton to one another in the form of hot dishes. Just take the moo yang, for example: it's a dish the menu describes as grilled pork that's "MARIEnated" and served with a sweet chilli dip. How can you not be endeared by a pun like that?
18. Thai Corner Cafe
44 New Cross Road, SE22 9EU
Perfect for your mates that'll "stick to the chicken satay cheers, pal" as well as those with slightly more adventurous appetites, Thai Corner Cafe is the epitome of a neighbourhood haunt. The food is fragrant and inviting (albeit not particularly spicy) and, for the most part, above the standards of the run-of-the-mill Anglo-Thais you'll find pitter pattered throughout the city. Not only is it BYOB but it's also one of the few Thai restaurants we can think of that serves gyoza. Make of that what you will.
1 Studland Street, W6 0JS
Located on Studland Street, Jin-Da is a bonafide stud of a restaurant. The staff and service is some of the friendliest you'll find going and everyone is happy to explain the ins and outs of the expansive menu. Whatever dish you do go for (be it a jumped-up pad ka-prao or a milder khao ped) you can rest easy knowing that it's been cooked with more than an adequate amount of care. Northern Thai specialities like the nam prik ong (a lovely medley of minced pork and shrimp paste) and the kang hung lay curry are definitely ones that'll make an appearance on the Jin-Da: Greatest Hits album.
20. Nuki's Kitchen
58 Northfield Ave, W13 9RR
Sometimes all you want is a simple BYOB. Sometimes all you want is somewhere that'll feed you while you work your way through three tall boys of Kronenburg. Sometimes all you want is a restaurant where you can feel like a real part of the family. Nuki's Kitchen does all that, and more. Quite possibly Northfield's favourite adopted Thai son, Nuki's is a cash-only establishment that does the goods on everything from gra prao gai khai dao to your bog standard green curry. It's really, really good fun and really, really one of the best Thai restaurants in London for that very reason.
21. The Begging Bowl
168 Bellenden Road, SE15 4BW
If you haven't been to this Peckham mainstay since its nifty little makeover, you really should. The South London Thai restaurant has been a focal point of the area's collective stomach since it burst onto the scene with its arms full of unique Northern Thai dishes. When you think of London's growing collection of modern-influenced, new-wave Thai joints, you can't ignore the impact that The Begging Bowl has had in getting that fish sauce jacuzzi whirring. Andy Oliver cut his teeth in the kitchen here before opening up Som Saa and current head chef Jane Alty has ensured the restaurant remains on the cutting edge of cooking. Fairly Peckham fare like charcoal grilled celeriac looks great alongside dishes of stir-fried Isle of Wight asparagus with fermented yellow bean to epitomise The Begging Bowl's careful balancing act between tradition and innovation. Following the restaurant's successful crowdfunding for a much-needed refurb, The Begging Bowl is bigger, badder than ever before and back in action for all your lunch and dinner desires.
22. Nipa Thai
First Floor, Lancaster Terrace, W2 2TY
Located at the Royal Lancaster hotel, Nipa Thai was one of the earliest Thai restaurants in London to charge prices on par with those of its fancy Italian and French counterparts. And more power to them for doing so. The food at Nipa Thai – stir-fried noodles and steamed sea bass included – is all awfully good as the all-female, all-Thai kitchen led by head chef Sanguan Parr churns out a pretty faultless spread of dishes across the board. It's not cheap, but it is worth it. And you very much should go.