The 12 Best Thai Restaurants In San Francisco

Thai food has been growing in popularity in the U.S. since the first wave of Thai immigration occurred in the 1970s. There are numerous top-tier Thai restaurants in America from coast to coast — including in San Francisco. In fact, considering it has one of the largest Thai populations in the country, it's hardly surprising the city has some remarkable Thai food options.

Now, San Francisco may not be known as a hub for Thai food. But the city's enclave brings a lot to the table when it comes to Thailand's idiosyncratic and much-adored cuisine. With two Michelin-starred Thai restaurants and a myriad of other establishments — ranging from upscale spots to hole-in-the-wall-type joints — the Bay Area's Thai game can't be ignored. Its top-notch Thai restaurants rival any (even the best Thai restaurants in Los Angeles) for sheer culinary craftsmanship.

As a cook who's worked in several restaurants heavily influenced by Southeast Asian cuisine (and a California native who used to spend several days a week in San Francisco), I'm intimately familiar with the city's culinary scene — and Thai food is no exception. Given my firsthand knowledge of Thai cuisine and San Francisco-based Thai restaurants (I've eaten at every establishment included), I've assembled a collection of the city's finest Thai spots. If you're looking to eat your way from Nob Hill to the Sunset rather than make chicken and mushroom pad thai at home, here are the best Thai restaurants in San Francisco.

Kin Khao

Beneath the Parc 55 hotel in downtown San Francisco is an out-of-the-way establishment that almost feels underground. Yet Kin Khao has been making some of the most memorable and inventive Thai food in the Bay Area since chef Pim Techamuanvivit opened the restaurant in 2014. Driven by her desire to help Thai cuisine evolve beyond peanut sauce, the Bangkok native's innovative approach secured a Michelin Star for Kin Khao just 18 months after opening (a Michelin Star means a restaurant is worth visiting).

Named after a Thai colloquialism that means "let's eat," Kin Khao's menu roots Thai cuisine in its Californian locale by way of ingredients – those representative of the restaurant's home state. The nam tok bean salad uses beans from California-based producer Rancho Gordo tossed in an Issan-style with lime, chili, rice powder, soy sauce, shallots, and herbs. The green rabbit curry — an OG dish we're happy to see remains on the menu — employs rabbit leg and saddle alongside rabbit meatballs in a fresh and aromatic green coconut curry with eggplant and basil.

Kin Khao's lively space is as inviting as it is impressive, and there's no doubt it's one of San Fran's best Thai restaurants.

(415) 362-7456

55 Cyril Magnin St, San Francisco, CA 94102


Newer on the scene is the second restaurant from chef Pim Techamuanvivit: Nari. Chef Pim's sophomore effort opened in 2019 in the heart of San Francisco's Japantown and has earned a Michelin Star (among numerous other accolades) since that time. Though Nari is slightly sleeker than its sister establishment, it still utilizes all that California has to offer. The menu is broken up into two courses: first and second — with all dishes meant for sharing.

Nari serves polished family-style dishes in an airy space lined with plenty of plants. Its extensive menu includes protein options like littleneck clams and squid from Monterey Bay. Plus, a variety of regional Thai curries — like those from Massaman and Bumbai — take a particular place in the limelight on its menu. Of course, even lighter bites like charred Brussels sprouts and citrus salad deserve just as much clout.

Nari's refined approach to family-style dining is beyond impressive. Its full-spectrum utilization of California proteins and produce translates to bold and harmonious flavors that transform on the palate — and it's well worth a visit if you're looking for a phenomenal meal.

(415) 868-6274

1625 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

Prik Hom

Prik Hom means "fragrant chili" in Thai — which the eponymous restaurant puts at the forefront of its cooking. Located in the Laurel Heights neighborhood near the University of San Francisco, Prik Hom first opened in February of 2023 under Michelin-trained chef Jim Suwanpanya. Suwanpanya runs the kitchen, while his sister, Tanya, oversees the front of the house and finances.

Prik Hom's fresh take on Thai cooking is present across its menu. You'll find beloved classics like tom ka and khao soi alongside deeper cuts like pork belly with Chinese five-spice soup (which is laden with pickled mustard greens and Chinese broccoli). Prik Hom serves starters, yum (or Thai salad), soup, curry, stir-fry, and dessert, which is worth saving room for. I highly recommend the smoked young coconut ice cream with poached palm seeds and puffed sweet rice.

The care and intention Prik Hom brings when paying homage to both Thai classics and lesser-known dishes is why I love it. Its neighborhood location and unpretentious digs make it approachable and cozy, while its exciting and surprising food helps make it one of the best Thai spots in the city.

(415) 689-0652

3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

Farmhouse Kitchen

Farmhouse Kitchen is a Mission District-based, Issan-style Thai restaurant that has additional locations along the West Coast from Portland to Los Angeles. Open for lunch and dinner, Farmhouse Kitchen is known for its capsaicin-laden food. In fact, it has two disclaimers on its website warning unknowing customers of its immense spice level.

The restaurant has plenty of classic curries and noodles on deck that are as vibrant in color and garnish as they are in flavor. Well-known items like pad thai and pad see you can be found on the menu beside more off-kilter street food like kha na with spicy XO sauce and chili cabbage with fermented bean paste.

The space itself is both indoor and outdoor and takes reservations for up to 20 people – meaning it's great for casual dates and grand celebrations. Farmhouse Kitchen's extensive yet well-curated menu has something for everyone and its atmosphere makes it a great place to pop into for a refreshing meal outside on a beautiful Mission day.

(415) 814-2920

710 Florida St, San Francisco, CA 94110

House of Thai

One of the older Thai restaurants around town, House of Thai originally arrived on the scene as Thai House Express in 1999. With two San Francisco locations as of 2024 — one on Larkin in Lower Nob Hill, and another in Lower Haight – House of Thai is great for grabbing a casual bite at any time of day or night. You won't find frills at House of Thai, but they aren't needed. After all, the food is cheap and mostly sticks to the classics — hitting all the right notes in the process.

For the hard-to-please or indecisive, the H.O.T. Combo is a great appetizer choice, especially for a group. It comes with a mix of egg rolls, fish cakes, golden bags (essentially little dumplings), and fried tofu. If you're looking for something a little more off the cuff, the tasty kor moo yang consists of grilled marinated pork neck with a spicy tamarind sauce.

You'll find plenty of your run-of-the-mill curries, rice, and noodles at House of Thai, as well, with a decent selection of big entrees for less than $20. Between House of Thai's no-BS attitude, its casual yet delicious eats, and long hours of operation, there's a lot for San Francisco diners to love about this restaurant.

Multiple locations in San Francisco

The Thonglor

On the border of the Tenderloin and lower Nob Hill stands The Thonglor. It may look like a rather pedestrian Thai spot, but it's not to be missed. This place is compact, cozy, and usually packed to the gills with locals and tourists alike. Of course, while it can be tough to get a good spot during the rush, its takeout is as good an option as any.

The usual suspects can be found on The Thonglor menu by way of curry, noodles, and rice. It also has an extensive offering of appetizers and finger foods including moo ping (Thai-style barbecue pork skewers), fried calamari, fish cakes, and satay sticks. Lesser known items like tom sapp nuer pey — which is a spicy and sour soup with tamarind sauce, slow-cooked beef, and roasted rice — are up for grabs, alongside favorite Thai salads like larb and som tam.

Despite how busy it can get, The Thonglor's ease of service, accessibility, and menu range make it a phenomenal place to grab a Thai meal. Its food spans from the classics to deep cuts, and its extremely reasonable prices have held steady through rising inflation over the past few years.

(415) 346-3121

420 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Ben Thai Cafe

Ben Thai Cafe is a quaint Thai restaurant that serves big portions of comforting classics and unique takes. Ben Thai opened in 2015 and has been popping ever since — with plenty of foot traffic from dine-in guests and takeout alike. The space somewhat resembles a small izakaya or casual sushi restaurant, with ample bar seating and incandescent lights hanging overhead. You can dress it up or down depending on the occasion.

Ben Thai Cafe's menu is eclectic in the sense that it's regionally varied rather than focused on one particular area (culinarily speaking). American Thai dishes like oxtail curry stand alongside Chinese Thai roasted duck noodle soup, which itself rests beside Northeastern Thai-style larb white fish. All the regional specificities are clearly labeled as such on its in-person menu — a disambiguation that might not mean much to some but is appreciated from a food nerd's perspective.

Just about everything at Ben Thai is delicious, regardless of where it hails. But its pork palo — pork belly and egg slow-cooked in five spices and served with pickled cabbage — is a true house specialty. Its khao soi deluxe is massive and delicious, as well. Ben Thai Cafe's wide-ranging menu has something for everyone and its versatility is why it's one of the best Thai restaurants in San Francisco.

(415) 771-2562

1331 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Lers Ros

With three locations around the city, Lers Ros is a group of upscale Thai restaurants from chef and owner Tom Narupon Silargorn. The restaurant opened its first location in the Tenderloin in 2008 and has made a name for itself via its authentic Thai eats, exotic game dishes, and a well-curated wine list. Each location has the same menu, though be sure to avoid all three restaurants between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. as each is closed between lunch and dinner service.

Start off the papaya salad with raw crab and go right into a larb or duck salad. Follow with pad kee mow, then hop on over to the Original Thai Style House Specials page. If you're feeling adventurous, there's plenty of the animal kingdom to consider, from boar to quail to eel to frog. The sweet chili clams are delicious, as is the fried trout with mango sauce.

If you're still hungry, get a sticky rice dessert (perhaps with durian if you're still feeling frisky). Whatever happens, it's hard to go wrong with Lers Ros and its elevated yet modest attitude.

Multiple locations in San Francisco

Zen Yai

Smack in the middle of the Little Saigon stretch of the Tenderloin District is Zen Yai. This noble and traditional Thai spot offers soups and street food galore and plenty of rotating specials. If you're looking for something supremely authentic, quick, and cheap? Zen Yai, is your spot.

The service here is great (it's exceptionally friendly and quick), and Zen Yai has its eye and tongue on attention to detail with its menu. Plus, there's plenty to choose from for vegetarians and carnivores alike. If you're not particularly well-versed in Thai cuisine, gravitate towards items you're less familiar with at Zen Yai and you're bound to walk away happy.

Bone-in catfish steaks are saucy, tender, and delicious, and topped with fried basil. The som tom papaya salad with fermented crab scratches the funky and fresh itch, and the slightly sour Issan sausage with lettuce and herbs takes the game to a whole new level. Wash it all down with sweet plum juice or Thai iced coffee for a pick-me-up treat.

(415) 885-0725

771 Ellis St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Saap Ver Authentic Thai Cuisine

Though this establishment appears to go by several different names — for instance, its website describes it as "Saap Ver! Authentic Country-Style Thai Food" –  its true identity is beside the point. All that matters is the food is great — and so are the vibes.

This Design District gem is decorated like a movie theater, with a light up letterboard above the kitchen and a collage of retro Thai movie posters on the walls. With a kitchen led by Nutnawat Aukcarrapasutanun — AKA Chef Kobe — the culinary focus combines Thai street food found in both cities and countryside markets as inspiration.

On the menu, nam kao tod (Thai sausage and crispy rice salad) and larb are king, though its rustic grilled proteins like catfish are solid, too. Flavors are bold and spicy with lots of sear and char, which are cut with the fresh and bright flavors of lime leaf, basil, and citrus. The fun and eclectic setting and focus on food from street stalls help elevate Saap Ver to the top of the Thai restaurant scene in San Francisco.

(415) 255-8188

88 Division St, San Francisco, CA 94103

New Thai Elephant

Our singular North Beach spot, New Thai Elephant comes in hot with a warm and vibrant space tucked seamlessly into its neighborhood. The restaurant is perfect for a work lunch or a super casual dinner and serves generous portions at reasonable prices. And though New Thai Elephant is in a scenic and walkable part of town, it doesn't often get terribly busy, which lends itself to a whimsical stop-in.

There's a lot to love at New Thai Elephant. The roti is light, flaky, and buttery, and the duck curry is savory and sharable. But the noodle soups are the stars of the show. The guay tiaw lord noodle is an amalgamation of shrimp, chicken, calamari, fish balls, fish cakes, fried tofu, and noodles with a clean but savory broth. It's great for a light but hearty meal.

My favorite is the sliced beef soup. It's thick and umami-rich with (you guessed it) thinly sliced beef, spinach, and bean sprouts in a spicy beef bone broth. Bring a pal or two and go to town. The inviting, neighborhood-friendly atmosphere, value, and shareability of its dishes make New Thai Elephant one of the best Thai restaurants San Francisco has to offer.

(415) 818-8999

393 Bay St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Marnee Thai

Featuring two of the most beautiful locations on this list, Marnee Thai's pair of restaurants are situated right across from Golden Gate Park in the Sunset District. Besides its visually stunning digs, Marnee Thai (first opened in 1986), is a lovely place to eat as a group, on a date, or by yourself. Both locations are in a fairly quiet and calm part of the city that gets plenty of fog and ocean breeze. Plus, the food is classic and old-school yet delicious and well-executed — and its dishes are perfect for sharing.

The menu – originally created by chef Chai Siriyarn — has some tricks up its sleeve. Hor mok is steamed red snapper wrapped in a banana leaf and topped with curry mousse and is a great weekend special. But the pad see ew is delicious, as well. I'm a huge fan of Marnee Thai because of its idyllic location(s), quaint and cozy allure, and its nod to the classics.

Multiple locations in San Francisco


The word "best" is coated in subjectivity and ambiguity. Still, I tried to curate an objective list of Thai restaurants based on several key criteria, including culinary inventiveness, authenticity, quality, ambiance, value, and overall dining experience.

I've eaten at every entry listed in this article — plus plenty more in the City by the Bay — and there's no doubt the listed establishments take the (mango sticky rice) cake for Thai food in San Francisco. The restaurants that made this list push the boundaries of Thai cuisine past satay and peanut sauce — whether or not a Thai peanut sauce has a necessary bite of citrus – while honoring the cuisine's cultural heritage. I included restaurants known for innovative dishes that incorporate locally sourced ingredients, as well as establishments known for serving more traditional Thai dishes with genuine flavors and techniques.

The ambiance also played a significant role in the selection process — a memorable experience goes beyond the food alone, after all. Consequently, this list contains a varied collection of Thai restaurants in San Francisco that are capable of providing a culinary experience reminiscent of street food stalls in Thailand.