Thai Town technically encompasses Hollywood Boulevard between Normandie and Western Avenues, and the neighborhood officially came to be in 1999, but plenty of enticing dining options fall just beyond those borders. Learn about 17 of the better dining options within (and just beyond) Thai Town’s borders, which aren’t limited to Thai cuisine.
Bhan Kanom Thai
New Hollywood Plaza contains nearly 10 restaurants that ring a U-shaped strip mall. This “house of Thai sweets” from Ron and Tip Petcha displays dozens of options on shelves, cases and counters, including grilled-to-order taro cakes flavored with corn and shredded coconut, pandan dumplings coated with coconut and filled with mung bean, custardy grilled coconut cups, and sticky rice patties with coconut milk. They fill Thai “taco” shells in-house with either sweetened egg yolk or salted coconut.
Carousel Restaurant Hollywood
Rose Tcholakian and husband Greg opened their Lebanese-Armenian restaurant in the back corner of Hye Plaza in 1983, honoring a popular restaurant in Beirut. The family’s remodeled space now features wood floors, yellow art-lined walls and tables covered with white cloths. Carousel’s wide-ranging menu includes a wealth of dips, salads and spreads, including hummus topped with pan-fried soujuk; chunky muhammara crafted with spicy red pepper paste, walnuts and pomegranate molasses; and tangy cabbage salad with diced tomatoes, herbs, and olive oil vinaigrette. Kebabs are a major strength at Carousel, whether it’s ground beef lula, lamb, or iron-rich veal liver. Mix and match kebabs to board a skewered meat Merry-Go-Round. Kebabs served on cracked pita with a blanket of yogurt, garlic and pine nuts qualify as Khash-Khash style.
Darabar Secret Thai Cuisine
Bangkok native Golf “Kevin” Seesod gives away his restaurant’s not so “secret” hook right on his Hye Plaza sign. Inside, it’s a party, complete with high-backed brown pleather banquettes, beaded chandeliers and a karaoke machine. Grab the mic and order unique dishes like Khao Clook Kapi, fried rice cooked with shrimp paste and topped with distinct piles of apple, cucumber, sliced lap cheong, pork, egg, and cilantro, kind of like a Thai bibimbap. Crunchy pork soup brings even more funk, with a soy-based broth loaded with squiggly noodles called rice flakes, a kind of mushroom known as “cauliflower fungus,” fried garlic bits, hard-boiled egg, crispy pork belly and assorted internal pig parts. Another unique offering is Pad Pet Muu Pah - cartilage-rimmed pork stir-fried with chile paste, Makrut lime leaves, peppers, crunchy green eggplant, clusters of green peppercorns and a drizzle of cooling coconut cream.
Friends & Family
Chef-partners Roxana Jullapat and Daniel Mattern created a stir in the neighborhood by opening multifaceted Friends & Family in 2017. The airy seasonal bakery-café serves some of L.A.’s best California comfort food. Start at the pastry case, which Jullapat and her crew fill to abundance each morning. Highlights include downright devious “trouble cookies” and ham and cheddar croissants with crispy cheese skirts. Soulful offerings from the kitchen include a fluffy buckwheat pancake; an Eggwich featuring a house-made breakfast sausage patty, cheesy scrambled eggs, and maple mayo on a house-baked bun; and a fried chicken sandwich with blue cheese coleslaw, mayo, and hot sauce. Friends & Family also houses a grab-and-go food case, ice cream counter, and specialty coffee bar.
Harvard and Stone
Twin brothers Mark and Jonnie Houston created a drinking destination in Thai Town with the 2011 opening of Harvard & Stone. This American-inspired cocktail bar features reclaimed wood and an intentionally worn feel, with live music and acrobatic dance performances each night. The establishment also houses an R&D bar in back, where staff and guest bartenders cut loose with creative themed menus. Even the main bar sparks fireworks in glassware thanks to updates on drinks like the Caipirinha and Piña Colada, plus Baby’s First Bourbon, which also contains lemon, orgeat and Angostura bitters.
I Panini di Ambra
Milan native Ambra Ditonno and husband Mickey preside over this small café, which features twin pastry cases, stainless steel tables, canary yellow walls, and a Gaia coffee program. The overhead menu offers pressed sandwiches, rectangular pizza al taglio (“by the cut”) and slabs of focaccia. Focaccia di Recco is of particular interest, with pockets of molten Crescenza cheese. Pressed sandwiches combine ingredients like Parma ham, mozzarella, arugula and tomato; or speck with smoked Provolone and grilled veggies.
The late Chef Suthiporn “Tui” Sungkamee and front-of-house dynamo/sister Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong took over this neighborhood restaurant in 2006 and immediately started adding Southern Thai dishes by the bushel. Now Jitlada serves more than 300 regional specialties in the buzzing two-room restaurant, with key décor being a wooden diorama depicting the Hindu tale of Rama slaying the giant Mahodara. Dishes range from the relatively tame coco mango salad with sweet fruit, cashews, shaved onion, shrimp and diced garlic. Supple steamed green lip mussels arrive in a lemongrass broth with chilies and Thai basil. Jitlada also crafts a host of curries, including a turmeric-stained dry curry that graces beef and comes dusted with dill, and incendiary “wild” curry with crunchy eggplant, green beans, bone-in slabs of catfish and a blizzard of chilies. Jitlada has also been known to incorporate exotic ingredients like crocodile and fish kidneys, if you dare.
This casual restaurant features two-toned tree wallpaper, white tables, wood flooring, cartoon hand-drawn coffee mugs and cupcakes, and pop music from artists like Katy Perry, Eminem and Lady Gaga. Their mortar and pestle logo highlights key tools necessary to produce papaya salad. Lacha Somtum makes more than a dozen varieties, including versions with salted black crab, crispy pork, or mixed fruits. They even offer a papaya salad that’s battered, deep-fried and tossed with peanuts, long beans, tomatoes, fresh chile, garlic, lime juice, palm sugar and dried shrimp. If you’re looking to mix up your meal, they do serve BBQ chicken and tom yum with fish egg clusters, galangal, lemongrass, Makrut lime leaves, fresh chile, lime juice, fish sauce and mushrooms.
Syria native Serop Agadzhanyan opened this strip mall bakery in 2009, specializing in savory Middle Eastern flatbreads. Mush Bakery’s lahmajun features crisp edges, spiced ground beef, crushed tomatoes and herbs. Cheese boerek takes two forms, a spicy boat containing Cacique cheese, chilies and herbs, and a sweeter triangle. Spinach and ground beef are also options, as is jengalov bread, which features bread folded around bitter greens. Only tahini bread, basically a giant sesame cookie, is sweet. Mush also offers elevated items that need advice notice. For instance, their maneishe sandwich starts with flatbread that’s slathered with zatar (oregano, sumac, thyme, sesame seeds) and piles on Cacique cheese, avocado, tomato, black olives, mint and Aleppo pepper.
Pa Ord Noodle
This strip mall café specializes in vibrant noodle soups, including Tom Yum with four kinds of pork (ground, BBQ, livers and balls), and another with pork spare ribs. They also feature crispy pork in nearly limitless iterations, including with Chinese broccoli or atop spicy drunken noodles. Pa Ord Noodle also has roasted duck rice with an addictive bowl of broth, plus a surprisingly compelling pad Thai, especially when they remember to include tiny dried shrimp, which adds pungency to the rice noodles tossed with scallions, tofu, crushed peanuts and crunchy bean sprouts.
At this 40-year-old corner spot with pastel green walls and a cartoon-covered blackboard, Ayutthaya native Jessi Komenkul and son Danny aspire to make “delicious food,” as the Thai name indicates. Rodded specializes in ped-pa-lo – roast duck – which works best in noodle soup with rich brown broth, fat-rimmed dark meat and a choice of noodle, whether it’s flat rice noodles, spaghetti-like egg noodles, or angel hair-like strands. The restaurant also sells quacker by the quarter, half or whole bird. Another strong play is Ham Hock with Mint Leaves, pork chunks pulled from the leg and stewed in soy and chiles until the skin caramelizes. Order with a fluffy fried egg for maximum effect. The Komenkuls are also skilled at frying, as evidenced by their radish cakes, which arrive stir-fried with dried shrimp and shiitake mushrooms, topped with crunchy bean sprouts. For dessert, they also deep-fry bananas, which feature thin crusts and light oil.
Ruen Pair Restaurant
This restaurant in New Hollywood Plaza has been a late night favorite for years and has improved its appearance, which now includes wall stenciling and a wat-like roof over the prep area and kitchen. Ruen Pair serves the usual roster of appetizers and noodle dishes, but flipping pages further and find more compelling Thai comfort food. The restaurant has a version of stewed pork leg, which graces white rice and comes with Chinese pickle and a side of hot chile sauce. Fried Egg & Salty Turnip arrives in the form of a crisp-edged omelet studded with strands of sweet, savory, crunchy tuber. In season, chefs sauté hollow stems of morning glory with soybean sauce and garlicky likker.
Harout “Harry” Tashyan presides over this longtime Armenian deli and sandwich shop in Sunset Kafco Plaza after taking over for cousin Sahag. The space houses shelves lined with ingredients like pickled wild cucumbers, tahini and sardines. Sandwiches are popular, particularly basturma, well-spiced and air-dried beef cold cut that joins tomato and pickle between pressed bread. Tashyan also makes two sausages in-house - Soujouk features ground beef loaded with garlic and spices, while Maaneg is a smaller, milder veal sausage packed with a proprietary spice blend that includes nutmeg. Sandwiches come with marinated black olives, punchy pepperoncini and shaved pickled radish.
Somkiat Saedan’s restaurant, named for a park in front of Bangkok’s Grand Palace, has been open for over 20 years in a Thai Town strip mall. Pass by a patio covered with a green awning that promises “the best noodles in town” and find blue booths and banquettes, and art-lined, canary yellow walls. Stick with the program and order dishes like the signature soup loaded with flat rice noodles, sliced pork, pork offal, ground pork, fish balls, fish cakes, shrimp, sprouts, and a single fried wonton that begs to be eaten before it grows soggy. General’s Noodles have a similar complement of meats and, but a lighter stock and additional vibrancy from celery, scallions and cilantro. Add chile sauce and flakes to embolden the broth. Or go dry with Pad-See-Ew - flat rice noodles stir-fried with egg, black soy sauce, broccoli and a choice of protein, in our case, pork.
Sapp Coffee Shop
Bangkok native Jintana Noochlaor opened this Thai café in 1982, with a name – Sapp – that means “delicious” in Thai. The walls above simple wood tables feature framed images of decorative Thai “action boats.” Noochlaor used to visit Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River once a year to see her countrymen honor the king, Buddha, and Emperor with corresponding boats. The river is also where her family used to summon boats that sold noodles along the banks. She serves boat noodle soup with either pork or beef. Order beef for dark soup with spaghetti-like rice noodles, meatballs, tendon, tripe, iron-rich liver, fried pork skin, chiles, scallions, sprouts and beef broth made daily at 5 a.m. Ground chicken with chile, garlic and a fried egg can double as breakfast or lunch. Noochlaor sells containers of salted fish and roasted green chile dip, and she experiments on Saturdays with dishes like long noodles with fish curry sauce and hairy basil.
This Thai coffee shop on the street-side of the Value Inn has a blue awning, simple tables, scattered plants, and remnants from the homeland on the walls. They have a full roster of noodles, stir-fries and more at lunch and dinner, but it’s the Thai-Chinese breakfast items that stand out at the motel. Leading options include donuts with honey mayo, a creamy tofu pudding with ginger syrup and crispy dough, and gingery pork porridge.
Tabula Rasa Bar
Zach Negin and Daniel Flores opened Tabula Rasa Bar in 2016. Their progressive neighborhood wine hub features exposed brick and concrete on the bar side, and cushioned banquettes and blue panels on the other side. The partners favor natural wines produced with “minimal intervention” and an emphasis on female winemakers. Their by-the-glass menu changes nightly, drawing on their 150-bottle cellar. Yes, they devote an entire menu category to orange wine. Tabula Rasa Bar also rotates eight beer taps and serves complimentary food like prosciutto-wrapped dates and a vibrant farro salad. Since Negin’s father is from Tampa, birthplace to the Cuban sandwich, he provides a stirring tribute with ham, roast pork, Estero Gold cheese, garlic champagne mustard, and spicy pickles. Tabula Rasa Bar has also proven to be a notable champion of the local food scene, hosting pop-ups from concepts like La Morra Pizzeria, Otoño, and Pikunico.