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A Thai pomelo salad with shrimp, betel leaves, thinly sliced red chile, and a variety of crispy condiments sits in a black bowl on a wooden table in front of a brick background.
The yum som-o (pomelo salad) from acclaimed Thai restaurant Mahaniyom in Brookline.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

13 Outstanding Thai Restaurants in and Around Boston

From khao soi to boat noodle soup and beyond

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The yum som-o (pomelo salad) from acclaimed Thai restaurant Mahaniyom in Brookline.
| Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Thai food suffers the same fate as many other cuisines when it comes to a city the size of Boston: Most restaurants try to squeeze an overview of the entire country into one menu, resulting in the ubiquitous jumble of pad thai, build-your-own curries, and other noodle and rice dishes quite familiar to American diners but barely scratching the surface of any one specific part of Thailand.

The cuisine of Thailand’s Isan region in the northeast, for example, is significantly different from the street food of Bangkok, and ideally, there’d be plenty of separate restaurants focusing on each instead of just serving a couple highlights from each area.

Fortunately there are a growing number of Boston-area Thai restaurants and supper clubs, such as Gaaeng, that do specialize a bit more. Here are some of the best Thai restaurants in the Boston area right now, with some pointers on what to order at each.

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Crying Thaiger Rustic Thai Kitchen

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This busy Malden spot, open since late 2017, offers a pretty giant menu. It’s named for — albeit in punny form — the “crying tiger” dish originating in Thailand’s Isan region in the northeast, a spiced, grilled brisket. Crying Thaiger offers a handful of “crying” dishes — try the wings, among the best in the Boston area — as well as plenty more options, including khai krok (sunny side up quail eggs), a crab paste omelet, rice baked in a clay pot with sweet sausage, and more. Those dishes are among your best bets, but keep an eye out for seasonal specials, too. (If nam prik ong, a northern Thai chile dip, is available, get it.)

Three large breaded and fried chicken wings are on white paper on a wooden board. A small white bowl with lime wedges sits nearby. It’s all on a wooden table.
Crying wings at Crying Thaiger.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Boonnoon Market

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No longer a newcomer, Boonnoon Market has found strong footing in the ever-so-diverse culinary scene in this corner of Arlington. Swing by the small, plant-filled storefront, which offers a bit of dine-in seating, takeout, and retail Thai food specialties, from curry pastes to packaged snacks. The ua lao, a northern-style sausage, is an early highlight, as are the khao soi and the peanut-y spicy satay noodles.

Overhead view of two small baskets on a marble tabletop. One has sliced sausages, peanuts, and chiles, while the other has crispy spring rolls.
Ua lao and crispy rolls at Boonnoon Market in Arlington.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Dakzen doesn’t shy away from bold flavors throughout its menu, which focuses on street food-style noodle dishes. The fiery tom yum noodle soup is a highlight, and Dakzen also offers particularly good renditions of ba mee moo dang (an egg noodle dish for pork lovers) and northern Thailand’s classic khao soi. Don’t forget a side order of sai ua, northern Thai sausage. It has a sibling spot Thazia located in Seaport’s Innovation and Design Building.

Soup in a Thai-style bowl decorated with a rooster. There are pink barbecue pork slices in the soup, as well as an egg, ground pork, ground peanuts, crispy wonton strips, and more. The bowl sits on a metal tray.
Tom yum noodle soup at Dakzen.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Sugar & Spice

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This Porter Square mainstay has plenty to offer, including a patio for sipping wine and cocktails, weather-permitting. Northern Thailand gets some of the spotlight on the menu with a couple khao soi options and rice noodle soup kanom jean nam ngiao, as well as Isan sausage from the northeast. Other Sugar & Spice must-tries include the guay jub, a rolled noodle soup with a savory five-spice broth and crispy pork; the khao yum, a colorful salad from southern Thailand; and the kuay teow lui suan, which wraps up chicken, herbs, and greens in wide rice noodles and comes with a spicy lime sauce for dipping. There are full menus available for vegan diners and gluten-free diners, too.

A golden bowl full of a Thai soup with a boiled egg, crispy pork, fried tofu, and herbs
Guay jub at Sugar & Spice.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Cha Yen Thai Cookery

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Open since mid-2014, Cha Yen Thai Cookery is a Watertown favorite for Thai food; chef and owner Manita Bunnagitkarn even opened a second restaurant, Kala Thai Cookery, four years later in Boston proper (see below.) Cha Yen — which is the Thai phrase for iced tea — mostly sticks with dishes widely familiar at American Thai restaurants, from chicken satay to massaman curry to papaya salad, but done especially well. There are also a few soups that are getting a bit easier to find locally, such as khao soi and boat noodles. Don’t miss the fried corn fritters or the house-made ice creams.

Overhead view of a white bowl full of a yellow curry with crispy noodles, preserved greens, a lime wedge, and red onion slices. It sits on a light wooden table with a spoon and chopsticks next to it.
Khao soi at Cha Yen Thai Cookery.
Cha Yen Thai Cookery

What A Soup

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This new Central Square restaurant overtook former noodle shop the Nu Dó Society and is determined to introduce the iconic Thai boat noodle soup to the area. The brothy noodle dish is traditionally made with pig’s or cow’s blood and sold by merchants on small boats. Iterations on the classic (like at this restaurant) sometimes forgo the addition of blood and instead use dark soy sauce to mimic the appearance of the traditional dish. Here, you can also order your noodle soup with A5 Japanese wagyu.

A close-up photo of a noodle soup with pork balls and beef slices, plus green leafy herbs and pepper flakes, in a dark brown broth.
What a Soup’s signature boat noodle soup.
What A Soup

Kala Thai Cookery

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Kala Thai Cookery is the younger sibling to Cha Yen (see above), located right in the heart of Boston and looking out on the bustling Haymarket (which operates on Fridays and Saturdays). The two restaurants’ menus overlap quite a bit — again, go for the corn fritters and ice creams — but one must-try at Kala that’s not also available at Cha Yen is char kway teow, a stir-fried rice noodle dish with sausage, egg, and shrimp.

A Thai noodle dish with sausage, egg, and shrimp sits on a bamboo plate on a light wooden table.
Char kway teow at Kala Thai Cookery.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Brown Sugar Cafe

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For over 20 years, Brown Sugar Cafe has been well-known by nearby BU students. Nice enough for a date or birthday, casual enough for a low-key night out, Brown Sugar features a huge menu that intentionally touches on multiple regions of Thailand. Notable dishes include goong chae nam pla (raw shrimp with garlic and chile in a spicy lime dressing), yum poonim tod (fried soft shell crab salad with shredded mango and, again, a spicy lime dressing), and khao ka moo (a popular Thai street food rice plate with braised pork, mustard greens, and egg). Brown Sugar’s East Cambridge sibling, the Similan, is also worth a visit.

A mountain of fried soft shell crab with greens sits on a square yellow plate on a dark background.
Yum poonim tod at Brown Sugar Cafe.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Sen Yai Thai

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This newly opened spot in the corner of Brighton has already attracted a strong following from nearby college students. It specializes in a number of rice plates and noodle soup, including tom yum sukhothai, a spicy and sour noodle soup filled with ground and barbecued pork, meatballs, and other toppings to the brim and nam tok, a spicy pig blood noodle soup with toppings. 

Thonglor

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This relatively new Oak Square restaurant replaced Twelve Hours, a beloved husband-and-wife spot in the neighborhood. Street-style stir-fried rice and noodle dishes are the signature, and so are the grilled meat offerings, such as moo ping (grilled pork skewers) and the famous Thai dish Crying Tiger (marinated and grilled steak). If you’re in the mood for sharing, order the tom yum mor fai, a heartwarming, fragrant broth filled with fresh seafood. Don’t forget to pair your food with Thai beer or Thonglor’s inventive cocktails.

Rod Thai Family Taste

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The longtime Rod Dee chain disintegrated in recent years, with two locations (Cambridge’s Porter Square and Brookline’s Washington Square) reportedly closing for good and the other two locations slightly rebranded. The Fenway location is now Rod Thai Family Taste, and it’s focusing on street foods — a mix of classic dishes and “surprising” family recipes. Go with whatever specials are on offer for the day. Take a similar approach at the other rebranded Rod Dee, Rod D By Sitti in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner.

A pork dish with green peppercorns on a bed of white rice is on a round white plate with a red rim, sitting on a light wooden table.
Moo sadoong, ordered off-menu at Rod Thai Family Taste.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Mahaniyom

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This Thai tapas bar had to temporarily close down within a month of its debut in 2020 (along with the rest of the restaurant industry), but it still won plenty of industry praise — including nabbing Eater Boston’s Best New Restaurant award in 2021. Here, the menu zeroes in on a small list of really good dishes, such as the nang kai tod (crispy chicken skin), beef massaman, and moo krob pad kapi (crispy pork belly).The cocktails are fun, too: Co-owner Chompon (Boong) Boonnak is an alum of Shōjō, the funky modern Asian cocktail bar in Chinatown. Watch Instagram for updates on Mahaniyom’s sibling bar Merai, which will soon open its doors.

A Thai pomelo salad with shrimp, betel leaves, thinly sliced red chile, and a variety of crispy condiments sits in a black bowl on a wooden table in front of a brick background.
Yum som-o (pomelo salad), which appeared on Mahaniyom’s opening menu.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Yaowarat

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Named after Bangkok’s Chinatown (called Yaowarat), this Quincy restaurant leans heavily on Thai Chinese specialties and does one of the juiciest and most flavorful khao man gai in town. If you aren’t familiar with the dish yet, it’s a riff on Hainanese chicken and rice, a dish brought over by immigrants from the Hainan province of China to all over southeast Asia. You’ll also find khao moo daeng (Chinese barbecue pork over rice), another Chinatown classic you’ll spot in Bangkok.

Crying Thaiger Rustic Thai Kitchen

This busy Malden spot, open since late 2017, offers a pretty giant menu. It’s named for — albeit in punny form — the “crying tiger” dish originating in Thailand’s Isan region in the northeast, a spiced, grilled brisket. Crying Thaiger offers a handful of “crying” dishes — try the wings, among the best in the Boston area — as well as plenty more options, including khai krok (sunny side up quail eggs), a crab paste omelet, rice baked in a clay pot with sweet sausage, and more. Those dishes are among your best bets, but keep an eye out for seasonal specials, too. (If nam prik ong, a northern Thai chile dip, is available, get it.)

Three large breaded and fried chicken wings are on white paper on a wooden board. A small white bowl with lime wedges sits nearby. It’s all on a wooden table.
Crying wings at Crying Thaiger.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Boonnoon Market

No longer a newcomer, Boonnoon Market has found strong footing in the ever-so-diverse culinary scene in this corner of Arlington. Swing by the small, plant-filled storefront, which offers a bit of dine-in seating, takeout, and retail Thai food specialties, from curry pastes to packaged snacks. The ua lao, a northern-style sausage, is an early highlight, as are the khao soi and the peanut-y spicy satay noodles.

Overhead view of two small baskets on a marble tabletop. One has sliced sausages, peanuts, and chiles, while the other has crispy spring rolls.
Ua lao and crispy rolls at Boonnoon Market in Arlington.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Dakzen

Dakzen doesn’t shy away from bold flavors throughout its menu, which focuses on street food-style noodle dishes. The fiery tom yum noodle soup is a highlight, and Dakzen also offers particularly good renditions of ba mee moo dang (an egg noodle dish for pork lovers) and northern Thailand’s classic khao soi. Don’t forget a side order of sai ua, northern Thai sausage. It has a sibling spot Thazia located in Seaport’s Innovation and Design Building.

Soup in a Thai-style bowl decorated with a rooster. There are pink barbecue pork slices in the soup, as well as an egg, ground pork, ground peanuts, crispy wonton strips, and more. The bowl sits on a metal tray.
Tom yum noodle soup at Dakzen.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Sugar & Spice

This Porter Square mainstay has plenty to offer, including a patio for sipping wine and cocktails, weather-permitting. Northern Thailand gets some of the spotlight on the menu with a couple khao soi options and rice noodle soup kanom jean nam ngiao, as well as Isan sausage from the northeast. Other Sugar & Spice must-tries include the guay jub, a rolled noodle soup with a savory five-spice broth and crispy pork; the khao yum, a colorful salad from southern Thailand; and the kuay teow lui suan, which wraps up chicken, herbs, and greens in wide rice noodles and comes with a spicy lime sauce for dipping. There are full menus available for vegan diners and gluten-free diners, too.

A golden bowl full of a Thai soup with a boiled egg, crispy pork, fried tofu, and herbs
Guay jub at Sugar & Spice.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Cha Yen Thai Cookery

Open since mid-2014, Cha Yen Thai Cookery is a Watertown favorite for Thai food; chef and owner Manita Bunnagitkarn even opened a second restaurant, Kala Thai Cookery, four years later in Boston proper (see below.) Cha Yen — which is the Thai phrase for iced tea — mostly sticks with dishes widely familiar at American Thai restaurants, from chicken satay to massaman curry to papaya salad, but done especially well. There are also a few soups that are getting a bit easier to find locally, such as khao soi and boat noodles. Don’t miss the fried corn fritters or the house-made ice creams.

Overhead view of a white bowl full of a yellow curry with crispy noodles, preserved greens, a lime wedge, and red onion slices. It sits on a light wooden table with a spoon and chopsticks next to it.
Khao soi at Cha Yen Thai Cookery.
Cha Yen Thai Cookery

What A Soup

This new Central Square restaurant overtook former noodle shop the Nu Dó Society and is determined to introduce the iconic Thai boat noodle soup to the area. The brothy noodle dish is traditionally made with pig’s or cow’s blood and sold by merchants on small boats. Iterations on the classic (like at this restaurant) sometimes forgo the addition of blood and instead use dark soy sauce to mimic the appearance of the traditional dish. Here, you can also order your noodle soup with A5 Japanese wagyu.

A close-up photo of a noodle soup with pork balls and beef slices, plus green leafy herbs and pepper flakes, in a dark brown broth.
What a Soup’s signature boat noodle soup.
What A Soup

Kala Thai Cookery

Kala Thai Cookery is the younger sibling to Cha Yen (see above), located right in the heart of Boston and looking out on the bustling Haymarket (which operates on Fridays and Saturdays). The two restaurants’ menus overlap quite a bit — again, go for the corn fritters and ice creams — but one must-try at Kala that’s not also available at Cha Yen is char kway teow, a stir-fried rice noodle dish with sausage, egg, and shrimp.

A Thai noodle dish with sausage, egg, and shrimp sits on a bamboo plate on a light wooden table.
Char kway teow at Kala Thai Cookery.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Brown Sugar Cafe

For over 20 years, Brown Sugar Cafe has been well-known by nearby BU students. Nice enough for a date or birthday, casual enough for a low-key night out, Brown Sugar features a huge menu that intentionally touches on multiple regions of Thailand. Notable dishes include goong chae nam pla (raw shrimp with garlic and chile in a spicy lime dressing), yum poonim tod (fried soft shell crab salad with shredded mango and, again, a spicy lime dressing), and khao ka moo (a popular Thai street food rice plate with braised pork, mustard greens, and egg). Brown Sugar’s East Cambridge sibling, the Similan, is also worth a visit.

A mountain of fried soft shell crab with greens sits on a square yellow plate on a dark background.
Yum poonim tod at Brown Sugar Cafe.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Sen Yai Thai

This newly opened spot in the corner of Brighton has already attracted a strong following from nearby college students. It specializes in a number of rice plates and noodle soup, including tom yum sukhothai, a spicy and sour noodle soup filled with ground and barbecued pork, meatballs, and other toppings to the brim and nam tok, a spicy pig blood noodle soup with toppings. 

Thonglor

This relatively new Oak Square restaurant replaced Twelve Hours, a beloved husband-and-wife spot in the neighborhood. Street-style stir-fried rice and noodle dishes are the signature, and so are the grilled meat offerings, such as moo ping (grilled pork skewers) and the famous Thai dish Crying Tiger (marinated and grilled steak). If you’re in the mood for sharing, order the tom yum mor fai, a heartwarming, fragrant broth filled with fresh seafood. Don’t forget to pair your food with Thai beer or Thonglor’s inventive cocktails.

Rod Thai Family Taste

The longtime Rod Dee chain disintegrated in recent years, with two locations (Cambridge’s Porter Square and Brookline’s Washington Square) reportedly closing for good and the other two locations slightly rebranded. The Fenway location is now Rod Thai Family Taste, and it’s focusing on street foods — a mix of classic dishes and “surprising” family recipes. Go with whatever specials are on offer for the day. Take a similar approach at the other rebranded Rod Dee, Rod D By Sitti in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner.

A pork dish with green peppercorns on a bed of white rice is on a round white plate with a red rim, sitting on a light wooden table.
Moo sadoong, ordered off-menu at Rod Thai Family Taste.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Mahaniyom

This Thai tapas bar had to temporarily close down within a month of its debut in 2020 (along with the rest of the restaurant industry), but it still won plenty of industry praise — including nabbing Eater Boston’s Best New Restaurant award in 2021. Here, the menu zeroes in on a small list of really good dishes, such as the nang kai tod (crispy chicken skin), beef massaman, and moo krob pad kapi (crispy pork belly).The cocktails are fun, too: Co-owner Chompon (Boong) Boonnak is an alum of Shōjō, the funky modern Asian cocktail bar in Chinatown. Watch Instagram for updates on Mahaniyom’s sibling bar Merai, which will soon open its doors.

A Thai pomelo salad with shrimp, betel leaves, thinly sliced red chile, and a variety of crispy condiments sits in a black bowl on a wooden table in front of a brick background.
Yum som-o (pomelo salad), which appeared on Mahaniyom’s opening menu.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

Yaowarat

Named after Bangkok’s Chinatown (called Yaowarat), this Quincy restaurant leans heavily on Thai Chinese specialties and does one of the juiciest and most flavorful khao man gai in town. If you aren’t familiar with the dish yet, it’s a riff on Hainanese chicken and rice, a dish brought over by immigrants from the Hainan province of China to all over southeast Asia. You’ll also find khao moo daeng (Chinese barbecue pork over rice), another Chinatown classic you’ll spot in Bangkok.

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