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A chipped blue bowl is full of a thick orange broth with chicken, pickled mustard greens, chile oil, red onions, crispy noodles, and a lime wedge.
Khao soi at the Bangkok in Melrose.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Where to Eat Thai Food in Greater Boston

From pad thai to khao soi and beyond

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Khao soi at the Bangkok in Melrose.
| Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

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 than 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 that do specialize a bit more, regionally speaking. And even at restaurants that offer plenty of those aforementioned familiar dishes and less specialization, there’s often a lot more to explore if you just dig into parts of the menu you haven’t tried yet. (Still, there’s no shame in ordering what you like — if pad thai or panang curry floats your boat, go for it.)

Here are some of the best Thai restaurants in the Boston area right now, with some pointers on what to order at each. (Heading farther north? Check out Saap in Randolph, Vermont. The Thai restaurant, which focuses on Isan dishes, got recognition from the James Beard Foundation in 2022 with an award for its chef and co-owner Nisachon (Rung) Morgan.)

This map was originally published in June 2019; it is updated periodically. The date of the most recent update appears above.

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The Bangkok

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This cozy restaurant in Melrose is equally adept at Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. On the Thai side, look for the northern dishes, including outstanding renditions of khao soi and sai grog Isan (pork and rice sausage). For Vietnamese, don’t miss the canh chua, a tamarind-based soup packed with pineapple, tomato, and bean sprouts; it’s sweet, sour, and just a tiny bit spicy.

Overhead view of a Thai-style sausage, sliced and served with cucumbers, mint, peanuts, chiles, and a dipping sauce.
Sai grog Isan at the Bangkok in Melrose.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Crying Thaiger Rustic Thai Kitchen

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This busy Malden spot, open since late 2017, offers a pretty giant menu (including Thai beer and wine). 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

Boonnoon Market

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This Arlington newcomer is still running a limited “soft opening” menu as of early summer 2022, but don’t wait for a grander opening to 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

Kor Tor Mor

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Named for an abbreviation of the Thai name for Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, Kor Tor Mor features Bangkok street foods, especially rice plates such as khao na kai, kapow moo grob, and one of the best versions of khao moo dang in town. The space is fairly small and mostly geared toward takeout and delivery, but there are a few full-service tables and friendly staffers for those who want to dine in.

Pork belly, grilled pork, and Chinese sausage sit atop a plate of white rice with a hard boiled egg. A brown sauce is drizzled over the whole thing.
Khao moo dang at Kor Tor Mor.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Yummy Thai

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This North Cambridge restaurant came under new ownership around late 2018, and since then, it has added quite a substantial selection of Isan (northeastern) dishes to the menu — those are the ones to focus on. Try one of the many som tum (papaya salad) options, such as the som tum korat (when available), a hallmark of Isan cuisine that gets some extra funk from fermented fish. The num tok kor moo yang, a grilled pork salad, is also a must. (You’ll want to look at the menu sections labeled “Som Tum” or “E-Sarn,” an alternate spelling of Isan, to find these dishes.)

Closeup overhead view of two black plastic takeout containers of Thai food. One has a papaya salad with green beans, peanuts, and tomatoes; the other has a grilled pork and red onion salad.
Som tum korat and nam tok kor moo yang from Yummy Thai.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Dakzen opened in mid-2018 in Davis Square and won the 2018 Eater Boston award for Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year; it has come under new ownership since then but is still a must-try. While a lot of other Thai restaurants in town stuff their spiciest, funkiest dishes in a menu section labelled “authentic” or only offer them on a menu written in Thai, Dakzen doesn’t shy away from strong flavors throughout its entire 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. Watch Instagram for specials and new dishes.

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

Sugar & Spice

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This Porter Square mainstay has a lot to explore. (Locals who know it as a delivery or takeout staple should try dining in, too — it’s a fun, comfortable spot with a great patio, weather-permitting, and there’s beer, wine, and cocktails.) The menu offers plenty of the familiar curries and noodle dishes, but there are some dishes that are harder to find around Boston, too. Northern Thailand gets some of the spotlight 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 (Sugar & Spice’s version is vegan); 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

Chalawan Asian Eatery

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Chalawan, a pleasantly decorated full-service restaurant, offers date-night vibes and a unique menu that highlights some Thai dishes from multiple regions as well as other Southeast Asian cuisines. Among the top Thai picks are the Burmese-inspired hang le curry with pork belly, popular in northern Thailand; the Isan spiced crispy chicken skins with eggplant relish; and the modern Thai seared scallop topped with caramelized crispy duck. Beyond the Thai dishes, you’ll want to try the steamed snapper dumplings and the Indonesian beef cheek rendang.

Three white Asian-style soup spoons are lined up, each holding a scallop topped with caramelized duck. More plates of food are visible in the background.
Scallops at Chalawan.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Hen Chicken Rice

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Hen Chicken Rice feels extremely Thai in its single-focus menu: It basically just serves variations on one thing, and it does that one thing very well. That one thing is khao man gai, the famous chicken and rice dish that you’ll find in various forms and with various names (such as Hainanese chicken rice) throughout Southeast Asia. Try the version dubbed “the Isan,” crispy boneless chicken thigh with sticky rice. The side of daikon soup is the perfect accompaniment.

overhead view of a compostable takeout container of crispy chicken slices over rice, with cucumber and cilantro garnish and a plastic cup of a sweet chile sauce
Hen Chicken Rice’s “the crispy” (khao man gai tod).
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

9Zaab Thai Street Food

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A few years back, the owners of Pandan Leaf in East Cambridge revamped the spot into 9Zaab, focusing more on street food. (The restaurant also has connections to Somerville street food spot Kor Tor Mor — see above.) The northern sausage, sai ua, is quite good, as are dishes in the menu section labelled “9Zaab Corner,” such as yum nam tok, grilled beef or pork tossed with red onion, cilantro, toasted ground rice, and spicy lime dressing. Alongside plenty of curries and noodle-based dishes, 9Zaab offers a wide range of street food rice plates, including khao man gai, khao moo dang, and khao na ped.

Fried pieces of chicken sit on a bed of carrot strips on a white oval plate with a side bowl of a sweet chile sauce.
Fried chicken butts at 9Zaab (not available on the current menu).
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

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 Da Chick

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Like Hen Chicken Rice (see above), What Da Chick, which opened in 2021, focuses almost exclusively on khao man gai, offering various combinations of poached, grilled, and fried chicken with ginger rice, sauces, and daikon soup. Round out the meal with fried gyoza and shaved ice.

Slices of poached and fried chicken sit on a silver tray with sliced cucumber, a red sauce, and an orange sauce.
A combination of poached and fried chicken at What Da Chick.
What Da Chick

Mâe Asian Eatery

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Sometimes it’s a red flag when a restaurant tries to cook too many different cuisines — it’s hard enough covering all of Thailand well, so why even attempt to cover Thailand and Vietnam and China? Cambridge’s Mâe Asian Eatery is accomplishing it, though: A diner can happily enjoy dishes from all three countries as interpreted by chef Yuri Asawasittikit, who is drawing upon her mother’s recipes. (Mâe is Thai for mother.) On the Thai side, try the original street noodles (reminiscent of ba mee moo dang, an egg noodle dish with barbecue pork) or short rib khao soi.

Big bowl of noodles, pork, fried wontons, and other ingredients, served next to a small bowl of plain chicken broth.
Original street noodles at Mâe Asian Eatery.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

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

Thai Place

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Don’t ignore the generically named Thai Place because it’s a little difficult to Google: Find it in Allston, steps from S&I (see below), and find some of the best Thai food in Boston. It’s all good, especially dishes in the menu section labeled “special authentic Thai rice plates,” but be sure to try the kao moo yang (grilled pork with an excellent spicy lime dipping sauce) and khao kaprow khai yeaw ma, a rice dish with stir-fried, minced pork, thousand-year-old eggs, and basil.

Grilled pork, lettuce, and cucumber sit on a white square plate on a wooden table, alongside a small white bowl with a blue rim that is full of a thin brown dipping sauce.
Kao moo yang at Thai Place.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

S & I To Go

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Melt-your-face-off spiciness isn’t the main goal of most Thai cuisine — heat is just one part of a balanced combination of flavors that most dishes strive to achieve. That said, if you do want to melt your face off on Thai food, the five-star items on S & I’s “authentic specialties” section of the menu won’t disappoint, such as the kua kling or pad prik khing moo krob. Cool off with an order of the mild and pleasing kai look kaey, pictured here — boiled and fried eggs with fried shallots, cilantro, and sweet tamarind sauce. (As the name suggests, this tiny Allston staple is mostly a takeout spot, but there are a few tables available if you do want to sit and eat.)

Hard-boiled eggs, sliced in half and fried, sit in an aluminum takeout container, topped with fried shallots, a thin brown sauce, and herbs
Kai look kaey at S & I To Go
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Brown Sugar Cafe

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Around for over 20 years, Brown Sugar Cafe is 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. (There are also noisy birthday celebrations, so don’t be frightened if the lights suddenly turn out and the music gets loud.)

The “Thai style dishes” section of the menu is where you’ll find some of the best options, such as the 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 Similans, 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

Thai North

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Open for over a decade in Brighton’s Oak Square, Thai North offers a giant, wide-ranging menu — with photographs of many dishes plastered over the walls — but the key is to follow the restaurant’s name: Thai North shines most on its northern dishes, listed on a small blackboard and in a printed section of the menu titled “Thai North special.” Options include a couple dishes that will be very familiar to anyone who has ever traveled to the northern city of Chiang Mai — a flavorful, comforting khao soi (listed on the menu as Chiang Mai noodle curry) and sai ua (listed as Chiang Mai sausage). The decor will be familiar, too; one wall is covered with a giant photograph of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the distinctive golden temple on the mountain overlooking Chiang Mai.

A yellow curry soup with noodles, fried noodles, red onions, cilantro, and more
Khao soi (called Chiang Mai noodle curry on the menu) at Thai North in Brighton.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Pad Thai Cafe

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Pad Thai Cafe, which moved around the corner from Boylston Street to Hemenway Street in recent years, is a Berklee-area essential when it comes to Thai. The key is to order from the “authentic Thai” section of the menu, labeled “not for beginners” on the website. One dish you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the Boston area is pad sator goong, a spicy, meaty rice plate with shrimp and stink beans — flavorful beans with an unappetizing name and after-effects similar to asparagus. Try the yum pla duk fu, too — a cloud of crispy catfish topped with apple salad.

A big puffy cloud of crispy catfish is topped with carrot and apple matchsticks on a square white plate.
Yum pla duk fu at Pad Thai Cafe.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

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 rebranding. 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

Mahaniyom

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Mahaniyom, a Thai restaurant and cocktail bar in Brookline Village, debuted in late February 2020, just weeks before the Massachusetts restaurant industry had to essentially shut down. If the unlucky timing has caused this restaurant to fly under your radar, make haste to try it out ASAP, because it’s one of the most exciting new restaurants of the last couple of years. (In 2021, it won Eater Boston’s Best New Restaurant award.) Like a few other spots on this map, Mahaniyom avoids the giant menu of customizable curries and zeroes in on a small list of really good dishes, some of which perhaps you haven’t seen around here before. The green papaya pad thai is a must, as is the current salad featuring a seasonal fruit — pomelo and rambutan have made appearances, for example. 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 Monday late-night events for fun food and drink specials.

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

Manow Thai Kitchen

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Named for the Thai word for lime, Manow Thai Kitchen has been open since 2015, serving a sizable menu that dances around different regions of Thailand. One standout dish is the Laos-inspired yum nam khao tod, a crispy rice salad with sour pork that has spread across Thailand. Kua kling, a southern dry curry, is also a solid choice.

A sausage and crispy rice salad sits on a white plate on a wooden table.
Yum nam khao tod (crispy rice salad with sour sausage) at Manow Thai Kitchen.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

The Bangkok

This cozy restaurant in Melrose is equally adept at Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. On the Thai side, look for the northern dishes, including outstanding renditions of khao soi and sai grog Isan (pork and rice sausage). For Vietnamese, don’t miss the canh chua, a tamarind-based soup packed with pineapple, tomato, and bean sprouts; it’s sweet, sour, and just a tiny bit spicy.

Overhead view of a Thai-style sausage, sliced and served with cucumbers, mint, peanuts, chiles, and a dipping sauce.
Sai grog Isan at the Bangkok in Melrose.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Crying Thaiger Rustic Thai Kitchen

This busy Malden spot, open since late 2017, offers a pretty giant menu (including Thai beer and wine). 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

Boonnoon Market

This Arlington newcomer is still running a limited “soft opening” menu as of early summer 2022, but don’t wait for a grander opening to 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

Kor Tor Mor

Named for an abbreviation of the Thai name for Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, Kor Tor Mor features Bangkok street foods, especially rice plates such as khao na kai, kapow moo grob, and one of the best versions of khao moo dang in town. The space is fairly small and mostly geared toward takeout and delivery, but there are a few full-service tables and friendly staffers for those who want to dine in.

Pork belly, grilled pork, and Chinese sausage sit atop a plate of white rice with a hard boiled egg. A brown sauce is drizzled over the whole thing.
Khao moo dang at Kor Tor Mor.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Yummy Thai

This North Cambridge restaurant came under new ownership around late 2018, and since then, it has added quite a substantial selection of Isan (northeastern) dishes to the menu — those are the ones to focus on. Try one of the many som tum (papaya salad) options, such as the som tum korat (when available), a hallmark of Isan cuisine that gets some extra funk from fermented fish. The num tok kor moo yang, a grilled pork salad, is also a must. (You’ll want to look at the menu sections labeled “Som Tum” or “E-Sarn,” an alternate spelling of Isan, to find these dishes.)

Closeup overhead view of two black plastic takeout containers of Thai food. One has a papaya salad with green beans, peanuts, and tomatoes; the other has a grilled pork and red onion salad.
Som tum korat and nam tok kor moo yang from Yummy Thai.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Dakzen

Dakzen opened in mid-2018 in Davis Square and won the 2018 Eater Boston award for Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year; it has come under new ownership since then but is still a must-try. While a lot of other Thai restaurants in town stuff their spiciest, funkiest dishes in a menu section labelled “authentic” or only offer them on a menu written in Thai, Dakzen doesn’t shy away from strong flavors throughout its entire 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. Watch Instagram for specials and new dishes.

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

Sugar & Spice

This Porter Square mainstay has a lot to explore. (Locals who know it as a delivery or takeout staple should try dining in, too — it’s a fun, comfortable spot with a great patio, weather-permitting, and there’s beer, wine, and cocktails.) The menu offers plenty of the familiar curries and noodle dishes, but there are some dishes that are harder to find around Boston, too. Northern Thailand gets some of the spotlight 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 (Sugar & Spice’s version is vegan); 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

Chalawan Asian Eatery

Chalawan, a pleasantly decorated full-service restaurant, offers date-night vibes and a unique menu that highlights some Thai dishes from multiple regions as well as other Southeast Asian cuisines. Among the top Thai picks are the Burmese-inspired hang le curry with pork belly, popular in northern Thailand; the Isan spiced crispy chicken skins with eggplant relish; and the modern Thai seared scallop topped with caramelized crispy duck. Beyond the Thai dishes, you’ll want to try the steamed snapper dumplings and the Indonesian beef cheek rendang.

Three white Asian-style soup spoons are lined up, each holding a scallop topped with caramelized duck. More plates of food are visible in the background.
Scallops at Chalawan.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Hen Chicken Rice

Hen Chicken Rice feels extremely Thai in its single-focus menu: It basically just serves variations on one thing, and it does that one thing very well. That one thing is khao man gai, the famous chicken and rice dish that you’ll find in various forms and with various names (such as Hainanese chicken rice) throughout Southeast Asia. Try the version dubbed “the Isan,” crispy boneless chicken thigh with sticky rice. The side of daikon soup is the perfect accompaniment.

overhead view of a compostable takeout container of crispy chicken slices over rice, with cucumber and cilantro garnish and a plastic cup of a sweet chile sauce
Hen Chicken Rice’s “the crispy” (khao man gai tod).
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

9Zaab Thai Street Food

A few years back, the owners of Pandan Leaf in East Cambridge revamped the spot into 9Zaab, focusing more on street food. (The restaurant also has connections to Somerville street food spot Kor Tor Mor — see above.) The northern sausage, sai ua, is quite good, as are dishes in the menu section labelled “9Zaab Corner,” such as yum nam tok, grilled beef or pork tossed with red onion, cilantro, toasted ground rice, and spicy lime dressing. Alongside plenty of curries and noodle-based dishes, 9Zaab offers a wide range of street food rice plates, including khao man gai, khao moo dang, and khao na ped.

Fried pieces of chicken sit on a bed of carrot strips on a white oval plate with a side bowl of a sweet chile sauce.
Fried chicken butts at 9Zaab (not available on the current menu).
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

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 Da Chick

Like Hen Chicken Rice (see above), What Da Chick, which opened in 2021, focuses almost exclusively on khao man gai, offering various combinations of poached, grilled, and fried chicken with ginger rice, sauces, and daikon soup. Round out the meal with fried gyoza and shaved ice.

Slices of poached and fried chicken sit on a silver tray with sliced cucumber, a red sauce, and an orange sauce.
A combination of poached and fried chicken at What Da Chick.
What Da Chick

Mâe Asian Eatery

Sometimes it’s a red flag when a restaurant tries to cook too many different cuisines — it’s hard enough covering all of Thailand well, so why even attempt to cover Thailand and Vietnam and China? Cambridge’s Mâe Asian Eatery is accomplishing it, though: A diner can happily enjoy dishes from all three countries as interpreted by chef Yuri Asawasittikit, who is drawing upon her mother’s recipes. (Mâe is Thai for mother.) On the Thai side, try the original street noodles (reminiscent of ba mee moo dang, an egg noodle dish with barbecue pork) or short rib khao soi.

Big bowl of noodles, pork, fried wontons, and other ingredients, served next to a small bowl of plain chicken broth.
Original street noodles at Mâe Asian Eatery.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

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

Thai Place

Don’t ignore the generically named Thai Place because it’s a little difficult to Google: Find it in Allston, steps from S&I (see below), and find some of the best Thai food in Boston. It’s all good, especially dishes in the menu section labeled “special authentic Thai rice plates,” but be sure to try the kao moo yang (grilled pork with an excellent spicy lime dipping sauce) and khao kaprow khai yeaw ma, a rice dish with stir-fried, minced pork, thousand-year-old eggs, and basil.