There’s a Thai restaurant on practically every street corner in London, so how do you know which to pick when that pad Thai craving strikes? To help you out, we’ve pulled together a list of all our favourite spots - the best Thai restaurants in London, we think - that offer that perfect balance of aromatic flavours the cuisine is so well-known for.
It’s safe to say that the food of Thailand holds a strong place in the nation's heart, or should we say belly, but we want to make sure that when it comes to authenticity and quality, the top places in London are getting the recognition they deserve.
Now one of the most popular cuisines in Britain, there is certainly no shortage of Thai restaurants in the UK, and fortunately for us Londoners the capital boasts some of the finest examples of the cuisine outside of South East Asia. We've found places serving food deriving from the culinary traditions of all the principal regions of Thailand. We've scouted out places serving up everything from fragrant curries to moreish noodle dishes, hot and sour soups, stir fried vegetables, aromatic rice dishes, sensational seafood and so much more - all in a bid to uncover London’s best Thai restaurants. A few years ago we considered ourselves well versed in Thai food if we knew our green curry from our pad Thai and our cashew chicken from our papaya salad, but nowadays these westernised versions of Thai signatures have been superseded by more authentic dishes, showcasing a whole host of unfamiliar ingredients and mind-blowing flavour combinations.
In our best list below, we’ve pulled together a mix of restaurants that range from the super traditional to the more contemporary, the smart to the casual, and the pricey to the more affordable. So whatever kind of dining experience you are looking for, our pick of the best Thai restaurants in London should have something for you.
Plaza Khao Gaeng at Arcade Food Hall, Tottenham Court Road
What: Beachy neon blue cocktails, plastic covered canteen-style tablecloths and bright strip lights - we're definitely in authentic Thai hawker territory at Plaza Khao Gaeng. Heading up this opening is Luke Farrell, who has brought with him a fiery passion for Thai food, after spending fifteen years in the country. The results are glorious, and spicy - go for the sticky pork belly, and ferocious chicken curry, if you can stand the heat.
Where: 103-105 New Oxford Street, WC1A 1DB
Book now: Plaza Khao Gaeng at Arcade Food Hall
Nipa Thai, Lancaster Gate
What: Housed in the Royal Lancaster, Nipa is the place to go if you are looking for luxury Thai cuisine. Expect authenticity in every aspect, from an all-female kitchen to antiques sourced from Thailand for the décor. Nipa’s menu is the kind you could recite in your sleep – tom yum soup, fishcakes, spring rolls and satay, followed by curries, pad thai, hot and sour salads and artfully carved fresh fruit, all executed with absolute precision.
Where: Lancaster London, W2 2TY
Book now: Nipa Thai
What: A second restaurant from the Som Saa crew (which is also in this list, by the way), Kolae focuses on the southern Thai cooking technique of kolae (or golae, or gaw lae) where ingredients are skewers and bathed in coconut marinade, before being grilled over fierce flames. The results are absolutely sensational, and Kolae backs it up with a compact suite of curries, salads, fritters and snacks, as well as some excellent cocktails and a solid wine list.
Where: 6 Park Street, SE1 9AB
Book now: Kolae
Mango Tree, Victoria
What: Originally opened in Bangkok, you can now visit Mango Tree in Belgravia for an extravagant Thai meal in a sleek, modern setting. As well as elevated Thai cooking, Londoners come for stylish signature cocktails like the Thai Chilli Martini (vodka, lychee, lime juice, lemon grass, and red chilli). We recommend Kow Pad Pu – an Alaskan king crab stir-fry with asparagus and Tom Yum Goong – a spicy prawn soup.
Where: 46 Grosvenor Place, SW1X 7EQ
Book now: Mango Tree
Som Saa, Shoreditch
What: The cooking here, as with the vibrant atmosphere, is in-your-face: a riot of heat, sweet, sour and more heat that focuses on lesser-known Thai dishes. An indisputable gold award winner for us and a contender for the best Thai in London, made all the better by a dedicated vegan menu, and a quality set menu alongside the a la carte.
Where: 43a Commercial Street, E1 6BD
Book now: Som Saa
What: This East London stalwart has built a considerable following from the far reaches of Leyton, thanks to some seriously spicy, authentic Thai cooking. Bookings are grudgingly taken, and we’d recommend securing your spot because walk-ins are often turned away even in the early evening. Get there early for your pick of dishes on the blackboard and remember to BYOB.
Where: 593 High Road, E11 4PA
Book now: Singburi
The Begging Bowl, Peckham
What: A long-time local favourite, Begging Bowl was right at the heart of Peckham's culinary rejuvenation, and it remains incredibly popular thanks to high quality, affordable cooking. With flavours from Bangkok and meat and fish from Peckham, expect a plethora of traditional dishes that will transport you to The Land of Smiles - go for the stir-fried hispi cabbage with fermented yellow bean, garlic and chilli, or chive cakes wih chilli and dark soy dip.
Where: 168 Bellenden Road, SE15 4BW
Book now: The Begging Bowl
What: Award-winning Soho barnstormer Kiln is far from your average Thai takeaway - the restaurant examines the regional specialities of Thailand's borders with Burma, Laos and Cambodia. If you manage to get a coveted seat, expect to see chefs cooking dishes like dry red mackerel curry and pork offal laap in woks and claypots over hot coals right before your eyes.
Where: 58 Brewer Street, W1F 9TL
Book now: Kiln
What: The stereotypical décor at Patara feels a little plain, but it make for an authentic setting to enjoy your meal. Patara is a chain (there are four branches across London now) but the food is a step above your average Thai. The menu is huge, but thankfully, there are some really good set menu options available if you're a little intimidated by the a la carte.
Where: 15 Greek Street, W1D 4DP
Book now: Patara Soho
Busaba, Multiple locations
What: Fast-growing Busaba now has over 10 restaurants in London and across the UK, and serves a more modern interpretation of Bangkok cuisine. Its plates are designed to be shared: look out for rice bowls, curries, small plates, pad Thai, salads, grills and more. We love the massaman lamb shank on crushed potatoes, and the sour, salty, sweet, nutty balance of the som tam salad.
Where: Multiple locations
Book now: Busaba
What: This family-run BYOB restaurant serves up traditional Thai food in a tiny restaurant located in Brixton Village. The menu isn't as hefty as some others on this list, but everything is fantastic, as evidenced by the number of diners waiting for tables on balmy Brixton Village evenings. The menu covers all the essentials, but also ventures beyond the satays, green curries and pad Thai noodles to offer everything from gai tod (deep-fried garlic and pepper chicken) to a seriously spicy larb.
Where: Brixton Village Market, SW9 7EL
Book now: Kaosarn
TOR Thai, Turnham Green
What: Family-run TOR Thai on Chiswick High Road has been serving authentic Thai food to West Londoners since 1994 including lots of vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian options. It also does a great lunch deal for a tenner, that includes a great pad Thai, basil sir fry, aubergine green curry or roast duck on rice.
Where: 99 Chiswick High Road, W4 2ED
Book now: TOR Thai
Reun Thai, Hammersmith
What: Reun Thai finds its home in Hammersmith where it spoils its customers for choice with a menu that spans every Thai dish you could possible crave. Whatever you fancy, they've got it. There are more than a few good Thai restaurants in Hammersmith - the fact that Reun Thai remains popular after all these years is a testament to the quality of the food.
Where: 100 Fulham Palace Road, W6 9PL
Book now: Reun Thai
Smoking Goat, Shoreditch
What: The original site closed its doors some time ago, but the Shoreditch spin-off remains popular as ever. Diners can sit on large canteen-style tables to enjoy the affordable Thai barbecue small plates and seafood on offer, or take a seat at the counter and watch chefs buzzing across live fire grills. Chilli fish sauce wings are still a must order - beyond that, you can't really go wrong with the Smoking Goat menu.
Where: 64 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
Book now: Smoking Goat
Marie's Cafe, Waterloo
What: They don't make them quite like Marie's Cafe anymore. This best-kept-secret Thai restaurant is excellent value for money and can be found around the back of Waterloo station on Lower Marsh. Arrive at this hidden gem of a restaurant in the morning and grab a full English, then come back in the evening for comforting Thai home cooking, at very affordable prices.
Where: 90 Lower Marsh, SE1 7AB
Book now: Marie's Cafe Waterloo
The Faltering Fullback, Finsbury Park
What: The Faltering Fullback is an Irish pub in North London, but bear with us, because its food menu is totally Thai-inspired. Enjoy a bev in the beer garden, before tucking into very reasonably-priced plates of pad Thai, stir fries, Thai fish cakes, prawn toast and more. Stick around for loads of live sport in the pub itself, or grab a spot in the absolutely enormous, multi-storey beer garden out back.
Where: 19 Perth Road, N4 3HB
Book now: The Faltering Fullback
Poppy's Thai, Hammersmith
What: The mismatched china, old furnishings and old-fashioned lampshades give this well-loved Hammersmith local the feel of an antique shop, but there are some special things happening behind the scenes. Out of the kitchen comes authentic, affordable Thai classics, and you can grab takeaway if there's no room in the restaurant.
Where: 78 Glenthorne Road, W6 0LR
Book now: Poppy's Thai
What: Starting its life at various street food markets around London, Farang now has a permanent home in Highbury, where locals come to be slapped around the face with rich, meaty, spicy curries, and sour, funky salads. Try the Som Tam spicy green papaya salad or Pàk-ká-nàa – roasted cavolo nero crisps served with burnt chilli dipping sauce.
Where: 72 Highbury Park, N5 2XE
Book now: Farang
Rosa's Thai, Multiple locations
What: Ah, Rosa's Thai - how we love you. The brainchild of chef and author Saiphin Moore, this popular restaurant serves up all your Thai favourites and can be found in almost every corner of London. It might not win any awards for pushing the boundaries of contemporary Thai food, but you know what you get with Rosa's - tasty versions of all your best-loved Thai dishes, from traffic light curries to soups and salads.
Where: Multiple locations
Book now: Rosa's Thai Battersea
The Heron, Edgware Road
What: It might look like a pub on the outside, and upstairs it absolutely is, but the real reason to visit The Heron in Paddington is for its outstanding Thai restaurant downstairs. The food here doesn't hold back for westerners - even mild dishes come with a zing of spice, and plates like shredded catfish and peanut salad with chilli sauce, crunchy-fried duck tongues and crisp-skinned century eggs in fermented fish juice are probably more for adventurous palates.
Where: 1 Norfolk Crescent, W2 2DN
Book now: The Heron
Asian cuisine is now one of the most popular types of food in London with thousands of restaurants serving up dishes from all over the far east. Want to try out more great places for Asian food? Check out our list of the best Chinese restaurants in London.