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Exploring the Best of Los Angeles's Thai Town
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Exploring the Best of Los Angeles's Thai Town

The bustling six-block community on Hollywood’s eastern end is the only one of its kind in the United States.

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5 min read

October 20, 2021

Did you know that Bangkok’s Thai name, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, also translates to the City of Angels? No wonder Southern California has attracted the largest concentration of Thais outside of Thailand in the world!

Visit Thai Town in Los Angeles on any given night, and you’ll find restaurant tables full, cash registers ringing, and street parking almost nonexistent. The bustling six-block community on Hollywood’s eastern end is the only one of its kind in the United States—it’s a cultural enclave in the true sense of the word.

Since its official designation in 1999, the Thai Town district in L.A. has grown to host a bustling community of silk clothiers, massage spas, specialty grocery stores, deliciously authentic restaurants, and so much more. Are you a food and culture-seeking traveler eager to visit? This list covers all the basic sites and bites, from the top spots for Thai Town Los Angeles shopping to the best Thai food in Thai Town. Happy exploring!

Thai Town is bordered by the neighborhoods of Los Feliz to the north and east, central Hollywood to the west, and Little Armenia to the south.

The Best Food in Thai Town

Thai Town in L.A. is the best place to find authentic and delicious Thai food in Southern California. Since the area is almost adjacent to Little Armenia and the historic Filipinotown, the district hosts a blend of other delicious cuisines as well. Here are our picks for the must-try Thai Town Los Angeles restaurants. 

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Darabar Thai Cafe

Founded and operated by Bangkok natives, the delicious Darabar Thai Cafe is many locals’ go-to spot to grab the best Thai food in Thai Town. In typical Thai fashion, the menu at Darabar offers appetizers, soups, noodles, entrees, desserts, and delicious specialty dishes. You’ll find classic favorites such as pad thai, as well as new and unique dishes to try like sea bass on spicy lemon soup. Visit on Fridays and you’ll indulge in great food and fun live music. 

Friends and Family is a seasonal cafe and marketplace featuring fresh baked goods in East Hollywood. Photo courtesy of Friends and Family.

Friends and Family

Chef-baker duo Roxana Jullapat and Daniel Mattern were longtime champions of produce-driven cooking before opening Friends and Family in Thai Town L.A. After building their careers for fifteen years in renowned kitchens of Los Angeles, the pair continued their passion by founding this multifaceted cafe and bakery, where they serve hand-made food with artisan breads and seasonal ingredients. It goes without saying that the pastries and baked goods are delish, but the sandwiches, bowls, and salads are just as addictive.

Palms Thai Restaurant

Palms Thai Restaurant is a popular yet homey spot offering Thai eats, occasionally paired with a special appearance by a Hollywood Boulevard Elvis impersonator. We’re going to make a bold statement and come right out saying that this restaurant offers not only one of the best Thai foods in Thai Town, but also in the entire state. The chefs at Palms pride themselves in preparing the freshest exquisite blends of exotic ingredients and serving authentic dishes for reasonable prices. We’re drooling just thinking about a fresh bowl of spicy kee mao noodles.

The only Thai ethnic neighborhood in the United States contains many restaurants, markets, shops, silk clothing stores, and massage parlors.

Places to Go Shopping in Thai Town

A variety of shops line the streets of Thai Town in Los Angeles. Since the area is quite small and easily walkable, we suggest strolling around as much as you can and checking out the cool little shops you find interesting. Many of the stores here don’t have websites or much of an online presence, but you’ll find plenty of gems scattered around. We’ve highlighted three places you shouldn’t miss when on a Thai Town Los Angeles shopping spree—taking a peek around the other stores is also highly recommended.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously in 1999 to designate the area as "Thai Town," the first place in the United States with that name.

Thailand Plaza

The popular Thailand Plaza is a good first stop to check off your list of things to do in Thai Town. Silom Supermarket—named after a neighborhood and road in Bangkok—is where you’ll browse shelves stocked with a variety of goods imported from Thailand. Dokya Bookstore on the first floor is also worth a stop and is pretty much a Thai version of Barnes and Noble selling up-to-date newspapers, books, magazines, music, and more from Thailand.

Bangluck Market

Couldn’t find what you need at Silom Supermarket? Another popular spot to go Thai Town Los Angeles shopping for produce is Bangluck Market. This family-run market is packed with everything you need for your at-home Thai feast. From an extensive selection of curry pastes to an entire aisle dedicated to cane sugar. Bangluck Market has it all.

Bhan Kanom Thai, aka BKT, is a shop filled with love and authenticity. Photo courtesy of Bhan Khanom Thai

Bhan Khanom Thai

Working up a bit of an appetite for something sweet? Bhan Khanom Thai is the dessert shop of your dreams. Operating since 1998, this cool little store imports and makes the best snacks and ingredients, bringing Thailand’s authentic ethnic desserts to Los Angeles. The durian chips are amazing, and so is the ice cream and freshly made desserts. Grab a portion of mango sticky rice for us while you’re there, will you?

As an L.A. ethnic community landmark, Thai Town offers plenty of shopping destinations and eateries for all things Thai.

Thai Town L.A.'s Coolest Attractions

The majority of the largest tourist draws of Thai Town in Los Angeles are food-related, but there’s lots more to see here as well. From fun annual celebrations to impressive shrines typical to those you’d find in Thailand, these are the sites and events that belong on your Thai Town L.A. to-do list.

Shrines and Statues

Two, 17-foot tall gilded statues of half-human, half-lion mythical creatures mark the neighborhood’s start, welcoming you at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue. You’ll find two similar others at Normandie, on the eastern end of Thai Town L.A. 

Another shrine you’ll encounter in Thai Town is at the plaza. Right outside the shopping and dining establishment, there’s a statue of a Thai goddess covered with mirrored mosaic tiles, surrounded by garlands of colorful fresh and faux flowers. Similar motifs and statues of mythical creatures, angels, gods, and goddesses are portrayed all around Thai Town in Los Angeles, so keep an eye out!

On the first Sunday in April, Thai Town celebrates Songkran, the Thai New Year, by closing off Hollywood Boulevard within its boundaries.

Thai Songkran New Year

Songkran is the Thai New Year that’s celebrated every year on April 15. But here, the holiday is celebrated on the first Sunday of every April.

You’ll experience the culture at its best when you visit Thai Town during the celebrations. The street is filled with vendors, food stands, and more. A boxing ring is usually set up for Muay Thai, and several stages host dancers and musicians, putting you in a Songkran Mood. If you have the chance to visit Thai Town in Los Angeles during this time, make sure you do—you don’t want to miss out.

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