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18 Must-Try Pad Thai Dishes in Los Angeles

Authentic Thai? Debatable. Delicious? Definitely.

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No Thai dish is subject to more controversy in the "is it authentic?" debate than pad Thai. Introduced to Thailand during World War II by de facto ruler Plaek Phibunsongkhram as a way to increase the popularity of rice noodles (Thailand remains the second biggest exporter of rice on planet earth, behind India), the stir fried dish meaning "fried Thai style" has become metonymous with Thai cuisine stateside, a representative of the cuisine's interplay between sweet, sour, and savory. Stir-frying is a decidedly Chinese method preparation, but the debate rages on as to whether or not pad Thai, a dish dreamed up in 1939, is authentic in a culinary culture that dates back to at least the 13th century.

Cultural merits of authenticity notwithstanding, there is one issue that is not a matter of debate: pad Thai is one of Thailand's greatest culinary exports stateside, and it's a ubiquitous, if not outright compulsory dish on just about every menu serving Thai food. As to the places that make it exceptionally well? Aside from Hollywood's Thai Town, look out for some surprise geographical outliers. Here are 18 must-try pad Thai dishes in Los Angeles.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Sticky Rice Two

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317 S Broadway # C-4-5
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(626) 872-0353
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After pledging not to serve stir-fried noodle dishes at his original Sticky Rice location, restaurateur Dave Tewasart found a workaround: He simply opened a noodle stand behind Sticky Rice and dubbed it Sticky Rice Two. In addition a fantastic khao soi, Tewasart serves up one of the best pad thais in the city. The springy, thin rice noodles pack a neat balance of sweet and sour, and come spruced up with julienned carrots and a smattering of crushed red pepper.

2. Krua Thai

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13130 Sherman Way
North Hollywood, CA 91605
(818) 759-7998
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This restaurant just a stone's throw down Coldwater Canyon from the Wat Thai Los Angeles serves up LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold's favorite rendition of pad Thai. It clocks in a bit sweeter than your usual plate of fried noodles, rounded out with giant, plump shrimps.

3. Ayara Thai Cuisine

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6245 W 87th St
Westchester, CA 90045
(310) 410-8848
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Expats and Thai students studying abroad in L.A. swear by Ayara as being one of the more authentic restaurants in the entire city, and though pad thai largely goes unordered by native Thai folks who tend more toward regional dishes, it actually merits a spot at the table at this Westchester mainstay.

4. Otus Thai Kitchen & Coffee

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La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

This hip (or as the Thai folks would call it, "'tist") Thai food cafe off La Brea not only serves great brunch dishes, but a mean pad thai, as well. Chock full of meat and with expertly prepared noodles, it's one of the standard-bearers in LA.

5. Night + Market

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9041 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 275-9724
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Night + Market WeHo offers a vegan pad Thai with tofu, and in the absence of meat remains an abundance of great sweet-savory tamarind flavor that doesn't really require animal protein to be fully appreciated.

6. Yai Restaurant

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5757 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 462-0292

Yai is definitely a front-runner for pad thai in Hollywood's crowded Thai Town, owing in part to its fantastic noodle preparation that gives nicely separated strands that lend well to mixing and adhere well to the crushed peanuts and additional toppings.

7. Hoy Ka Noodles

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5401 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 463-1339
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Diners feet dangle from the high bench at Hoy Ka while they tuck in to a variety of noodle soups, but the pad Thai is no slouch on the menu. Nicely separated noodles and understated tamarind notes nail the street dish with a precision matching their out-of-the-boat soup noodle offerings.

8. Lacha Somtum

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5171 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

This papaya salad specialist also serves up a couple different types of pad Thai, including one tossed with crispy pork in addition to a crab-infused variety.

9. Sapp Coffee Shop

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5183 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 665-1035
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Is there anything Sapp ISN'T good at? The famed so-called coffee shop is known for its excellent jade noodles and an egg noodle with pork belly that's as authentic as it gets, and the pad Thai isn't an afterthought, either, in case you're the type to go to the same restaurant every time and want to try something different.

10. Thailand Plaza

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5321 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 993-9000
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The semi-hidden restaurant above a Thai grocery store incidentally also serves one of celebrity chef Jet Tila's favorite pad thai dishes. If you're coming for dinner, don't be surprised to get some entertainment in the form of a karaoke night.

11. Pa-Ord Noodle

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5301 W Sunset Blvd Ste 8
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 461-3945
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Pa-Ord is a specialist in just about any type of noodle, and though the dangerously spicy boat noodles is the main event, the seafood pad thai with green mussels and shrimp is a strong undercard if you're not feeling noodle soups.

12. Pailin Thai Cuisine

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5621 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 467-6775

Pailin is a khao soi specialist (meaning it's probably a better bet to order a Northern Thai dish), but for the curry-and-sausage-averse, there's a more-than-serviceable pad Thai available.

13. Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle

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4356 Fountain Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 666-5593
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In addition to the traditional pad Thai, Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle also makes an woon sen pad thai, which replaces the traditional rice noodles with glass noodles. Translation: gluten free pad thai.

14. Nine & Nine Thai Kitchen

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754 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 844-1899
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One of the busiest takeout spots on Colorado happens to serve up one of the better pad Thai dishes in L.A., with mellowed-out acidity and restrained sweetness that lets the tamarind come through.

15. Ruen Pair Thai Restaurant

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5257 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 466-0153
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Everyone's favorite late-night Thai restaurant serves up a solid pad thai alongside other favorites. You can order just about any noodle dish you want, but don't skip the omelette with turnip.

16. Daisy Mint

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1218 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 792-2999
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Pasadena is home to a surprising abundance of Thai restaurants, and since the change of ownership at Saladang, Daisy Mint appears to be the strongest competitor in the field. The pad thai comes out perfectly cooked to just a bit chewy, while being a little easy on the sweetness and a little heavy-handed on the sourness and acidity.

17. Spicy BBQ Restaurant

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5101 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 663-4211

You're here for the meats, but if you want to get some carbs at Spicy BBQ and you like your noodles heavy on the sauce, the pad thai packs serious flavor and is a welcome — if not brief — relief from all of the fantastic grilled meats at this cash-only hole in the wall.

18. Chilly Mango

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950 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 795-9826

Initially President Thai 2, Chilly Mango is an offshoot that's a big hit with the locals in Pasadena along with the neighboring students at Caltech. Though pad Thai isn't naturally served spicy, the cooked-in spice works well with the dish here. Ask for it on the spicier side for an interesting take on the dish.

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1. Sticky Rice Two

317 S Broadway # C-4-5, Los Angeles, CA 90013

After pledging not to serve stir-fried noodle dishes at his original Sticky Rice location, restaurateur Dave Tewasart found a workaround: He simply opened a noodle stand behind Sticky Rice and dubbed it Sticky Rice Two. In addition a fantastic khao soi, Tewasart serves up one of the best pad thais in the city. The springy, thin rice noodles pack a neat balance of sweet and sour, and come spruced up with julienned carrots and a smattering of crushed red pepper.

317 S Broadway # C-4-5
Los Angeles, CA 90013

2. Krua Thai

13130 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605

This restaurant just a stone's throw down Coldwater Canyon from the Wat Thai Los Angeles serves up LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold's favorite rendition of pad Thai. It clocks in a bit sweeter than your usual plate of fried noodles, rounded out with giant, plump shrimps.

13130 Sherman Way
North Hollywood, CA 91605

3. Ayara Thai Cuisine

6245 W 87th St, Westchester, CA 90045

Expats and Thai students studying abroad in L.A. swear by Ayara as being one of the more authentic restaurants in the entire city, and though pad thai largely goes unordered by native Thai folks who tend more toward regional dishes, it actually merits a spot at the table at this Westchester mainstay.

6245 W 87th St
Westchester, CA 90045

4. Otus Thai Kitchen & Coffee

La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046

This hip (or as the Thai folks would call it, "'tist") Thai food cafe off La Brea not only serves great brunch dishes, but a mean pad thai, as well. Chock full of meat and with expertly prepared noodles, it's one of the standard-bearers in LA.

La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

5. Night + Market

9041 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

Night + Market WeHo offers a vegan pad Thai with tofu, and in the absence of meat remains an abundance of great sweet-savory tamarind flavor that doesn't really require animal protein to be fully appreciated.

9041 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

6. Yai Restaurant

5757 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Yai is definitely a front-runner for pad thai in Hollywood's crowded Thai Town, owing in part to its fantastic noodle preparation that gives nicely separated strands that lend well to mixing and adhere well to the crushed peanuts and additional toppings.

5757 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

7. Hoy Ka Noodles

5401 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Diners feet dangle from the high bench at Hoy Ka while they tuck in to a variety of noodle soups, but the pad Thai is no slouch on the menu. Nicely separated noodles and understated tamarind notes nail the street dish with a precision matching their out-of-the-boat soup noodle offerings.

5401 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

8. Lacha Somtum

5171 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

This papaya salad specialist also serves up a couple different types of pad Thai, including one tossed with crispy pork in addition to a crab-infused variety.

5171 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

9. Sapp Coffee Shop

5183 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Is there anything Sapp ISN'T good at? The famed so-called coffee shop is known for its excellent jade noodles and an egg noodle with pork belly that's as authentic as it gets, and the pad Thai isn't an afterthought, either, in case you're the type to go to the same restaurant every time and want to try something different.

5183 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

10. Thailand Plaza

5321 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

The semi-hidden restaurant above a Thai grocery store incidentally also serves one of celebrity chef Jet Tila's favorite pad thai dishes. If you're coming for dinner, don't be surprised to get some entertainment in the form of a karaoke night.

5321 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

11. Pa-Ord Noodle

5301 W Sunset Blvd Ste 8, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Pa-Ord is a specialist in just about any type of noodle, and though the dangerously spicy boat noodles is the main event, the seafood pad thai with green mussels and shrimp is a strong undercard if you're not feeling noodle soups.

5301 W Sunset Blvd Ste 8
Los Angeles, CA 90027

12. Pailin Thai Cuisine

5621 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Pailin is a khao soi specialist (meaning it's probably a better bet to order a Northern Thai dish), but for the curry-and-sausage-averse, there's a more-than-serviceable pad Thai available.

5621 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

13. Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle

4356 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029

In addition to the traditional pad Thai, Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle also makes an woon sen pad thai, which replaces the traditional rice noodles with glass noodles. Translation: gluten free pad thai.

4356 Fountain Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029

14. Nine & Nine Thai Kitchen

754 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101

One of the busiest takeout spots on Colorado happens to serve up one of the better pad Thai dishes in L.A., with mellowed-out acidity and restrained sweetness that lets the tamarind come through.

754 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101

15. Ruen Pair Thai Restaurant

5257 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Everyone's favorite late-night Thai restaurant serves up a solid pad thai alongside other favorites. You can order just about any noodle dish you want, but don't skip the omelette with turnip.

5257 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

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16. Daisy Mint

1218 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106

Pasadena is home to a surprising abundance of Thai restaurants, and since the change of ownership at Saladang, Daisy Mint appears to be the strongest competitor in the field. The pad thai comes out perfectly cooked to just a bit chewy, while being a little easy on the sweetness and a little heavy-handed on the sourness and acidity.

1218 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91106

17. Spicy BBQ Restaurant

5101 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029

You're here for the meats, but if you want to get some carbs at Spicy BBQ and you like your noodles heavy on the sauce, the pad thai packs serious flavor and is a welcome — if not brief — relief from all of the fantastic grilled meats at this cash-only hole in the wall.

5101 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029

18. Chilly Mango

950 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106

Initially President Thai 2, Chilly Mango is an offshoot that's a big hit with the locals in Pasadena along with the neighboring students at Caltech. Though pad Thai isn't naturally served spicy, the cooked-in spice works well with the dish here. Ask for it on the spicier side for an interesting take on the dish.

950 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91106

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