HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >


Thai in San Diego?

  • e

I am writing this to ask local hounds what are their favorite Thai places in SD. I am writing this because I no longer spend enough time in San Diego to sample a range of restaurants in order to find my own favorites.

When I lived in PB, I was very fond of Karinya, and the last time I was there, I had an excellent whole fish. I have also had a good papaya salad there and decent curries--though their stir-fries have never much excited me.

Celadon has been much recommended on this board, and I did have an exquisite yellow curry there for lunch a while back. But more recently, I was there with a party of 6 and was underwhelmed. Someone ordered satay and it was pretty much like any other Thai restaurant's satay. The curry and the stir-fry I got to taste were pretty ordinary, and the flavor of the whole fish that I ordered was lost in the busy, almost sweet and sour sauce. It was like whole fish prepared for someone who didn't like fish. The service also seemed hurried, as if they were trying to serve us as quickly as possible to turn the table over. Don't get me wrong, the meal was not terrible, but I kept wondering--is this really the best Thai food in SD? In fact, the Lard Nar that I had on the same visit at Mae Rasy seemed more interesting than anything I tasted at Celadon that night.

So does anyone have other Thai favorites in town? Or should I give Celadon another chance?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Ed - Sorry not to answer in a more timely manner, it could be that Celadon may start going downhill....Alec Thao - the owner is opening a new new restaurant in the Gaslamp called Rama Thai, and that could be shifting alot of attention - not to mention staff away, too bad - for my tastes Celadon was always the most consisitent. As for whole fried fish - I just wait until I go to Vegas and LOS, or Thai food in general, LA and Renu Nakorn - though I haven't been there in a while.
    As for SD, it seems that Thai food reuns the gamut from mundane - Thai Chilies, to questionable - Thai House and the frozen peas and carrots in the dishes, to gringo - Taste of Thai, to decent - Celadon and Bai Yook. There's a poster named Curt, who is pretty knowledgable and may be able to help you. But if you go to Celadon again - ask if Alec is around...

    3 Replies
    1. re: KirkK

      OK. It may just have been an off night, or perhaps I ordered the wrong whole fish dish (though following the waitperson's suggestion). Where's Bai Yook?

      1. re: e.d.

        Well maybe they should get one more try.......please report your findings.
        Bai Yook is at 1260 University in the same strip mall as Ben & Jerry's - it's a real small place. Haven't had their fried fish - I mainly go for the Grilled Steak salad (Yum Nua). There's also another palce around the corner called Amarin Thai that I haven't had the chance to try yet.

      2. re: KirkK

        Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with San Diego's Thai eateries.

        Now, if you're looking for a good burger,............

      3. I have a friend who swears Amarin Thai is the best Thai food in San Diego. It's on Richmond Street off University.

        2 Replies
        1. re: phee

          Funny - we must have been posting at the same time. Will definitely drop by Amarin.

          1. re: phee

            Have to disagree strongly about Amarain Thai. The food is run-of the mill to below average. For example, the Tom Ka soup is dull, relying too much on the coconut milk but not much else. Pad see ewe is also dull; not nearly as flavorful as at many other places, such as Saffron and Celadon. Also, the rice noodles in the dish were substandard. Stir-fried eggplant was soupy and actually had very little eggplant. Even something as basic as the steamed jasmine rice doesn't have the same flavor as many other local restaurants. The mango with sticky rice has been a disappointment twice now -- and it's not easy to screw up that dish. The sticky rice was crusted over and actually cold. Other dishes were disappointing too, but you get the idea. They seem to be do well; it must be the location and the outdoor tables because there are many Thai restaurants in town with much better food. The service is bad too -- appetizers coming at the same time as main dishes, hard to get attention if you need something else, etc. Also, we were disappointed that the servers did not much knowledge for vegetarians on ingredients in the dishes. Other Thai restaurants do a much better job on that. All in all a consistently disappointing restaurant if you compare it to other places in the area. Convenient location if you live in the Uptown complex, though.

          2. Siam Basil in Encinitas (Hwy 101) near Encinitas Blvd. is our favorite Thai restaurant in San Diego. We have tried Celedon, Bai Yook and several other Thai restaurants in the area but feel the favors at Siam Basil is more fresh. Their Beef Penang and Pad Thai is pretty good. Please post your findings if you end up trying it out.

            1. We _really_ liked Kitima--406 University--a couple of doors down from the Chinese place with the big old neon sign. Lots of original dishes, great flavors.

              1. This post needs an update or two. Anyone care to give their favorite Thai recommendations for San Diego?
                Some years ago we had some really good Tom Kah Kai, curries, and Pad Thai at Royal Thai in the gaslamp quarter. I wonder how it is nowadays.

                1. I recently asked about this: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  Unfortunately, the consensus is that San Diego has no really good Thai.

                  Asia Cafe has good Laotian, which is close to north-eastern Thai.

                  I've liked Karinya and Celadon the most. Bai Yook is disappointing and may have gone down-hill. Amari and Kitima are just okay; Lotus may be a touch better. Royal Thai downtown was more expensive but no better, and the other little places I've tried around town are mainly westernized and not really worth checking out.

                  What places have you tried already?


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Joseph

                    Royal Thai was brilliant a few years back. I haven't had the chance to go more recently. It's pretty difficult to park in that area sometimes.
                    I was disappointed in Taste of Thai in Del Mar; had heard they were good.
                    I'm in Carlsbad, so I'm a regular at Thai Garden in Oceanside. They make the best curries and soups around here. Ocean Thai is OK (also in Oceanside) and Lotus Thai in Carlsbad makes fantastic Fresh Rolls and satay and that's about it.
                    I didn't like Bai Yook.
                    Pbhomey- Cabbages & Condoms? With a name like that, you couldn't get me in the door, much less try a curry there.

                    1. re: snort

                      It’s obvious you have never been to Thailand, Cabbages and Condoms has been around for years. Here some educational links:



                      Try to see your way past the name and understand the purpose.

                    2. re: Joseph

                      Ate at Kitima on University Avenue in San Diego with some business associates. I agree with Joseph that it's "just okay." The service is terrible. Summer rolls (vegetarian) were good. I like Thai curries, and the panang (red curry) was only fair. Only a few eaters on a Sunday night at 8 pm. Cost was about $25/person including appetizers, entree, 1 beer and tip.

                    3. I spend two weeks in Thailand every year and I’ve eaten at some of the best places in Bangkok, such as Cabbages and Condoms, and other local hangouts. I’m really tired of this “no good Thai in San Diego” stuff. There are many Thai restaurants in Thailand that are not worth the time of day...just like here in San Diego. The small places, owned and operated by Thai folks are as close as you will get. Thai Village in PB is one of those places. The cooks and servers are Thai and do their best to produce good Thai food.

                      The Thai street vendors also have BBQ insects on many corners...shall we compete with them as well? I believe there is good Thai in San Diego...at least by my taste.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: pbhomey

                        What are Thai Villages best dishes? How is their papaya salad? Many thanks!

                        1. re: young_chower

                          My wife likes the Spicy Lard Nar and Green Curry. I like the garlic chicken, but it’s not called garlic chicken (forgot the name). The manager/cook is Nana and she knows what I like, so she cooks it up. The owner is Nana’s sister who lives in LA. The place is rather tacky, like many places in Thailand. The other cook is Thai and speaks very little English. This place is a BYOB type place; there is a liquor store across the street. I always share my bottle of wine or champagne with Nana and the other cook.

                          1. re: pbhomey

                            I like Thai Village too. Try the spicy duck, it is one of my favorites. I think the chicken dish you speak of is Crispy Chicken, grilled half chicken with pepper and garlic sauce. Nana is a sweetheart.

                        2. re: pbhomey

                          Thanks for mentioning "Thai Village", pbhomey. I don't think anyone has ever posted about it before, at least according to the search engine.

                          Do you mean to say that there are grilled beetles available here in San Diego, or that they are not available? My wife says they were okay, in a salty-crunchy way...

                          Are there any other hidden Thai gems you have found here? I'm hoping to find the sort of dishes considered too foreign or adventerous for the usual San Diego thai restaurant. And just good, spicy, delicious food is worth knowing about, even if they don't have grilled frogs legs.

                          1. re: Joseph

                            Thai Village in PB gets overshadowed by Karinya. I ate at Karinya twice...but did not care so much for the place. I guess it draws a crowd because you can sit on the floor and eat. All of my years eating in Thailand, I never sat on the floor. Japan...lots of floor time.

                            I think you have to grill your own beetles in San Diego. I never got used to seeing people eating BBQ insects with chopsticks out of a bag. Doubt if I ever will. Usually on the stands, there is quite of selection of different insects...I guess it is a great source of protein. And quite cheap.

                            There is nothing fancy about Thai Village. It has a TV with a fish tank inside, bamboo stuff here and there, painted wall (beach picture), and some tacky colored lights. I found that the smaller places in Thailand had the similar décor...but the food was always good.

                            1. re: pbhomey

                              That's encouraging; Karinya was some of the better Thai food I've found in San Diego, perhaps better than Celadon recently. I will have to find a way to get out west for a meal.

                        3. Nobody ever mentions this place but it is the best thai in SD:


                          they do traditional thai food and unique dishes like duck curry, etc. as well

                          try the larb, the thai wrap, the panang curry, etc. etc. etc.

                          1. I love the green curry at Amarin Thai in Point Loma, located in the Henry's shopping center at the corner of Rosecrans/Midway. They are very busy. Went for lunch last Friday and the place was hopping.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: sdnativa

                              This location for Amarin has closed.....

                              1. re: sdtips

                                That is surprising. They had their sign-thrower guy out on Rosecrans street over the weekend.

                            2. Well, we went back to Royal Thai in the Gaslamp quarter. If you go, I'd recommend you time travel as well. Dial back to 2002 and I can promise you a memorable meal. If you go in 2006, you'll get fair Pad Thai and a watery Massamun curry. Not the worst by a long shot, but not the best by a long shot either. The chef that brought the place some reknown must have moved on. It's a shame, because this place was indeed top-notch at one time.

                              1. Hi, I've lived in Thailand (Chiang Mai, three years) and seek out good Thai food everywhere. I like Siamese Basil in Encinitas, and downtown I go to Bai Yook in Hillcrest. New great discovery is Thai Grill, little hole-in-wall place next to Washington Mutual Bank on Robinson between 5th and 4th in Hillcrest area. Aroi!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: chaipur

                                  Do you have any dishes to recommend at Thai Grill or Bai Yook? I've been disappointed so far.

                                  1. re: Joseph

                                    Joseph, I really like the spicy noodles at Thai Grill.

                                2. Celadon is opening on 5th Avenue across from Hash House... (not sure yet if it is a move or a second location).

                                  Amarin on Richmond is delicious-hole in the wall. Great portions. Pt. Loma location closed before it ever got started. Bad location.

                                  Spices Thai in Carmel Valley is really good, too. Packed often.

                                  Best Ambiance for Thai- Lotus (Hillcrest and Downtown)

                                  Fast food Thai-- Saffron on India Street-- well known chef/owner. Favorite place among many. Pick it up and take it with you. Su Mei Yu, the chef/owner, writes Thai cooking books. For San Diegans, she is now cooking up on Sunday mornings at the Hillcrest Farmer's Market 9-11am


                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: sdtips

                                    Spices Thai in Carmel Valley is not very good. It's packed b/c of it's location and people don't know any better. They don't know how to balance flavor with heat, so if you ask for spicy, all you get is a blast of chili but no flavor. Their tom yum is too coconutty, not enough sour bite balanced with the sweetness.

                                    1. re: daantaat

                                      I think I agree about Spices Thai. But the people who own/run it are nice...

                                      San Diego Food Blog

                                    2. re: sdtips

                                      Regretably, Su Mei is no longer doing food at the farmers market. I really enjoyed getting breakfast on Sunday's from her, but she has decided to longer operate their.

                                    3. Do any of these restaurants have good Yum Ped (crispy duck salad)? I'll be in San Diego for a conference in January and can't find any Thai restaurants in Scandinavia that serve it. It is one of my favourite Thai dishes.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: AgnesGooch

                                        Somehow I'm remembering a crispy duck salad at Jade, which is in a shopping center just northwest of Friars Road where Mission Gorge Road intersects it. I went there for comfort food when my husband was in the hospital, Kaiser, nearby. The place is all cloth tablecloths and decor and everything -- normally I like the little mom cooking in a hole-in-the-block places -- but I've had some okay food there and the prices are actually comparable to a place like Thai Grill. I did have duck, in some kind of drunken noodles I think, and it was tasty. What I really miss is that crispy duck with the really dark sweet sauce you get in Chiang Mai, like at the garden restaurant on Khao something Rd on the way out to Doi Suthep.

                                      2. Since my old post has been resurrected to form the basis of this discussion, I should probably add that I still haven't found any other Thai restaurants worthy of consideration perhaps because I have been delving into Vietnamese food more when I am in SD. Maybe I'm just not as picky about Vietnamese food, but there seems to be so much in town that is tasty.

                                        Also, let me highly recommend Asia Cafe (47th & Market--off the 805) for an almost Thai lunch. The cafe is operated by a family of Laotians and offers some wonderful dishes with spicy flavors. Although I don't recall curries being available, a lot of the food is similar to Thai. If that sounds interesting, you might be interested in a couple postings about the place:




                                        Remember that some of the best dishes are not on the menu (unless it has changed recently) and that the soups are not as good as other items.


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Ed Dibble

                                          I'm no Thai food expert, but Lanna Thai on Mission Bay Drive is pretty darn good!

                                        2. I love Thai food. My wife is from the North. (Chiang Mai). While I've never not liked a Thai restaurant, the best we've found by far is Sang Dao at 4212 National Ave. It's Lao, I believe, but the menu is very close. They have a beef noodle soup which is the best I've found here, and the Larb and the Som Tum (my standards in rating a Thai place) are very, very good.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Uncle Lefty

                                            Thank you for this recommendation. I don't believe this place has ever been mentioned before. Is this in San Diego or National City?

                                            1. re: Joseph

                                              Joseph - Sang Dao is kinda off the beaten path, it's another Mom and Pop Restaurant. The food is pretty tasty, and the Owners are Lao, there is a small Laotian Market right next door as well.

                                              Sang Dao
                                              4212 National Avenue
                                              San Diego, CA 92113

                                              Open Tues-Sun 10AM-8PM

                                              One of my visits to Sang Dao:

                                              1. re: KirkK

                                                Thanks. I don't think I was reading your blog consistently back in 9/05; I must have missed that post. Have you been back since then? It sounds like Asia Cafe is a better option for the same kind of food.

                                          2. I like Rama downtown and Bai Yook in Hillcrest. Don't care for Amarin Thai in Hillcrest or the Thai place in Encinitas.

                                            Just moved to Indiana and am REALLY missing Mama Testa's taqueria in Hillcrest. Try the mividitas (catfish tacos) and the chorizo. The guy who owns the place is great; his mom comes in from Mexico City to help with the cooking for part of the year.

                                            1. Regarding Amarin Thai in Pt. Loma, we have had some wonderful meals here since they opened at least six months ago. Recently, they had a name change to Antique Thai and it appears that the two owners split. We have been back twice since the change and still see the familiar, beautiful, gracious people who work there. Most of the dishes are still the same and there are some additions to the menu.
                                              We are hoping that the freshness and quality that we have always enjoyed there will continue.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: KSin

                                                Thanks for the clarification KSin. I was surprised to see on this thread that Amarin in PL had 'closed' due to its 'bad location'. Amarin was always very a busy restaurant, lunch and dinner, and no wonder since the food is excellent. I wont let the name change keep me from returning.

                                                1. re: sdnativa

                                                  Just tried a place today that I liked: Thai Pasta in Vista. I had seen it mentioned on another thread and had to give it a try as I exhaust all Thai restaurants around the county.
                                                  This was a good one. Tried the chicken panang and pad thai and both were very good, rich curry and fresh basil and no ketchupy cloying sweet noodles respectively. Will be going back soon to confirm. The atmoshphere is nothing special, but the friendliness and food are worth it.

                                                  1. re: sdnativa

                                                    Antique Thai is my new favorite thai place in San Diego. We found it a couple months ago and I LOVE IT!

                                                    I gave up on Celadon because the service has become shamefully bad.
                                                    Bai Yook became my new staple, but it leaves A LOT to be desired for ambiance.

                                                    The mango curry at Antique is awesome (my mouth is watering and I just finished breakfast), and the chicken massaman curry is one of the best I've had here in SD.

                                                    Royal Thai downtown has been pretty good every time I've been there, and I'm curious to try Rama in the Gaslamp.

                                                    By the way, Antique has a killer lunch special ... www.antiquethaicuisine.com.

                                                    1. re: ohm86

                                                      Your link didn't work for me. I think the period after it fouled it up. The menu does look good, though and I like the design of their website.

                                                  2. re: KSin

                                                    I've recently moved to San Diego and lucked into Antique Thai in Point Loma. The panang curry (at 7 on the spice meter) was wonderful though I'd probably dial down the spice level to 5 or 6 next time. Also tried Thai Time in OB but flavors fell flat and wasn't too excited about it. I spent about three months traveling all over Thailand and I'm always on the lookout for great thai food. I look forward to more Antique Thai and checking out the other suggestions on chowhound.

                                                  3. This thread is a little old, but nobody mentioned Tamarind Thai Restaurant in La Mesa (east of SD proper). This tiny place in a strip mall is always packed, and the Thai owners are really nice. A Thai buddy of mine, who immigrated from Thailand 10 years ago, drives all the way out to this place for authentic Thai food even though all of the uptown Thai food places are within 5 minutes' drive time from his house. I love Thai food, but I'm not a gourmet in that department (Lotus Thai and Bai Yook are fine by me...), so I was wondering if anyone had been out there & could comment.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: rrwatson

                                                      Trust me, I'll be there shortly. I will try any recommended Thai restaurant in San Diego. Still searching for the one.

                                                    2. We like SALA THAI in the College Area. It is located in the Vons Shopping Center on El Cajon Blvd. Sala Thai
                                                      6161 El Cajon Boulevard San Diego, CA (619)229-9050

                                                      They are extremly accomodating and will prepare things to your liking.

                                                      In Hillcrest, Bai Yook Thai Cuisine
                                                      1260 University Ave San Diego, CA (619) 296-2700 is also very good.

                                                      Saffron Thai on India Street is also very good and a great choice for take out. Sue Me Yu has written several cooks books and they have been very well recieved nationally. Her tiny resteraunt is decorated with fine glass art from the studios of Dale Chulley.

                                                      1. We tried a new place in North Park, called Thai Spice, I think. It's just a block or two west of 30th on El Cajon blvd. I really enjoyed the Tom (coconut) soup and the panang curry. There is also a little place on 30th between El Cajon blvd and University. The owners are very nice and I've always enjoyed the food.
                                                        Now this may not sound great, but, there is a Thai buffet in Clairmont called Thai Cafe. Not everything is great, but the variety is fun and the price is very reasonable.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Ms Verde

                                                          We tried Thai Time, the place on 30th that you mentioned, and reviewed in in this more recent post about Thai in San Diego:

                                                          "We ended up trying Thai Time last night, just because it was the closest to our house and had not been reviewed (to my knowledge). I now see that it had been dismissed as Americanized thai by Kirk and some other 'hounds a few years back, and it also seems to have four locations. I should have been tipped off by the lack of asian customers. The spice level was pleasantly high - I believe the Som Tom (papaya) was the hottest I have ever ordered - but the recommended dishes lacked other flavors and balance. The shrimp and seafood was a little overcooked, and the vegetables were of the chop-suey variety in all the dishes I observed. The prices were reasonable enough that I was not too disappointed, but we won't be going back."

                                                        2. I have been to that Thai buffet in Clairemont. You can order off the menu if you don't want the buffet but the buffet is surprisingly good and really affordable, I forget, about $5 per person for lunch. A big spread and I remember some dishes not in the usual Thai buffet.

                                                          I posted a reply a while back, about a great Thai restaurant in Ventura that serves nam ya.. I think the post was deleted because I related a Thai person had translated nam ya to me, the translation containing a four-letter word that is considered a profanity. Anyway, if anyone knows a place in San Diego that serves nam ya (it's a northern Thai/Burmese dish, I think, that is a fishy curry with rice noodles, often with basil leaves, maybe some blanched green beans and hard cooked egges -- I know it doesn't sound appetitizing but it is divine in my memory), or else, the chicken noodle peanutty soup called khao soi, please do tell me.... ridiculous how often I think of these two dishes with pure longing.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: chaipur

                                                            for the Northern Thai stuff, head north to Reseda in the San Fernando Valley. I think they have khao soi on the menu and know they have other Northern dishes on the menu. Cheap, really good food. It ended up on the LA Times "best of" lists for the last 3-4 years as well as a mention in Los Angeles magazine. One of the best Thai dinners I've had for years!

                                                          2. My favorite Thai restaurant is Taste of Thai up off Via de la Valle in Del Mar. The one in Hillcrest is awful.

                                                            The worst Thai food I have ever had is from Kitima

                                                            Lately I have been going to Lanna's on Mission Bay Drive.

                                                            What I would like to know are what are your favorite dishes and what flavor makes them great.

                                                            1. Sala Thai has wonderful food. The service is friendly and consistent. Saffron is a excellent choice. Su Mei has it going on.


                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Dagney

                                                                Sala Thai is a small and cheap restaurant but lacks good flavor and is kind of americanized.

                                                                1. re: honkman

                                                                  I agree, we were rather disappointed by the blandness of Sala Thai. Also never been overly impressed with Saffron.

                                                                  I live out in Santee and was directed to a combination Thai/Japanese/Sushi place, Oishi, by fellow chowhounds. We've mainly stuck to the sushi menu, but on our last visit my dining companion ordered the Tom Kha and it was actually very good. Unlike the bland, pale white soup I've grown accustomed to in San Diego, this was flavorful, had a nice orange tinge to it and had a good balance of heat, tanginess, saltiness, and sweet. I am looking forward to trying their other dishes.

                                                                  Also had lunch over the weekend at a small hole in the wall place on Johnson in El Cajon, across from Parkway Plaza in a tiny strip mall. The name escapes me, but the Panang Salmon was perfectly cooked, and quite flavorful. Almost to the point of being salty. But I'm not complaining. It sure as heck beats the tasteless, overcooked lump of mush I've had at other so called Thai places.

                                                                  I've had some really great Thai while visiting LA, but seem to strike out at home here in SD. It's not that I've never had a good Thai meal here. It's that as soon as I find a particular place that's good, the cook changes and it all goes down hill. It seems the majority of our places tend toward the bland/americanized side and the one's that don't lack consistency.

                                                              2. Wondering if anyone's tried a place called Takhrai Thai on the corner of Pomerado Rd and Scripps Poway Pkwy. Its only been there a bit over a year (DLish used to occupy the same spot). I'm not too adventurous with Thai food so I've really only eaten the curries and noodle dishes, but I've liked most of the things I've tried. I was curious how Takhrai stacked up against other Thai restaurants in SD.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: daimyo

                                                                  Hey, Daimyo, Takhrai Thai is pretty decent. As you wrote, it this spot had been a pizza restaurant - the remodel turned out great with booths added and such. I’ve been pretty pleased with what we’ve eaten here. They have all the normal stuff - sizzling shrimp that, green curry this, pad see-lw, yum nuah and so on. I imagine it is your typical suburban Thai restaurant.

                                                                  I'm far far far from being any kind of expert but we've been here quite a few times since they opened - so I guess we like it! I do remember they get into some American-Chinese dishes as I think they have a sweet and sour pork on the menu.

                                                                2. Yeah, I've been pretty happy with them. I was just happy to have a Thai place with good curries near my home. I had tried California Thai over off Black Mountain Rd and was extremely disappointed there. Their panang and red curries and an extremely runny consistency. Takhrai's curries are much better. I've also asked the servers their opinions on some of their favorite chinese restaurants and dishes in the area. Most of them are from Hong Kong and since i don't have any chinese friends that live in San Diego I figured I'd try to get some recommendations.

                                                                  1. Of the ones I've tried I like:

                                                                    Celadon - it was a couple years ago, but I remember it being pretty refined/well balanced.
                                                                    Amarin - need to try it again because I made the mistake of ordering it spicy, but the quality seemed good.
                                                                    Spices (Mira Mesa...never tried the one in Carmel Valley) - the quality of food you get for lunch special is pretty amazing for the price, IMO.
                                                                    Golden Dragon (actually Asian eclectic but run by Thais and has more Thai dishes than anything else).
                                                                    Royal Thai (downtown), but that was a couple years ago.

                                                                    I dislike:

                                                                    Thai Village - very poor quality
                                                                    Kitima - bland
                                                                    Taste of Thai - gringo
                                                                    Karinya - used to be ok but the last two times I went it was dirty and the food wasn't so great. I think there may have been change of ownership at one point.
                                                                    Saffron - one of the most overrated restaurants in San Diego. I've eaten there twice, both times the food was very overcooked and the second time I had chunks of burnt ginger in my food.

                                                                    I haven't tried the other ones in Hillcrest mentioned here, but I'll make a point of it. I also haven't tried Rama downtown. Has anyone tried it?

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: mangiatore

                                                                      i've tried rama its my fav thai restaurant in sd and ive tried many. the only problem with it is that its over priced. but they do have a wonderful atmosphere and there phad thai and yellow curry was amazing. also they give pretty decent portions.

                                                                    2. Try out Antique Thai. They used to be partners with Amarin in Hillcrest. The better half of the partnership changed the name from Amarin to Antique Thai. It's near Sports Arena, in the TJ Maxx Strip mall area. The atmosphere is sooo much better and the service is A++.
                                                                      They even added some more items in their menu, but you will still find most of Amarin Thai's menu. I have eaten at Amarin Thai in Hillcrest twice after the split. It has gone down. Try Antique Thai, you won't be disappointed.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: crave

                                                                        im definitely guna have 2 try that. what dishes do you reccomend getting there

                                                                        1. re: lovesfood11

                                                                          Actually almost everything is good there. The Crab Fried Rice, Penang Curry, Fish (in tom yum like broth). There is also a salad that is topped with crispy fish flakes (not sure what it's called), but it's the only Thai Restaurant in US that serves this (been looking for it). It's more popular in the Asian region. However I didn't enjoy the Ruby Scallops, the sauce was too sweet and I felt didn't compliment the scallops. I'm not a Pad Thai person, so I've never tried it. Anyway, hope you enjoy eating here.

                                                                      2. Probably the most authentic tasting Thai food I have had in San Diego is at Thai Table on Oceanside Blvd about a block east of the Ralph's shopping plaza in O'side. We have had Thai food from London to San Francisco to Bangkok and this is just like being there. The Tod Mun (fish cakes) in cucumber and sweet/sour sauce is the finest I have had ANYWHERE. Service is friendly, relaxed and authentic. The place is in a strip mall and it a little short on ambiance, convenient to Camp Pendleton. I would make a special trip from San Diego to eat up there. I have sent many people there and no one has been disappointed. Ask for your food Thai hot only if you mean it - 6-7 on the 10 point scale will be as hot as most people can take. You never know what you'll find in the middle of noplace, next to a redneck pub and barely visible from the street. We've eaten at many of the places listed in this string, and if you're looking for ambiance, go someplace else, but if you're looking for food that takes you back back to Bangkok, give this place a shot.

                                                                        1. There is a thai restaurant next to VIP buffet on Clairemont Mesa West. It just has a huge sign that says THAI RESTAURANT.

                                                                          My ex-thai coworkers swear by it, and i think its pretty tasty, one of the better ones in SD

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: clayfu

                                                                            Di-chan. It can be a bit variable, and tends a bit to gringo-ish: overly sweetened dishes and it's difficult to get them to really spice it up, even when you ask for "10 on a scale of 10", and they should know that you mean it (like you complain about the level of heat every week...).

                                                                          2. I've lived in SD for 7 years now and have tried several Thai restaurants. for the past several years, Celadon had been our go to place for great thai. Unfortunately, their flavor has gone downhill since their move. Sure, the ambiance is great, but I go to a restaurant to eat not to feel like I'm at a club/bar (which Celadon turns into at night). I'm in search of a new go to thai.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: ahuizote

                                                                              Santee. Oiishi.

                                                                              One side of menu is Japanese and they have a sushi bar. The other side of the menu is Thai, as are the owners. Seriously good food. No real ambiance, unless you consider family attentiveness and care to be ambiance,

                                                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                                                I agree with Cathy. Oiishi is a real gem and I feel fortunate as a Santee resident to have it so close by. It's great to have my tom kha come out having the perfect balance of salty, sweet, tang and heat, instead of bland, milky white coconut milk broth I seem to find at most SD Thai places. It's also nice to have something made spicy when I ask for it to be so. Everything is fresh, tasty and well prepared. And the people are always glad to see you. An added bonus is that they do great sushi too. So if you are hankering for some Thai but you are dining with someone who wants sushi, you are both happy.

                                                                            2. Has anyone tried Bangkok Spices Thai Restaurant on El Cajon?

                                                                              I haven't but it seems to get a ton of great reviews on Y E L P

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: stangoldsmith

                                                                                Considering every one and their mother that conduct “reviews” on YELP, I’m sure the reviews are great. I ate there once, and thought the food was average at best.

                                                                              2. My husband and I lived in Thailand for a long time and we have been searching for great places, often with hit-or-miss luck here in San Diego. Out of the 12 places we've tried we like -
                                                                                Antique in PL and recently fell in love with Lanna Thai on Mission Bay...My husband tried to explain a dish we frequently had in Thailand but have not been able to find here...and the waitress was so sweet and came up with a dish that was very close!

                                                                                1. RAMA in downtown is truly perfect. i haven't been in almost a year, so i'm unaware if its maintained its original level of perfection. i've eaten at more thai spots than you can shake a stick at and for some reason the GREEN CURRY at Rama has never been matched. its almost smarter to not even try it, because you will have a hell of a time finding a green curry anywhere else that matches it. i still haven't. be advised that its def more of a downtown designed restaurant, not a local little low key spot. still, though, phenomenal.

                                                                                  1. Thai House on Convoy is the best for my money. They have dishes that miss from home and am unable to find in other Thai places (pad hai lum being my favorite).

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: BevInSD

                                                                                      The best Thai restaurant in SD IMO is Lotus Thai Bistro in Carlsbad/Encinitas area. No relation to Lotus Thai in the Gaslamp. LTB offers great authentic Thai flavors, as opposed to watered down fare for the western palate. Totally worth the drive up north.