With its opening in New York, there has been a lot of talk lately about Lotus of Siam. My esteemed colleague, Dana Cowin dubbed it "the best Thai restaurant in the country," when she spoke to The Daily Meal recently. Her celebration of Los Angeles as the nation's most underrated food city inspired this L.A.-born Thai-food-lover to recall my other favorite places there for great Thai food. The best Thai restaurants in the country are, in fact, in and around that town.
That's hardly surprising, since Los Angeles has the largest Thai population of any city outside Thailand, and has had Thai eating places since the late 1960s, back when Las Vegas was best known gastronomically for steam-table buffets and New Yorkers thought kung pao chicken was the height of spicy Asian culinary sophistication. Fans of Lotus of Siam, incidentally, might note that the place was started by the original owners of Renu Nakorn, a modest but wonderful Thai place in the Southern California community of Norwalk, and that Renu Nakorn is still going strong—with a menu that is very much like Lotus's, but with a few more hard-to-find Isaan dishes listed.
My own favorite Thai restaurant in L.A. (and thus in America) is Jitlada, but all of the restaurants in this slideshow, from the mini-mall Spicy BBQ to the elegant Talesai, do L.A. proud.