The Best Thai Restaurants in Melbourne

Updated 3 weeks ago

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Thailand’s cuisine is highly diverse. In the seafood-loving south, where its Muslim population is most concentrated, Malay, Indian and Chinese cuisines are all influences. The fertile heart around Bangkok serves dishes like Ayutthaya noodles (boat noodles), kaeng khiao wan (green curry) and tom yum (hot and sour soup). In the cooler north, or Lan Na, you’ll find aromatic khao soi and sai oua (grilled herbal pork sausage). And the north-east region of Isan is all about grilled and fermented meats, eye-watering som tam salads and sticky rice.

This variety is now readily apparent in Melbourne, in a way it wasn’t only 10 years ago. Chefs are increasingly introducing lesser-known and regional dishes, including mookata (a hotpot-barbeque hybrid), khao man gai (chicken and rice) and even ant larvae soup. These are the best Thai restaurants in Melbourne for standout Thai food.

  • Hidden in a city carpark, this Thai street-food spot has become a cult Melbourne favourite. Once you get through the queue, choose from aromatic boat noodles, spicy papaya salads, crying tiger (slow-cooked and grilled beef brisket), a mixed Thai hotpot and more. Plus, you can bring in wines from neighbouring La Cave.

  • There are constant queues at this buzzing diner, which is credited with bringing mookata (a hotpot-barbeque hybrid) to Melbourne. The pay-off is some of Melbourne’s best (and spiciest) Thai food, including many kinds of papaya salad, a crowd-pleasing tom yum, and hard-to-find raw prawns with punchy greens and seafood sauce.

  • Chicken rice is synonymous with the famous Hainanese dish. But this lowkey spot shows just how popular the combo is in Thailand. It turns out nine versions of the popular street food, including an original with tender skin-on chicken, poultry-cooked rice, cucumber and tao jiew (fermented soybean sauce).

  • Executive chef Benjamin Cooper trained under Australian David Thompson, the most accomplished Western chef in the world in the realm of Thai food. Cooper’s high-definition curries and other staples reflect this background, but his personal style is slightly more malleable and crowd-pleasing – two qualities that are largely responsible for Chin Chin’s persistent queues.

  • The Tanpapat family has been been serving Thai food for generations. They opened at this spacious Richmond warehouse in 2013, serving traditional dishes just as you’d find them in Thailand. Think boat noodles, punchy larb and pla rad prik (deep-fried barramundi with tamarind sauce).

  • Descend to this grand basement restaurant to find affordable street-style Thai food. The menu is mostly inspired by Isan cuisine (where its founder grew up), but showcases dishes from right across Thailand. Bring a group and try the specialty keaw tod (quail egg-filled wontons on skewers), seafood platters and plates of barbequed meat. Also on Swanston Street, in Box Hill and Glen Waverley.

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  • This compact, 20-seater is quieter than its counterparts, hidden on a side street. It’s run by two friends and former housemates, and showcases southern Thai dishes with flair. Try its hot, zesty dry red curry with pork, garlicky stir-fried malindjo greens, or a deeply umami sour fish curry. Add on Thai milk tea or rosy pink milk.

  • One of two outstanding, late-night Thai eateries overseen by chef Karen Batson, another Westerner with a deep reverence for the foundations of Thai cuisine. This fun hybrid of beer hall, cocktail bar and Thai diner warrants a group booking. Order DIY betel leaf wraps, drunken noodles and pork belly red curry.

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  • At this moody neon-lit diner, you’ll find regional Thai dishes rarely seen outside the country. Expect 24-hour-stewed pork belly, caramelly mackerel with green-mango relish and aromatic ant larvae soup. There’s also a killer list of lo-fi wines from Australian producers.

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  • Small, lively and theatrical, this barbeque-powered Thai restaurant is a top spot to try dishes from all over the country, paired with highly complementary beers, wines and cocktails. Head up to Her Rooftop after for fruit-forward cocktails and uninterrupted city views.

  • Visit the infamous nightclub Revolver during more regular hours to get another fix of Karen Batson’s food. Bring a group and go for Bangkok bolognaise, fat duck noodles and souped-up curries. Play on the Nintendo 64s while you wait.

  • Longrain started in Sydney in ’95 and headed to Melbourne a decade later. Since then, it’s been at the forefront of contemporary Thai dining here. It’s now under the stewardship of celebrated chef Scott Pickett, and feels as good as ever. Order a banquet and sample favourites like caramelised pork belly, som tam salad and more.

  • This grand Thai restaurant wears a few colourful hats. It aims to bring the street food cultures of Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai to one 200-seat space in QV. Get pantry staples such as salted egg cakes and durian crisps, or grab a seat for charred pork skewers, tom yum soup, boat noodles and Thai beers.

  • Head down the laneway next to the GPO for Thai barbeque, towers of beer and hard-to-find bar snacks such as deep-fried duck beaks. Cocktail buckets, live music and a midnight license keep the fun vibes going all night.

  • A budget-friendly stalwart that brims with local patrons and visitors most nights of the week. Squeeze into the cosy dining room for home-style salads, curries and hot pots. Pull a book off the communal shelf while you wait.

  • Bangpop might be set along the Birrarung, but it’s set on recreating the atmosphere at Bangkok’s lively street hawker stands. It’s a big, high-ceilinged hall with an expansive menu to match. A standout is the sweet and spicy barramundi with lychee, pineapple and cherry tomato.

  • A go-to for home-style Thai fare since 1996. Bring your crew and order familiar, share-friendly plates of pad see ew, Thai green curry and roti. Or beeline to the Isan section of the menu for dishes like larb and crying tiger (slow-cooked and grilled beef). There’s also family-recipe ice tea, chrysanthemum tea and coconut juice.

  • This Isan-inspired canteen is all about honouring family legacy. The two women owners offer dishes from their own families, including boat noodles that follow a 30-year-old recipe. Those noodles – along with hot pot, punchy papaya salads, and traditional desserts – are what attract the queues.

  • This Thai diner is decked out with the colourful, Sino-Portuguese interiors commonly seen in Phuket. That theme extends to the menu, which showcases lesser-known Phuket delicacies. Try southern specialties like snail coconut curry alongside more familiar dishes like pad thai and tom yum.

  • This backstreet bar focuses on wild-fermented drinks like saisons, lambics, organic lagers, sakes, mezcals and rums. Get them alongside punchy Thai dishes like house-fermented sausage, fried-banana-blossom salad and charcoal-grilled skewers.

  • This restaurant specialises in Thai curry noodle soup khao soi. Find it topped with flame-seared salmon, Wagyu and the restaurant’s popular fried chicken. It’s also a dessert-lovers haven with Thai milk tea bingsu and more.