Visiting Queens means strolling through some of the most ethnically diverse areas in NYC — not to mention the whole world. Between the neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Corona, you’ll find Elmhurst, a densely populated enclave described as the “crossroads of the world,” according to the New York Times. In addition to Elmhurst’s vast Hispanic community, the neighborhood boasts what’s known as “Thai Town” or “Little Thailand,” an area of Thai businesses located primarily around Woodside Avenue.
Although people started arriving in NYC from Thailand in the 1970s, many trace Thai Town’s blossoming to the 1994 construction of the Wat Buddha Thai Thavorn Vanaram, a Thai Buddhist temple that has come to serve as a cornerstone for the community.
In addition to cultural centers like the temple, there are a wide variety of shops and restaurants that everyone who stops by Thai Town ought to visit. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the neighborhood’s highlights.
Where to grab Thai food in Elmhurst, Queens
4-04 39th Avenue, Queens, NY 11377
This cozy shop just north of Thai Town’s main drag is full of snacks, candies, pantry staples, and instant foods imported from Thailand. From its wide range of products in stock to its affordable prices, 3 Aunties Market aims to bring Thailand a little bit closer to Thai people living in Queens and the U.S. in general (after all, goods are available to order online).
77-08 Woodside Avenue, Queens, NY, 11373
This restaurant holds a firm place in Thai food enthusiasts’ hearts. Often lauded as one of the very best Thai restaurants in NYC, Ayada serves up noodles, curries, salads, and rice dishes in hefty portions that don’t skimp on flavor. An added bonus is that the restaurant’s interior is just as vibrant as the food, with a welcoming atmosphere that’s hard to resist.
8140 Broadway, Queens, NY, 11373
Specializing in food from the northern region of Thailand, Lamoon is the result of chef Arada Moonroj’s family’s cooking traditions. Sai aua, a type of Thai pork sausage, is made in-house and the jackfruit salad echoes a dish that Moonroj ate growing up. This isn’t the spot for run-of-the-mill takeout pad thai, but it should be your go-to for elevated Thai home cooking.
81-16 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373
If you’re craving Thai desserts, ready-made snacks and meals, or even a make-your-own papaya salad, you can find it at Pata Market. This airy shop provides customers with a mix of shelf-stable groceries and freshly made foods. Whether you’re looking to stock your pantry or grab a bite on the go, you’ll leave this cash-only market feeling satisfied with your purchase.
76-21 Woodside Avenue, Queens, NY 11373
For a late night snack and a stunning drink (or two), look no further than Pata Paplean, the bar with decor as quirky as its menu. Swing by to enjoy a taste of Elmhurst’s bustling nightlife scene and don’t forget to order one of the many cocktails inspired by classic Thai flavors (standouts include the mango sticky rice and tom yum).
76-23 Woodside Avenue, Queens, NY 11377
If you prefer coffee and tea to cocktails, stop by the Tea Cup Cafe on Woodside Avenue. Its menu boasts a dizzying array of bubble teas and iced drinks, but it doesn’t skimp on warming soups and noodles, either. For a real treat, make sure to try the pandan custard toast.