Terrible name. Great food.
Spicy BBQ has got to be one of the most generic names for a Thai restaurant, but that’s the actual name of this amazing, hole-in-the-wall place we’re about to tell you about! Located in the Little Armenia neighborhood of East Hollywood, this restaurant specializes in traditional Northern Thai cuisine from the Chiang Mai region, and serves some of the best Thai dishes we’ve had in LA.
5101 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90029
The restaurant is easy to miss and located in the small, two-story outdoor Monica Plaza, with other businesses, ranging from medical offices to a market and falafel place. Spicy BBQ is on the bottom floor, closest to the Santa Monica Boulevard side. There’s a sign above the restaurant door with “Thai Food” in bold, bright green letters. It has red window curtains that are always closed, which makes it seem like the restaurant is closed from the exterior, but don’t be fooled!
Walk into Spicy BBQ, and you will find yourself in a little Thai restaurant that has seating for 18 people max. There are only six tables, decorated each with its own Thailand tourism poster under a glass pane. Its staff is also very modest. There’s only one Thai waitress and a couple of older Thai women in the kitchen. Surprisingly, there’s rarely a wait for a table.
The dishes at Spicy BBQ are fairly cheap with very big portions. For this visit, we ordered three of the best dishes this restaurant has to offer: Gang Hang Lae (aka Chaing Mai Curry), Jack Fruit Salad, and Khao Soi (aka Chiang Mai Noodles)
Gang Hang Lae – $12.95
The best in Los Angeles! Gang Hang Lae, also known as Chiang Mai Curry, is a hard dish to find. The waitress at Spicy BBQ said this restaurant is the only one in LA that serves it, but now Pok Pok and Night+Market do too. We’ve tried the dish at these three places, and this one truly stands out.
At Spicy BBQ, the Gang Hang Lae is oily, fragrant, and slightly sweet with large chunks of perfectly cooked pork. Occasionally, you may get a large piece of pure pork fat which isn’t very pleasant but overall, this dish has complex flavors that mix so well together! It’s delicious.
Ingredients: pork, curry paste, onions, lots of ginger, pickled garlic, peanuts, star anise
Jackfruit Salad – $10.95
This Jackfruit Salad is one of our favorite Spicy BBQ dishes and one of the best Thai dishes in LA! What makes this dish unique is how similar the texture of the jackfruit is to the shredded pork. You can’t really tell the difference when you take a bite. It’s just all very tasty! The dish also has a nice balance of oiliness and spiciness. The flavor of the lime leaves, which is an essential ingredient in Thai cooking, and herbs all come together and enhance how yummy this dish is.
Ingredients: jackfruit, pork, crispy pork, lime leaves, cilantro, green onions, onions, garlic, tomatoes, fish sauce, shrimp paste(?)
Khao Soi – $9.95
Khao Sio, also known as Chiang Mai Noodles, is a curry noodle soup that you actually eat with chopsticks and an Asian soup spoon. This is the best one we’ve have had in LA so far as well.
The bowl comes topped with crispy noodles, cilantro, and a generous amount of coconut cream. On the side is a small dish of pickled cabbage, red shallots, and lime. (If it doesn’t come with this side dish, it’s not authentic Khao Soi!) To begin, you mix all these ingredients together in the bowl. So good!
Ingredients: Lots of coconut milk, curry paste, egg noodles, chicken, crispy noodles
- Bring cash with you. It’s a cash-only place, but there’s an ATM right by the entrance.
- Use the bathroom before you come eat! There’s no bathroom inside restaurant. If you need to use it, you have to get a key, walk outside, upstairs and down a sketchy hallway locked by a metal gate. Not fun, especially at night.
- If you’re lucky, you can snag one of the limited free parking spots in the small plaza lot. Otherwise, you’ll have to look for free or metered street parking.
- If you’re using public transit, the restaurant is 8 blocks from the Metro Red Line’s Vermont/Santa Monica station. Metro Lines 206 and 704, and Metro Bus 4 also have stops right on the corner of Normandie/Santa Monica, where Thai Spicy BBQ is located.
- It’s closed on Wednesdays. Opened all other days from 11:00am -9:30pm.
- Check out other reviews and dishes to order at Spicy BBQ on Yelp.