Thai food, for all its lingering exoticism, is actually one of the more conservative cuisines -- as presented to Americans, that is. Altogether too many Thai places, focused on takeout and its concomitant need for high volume, feel as though they could easily be subsumed into a global chain. Thankfully, that's not the case with Lers Ros Thai, whose third location is up and running on 16th Street just off Guerrero.
It's a cut above in just about every respect. The décor is beautiful, low-key in spite of the large scale of the light fixtures, and like the Hayes Valley and Larkin Street outposts of the perennially adored Lers Ros, the kitchen's creativity runs wild. House specials such as pad ped moo pah (stir-fried boar with house-made chili paste and galingale) and kaeng pah pla dook (sliced bone-in catfish) are dishes one is unlikely to encounter at the neighborhood Thai place.
While it's common practice, the price differential between lunch and dinner is on the wide side here. The two-choices-plus-a-salad-for-$9.95 concept (for spicy beef and tofu-eggplant, say) is a steal that should likewise be stolen by every other Thai restaurant. If there was one drawback, it was the music. Obviously, that's going to differ from day to day, but this was a full hour of 90s-era VH1 that could have been the soundtrack to Dawson's Creek. Come on, it's the Mission. Otherwise, Lers Ros is destined to become a mainstay of this increasingly adventurous corner.
Lers Ros Thai, 3189 16th St., 931-6917.