Na Na Thai Is Bringing Authentic Thai Food to Buellton

If you’re wondering why Ashley and Nik Ramirez have chosen to open a restaurant focusing on Thai street food, just ask about the four years they spent living in Bangkok.

Ashley: “Because Nik is a chef, chef friends would take us out the diviest street food—places where the whole menu is in Thai. I was terrified at first, but I tried everything and loved it.”

Nik: “You start to learn what each stall’s speciality is, and where the good ones are. Remember that one under the BTS, in a little alleyway? Or the fried-fish guy?”

Ashley: “Or the guy in front of the 7-Eleven who only did pork skewers and sticky rice? There was always a huge line.”

Nik: “We felt like we were really having Thai food that way. And eating in Thailand is such a part of the lifestyle—it goes so deep. The people we became closest with all worked in the industry, and we got to see a glimpse of their lives. The way they eat. The way they’re happy. They truly enjoy life.”

Bangkok came to feel like home—the Ramirezes even had their two kids there—but in 2019, life called them back to California: Ashley was born and raised in Thousand Oaks and subsequently spent eight years at Brophy’s, and Nik, a native Hawaiian, attended SBCC’s culinary arts program after playing professional soccer in Romania. When buying a house in Santa Barbara proved impossible, they moved to the Santa Ynez Valley, where they got to know Greg and Daisy Ryan of Companion Hospitality and began working at Bell’s. In May 2022, they launched weekly Thai pop-ups at Bar Le Côte under the name Na Na Thai, after the street they lived on in Bangkok. People lined up well before the 4 p.m. start time, and the food sold out quickly. A permanent restaurant seemed like a logical next step, and the Ryans were happy to invest and offer back-office support.

The standalone Na Na Thai soft-opens this Thursday, then takes a few days off to reopen for real the following Monday, June 26—at which point, for now, the hours will be Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. “It’s going to be an evolution,” says Ashley. “Right now, it’s counter-service, but once we get staffed up, the goal is full-service for lunch and dinner.”

Cameron Helvey of Helvey Design Studio has given the Buellton strip-mall space a bold, fun makeover: walls and furniture in hot prink and bright red (inspired by Ashley’s trademark lipstick), floral banquettes, tiger-print wallpaper, and Matchbox cars under the bar. There are around 40 seats total, including out on the sidewalk.

While the menu will eventually be larger than it is now, it will never be huge. “Thai food is complicated and messy and it takes a lot of time to prep,” says Nik. You’ll probably always find pad Thai, but you’ll also encounter less familiar dishes, and without the options to choose a spice level and protein. “Our goal is to have some modifications,” says Ashley, “but it’s Thai food—pretty much every dish has fish sauce, which makes vegetarian dishes hard. And if green papaya salad isn’t spicy, it’s no longer papaya salad.” In the case of the tom yum French fries, authenticity defers to creativity: Nik makes tom yum soup, reduces down the stock to create an aioli; the seasoning salt sprinkled on the fries is the same blend used in the soup.

Given the wine country setting, Na Na Thai will offer wine, but expect a lot of Austrian, German, and even Spanish wines, as well as local ones. More surprising, there will also be an emphasis on sherry, which they say goes very well with Thai food. And of course the restaurant will have beer: “Leo is our favorite,” says Ashley. “And it’s what all the chefs in Bangkok drink.”

Food photos courtesy Na Na Thai.


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So excited for this opening and it is 100% worth the drive from SB. My husband and I got takeout in May and I was literally almost crying it was so good. One of those meals where every thing I tried was a new high (we ordered all but one thing on the menu) and I couldn’t stop exclaiming, “oh my god!”


Had the takeout and WOW! You two are going to kill it! We are so excited to have such amazing food and amazing people so close to us. The community has been wanting this for so long its like a dream come true! See you on the 26th!


Hubby & I were fortunate to eat there tonight with friends and think we ordered 90% of the menu. Every dish was delicious! Some more spicy than others but the variety worked for all palates. Yum! Bonus was the wonderful sense of community — lots of familiar faces showing the love.