Street to Kitchen, Houston’s Thai restaurant helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Benchawan “G” Jabthong Painter, is moving this fall to its new, much larger location in the Plant, a mixed-used development space in Second Ward, and the owners have finally set an opening date.
Chef G and co-owner Graham Painter, who are also married, say the restaurant will officially open and start taking reservations on November 11, a number Chef G, who is originally from Thailand, considers lucky based on Thai tradition and numerology. It’s also the birthday of Chef G’s grandmother Poeutnha, who has been a major inspiration for Street to Kitchen. “G’s whole goal is she wants to see her grandmother’s face when she tastes the final product. Street to Kitchen is the soul of what grandma does, so 11 was quite an auspicious occasion for us,” Graham says.
The couple has been gearing up for their new digs, which they say will feature its signature dishes, like massaman curry and drunken noodles, but with newer additions and an ambiance that captures the essence of Thailand.
“G and I make it a point to go to Thailand every year. Bangkok is exploding with creativity and the food scene is on fire,” says Graham, adding that it’s their goal to bring a slice of the vibrant Thong Lo neighborhood in Bangkok and “make the world a little more Thai” with the bustling culture of socializing over food and drink. “We want to encourage people to party Bangkok-style and escape everything.”
Located at 3401 Harrisburg Boulevard — formerly the home of the now-closed Cafe Louie and Louie’s, the 2,800-square-foot space will seat 100 guests, triple the amount of its former space, and will permanently feature some of Street to Kitchen’s more extravagant Friday and Saturday specials, which were inspired by and created using farmers’ markets ingredients. Graham says diners can also expect more elegant dishes that incorporate steak and seafood, plus an all-day menu for lunch and dinner, and eventually, the Thai omelets that Chef G served on Saturdays at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market.
Graham, who served as Street to Kitchen’s sommelier, often pairing Chef G’s spice-laden dishes with funky natural wines, will once again curate the wine list and add cocktails to his repertoire after acquiring a mixed-beverage license.
The Painters aimed to bring a more visible piece of themselves to the restaurant’s design this go-round, Graham says.
Designed by Gin Braverman of Houston-based firm Gin Designs and Jack and Vy Collett of Limitless Solutions, the “bougie” bar that seats 13 is a call to all things Chef G, with an LED-gold bar rack, shades of mauve, several nods to champagne — her favorite drink, and a portrait of Audrey Hepburn, as a focal point that pays homage to feminine but powerful women, Graham says. The dining room, however, will epitomize Graham, eliciting a “jungle feel” with various shades of his favorite green and a collection of kitschy Thai movie posters, with a playlist of Thai hip hop and trap music.
While reservations had been hard to land at the other location, particularly following Chef G’s Beard Award, Graham says the newer restaurant will offer a mixture of reservation-only seating and walk-in areas, including the bar.
Street to Kitchen’s original location in East End, which opened in 2020, hosted its last day of service on October 13. Though humble in appearance — the restaurant which was located on the side of a gas station had just 10 tables — Street to Kitchen has made a name for its “unapologetically Thai” cuisine, with Chef G earning a Beard Award in the Best Chef: Texas category in early 2023.
Development and management company Concept Neighborhood announced plans for The Plant in Second Ward in 2022, billing the mixed-use development the city’s first “15-minute neighborhood,” offering a small and central community of restaurants, retail shops, gathering spaces, public amenities, and eventually residential areas and office space.