Big Restaurant News Cooking in the East End
Hot on the heels of her recent James Beard Best Chef: Texas win, Street to Kitchen chef and co-owner Benchawan Jabthong “G” Painter and her husband/co-owner Graham Painter are relocating their “unapologetically Thai” concept from its current home at 6501 Harrisburg into the space formerly occupied by Angelo and Lucianna “Louie” Emiliani’s Louie’s Italian American (and Café Louie) located just two miles down the road at 3401 Harrisburg.
The plan is to complete renovations and be ready to open by November of this year with continued service in the current location until that time. With over three-times the amount of indoor seating and plans to build out a patio by year’s end, the new space will hopefully make it much easier to secure a reservation. The Painters plan to expand their beverage program, which currently features Graham’s meticulously curated, food-friendly wine list by adding spirits and cocktails. Other planned additions announced so far include offering Khai Jiao (Thai-Style Omelet) via the new location’s walk-up window. The omelets have been a big hit on Saturdays at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market.
After marrying her husband, Graham, and moving to Houston in 2015, Benchawan brought her talents to notable Houston restaurants including SaltAir Seafood Kitchen and Theodore Rex. She then opened Street to Kitchen next to an East End gas station with her husband in August of 2020 — a perilous time even for established restaurants. Despite the risky timing, Street to Kitchen quickly built a huge following and garnered national attention and well-deserved accolades. The Painters recently partnered with chef David Skinner of Eculent to open a collaborative concept in Kemah called Th_Prsrv, which highlights both chefs heritages, melding ancient Thai and Indigenous American cuisines. Earlier this year, chef Painter became the first Houston woman to win a James Beard Chef Award.
Meanwhile, Angelo Emiliani, who was the chef/co-owner of both Café Louie and Louie’s American Italian, is taking over the space that was occupied until recently by How to Survive by Land & Sea — which is also at 3401 Harrisburg and is where he has been serving his pizzas of late. Angelo had originally planned to relaunch Angie’s Pizza, his wildly popular wood-fired pizza pop-up, in the Louie’s location, but decided instead to move into the How to Survive space, and rebrand as Neighbors Pizza Bar in partnership with Neeraj Tandon. The move brings things full circle for Angelo, who launched his lauded pizza pop-up at How to Survive back in 2020 after he moved to Houston from Los Angeles.
Neighbors will offer 18-inch New York-style pizzas, both whole and by-the-slice, with a focus on fresh, local ingredients. The pizza bar will also offer a beverage program that includes wine, beer, cocktails and non-alcoholic options like Italian ice. Neighbors is currently open Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m.–11 p.m. with plans to soon be open seven days a week.
Neighbors Pizza Bar and Street to Kitchen will be in good company in The Plant in Second Ward, joining fellow small businesses such as POPSTON, Little Red Box Grocery, The Re-Up Juice, Eden Plant Co. and the second location of Agricole Hospitality’s Eight Row Flint, just down the street. Jeff Kaplan, the managing principal of Concept Neighborhood, the real estate investment, management and development company behind The Plant, envisions the project as part of an “inclusive, walkable corridor” tied together by “the right density of creatives, shops, restaurants, gathering places and public amenities.” The area will stretch from “the light rails on Harrisburg to the bayou trails along Buffalo Bayou East.”
Street to Kitchen is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and dinner Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m.–9 p.m. (10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday).
Mario-Sebastian Berry is a wine and spirits vendor who has been in the hospitality industry since 2002. Currently, he represents Blanco, Texas-based Andalusia Whiskey Co. and multiple wine labels. Somehow, he also finds time to be Houston Food Finder’s associate editor and social media manager.