Restaurants / Openings

Houston’s James Beard Winning Chef Lands Exciting New Digs and a Pizza Wiz Jumps In — The Plant Emerges as a Foodie Destination

Street to Kitchen and Neighbors Pizza Bar Are All In On This Ambitious Second Ward Development

BY // 07.26.23

It is the multi-syllabic name on the lips of so many Houston foodies this year. Benchawan Jabthong Painter, the chef and co-owner with her husband Graham Painter of Street to Kitchen, the authentic Thai restaurant in the East End, who this summer was named winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Texas.

With Street to Kitchen already considered one of the most covetable seats in the city, the married duo will be expanding the footprint of their Thai restaurant by moving to The Plant in Second Ward. The Plant was created by Jeff Kaplan, managing principal of Concept Neighborhood, the Houston-based real estate investment, development and management company behind this unique walkable area. Later this fall, Street to Kitchen will take up residence at 3401 Harrisburg Boulevard in a 2,800-square-foot space, nearly three times the size of its present lilliputian space.

With plans to open in November of this year, the two will serve 100 diners and offer an expanded beverage program (think cocktails). In addition to lunch and dinner service, Street to Kitchen’s new home will allow the Painters to capitalize on the former resident’s walk-up window to serve its popular Thai omelets which these days market goers can find at Urban Harvest Farmers Market every Saturday. Until the renovation is complete you can expect Graham and Benchawan Painter to continue service at Street to Kitchen’s original location at 6501 Harrisburg Boulevard.

The Plant exterior
The Plant in the Second Ward is bringing in some new restaurants with real food power. (Photo by Michael Anthony)

Meanwhile the former resident of 3401 Harrisburg Boulevard at The Plant, Angelo Emiliani (Angie’s Pizza) initially had plans to occupy the space but opted to not only relocate his pizzeria into another space in the building but do a bit of rebranding too. Emiliani’s pizza place has now been coined Neighbors Pizza Bar and occupies the former space of the wine bar How to Survive on Land and Sea.

For chef/owner Emiliani, the 2,385-square-foot space represents a homecoming of sorts. After all, it was at the corner of Harrisburg Boulevard and Sampson Street where he originally launched his wood-fired pizza concept with pop-ups at the East End wine bar, after relocating to Houston from Los Angeles.

Here Emiliani is tossing 18-inch New York-style pizzas served by the slice and the whole pie, and spotlighting locally sourced ingredients along with Italian ice and a beverage program that includes cocktails, wine and beer. In partnership with Neeraj Tandon, Neighbors Pizza Bar is open Thursdays through Mondays from 11 am to 11 pm with big plans to expand to operate every day of the week.

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“Street to Kitchen and Neighbors Pizza Bar celebrate authenticity in how they approach their respective crafts and truly embody the types of creatives we’re looking to attract to The Plant in Second Ward,” Kaplan says. “Graham, Benchawan and Angelo are young, but already storied hospitality leaders who are highly respected in Houston.

“Their decision to operate in The Plant in Second Ward will accelerate the vibrancy and achieve our goal of creating Houston’s first inclusive, walkable corridor.”

Unveiled last year, the Concept Neighborhood is the first 15-minute neighborhood that stretches from the light rails of Harrisburg Boulevard to the Bayou Trails along Buffalo Bayou East. It was created with a vision to develop 250000-square-feet of retail, creative office and urban maker space along with more than 1,000 multifamily units designed for a mix of market rate and workforce housing.

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