Thai on the green line

New Thai restaurant spices up East End with authentic street fare

New Thai restaurant spices up East End with authentic street fare

Street to Kitchen food spread
Street to Kitchen opened in early August. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Street to Kitchen chef Benchawan Painter
Chef Benchawan Painter greets diners. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Street to Kitchen shrimp pad thai
Shrimp pad Thai. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Street to Kitchen mango sticky rice
Mango sticky rice. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Street to Kitchen curry
Massaman curry. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Street to Kitchen food spread
Street to Kitchen chef Benchawan Painter
Street to Kitchen shrimp pad thai
Street to Kitchen mango sticky rice
Street to Kitchen curry

A new Thai restaurant in the East End melds traditional Thai flavors with locally sourced ingredients. As its name implies, Street to Kitchen (6501 Harrisburg Blvd.) takes Thai classics and elevates them with techniques learned in some of Houston’s top restaurants.

After working at Salt Air Seafood Kitchen and Theodore Rex, chef Benchawan Painter built a following for Street to Kitchen with pop-up dinners and a weekly presence at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market. Initially operated out of a commissary kitchen, Street to Kitchen recently found its permanent home next to a gas station.

Chef Painter melds the family recipes she learned growing up in Thailand with select ingredients she sources from local farms. For example, the Thai krapow basil in her stir-fried basil beef comes from local urban farm Plant It Forward. In addition, all of her sauces and curries are made from scratch.

“Chef G [as she’s known] is very passionate about making Thai food authentically and unapologetically so,” her husband and business partner Graham Painter tells CultureMap. “Having grown up in her grandma's neighborhood kitchen, she learned traditional techniques to Thai classics and loves to share authentic Thai tastes with everyone.”

The restaurant’s fried chicken has been a hit courtesy of its Thai marinade and a batter that gets its crispiness from the inclusion of rice flour. Although it isn’t spicy like Creole fried cajun, diners have the option of adding heat with either chili-cilantro sauce or sweet chili sauce.  

Opening during a pandemic isn’t easy, but Graham Painter, chef Benchawan’s husband and business parter, tells CultureMap the couple is excited about having a dedicated space in the neighborhood they live in. In fact, Painter discovered the location was available when he stopped for gas one day.

“Having done a number of pop-ups outside Little Danny's Speedos Go Fly a Kite Lounge, we knew East End was where we wanted to be; where our original fans are,” he says.

Currently, the restaurant is only offering its food to-go. Diners may place their orders via Street to Kitchen’s website and pick it up from a drive-thru window. Dine-in service will follow at some point in the future.