When walking through the city of San Sebastian in Northern Spain, every door opens to a tapas bar, according to Thomas Perez. However, in Old Town Spring only one door will open to a similar restaurant.

Perez is the co-founder and culinary director of Plane & Level, a wine and tapas restaurant that opened in Old Town Spring in 2020.

Perez said the idea of opening a tapas and wine concept was formed during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, when he sold homemade empanadas to his neighbors with a bottle of wine. Eventually Perez turned his side hustle into a brick-and-mortar restaurant with the help of his business partner Brian Culwell.

At age 18, Perez said he fell in love with wine, so much so that he moved to Northern Spain to study for his degree in winemaking.

Using his industry connections and knowledge, Perez said he carefully selected each wine on Plane & Level’s menu, many of which cannot be found for miles. The restaurant also offers five- and seven-course tasting menus.

“Ninety-nine percent of the wine here is only here,” Perez said.

When designing the restaurant, Perez said he wanted a concept that he had not done before. At Plane & Level, an airplane wing doubles as a bar, and the walls are covered in sheets of metal.

Next to the main dining space is a separate building that hosts Plane & Level’s private events. In the future, Perez said he hopes to transform that space into an authentic French country bistro; however, due to ongoing material and labor shortages, there is no timeline yet.

“I just don’t want to open another [restaurant] and not be ready,” Perez said. “Then it’s going to become more like a business instead of a passion.”

That passion is what Perez said pushes him to leave his customers with a memorable experience.

“The reward is that compliment and the smile on your face,” Perez said. “At the end of the day, that’s what fulfills you.”

Plane & Level

203 Midway St., Spring



Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.