Juniper is East Austin’s newest upscale restaurant. This dining destination on Cesar Chavez combines old-world kitchen style with Texas Hill Country ingredients, so it’s no wonder that it’s next to impossible to get a weekend reservation.
I’m not doing you any favors by writing this article. By the time you’re done, you’ll be reaching for your phone, hoping to get a table in Juniper’s intimate dining area. Good luck. I was barely able to snag a spot at the chef’s counter.
Here are my top five reasons why reservations go so fast.
#1 Puffy Potatoes
Juniper’s potatoes taste like your fondest memory of your favorite childhood comfort food. Lightly fried with the perfect mix of salt and cilantro, these puffy potatoes are just enough to whet your appetite. Don’t be surprised if you order a few more bowls. You know, for your friends coming later.
I’d like to call myself a foodie, but I eat breakfast tacos on a daily basis. Maybe that makes me an Austin foodie. Regardless, I was not prepared for the amount of flavor that hit my palette when I took a bite out of these little gems. Don’t be fooled by their modest size. These guys pack a punch big enough to keep the reservation lines busy.
Plus, they’re called puffy potatoes. Enough said.
#2 Craft Cocktails
I’m a big fan of rye whiskey. I’m also a fan of any chef willing to put not one, not two, but three rye whiskey cocktails on the menu. Both my wife and I were more than impressed by Juniper’s drink selection. Nic Vascocu heads up the beverage department at Juniper, and he couldn’t hit the nail on the head any better.
You might be surprised by the cocktail options at Juniper, but don’t let that deter you. The mix of classic ingredients with unexpected ones, like rye whiskey instead of bourbon, gives just enough intrigue to make happy hour a fresh experience or add spice to your dinner choice.
#3 Chef’s Counter
I don’t know why y0u’d ever settle for a dining table. But that’s just me. There was something about hearing Chef Nicholas Yanes–a man who has spent his professional life all over the United States learning his craft–call out orders while the kitchen hustled to fulfill them.
Sitting at the counter is probably also one of the best ways to keep the kitchen staff busy. In my case, it was hard not to interrupt them as they busied themselves over every single dish I wanted.
Yes, I wanted all of them.
I’m sure the folks working behind the chef’s counter didn’t mind at all each time I leaned just a little too far and asked, “What’s that?!” The entire staff was friendly and approachable. They gave me a fancy feel without any of the snobbiness.
Juniper is what Austin fine dining should be.
Juniper is locally-designed, as well as being a carefully crafted culinary venture. I know it may seem strange to go on about the ambiance of a restaurant when I could spend an entire article raving about each dish we enjoyed, but Juniper’s design is a story unto itself.
Chef Yanes spent time in Northern Italy to study the style of Italian cuisine. Although Juniper is not an Italian restaurant, the disciplined attention to detail–from decor to dishes–reminds me of a proud Italian family sharing their favorite meal.
The smaller-than-expected dining area is dimly lit with a glow just bright enough to enjoy your surroundings, designed with a mix of contemporary and classic.
Local interior designer Mark Cravotta joined with local architect Christopher Sanders to bring this dream to life.
#5 Milk and Honey
What would a delicious meal be without an equally delicious dessert selection? Much like the choice of traditional small plates, we couldn’t decide on just one. Our favorite was the milk and honey, a delicious cream topped with dollops of caramel and chocolate, prepared right in front of us.
This dessert is subtle, yet it still manages to smack you in the face with deliciousness. If you haven’t been fully seduced by Juniper’s ambiance, drinks, view or food, then the milk and honey should do the trick.
Don’t wait to get your chance at a table. These seats are going fast.
2400 E. Cesar Chavez St. – Website
@ATXtherapist wants to know:
What is your favorite fine dining dish in Austin?
I agree on points 1 – 3. I have not sat at the bar nor had the milk and honey. The cocktails are great. The place is gorgeous. The service is excellent. Unfortunately the food was disappointing. The puffy potatoes are very good. I would think they were special if I had them in a gastropub, but not in a high end restaurant like Juniper. Sadly, my cocktail was the only thing I ordered that I would consider to be special.