San Diego's culinary scene reached new heights with the opening of Juniper & Ivy earlier this year. Led by Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais (who recently relocated to San Diego with his family) and the team at Juniper Hospitality, the popular modern American restaurant sits in a converted 1920s sawtooth warehouse in the Little Italy neighborhood. And Blais' innovative approach to cooking and cuisine is already a hit with locals.
Despite the giant wave of publicity surrounding Juniper & Ivy's San Diego debut, the restaurant itself has an approachable vibe, with friendly servers, a comfortable dining room and food that people are talking about.
Juniper and Ivy is in a revitalized 1920s warehouse — Photo courtesy of Juniper and Ivy
In addition to the celebrity chef, Juniper & Ivy drafted some of San Diego's best talent, including Chef de Cuisine Jon Sloan (formerly of Roy's San Diego) and Wine and Beverage Director Tami Wong (formerly of La Valencia Hotel).
The seasonal menu at Juniper & Ivy is divided into several categories, including snacks, raw, toast, pasta, small plates and plates highlighting ingredients from the West Coast, from Baja to Vancouver. (Hence the "left coast cookery" moniker.)
Opt for the 4x4 tasting menu, comprised of four small bites and four small plates and an optional wine pairing. Juniper & Ivy has been running lamb leg carnitas with accoutrements, which have been so well received that they sell out nightly. Soon, the restaurant will introduce half pig head carnitas.
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the restaurant plans to start offering whole suckling pigs. Juniper & Ivy is offering new fall dishes including winter squashes that are coming into season. In mid-September, the restaurant began featuring fresh Baja white shrimp and spiny lobsters (think spiny lobsters over almond wood).
The selective wine list features varietals from all over the world, including classics, up-and-coming regions that aren't yet readily available, organic favorites and small production wines – many of which are displayed on the impressive two-story wine wall.
Fancy a cocktail? No problem. Try In the Ivy, a mix of orange blossom vodka, pressed lemon, summer berries and Riesling.
While so many local restaurants these days go to great pains to create a rustic warehouse shell, Juniper & Ivy's design team already had one to work with.
They preserved the exposed redwood ceiling, beams and trusses; created an open kitchen lined with white vertical subway tile; and added contemporary furnishings, including elevated leather booth spaces and white lacquered tables accented with brightly colored paintings on the walls.
Juniper & Ivy takes advantage of San Diego's temperate climate, too; al fresco dining is available year-round.
Make a reservation in order to avoid disappointment. Your taste buds will thank you.