Juniper & Ivy

Let me start by saying that Juniper & Ivy is my favorite restaurant in San Diego.  They opened in March 2014 and I’ve been 9 times already.  We always seem to take new people with us each time, exposing them to the culinary delights that this restaurant has to offer.  This time we brought our friends MaryBeth, Philip, and Veronica.  I do love when we take an odd number of people because that means extra pieces for me…lol!  The restaurant is located on Kettner between Juniper and Ivy (hence the name).  The first thing you notice is the ambiance; the space is very modern and has a lofty feeling but with wood accents that give it a very warm and inviting vibe.  You’ll also notice that it is very busy, this is one of a few new places in Little Italy that has opened in the last 12 months that is helping to invigorate the SD food scene.  The big open space of the restaurant and bar has one small downside — it can be a bit loud here.  If you are sensitive to background noise, ask to sit on the outside patio.


There are quite a few cocktails on the menu and the signature ones are my favorites — especially the In the Ivy.  I order it every time I go, and if you know anything about me, you will know that I’m not a huge alcohol drinker.  It’s a cocktail with summer berries, pressed lemons, orange blossom vodka, and Riesling.   It’s delicious, colorful, and a perfect cocktail for the adventure in food you are embarking on.

In The Ivy
In The Ivy

With that said, let’s jump into the food.  You need to know that the menu changes based on what the chefs can get in, or how they are feeling about certain products.  However, so far, there are 4 items that have consistently been on the menu: Buttermilk biscuit, Baja yellowtail, carne cruda asada toast, and the Yodel.  Also, the bulk of the menu is served as small plates/shared plates, which is an approach that I’m fully behind.  As soon as you sit down order the biscuit.  Don’t wait.  Don’t look over the menu.  ORDER THE BISCUIT!!!  Order 2!!!  It’s freaking delicious!!!  It now comes with FOIE GRAS BUTTER!!!!  Sorry, if I got a little too excited there, but it really is very good.  I always say, when you go to a new restaurant, look for the simplest thing on the menu and order it.  If it comes out awesome, then it’s a pretty good bet that everything else will also.  Usually the simple stuff is not taken care of because they are so worried about the more complex things.  However, the staff at J&I keep an eye on quality and the biscuit is stellar.  We did order two of these along with the Baja yellowtail and the carne cruda asada toast ( this is our standing order when we come here). The foie gras butter was a welcome addition to the biscuit. The richness of the foie gras was perfect with the buttery-ness of the biscuit. I’m so glad they decided to change the yellowtail over to 4 individual tostadas instead of the one large one they used to give you, it makes for easier eating and sharing. The carne cruda asada is basically everything for carne asada but chopped up really fine and served raw with a quail egg on top; and it is delicious.

We also ordered the deviled eggs, which were heavenly and very different from what I’m used to.  They made a meringue cup out of the egg whites and make the yolks into a super creamy mousse topped off with little bits of cured ham.  It was a dance of textures in my mouth that I thoroughly enjoyed.  We ordered the mushroom toast since one of our friends is a recovering vegetarian…lol.  It was scrumptious with a large amount of mushrooms and creamy smoked burrata.  The linguini and clams we order were delicious and spicy and the noodles were perfectly al dente.  Our friend MaryBeth was obsessed with this dish and I am bettting she has already returned for a second helping!  The oxtail tortellini was nice, if just a tad undersalted. The ricotta gnocchi was both dense and fluffy at the same time, with bits of rabbit.

The desserts are really amazing here. The staple is the Yodel, which is this chocolate tube filled with a plethora of goodies, with molten hot chocolate poured over the top table side.  The tube melts, and then you dig in and make a pig of yourself.  We also ordered the brown butter ice cream, which had a lot of different textures and flavors.  At first, it seemed like they didn’t go together but after another bite everything came together harmoniously.


Richard Blais is the mad genius mind behind Juniper & Ivy, and this is his first restaurant on the west coast (all of his other restaurants are focused mostly around the Atlanta area). Being from the east coast, I appreciate him bringing that east coast flavor and thinking to west coast cuisine. He has embraced sourcing from local suppliers and farmers, and tries to focus on using indigenous ingredients.  The service has always been top notch, which is saying a lot since service in San Diego is typically very good.

If you have not been here yet, stop making excuses and get your butt to Juniper and Ivy; you won’t be sorry.

Juniper & Ivy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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