photo credit: Robert Lerma

Juniper image



East Austin

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightSpecial OccasionsBrunch


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The dining room at Juniper feels like it was plucked off the Pinterest board of a James Bond villain, complete with a sleek, modern interior, very little color, and a wall of spirits accessible only by ladder. It doesn’t really fit the mold of a traditional upscale Italian restaurant, where red or white tablecloths and extravagant chandeliers are commonplace. Despite all of this, a meal at Juniper feels oddly homey. It’s a place where you can dress up a little, sip on great Italian wines, and enjoy some of the best pasta in town. 

Juniper image

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Take a quick look around Juniper’s dining room in East Austin and you’ll notice hanging lamps that look like eggshells, and wallpaper apparently inspired by a dark (but fancy) forest. And right at the center of it all is an open kitchen that looks a bit like every fine dining restaurant that opened in the mid 2010s. But regardless of any feelings of deja vu, the menu never feels played out. Instead, the flavors feel new and the dishes unique. 

The puffy potato might sound like a nickname you went by as a toddler who lived off french fries, but they also make for a wonderful starter that answers the question of what the lovechild of a tater tot and mashed potatoes would taste like. If you’re feeling fancy, you can even dress it up with caviar. And a small selection of very refreshing salads ensures you can start any meal off exactly as heavy, or light, as you’d like. It’s largely a prix fixe menu (you can order some dishes a la carte at the bar), but there are choices, and ultimately you get to choose what kind of ride you’re on. 

Juniper image

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Unless you speak fluent pasta, there’s a chance you’ll be frantically googling what a paccheri is (or whatever is on the menu on any given day), but whatever noodle shape you end up with, it’ll be dressed in a sauce so wonderful, it’ll make you wish you were right in there with it. But until pasta baths become a thing, we’ll have to make do with velvet chairs and wooden tables as a backdrop for some of our favorite pasta in Austin. 

Many of the entrees, in comparison, fall a little short but can’t really be skipped on a set menu. A few center-cut slices of ribeye are cooked to a perfect pink, for example, but might have you second-guessing if the off-center bits should be the true stars of the show.

Juniper isn’t one of those places you typically need to book out very far in advance, but it’s just fancy enough for a special meal. Come here when you need a nice spot for a short-notice date night, or to formulate an intricate plan to take down a rival secret agent. We’ll be at the bar enjoying our pasta. 

Food Rundown

Juniper image

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Little Lettuce

This is a very refreshing salad. The honey shallot vinaigrette adds a perfect balance of sweet and tangy flavors to a stack of bibb lettuce and herbs.Then there are the crispy bits of fried parmesan that add some texture and savory punch. This is our favorite start to a meal here when we want to keep things on the lighter end.
Juniper image

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Cacio E Pepe

The cacio e pepe is probably the most iconic dish at Juniper, and for good reason—it’s some of the best in town. It’s coated in rich and creamy pecorino, with punchy hits of black pepper in every bite. This is a good example of where letting just a few, high quality ingredients shine can outperform even the most intricate of dishes.
Juniper image

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Saffron Cavatelli

There are two stars in this dish—the tiny shell-shaped cavatelli with a gnocchi-like bite, and the whole grain mustard sauce that provides a tart punch and some texture from the mustard seeds. You’ll never look at mustard the same way again.
Juniper image

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Center Cut Ribeye

This doesn’t really have the ultra-rich flavor and soft texture that you’d expect from a ribeye, but it’ll do if you need some protein between consecutive carb courses. The menu changes often, but we’ve had better experiences with the seafood or veggie options for this course.
Juniper image

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley


Think dense donut holes with mascarpone. They’re relentlessly rich and tasty, but also really filling. One order of these is enough for a few people to share—plan accordingly if you’re ordering off the prix fixe menu with multiple people.

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