Is Juniper The Tide That Has Turned Columbus Into a Real City?

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(The view from Juniper’s Rooftop Patio)

Are we a real city? Are we getting there? Are we already there? I don’t mean to get all existential on you but this question seems to be a polarizing query among the fine citizenry of this city.

I don’t pretend to know the answer to this question, but I do love me some Columbus. I went to undergrad at THE Ohio State University and have lived here, with the exception of a grad school excursion in Philadelphia, since I was ninteen. What I can say is that in the 22 years I have lived here, the 614 has received a SERIOUS face lift.

Do the face lift, cranes, traffic, growing population and burgeoning tech scene make us a real city? If Columbus is going through growing pains, it certainly isn’t going through hunger pangs. Translation? I simply mean this city can finally support an ambitious endeavor such as Juniper.

Built onto the top of Columbus landmark Smith Bros. Hardware, Juniper is a rooftop restaurant with an unparalleled view of Columbus. Recently my good friend Austin joined Megan and I for a rooftop Happy Hour.

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We started out (and mainly stuck with) the evening house special drink. The drink was a variation on a vodka mule with a splash of orange juice as well as an orange peel. At $6, this drink was value laden, easy drinking and smooth – the perfect drink for enjoying on a rooftop.

After sipping on a few of these, we decided to split some appetizers. The first order on the docket, the Charcuterie Plate.


As you can tell from the photo, this appetizer has a lot going on. It was plated very well and diverse colors and textures. I particularly enjoyed the pickled onions and house mustard, which would be good on just about anything.

We followed this up with an order of Johnny Cakes (which fans of The Sopranos will appreciate).


This appetizer is hearty enough to be a meal. The Caribbean pork was juicy and tender, the Johnny Cakes were fresh and fluffy and the slaw offered a nice crunch to enhance texture. Of the four appetizers we ordered, this seemed to be the winner and at only $12 is a bargain and a half.


Who doesn’t love a sausage flatbread? Well, besides vegetarians and vegans? This flatbread had a spicier sauce, the right amount of cheese and high quality sausage, peppers and onion. At $11, this is also a great option to order for yourself and not share. Jerk.

Rounding out our personal menu was the Codfish Fritters.


This appetizer is easily shareable and slightly predicable, but not in a negative way. What you see is what you get. Just make sure to choose the habanero aioli for your sauce.

Four adults were sufficiently full after this appetizer feast. Austin and I decided to order an afternoon cap, per our tradition, which is almost always a Bulleit Bourbon on the rocks.


I don’t recall anyone at our table ordering a tumbler full of brown, but that is what we got. No complaints here and thanks to Megan for driving (and having the good idea for this photo).

Did this description answer the question about Columbus becoming a real city? Most certainly not. I am a self indulgent wind bag who likes asking those sort of questions.

What I can say is that, like rooftop patios in more established cities, there were no food specials and limited drink specials. This fact is not a dig, but something that classy, bigger city joints do. Do you know why they do it? Because they can. It doesn’t get anymore ‘real city’ than that.

Long story short, give Juniper a shot. It is the perfect spot for date night or a group Happy Hour or just a fun evening out. We will definitely be back to sit outdoors if this damn winter ever goes away.

*Juniper is only open to the public Tuesday through Friday as they host private events on the weekend. Happy Hour is from 5:00-6:30.


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