Spicy. Creamy. Zesty. Oozing with a fiery sauce and a cold side of ranch, the Nashville Cauliflower Bites served at Julep Kitchen & Bar are a one-of-a-kind delight.
Located in downtown Ellensburg — the heart of Kittitas County — Julep has a flair for southern comfort food that can’t be found elsewhere. The owners, Jillian and Kyle Johnson, founded this local eatery in the summer of 2021. With the assistance of Tana Armitstead, chef, and an array of skillful bartenders, this spot has become a hit for the community.
The Road Less Traveled
Even with the recent opening, Jillian and Kyle have been in Ellensburg for many years. “We luckily were very familiar with the downtown community prior to opening Julep,” said Jillian. “My husband [Kyle] moved here in 2010 and me in 2012, and we both attended college while working a few restaurant [and] bar jobs along the way.”
She added, “This gave us a chance to grow up with people in this industry and get to know people of the community prior to opening our own.”
So, why open a restaurant?
“My husband and I have been in the industry for nearly a decade and have always loved the fast-paced energy, connections, and friendships it brought us. Over the years we always talked about creating something that was our own, and slowly, that dream became a reality,” explained Jillian.
Their love for the “small town, close knit community” coupled with a passion for the restaurant industry is what led them to set up shop downtown. But what makes this restaurant special is the southern-style cuisine that can’t be found in the area.
Jillian explained, “We are constantly experimenting and creating. We have a creative and talented staff whose passion for what they are producing is palpable; this keeps our offerings fresh and exciting.”
Sour, Satin, or Sharp
While their menu is full of delicious creations, we want to highlight a few fan favorites, among Jillian and Kyle’s personal selections.
If you’re wanting to start your meal with a fresh, aromatic cocktail, Julep has a wide array of options.
Empress Gin, lemon juice, simple, St. Germain, butterfly pea — these are the ingredients of one of Jillian’s favorites, the Polyjuice Potion.
The Goodbye Earl has also been one of their latest and most popular concoctions. Jillian shared it is “a twist on a traditional egg white sour. This drink used gin, housemade earl grey syrup, lemon juice, egg white, and [it] was topped with dark chocolate shavings.”
“This drink was created by our awesome bartender Molly Verhey who has a knack for not only putting a delicious twist on classics but creating bespoke cocktails as well,” she added.
They do have many new, delectable cocktails but also have twists on your classic drinks. Kyle shared his “favorite cocktail is an Old Fashioned.”
“The way we make ours is specific to my taste which is bourbon heavy, light on the sugar, [and] light on water content. We use large clear cubes, build the cocktail in the glass, and stir on the single rock to decrease dilution,” he explained. “We finish it off with an expressed orange peel to add a layer of caramelized citrus.”
For those who are 21+, the cocktails at Julep are perfect for a date night or socializing with friends. There are also so many tasty options for food, it can be hard to choose!
Jillian and Kyle have a few recommendations of where to start.
“Our most popular dish has to be the honey bird chicken sandwich! We dip marinated chicken in a housemade batter and breading, then give it a good fry until it’s perfectly crispy,” Jillian shared.
“We then toss it in a pink peppercorn honey sauce and serve in the traditional way — with mayo, lettuce, and pickles on a brioche bun.” This is a divine option for those who prefer less spice!
Jillian added that her “favorite dish is our pot roast dinner.” She shares that this is tied to her own family history.
“Growing up, pot roast was always served in my home, so it’s a total nostalgia thing for me, and our dish takes it to the next level. We use local beef from Double Rafter Farms for the pot roast and serve it with mashed potatoes, gravy, cornbread, and veggies.”
Kyle’s favorite dish also uses delectable meat from Double Rafter. “My favorite on the menu is the Double Rafter Deluxe burger. I know I’m biased but I think it’s the best burger I’ve ever had.”
Julep Kitchen & Bar is a unique eatery in downtown Ellensburg. If you are searching for a spot with luscious cocktails or a southern-comfort flare, plan to visit Julep on your next stop through town!