The vegetable enchiladas

Juniper Grill

Pennsylvania restaurant group picks South Charlotte for expansion

By Amy Rogers | Photos by Shrimp & Grisettes

Juniper Grill in Ballantyne Commons East has done something rather remarkable in less than a year: It’s racked up hundreds of stellar reviews online, garnered a spot on Wine Spectator’s restaurant awards list for 2022 and claimed its place as a favorite neighborhood gathering spot. And it’s all happened after the start of COVID-19, when restaurants have had to radically rethink everything from their menus to their décor.

During the winter, when many of us seek out comfort food, Juniper Grill brings a modern vibe to those familiar cravings. The menu centers on solid, American-favorite fare, enhanced with Southwestern flavors, plus some local touches. The menu’s range of appetizers, entrées, side dishes and extras is just right, neither too unwieldy nor too restrained.

Vegetable enchiladas begin with a grilled, colorful medley of what’s in season. They’re rolled in tortillas and topped with fire-roasted tomato sauce, guacamole, Monterey jack cheese, pico de gallo and chipotle crema. Every section of the menu, from starters to salads to mainstays, lists gluten-free dishes and those that the kitchen can easily modify to avoid gluten.

The baked cornbread in a cast-iron skillet

A cast-iron skillet of perfectly baked cornbread in a generous portion delivers warmth to the table. It’s one of the restaurant’s signature offerings (and it also stars in its own dessert, accompanied by berries and ice cream from popular purveyor The Local Scoop).

Anyone who’s foregone their summer salads during this season will enjoy the heartiness of digging into a rotisserie chicken and avocado salad. It contains bountiful portions of its namesake ingredients, plus croutons, almonds, roasted corn, grape tomatoes and dates. It’s finished with goat cheese and a creamy bacon dressing.

The dining room is smartly sectioned to feel both open and inviting, with the warmth of wood meeting the coolness of stone surfaces. A sleek bar zig-zags along an angled wall of windows.

Cocktail fans can warm up by sipping a mango-habanero whiskey sour that’s blended with fresh juices, or a glass of spiced sangria made with merlot and infused with flavors of pears, apples and spices. The wine list offers more than 30 wines by the glass and an expansive selection of bottles.