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The newest restaurant in Ellensburg brings a little Southern charm to North Main Street with the opening of Julep Southern Kitchen & Cocktail Bar.

Kyle and Jill Johnson opened during rodeo week and have been hopping ever since at the 1,200-square foot space with both indoor dining and a spacious patio.

“We want people to enjoy the atmosphere and feel like they’re out of Ellensburg for a few hours,” Jill said. “We like to provide a new experience.

“I have family all over the south. My husband and I have been here 10 years and managed bars all over town. This is my first restaurant and we’re really excited.”

Julep offers a full menu, but the house specialties include a taste of the south with Catfish po’boy sandwiches, Nashville “Hot Bird” sandwich, salt ‘n pepper shrimp po’boy, grits and ribs, and of course Southern fried chicken.

“Fried chicken is our specialty. We do some awesome appetizers like fried pickles, fried green tomatoes. We have locally sourced beef for burgers,” Johnson said. “Everything is made scratch, nothing is premade. It’s all fresh ingredients and we buy a lot at the Farmers Market.”

“We dabble in different areas of the South. It’s not just Texas. It’s not just Nashville, it’s kind of all of it. The spices in Memphis are different than Louisiana.”

The crawfish might be a little hard to get in the Pacific Northwest, but the restaurant will also serve nicely prepared catfish to go along with burgers, brats, homemade biscuits and gravy, fried pork chops and pot roast.

The chef Tana Armistead is the real creator behind the unique menu, which includes both lunch and dinner.

“Tana is the one with all the spices knowledge,” Johnson said with a laugh. “She’s the one that creates it all. We plan to serve ribs soon. We’re not quite ready to do the barbecue yet. But we’d love to. We also plan to do catering in the future.”

The bar menu is as unique as the lunch and dinner offerings in that taste of the South. With a name like Julep’s, the big ticket item is their mint julep. Some of the other specialty cocktails include Old Fashions, Summer Collins and Aperol Spritz, and of course a variety of craft beers and local wines.

“Our margaritas are pretty killer here,” she said. “We specialize in the high-end cocktails.”

Having hit the ground running during rodeo week, the 13-member staff is remarkably trained and the restaurant and cocktail bar is up and running exceedingly well. The patio dining area is a fan favorite so far and they play to serve outdoors well into the winter months.

They have televisions inside for Seahawks games and plan to add live music somewhere down the road, as well as other special events like the Kentucky Derby.

Julep Southern Kitchen & Cocktail Bar offers a little taste of the South to a diverse variety of food and drink available in Ellensburg.

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at

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