Before you go to a restaurant, what do you want — or need — to know most? In our series, The Rundown, we’re sharing all the essentials about some of your favorite restaurants.
A mainstay on Alpharetta’s town green since 2018, Citizen Soul just looks like a place you want to be, whether sipping a glass of sparkling rosé by the fire pit at happy hour or bellied up to the bar kicking off the weekend with co-workers (and pimento cheese fritters).
This upscale neighborhood spot inhabits a white brick building nestled against the green, surrounded by a trendy outdoor patio and a bustling downtown scene. We caught up with Scott Black, general manager at Citizen Soul, to talk about what guests should know before visiting the restaurant.
1. The concept is inspired by the Pacific Northwest.
The second concept from Phillip Cooper, owner of Historic Roswell’s popular Vin25, Citizen Soul is inspired by Cooper’s travels to pubs and taverns in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. “You’ll see a lot of influence on the menu from that area,” Black says. Intended to be a fun, approachable place business professionals can frequent to enjoy classic snacks and entrees, weekdays tend to bring a lot of team dinners and company outings. “It’s nice to see them back,” Black says. “At 6 p.m. on a Friday you’ll find co-workers and neighbors gathering at the bar to kick off the weekend. It’s a really energetic spot, always bustling and fun.”
2. Most of the menu is gluten-free.
“There’s a big emphasis on being gluten-free and about 90% of our menu is gluten-free,” Black notes. That includes the fried chicken, which is prepared with a rice/corn flour and deep-fried.
As far as other menu items go (not necessarily gluten-free), the pork tenderloin and the braised short ribs are top-sellers. The newest menu item, the duck confit, has been a particular rave. “Every dish is coming back to the kitchen completely clean,” Black observes. As far as other must-haves on the menu, the pimento cheese fritters are cheesy balls of fried perfection, served with homemade pepper jam. “And the burger is one of the best I’ve ever had,” he adds.
3. They know wine.
And beer. And cocktails. When the owner, general manager, and beverage director are all certified sommeliers, you know they know their stuff.
With a focus on new world wines, Citizen Soul has an extensive wine list, with 20 wines by the glass and many more by the bottle. As you make your way through the restaurant, you can walk through the double-sided wine fridge (more like a wine hallway) to scope out the bottle selection — or just ask the experts.
“We love to go to the tables to talk to guests about wine and help them make their selections,” Black says. “We’re here to provide whatever guests want. We have some wines that are really hard to find that we only get once a year. Phillip Cooper is very proud of the selection and worked hard to get his allocations and get the wine in.” Citizen Soul hosts occasional wine dinners; follow them on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on upcoming events.
With 20 craft beers rotating on tap, beer lovers can find almost anything they want, while cocktail drinkers will find fresh and on-trend specialty cocktail selections. Look for the Citizen Mule this summer, an elevated take on the classic Moscow Mule. In this version you’ll find Cathead vodka, Chambord, peach liqueur, ginger beer, and lime. “It’s higher-end ingredients you might find outside of some other mules,” Black says.
And if you’re looking for bourbon, look no further. “We barrel-age some of our own bourbons and keep ahead of the trends of what people are drinking out there,” Black says. “There’s a huge focus on bourbon right now, so we have an extensive list with hard-to-find bourbons; we search them out and work the deals.” Look for a selection of WhistlePig, Weller, E.H. Taylor, and more.
4. Lean on the staff to help you make decisions.
One of the factors that sets Citizen Soul apart from the several other nearby restaurants is the staff and service. With a background at fine-dining establishments like Bones and The Blue Ridge Grill, Black is passionate about making sure customer needs are met without guests having to ask.
The staff go through extensive training to ensure this level of service is achieved and maintained. “We have a lot of expectations of our staff to know the menu in and out. Because we have an emphasis on gluten-free, people put their trust in us to handle that concern for them. Our staff needs to know our menu inside and out to make sure we don’t drop the ball on any dietary restrictions or needs,” Black explains.
5. Weekends mean a relaxed crowd — and special menu items.
While the business crowd fills seats during the week, Citizen Soul also is open for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays, with some special items available that don’t appear the regular dinner menu. Of course, the burger is a must-have lunch pick (or any time, really) but you’ll also find a five-spice chicken wrap, hanger steak salad, and a pimento cheese patty melt.
“You really just need to come here to experience it. The food is absolutely awesome,” Black says. “It’s all about excellent food, drink and service. We’ve got it all.”