The Richmond location of Citizen Burger Bar opened this past weekend in Carytown at 2907 W. Cary St. in the space formerly occupied by Portrait House. The Citizen Burger Bar Carytown is the restaurant’s third location, joining two other Virginia locations in Charlottesville and Clarendon.
Kelsey and I sat down last week with Andy McClure, owner of the The Virginian Restaurant Company, (currently composed of the three Citizen Burger Bar location as well as a number of other restaurants in Charlottesville) to chat with him about what Richmonders can expect from Citizen Burger Bar Carytown.
As you might expect, burgers stand out when you take a look at Citizen Burger Bar’s menu – but this isn’t your standard burger. The beef comes from Timbercreek Organics, a farm located in Charlottesville. “We don’t say it’s some of the best beef in the world – we say it is the best beef in the world,” says McClure. “We mean that. If you’re going to eat meat, this is the way to do it.”
The restaurant doesn’t only offer burgers, though. Across the board, Citizen has a huge commitment to ingredients, and customers can expect the same level of quality in any item on the menu. Other menu offerings include items like shishito peppers with a sweet soy sauce, truffle fries, a lobster club and a vegan burger made from a blend of blend of quinoa, millet, and beets. (I’ve enjoyed dining at the Charlottesville location a few times, and the shishito peppers are so good I’ve tried to recreate them at home, more than once.)
Though the main menus are similar at each Citizen location, the Carytown location will offer an “extras” menu in the coming weeks specific to Richmond. The location also plans to serve a turkey burger in recognition of its neighbor across the street, The Byrd Theater. A portion of the each sale of that burger will to the The Byrd.
The bar offerings stand out, too. Citizen serves over a hundred different kinds of beer, many of them local to Virginia. Those looking for a deal will be glad to know that happy hour is offered on weekdays from 4 – 6 p.m.
Citizen attempts to offer locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible, but above all, McClure wants the products to be good. He wants his customers to understand the source of the food, and why that source is a good place to support.
What to order on your first visit to Citizen Burger Bar Carytown:
The Citizen Burger
McClure suggests the Citizen Burger, which includes Timbercreek beef, McClure swiss, black onion, garlic aioli, iceberg, tomato, house brioche and a fried pickle. If you have a smaller appetite, you might enjoy The Mini, a 4 oz. griddle-smashed Timbercreek Angus with American, iceberg, onion and citizen sauce on a classic potato roll.
The Feel & The Space
The burger bar concept is one that McClure had wanted to try for a long time before opening up the first Citizen location in Charlottesville – and he’s done his research, visiting burger bars all over the world. “At the end of the day, it’s a burger and a beer,” says McClure. “Let’s not complicate that – but if you can do that and do that really, really well – that’s the goal and that’s what I’ve always been intrigued by.”
It was easy for McClure to make the decision to open this location. “You come here enough, it’s hard not to like Richmond,” he says. “Richmond doesn’t get enough credit for how quirky and cool it can be.” As a business owner, he was immediately drawn to Carytown and says it’s the first place he thought of when considering a location in Richmond.
McClure hopes Citizen is a place that customers see fit for any occasion, whether it’s to watch a game, go on a date or spend time with family. (It’s worth noting that Citizen Burger Bar caters to sports fans – near the bar, customers will find three custom-made cocktail tables each with their own TV.) He wants Citizen Burger Bar Carytown to feel welcoming, approachable, easy – no wonder, as those are all words that could easily be attributed to McClure himself.
He’s very focused on his employees and how important they are to his restaurants. “The smartest business owners are the ones who realize the people who work for them are more important than they are,” says McClure.
The restaurant seats approximately 80 people, with room for about 18 more on the patio. In our opinion, this patio location is one of the best that Richmond has to offer – a great place to watch the hustle and bustle of Carytown while enjoying an afternoon with friends.
“Every Citizen is unique,” says McClure. “Talking about the other ones does this place a disservice.”
Planning to visit?
Citizen Burger Bar Carytown is open every day of the week. The hours are 11 a.m. – 12 a.m. every day except Friday and Saturday when they’ll be open until 2 a.m. Today the restaurant will open at 5 p.m. and lunch service officially starts tomorrow, Tuesday, April 26. The kitchen closes a bit earlier than the bar, but you’ll find Citizen serving food until 11 p.m. on weeknights and until midnight on weekends. They don’t take reservations, but they do offer several parking spaces if you can grab one.