The Sweet Taste of Victory
Source: John Storey
The mouth-watering smell of char-broiled burger wafts through the air a block away from the vintage-y looking restaurant, Victory Burger. Located right next to Actual Cafe, which looks as if it came right out of a scene from Portlandia, the eatery was launched by a kickstarter, a crowd-sourced funding platform for creative projects. Essentially, a kickstarter is when someone has an idea for some kind of creative venture and they solicit funding from anyone who thinks it might be cool. Sal Bednarz, who is also the owner of Actual Cafe, ended up raising $25,494 through his kickstarter by June of last year.
I thought that the restaurant was going to be a classic diner that served burgers and fries along with a few other classic dishes, so I was surprised when I noticed Venezuelan “arepa” burgers and Vietnamese “banh mi” sandwiches on the menu. The arepas serve as substitutes for hamburger buns. The delicious South American street food is gluten-free and vegan since it’s made with corn.
Along with the arepas, there are many other great vegan options on the menu. The veggieburgers and veggie arepas are big favorites. They also serve delicious vegan shakes in a wide variety of flavors, made with coconut milk ice cream and soymilk. You have the option to “Go splitsies!” with any shake, which means getting any two flavors of shake, each in a smaller sized cup, for an extra buck.
If you are the complete opposite of vegan, Victory Burger has a lot of other great options. Obviously, the classic Victory Burger is the place’s most famous dish. All over the restaurant, satisfied customers can be overheard saying, “now this is a REAL burger!” You have the choice of adding a large selection of interesting toppings to any burger or sandwich. There are three topping categories: “cheaper stuff,” such as chicken skin mayo or bacon gravy for 50¢ each; “less cheap stuff,” such as Jalapeño jam for $1 each, and “expensiver stuff,” such as bacon or a fried egg for $2 each (no joke, the menu literally says “expensiver”).
All of the ingredients at Victory Burger come from local, organic farms. Generally, the food is very fresh and of high quality. The servers have laminated sheets on hand, which give every important detail about the exact farm where each ingredient comes from.
While we loved the Victory Burger, the Pork & Egg Arepa, the Roast Chicken Banh Mi, the Arepa Burger and the milkshakes, the Fried Pickled Veggies fell short. The breading on the fried vegetables mostly fell off. Pickled veggies seem to be a theme at Victory Burger. They are served with almost every meal, which I wasn’t too excited about because they didn’t look very appetizing. This is a total Portlandia moment because of the “We Can Pickle That!” sketch. Hipsters will pickle anything.
The other negative aspect of the experience was the seating arrangements. There were not many indoor seats and although there were heat lamps outside, it was still cold, shady, and windy.
At the end of the meal, everything goes in the compost, which I sort of expected because of the eco-friendly attitude of the whole place.
My final thought: Victory Burger is a great casual place to eat whether you want a simple classic burger or an ethnic, vegan, gluten-free twist on the norm.
1099 Alcatraz Ave Oakland, CA 94608 (510) 653-8322
Wednesday-Saturday 11:30 am – 9:00 pm
Sunday 11:30 pm – 8:00 pm