Austin Texas’ reserve of chitlin’ circuit era juke joints is dwindling by the week. Victory Grill has been putting on the East Side ritz since VJ Day way back in 1945.
Back then Black folks, including service men, were routinely refused service in Austin no matter how bad they wanted a cold beer and a night on the town. Victory Grill, then known as the Victory Cafe, partially solved that problem.
The list of performers who rocked the East Side in the Grill’s heyday is a roll call of some of the all time greats: Janis Joplin, an honorary Black girl by some estimates, Chuck Berry, taking a break from his role as libertine, Billy Holiday, the ultimate songbird, Etta James, hopefully with Sugar Pie DeSanto in tow….the list goes on and on.
If you were a Black performer in the post WWII era, Austin was on the map and Victory Grill was THE place to play.
Nowadays the venue, under new ownership by Eva Lindsey, is still running strong. We roll by there frequently, some times the lights are off and sometimes the joint is rocking. We recommend calling first to see what sort of event they’re hosting.
Over the years we’ve sat down in the restaurant and enjoyed big plates of fried catfish, roasted red wattle hog, fried oyster po boys, gumbo and plenty other soul food dishes from the multitude of restaurateurs who’ve leased the kitchen space.
If by some chance, you have the opportunity to see a local band called Soul Kitchen perform there, by all means jump on it as they put on a performance on a Spring night in the recent past that is indelibly etched in our memory.
1104 E 11th St