Victory Garden Cafe: A Greek family restaurant serving the community for over five decades

Victory Garden Cafe has earned the Pick of the Month for March. This traditional Greek restaurant and bakery are local staples with over five decades’ worth of serving amazing cuisine and pastries. Run by the Sakalis family since 1968, Victory Garden Café has played a major role in the community.

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George and Antigoni Sakalis Image via @victorygardencafe

Owner Anna Sakalis now co-owns the establishment with her mother, Antigoni, and her father, George, who both play key roles in the business. “My mom is the head chef. My dad is the head baker. The interior, my mom was basically the designer. We are completely involved in everything.”

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Sakalis family Image by @jamesdelgenio

And what a great interior it is. The back room of the restaurant has a relaxed and romantic atmosphere accentuated by the unique garden that wraps around the space. The room is the perfect spot for your next event. The space can accommodate 75-100 people depending on if the exterior garden is available. “You feel like you’ve traveled back to Greece. My mother is from Rhodes. It’s an island that offers everything. There’s a lot to do there.”

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Porch at Victory Garden Image via @victorygardencafe

Sakalis explained that she has always had a hand in the business, but she saw her role grow over time. “I grew up here. I majored in economics and computer science, but I’ve always been involved [with the restaurant]. I decided to become completely involved in 2008.”

Even though there are many Greek restaurants in town, Sakalis believes Victory Garden Café stands out because of its wide variety of Greek dishes and pastries made with the freshest and highest quality ingredients.

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Baklava Image @victorygardencafe

The success of Victory Garden Café originally hinged on its bakery, and the strength of their baked goods helped propel the restaurant to what it is today. This was accomplished by accommodating the Greek community of Astoria, a sizable and loyal group who understands what Greek food is and should be. “Our tsoureki bread was very popular,” Anna said. “People would come from Philly and Boston for it. Now we ship it all over the world.”

Along with that famous tsoureki bread, there are plenty of amazing Greek pastries and desserts to satisfy the sweetest sweet tooth. “We’re well known for our baklava. We’ve won awards for the best baklava around,” Anna recalled proudly. Another dynamite option is the galaktoboureko, a type of custard pastry with a flakey phyllo crust on the top and bottom, which is baked in syrup for added flavor.

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Galaktoboureko Image Via @jamesdelgenio

In 2012, Victory Garden Cafe expanded into a full restaurant under Sakalis’ direction. The restaurant offers traditional Greek cuisine with a few modern twists as well. For example, try the feta saganaki, which swaps out the typically used cheese for soft feta in a thin shell that’s drizzled with honey.

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Feta saganaki Image via @jamesdelgenio

For entrees, seafood is probably the best route. The most tantalizing menu offering might be the Thalassinos Mezes: a mountain of mussels, shrimp, fried calamari, and scallops served on a bed of Greek risotto.

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Thalassinos Mezez (seafood over rice) Image @victorygardencafe via Instagram

Another great choice is the bacalao (a dinner special available only on a limited basis), which is fried cod served with skordalia, a garlic dip that’s outrageously tasty. Then, end your night with Greek coffee and a pastry or three from their famous bakery. And if you happen to hit the restaurant on a Thursday, you can enjoy a Happy Hour that starts at 2 pm and lasts until close. Discounted drinks include the Love Potion, a sangria-like cocktail that tastes a bit like a dream.

For Sakalis and her family, Astoria isn’t just a business location; it’s home. The family believes their secret for success lies in how they treat the customers. Anna said simply, “Our customers are family.”

21-69 Steinway / Phone: 718.274.2087 / / Yelp 4.1