By now, Dallas pretty much has an independent coffee shop located in every major zone of the city. Now, Victory Park's got one, too: Cafe Victoria is a small, smartly designed space nestled between a row of boutique shops alongside the W Hotel, a caffeinated oasis amid an urban forest of construction.
A teal retro La Marzocco espresso machine — which the staff named Queen Victoria — greets visitors. Next to the Queen sits a captivating bakery display loaded with croissants, breads and muffins from Empire Bakery along with Bisous Bisous macarons and Amazeballz cakeballs. For seating, there are a few tables, a bar along the window, a stuffed chair tucked in a corner and two mid-century couches. It has the appearance of everything we’ve come to expect from an independent coffee shop, but behind Café Victoria’s facade is an owner with distinct ideas about what an independent coffee shop should be.
Argentina native Luciana Gomez has goals for her coffee shop: to bring coffee culture to her developing neighborhood, and for it to be an affordable, daily experience. By coffee culture, she means an approach to coffee consumption that mirrors her own background. For example, Argentinians don’t rush around with venti-size drinks, she says; they reserve coffee shop trips for a good espresso and save the drip for home, and they're able to have that daily shot because it’s affordable. Many of her one-size-only drinks are a dollar cheaper than the same size her indie competitors offer, and she doesn’t upcharge for alternative milks like soy and almond.
“It’s really not that much more expensive to buy soy milk, and it lasts longer than dairy anyhow," Gomez says. "I think the upcharge is something somebody got away with and now everyone expects it. But it’s really like a tax that’s been maintained when it’s no longer necessary.”
As for beans, Gomez — who left a marketing and advertising career to launch the shop — chose Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters because they created the brew she enjoyed most, she says. She’s dedicated to keeping her stock fresh by only keeping 20 pounds at a time in the store.
Despite the difference in coffee customs between her native Argentina and the U.S., Gomez does offer filtered coffee in the form of a French press, and while lattes and cappuccinos are her best-sellers, she encourages people to go for a flat white or cortado to fully experience the flavor of the coffee.
Even without a surrounding residential neighborhood and consistent foot traffic, Gomez is hopeful. Café Victoria is becoming its own brand of a neighborhood spot, she says, with regulars like construction workers and young urban-dwellers. And she’s willing to meet her market where they are by offering free delivery to Victory Park offices.
Gomez’s hope is not ill-founded — when construction across the street is finished, a new row of restaurants will open. In addition, restaurateur Tristan Simon of CBD Provisions, Victor Tangos and Hibiscus is slated to open a mall of restaurants the next block over between High Market and Museum Way, and Cinépolis, a 700-seat luxury movie theater, is projected for the corner of Victory Park Lane. In time, Victory Park will the bigger, better West Village, and with luck, Café Victoria will still be there to serve us affordable coffee.
Cafe Victoria, 2422 Victory Park Lane #100