About 200 feet from San Jose State University is a small Mexican restaurant, La Victoria, known by the students as LaVic’s. It started out as a family-owned hole-in-the-wall restaurant in 1998, and has evolved into a legend with five locations in the Bay Area.
When you walk in, the atmosphere is welcoming; the interior has a distinct cultural flair, with colorful walls, vintage wooden furniture and extra seating upstairs subtly decorated with religious art depicting Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The baristas stand behind a counter underneath a hanging menu. They themselves are efficient, yet somehow manage not to rush you as you take your order.
The plethora of meat choices (steak, braised pork, grilled chicken, chicken breast, pork, marinated pork, beef tongue, and Mexican red sausage) to mix with the wide range of tacos, burritos, plates, flavtas, chile relenos, enchilados, tostados, tortas, and quesidillas make it difficult for the indecisive person to pick their poison.
And while you’re at it, order a drink. You’ll need it, the food is spicy. We recommend the sangria, non-alcoholic, of course. It’s like a fizzy fruit punch with a malty aftertaste that complements the food.
We got the steak quesadilla and if we had to guess, we’d say it was approximately a million calories. They give it to you in a red basket, lined with waxpaper, and there it is. The guesadilla is folded in half around cheese, fresh salsa, and juicy pieces of steak. In the light, you can just see the gleam of the oil and some steak poking out from under the crispy edges. The downside is that although the meat is good quality for the most part, you may run into some gristle or fat. But don’t let that stop you from trying it out. Besides the quesadilla, we also ordered a vegetarian burrito which definitely was a fair competitor against an ol’ Chipotle burrito. The price is roughly the same, the difference being a dollar here or there; the determining factor lies within the authenticity of the food at La Vic’s.
Then add the signature orange sauce. There is absolutely no other name for it, but it is as necessary a condiment for La Vic’s as ketchup is for America. The specific ingrediants are kept secret, and even those with the most sensitive palate has difficulty distinguishing any indivicual components. Yet, its necessity is apparent when you see every table with a bottle and a sign advertising its sale for six dollars.
Before you go, heed this warning. You will be craving this food for the weeks following your consumption. If you can’t handle some intense pregnant woman-esque cravings, avoid La Vic’s.
La Victoria is located at 131 W Santa Clara Street in San Jose.