First Look: Victory Sandwich Bar + Emporium, Decatur

When Victory Sandwich Bar first opened in Inman Park in 2011, co-owner Ian Jones said the idea was to make the former Johnny’s Pizza space look like “Steve McQueen’s sandwich shop.” The second Victory location, recently opened in Decatur, is still staged as a cool spot to grab a bargain-priced bite and drink from lunch ’til late night, but the atmosphere is more refined.

The look: Just off the Square, in a freestanding brick building on Church Street, the build-out is a study in fast casual design. There’s a logical flow from the front door to the order counter for lunch service. A long bar, with quirky knick knacks among shelves of booze, offers plenty of seating and stuff to look at. Cozy booths make good places to settle in for table service after 5 p.m., and there’s a side patio for balmy afternoons and nights.

The scene: Early one Friday evening, families with strollers occupied many of the tables and booths in the dining room, while at the bar, a young happy hour crowd sipped cocktails and munched on “fancy nuts,” a mix of Marcona almonds, manchego cheese and dark chocolate. The bar has already become an after-hours gathering spot for Decatur’s pub and restaurant workers. Sunday nights, that can be until the wee hours of the morning.

The menu: Currently, you’ll find some 11 different $4 sandwiches served with chips, plus salads, sides, and snacks. Sized between a slider and a half-sandwich, old favorites include the Castro, a pressed mini-Cuban with roasted pork, ham, fontina cheese, pickles and yellow mustard. The Weedeater is a meatless but hearty melange of mozzarella, hummus, avocado and dressed arugula. Find spicy sesame ramen (“served cold like revenge”) and chick pea salad among the sides ($3.50)

The drinks: Victory was an early adopter of craft beer in cans, and that carries over to Decatur, with the likes of 21st Amendment Hog Island Oyster Stout and Dale’s Pale Ale ($5). The famous Jack and Coke slushies ($4/$8) served in jelly jars are there, too. But you’ll also find serious cocktails designed by beverage director Paul Calvert, including the boozy Dirty Blvd., with Belle Meade bourbon, Punt e Mes, Aperol and a Scotch wash ($8).

The extras: In the coming weeks, Paper Plane, another, more secluded 21-and-up bar/restaurant in the back of the same building will open Tuesday-Saturday nights with its own dinner and drinks menu.

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