After having several area restaurant proprietors talk this place up, the seed had been planted to give it a try. Then, in late January, I’m driving around lost in Valley Center, so I pull over to a farm stand to ask for directions. As it turns out, the farm stand is part of the Morningstar Ranch, which happens to belong to, and provide food for the Twelve Tribes community who built and operate the Yellow Deli. Talk about a random coincidence.
The bearded fellows at the farm stand were busy renovating an old farmhouse and gave me a good overview of their operation and the major effort it took them to get the Yellow Deli built. The Twelve Tribes is more communal living than cult-like and they own and operate restaurants and woodworking facilities around the United States and Europe. They also sell their produce at area farmers markets and their craftsmen are in high demand by area builders. Their look is a cross between Hasidic Jews and Amish folks and with bushy beards occupying a niche among the hipster set, they have a bit of that going on as well. I would encourage you to research them more on your own as it’s a fascinating story.
I referenced Frontierland when describing the building because it’s just such a unique structure in downtown Vista that feels like it could be in an amusement park, complete with characters in long beards, Little House on the Prairie costumes, and frontier/bluegrass music which I coined “smoothgrass.”
Forget all that though, this is the real deal. This place was built from the ground up by skilled Twelve Tribes members and it is spectacular. Also, they are not in costume, it’s their daily attire. Ornate wood and ironwork details are everywhere along with fire pits out front, several decks and lounges, two floors and dual winding staircases. Prepare to be impressed by it all and be sure to wander around and check out the seemingly endless alcoves and intimate rooms. From what I’ve heard, the Twelve Tribes restaurant employees hold impromptu jam sessions and dance parties.
Another crazy thing about this place is the hours. It’s open 24 hours, five days per week but closes at 3 p.m. Friday until noon Sunday in order for them to observe their Sabbath and have a day of rest. The crowd on a Monday night was a mix of college students, foodies and just normal folks. The college kids at the table behind us were having a very entertaining debate on religion that was very appropriate given the environment. I’m very curious to see what this place is all about late night.
As I mentioned, a portion of the ingredients used on the menu are sourced from their farm, which makes for some great homemade bread, soups, and produce. This is a deli though, and they make no claims of being organic or farm to fork, which is fine by me because as delis go, this one has found a spot in my top five.
We started with a gigantic bowl of pumpkin soup and prairie chili. The choices are a huge bowl or cup and the huge bowl can feed two people very easily. And at $7.25 it’s a great value. Both were really hearty and satisfying and came with homemade mini loaves of hot bread. The sandwich board looked like it belonged in a New York Jewish deli with five varieties of meaty sandwiches, a veggie burger plus a full build-your -own section.
We went for the hot Deli Lamb which had gyro thin sliced lamb, lettuce, onions, cucumbers and their special sauce on an egg roll. That, along with the Deli Rose, which was stacked high with roast beef, corned beef, hot pepper cheese, onions, tomato and again their secret sauce on an onion roll. Yeah, we were very happy meat eaters. The sandwiches were also a great value at $7.75 each. I had delicious root beer to go with my sandwich.
There is also a full salad selection, a juice bar, yerba mate, hot teas, cider and smoothies. A small but nice looking breakfast menu is also available that includes a Lambwich. I’ll be back for that one.
Wherever you are located in North County, The Yellow Deli is worth the drive. Take a date, bring your kids, or go solo. It’s one of those places you could feel comfortable with anyone. They are located at 315 East Broadway in Vista. Check them out at yellowdeli.com or call (760) 631-1888.
Filed Under: Lick the Plate