Sleepless Bites


By Pat Sherman
Photos by Brevin Blach

?Long past last call, North County insomniacs are feasting on fresh, organic food and getting a dose of brotherly and sisterly love at Vista’s Yellow Deli.

Open 24/5 (noon Sundays to 3 p.m. Fridays), the quirky, two-story restaurant is owned and operated by members of the Twelve Tribes, who close the place most of the weekend to observe their Sabbath.

“Yeah, people ask a lot of questions,” says server Poriah Skinner, who has six children with husband and tribe elder, Wade Skinner. “Our life is a life of loving one another and caring for each other, and it overflows when we come to the deli,” she says. “People think, ‘What is this place? There’s something about it.’ It’s the love.”

A Christian group that sprung out of the counterculture and Jesus movements of the 1970s, Twelve Tribes operates restaurants and coffee shops around the globe, donning modest, pioneer-style attire similar to that worn by the Amish.
Local members of the tribe live together in Vista and Valley Center, where they grow organic produce used in some of the deli-style sandwiches, drinks and salads served at Yellow Deli. Members don’t collect salaries. Instead, proceeds are pumped back into the business and used to support the tribe’s communal needs.

Though meals at the deli aren’t garnished with a side of dogma, information about the Tribes’ beliefs is available via countertop literature-including everything from details about their communal way of life to a glowing assessment of Pink Floyd lyrics and words of comfort for lonely souls.

First-time customers Jennifer Ward and Kory Favreau take seats next to a fire pit on the patio and order Prairie chili, tomato basil soup and carrot cake cream cookies.

“We’re just taking it all in right now,” says Ward, who watched as tribe members built the Yellow Deli from the ground up between 2008 and 2010. “We’re being cultured-big time.”

Before visiting, Favreau perused the Yellow Deli website to learn about the Twelve Tribes’ way of life.

“It’s a lot of Bible, hippie talk and I never got too far into it,” she says over strains of a cheery Celtic melody. “Whatever they believe in isn’t going to stop me from eating here. If the food’s good, the food’s good.”

The 170-seat restaurant houses an on-site bakery where the tribe bakes its bread, as well as a second-story bar where they serve fresh juices and Yerba Mate (caffeinated South American tea). The walls are made from the wood of a 100-year-old redwood barn the group tore down in Northern California. Ornate stained glass, metalwork and macramé give the establishment a warm, homespun touch.

Local DJ Alex D. says Yellow Deli is one of the few places where he can chill and chow down at 3 a.m. after spinning at a nightclub in Escondido.

“It’s either here or Jack in the Box,” he says, noshing on a Breakfast Lambwich. “And the food is much better here.”
315 East Broadway, Vista, 760.631.1888,