Sunday, October 17, 2010

Free Soul Caffe, Tustin, CA

Our friend Ashley B. pointed us to a new vegan place she went to in Tustin called Free Soul Caffe, so we went to check it out. Its a simple place, mainly soups, salads, and sandwiches, but they also have breakfast items and a well stocked dessert case filled with vegan treats. The owner, who was telling us all about the new restaurant, said that almost everything is organic and that they have great coffee. There were a lot of drink options on the menu including granita and boba style things.

Deanna got the Portobello Panini sandwich. It came with a big spinach salad with a nice dressing and candied walnuts. Simple, but very nice and fresh.

I got the Smoked Vegan Ham sandwich. My salad was a mixed greens, with olives and a light dressing. I also have no complaints. I feel like we could make this kind of food at home, but it's nice to know there is a place that will make it for me, and I can get out of the house. And also I never mind supporting a place that is dedicated to making vegan food and using organic ingredients.

Since this place deals in soups as a specialty, we wanted to get some soup as well, but they were sold out of everything but the chili. That's a good sign. So we got the chili. It came with a huge hunk of sliced bread and vegan butter. It was very good and I would like to come back and try some more soup...
...If I'm welcomed back!

Why would I say that you wonder? Well as I was shooting a photo of the menu (above), the same menu you can see online here, the waitress, a young college aged blond girl came up and said, "We don't allow photos." Deanna and I both asked, "Why?" Her answer was that people were trying to steal their recipes. (I can understand the people from Millennium worrying about getting their recipes stolen, but they are not. They publish their menu online and have a cookbook, and I have been inside taking photos on multiple occasions and never been hassled. In fact I have been all over the world taking pictures of food and menus and never been stopped once. Not in New York, Paris, or Berlin.) I wondered in my head why people would want to steal simple vegan sandwich recipes. Bread, vegan ham, vegan mayo, etc. Pretty easy to memorize I would say. Deanna said, "We do a vegan food blog and we wanted to tell people about this place and share some photos, we thought you would like the publicity for your new restaurant." She replied, "Well, no, we can't have people taking photos..." And then added, "Can you delete that." On general principle I was not erasing the photo. I said, "No way. Can you tell the owner to come over here?" The owner was apologetic, but did say that local businesses are trying to steal her recipes. We explained that we were only trying to help bring them business and are slightly offended by the accusation of recipe stealing.
So I don't know where I stand on this place now. I want to support vegan eateries, especially one so close to my house. But I can't get over the people who would hassle a customer over a paranoid idea that their recipes are worth stealing. I wish I could have screamed to the waitress, "Perspectives! This is a soup and sandwich shop in Tustin, CA!" anyway...

Here is the dessert case. The cookies were pretty good. We have yet to eat our peanut butter chocolate cheesecake and our pumpkin pecan ganache torte. I hope they are as good as they sound! UPDATE: We ate them and they are AMAZING!!!!!!
I say check it out, but beware bloggers, you may be hassled for helping them get the word out. I wonder what QuarryGirl would have done?


  1. Oooooh! Good blogging, you two. I always love a story with a twist!

  2. >Not in New York, Paris, or Berlin

    What are you trying to say?
    Tustin sucks?
    Well,maybe you suck!

    I'm only kidding. I wouldn't have left a tip.

  3. Oh. And the Irony is the place is called "Free Soul Cafe"

  4. The desert sounds really good.Is vegan ham not ham?I always get paranoid about taking pics of places or things in public.Because some people can get a little crazy sometimes.PERSPECTIVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. JGonz,

    You have won a free weekend get-a-way to one of 4 cities. Paris, New York, Berlin, or Tustin?
    What do you choose?

  6. Y U Mad tho?
    I thought it was funny how you compared those big cities to a place I've never heard of.

  7. I ate here the other day and got the butternut squash soup and it was so good! It makes me mad that they never have their full arsenal of soups out (like it says on their menu), i've been wanting to try the carrot-lentil!

  8. I'm glad I found your post! I went there on Sunday hoping to try it out, but they were closed! It's a bummer they're not a photo-friendly establishment... especially after you explained yourself!

  9. I grew up in Tustin and I am a 40 year veg. The food was fresh and really tasty. I love soups and they got it down with fresh bread. Killer deserts. I will be back and tell our friends. I am very happy to have such great food and nice people serving it with love. Next I am going to try their breakfasts, sounds good.

  10. Hi,
    I'm an omnivore rustin in Tustin and I appreciate your post! I also loved all of their food and consider their restaurant a dream come true. However, after you posted about the photo hassle, I just got all my food to go and photographed it at home. Will comment when I do my post! Thanks!

  11. Hey WLTEV! Posted on Free Soul Caffe at I linked you, although I had trouble linking the specific post. Thanks for braving the camera unfriendly and living to tell!

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  13. Great post. I live in Fullerton and would like to check this place out. I take pictures of my food ALL the time, so reading about that part was pretty lame. I'm still going to do it anyway. Thanks for the post, keep it up!

  14. This happened to me at Scottsdale Horse Show. I was inside taking pictures of vendors and was told not to take a picture of this particular trunk as it was stealing the artist's idea. I was shocked. I was taking pictures of the booths for memorabilia for my blog to show my best friend who checks out my blog on occasion. that whole experience has left a bad feeling for me.

    It happened again at a Farmer's Market/Art Walk in Gilbert AZ. I was taking pictures, street pictures, when this woman stopped me to say that I couldn't take pictures of her "Service Cat" because it was against the law. Are you kidding me?

  15. I found your blog while looking for their website (to ironically look at the menu, lol). And I think this is something small businesses do have to contend with - really underhanded tactics from other people trying to put them out of business. I worked for an art gallery in OC that experienced this. So it's not paranoia. I would judge them on their food and not for enforcing what might seem like unreasonable boundaries. They probably have decent reasons - especially considering that they are one of the few really good vegan places around.