Eat, drink coffee, repeat

Old Soul Co.

Good for: real meals with coffee
Notable dishes: breakfast sandwich, red pepper hummus

Old Soul Co

1716 L St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 443-7685

Diners have been doing it for decades: a cup of joe with breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Upscale restaurants seek out local roasters for their brews, but most coffee houses offer little more than muffins, cookies and scone-like baked goods. Why?

Old Soul Co. has been unique in its marriage of food and coffee ever since its beginning 10 years ago. And about a year-and-a-half ago, owners Tim Jordan and Jason Griest brought on executive chef Charlie Harrison, most recently of Cafe Vinoteca. Harrison has been tinkering with the menus since he started, changing them every month or so. Head baker Jan Perkins joined even more recently.

There are three locations currently: the original L Street alley warehouse, the Weatherstone coffee house and the 40 Acres shop in Oak Park. All serve similar menus, with special brunch items featured each weekend. Not only can you find the usual pastries, but also full breakfasts, hot sandwiches, snacky sides and light salads.

Though Harrison is introducing new ideas, some of Old Soul’s biggest successes have already been around for a long time, such as the popular breakfast sandwich ($6.50). Layers of omelette, hyper-ripe tomato, red onion and cheese make for a large mouthful on the housemade English muffin. You can add roasted veggies, bacon or sausage, and it all comes schmeared with avocado for a healthier take on the McMuffin.

The quiche ($7) changes daily, but we tried one with roasted pork, chiles and an intriguing addition of nectarines. While the flaky crust held up admirably—no easy feat for quiche—the fruit disappeared in the other flavors. Extra points for a neat idea, though.

Unfortunately, the scones ($2.50 each) suffer the fate of most of their kind in the U.S. That is, they’re really triangular muffins and not sweetened biscuits. The lemon-poppyseed fared better than a version with strawberries, which gummed up the texture.

After breakfast, enjoy the free wifi and stick around for lunch. Try their take on the classic Cuban sandwich ($9), with a judiciously-dressed mesclun salad on the side. We enjoyed the moist shredded pork, ham and cheese. It’s griddled flat and has a nice tang from thinly sliced pickles. Eat it hot, though; it doesn’t taste as well-orchestrated as it cools.

Old Soul’s Caesar salad ($7) shows thought in its presentation, with bite-size pieces of romaine and good sourdough croutons. The dressing doesn’t overwhelm the lettuce and benefits from fresh Parmesan on top.

If you order the grilled cheese ($7.50), be forewarned that it contains sautéed spinach and sliced tomato as well as brie, Swiss and Cheddar cheeses. Harrison describes it as “an adult version,” but traditionalists may freak at the greens. The cheeses match well with house focaccia, though, and seem lightened by the vegetables.

Afternoon coffee goes well with their extra-large chocolate chip cookies ($2.50 each), available with or without nuts. They’re crunchy, rather than chewy, and buttery rich.

There’s no separate dinner menu, but Old Soul’s kitchens stay open through the evening. Get beer at the Weatherstone or 40 Acres locations and pair it with red pepper hummus ($8). The dip, while silky smooth, seems a bit overpriced with only crostini on the side.

Old Soul’s strength lies in the simple fact that it offers real food with their coffee. Fortunately, most of the food is better than average, with a few stand-outs.

Jordan and Griest plan to open three more outlets within the next year, including a wine bar in Oak Park and a full-service restaurant on R Street. Hopefully the new locations will offer similar value and quality with the occasional unexpected twist.