Taste Buds: Soul Infusion Tea House & Bistro

[Note from the Editor: If you would like your restaurant reviewed or know of a good place to eat, please email Lex Menz at lmenz@westerncarolinian.com.]

The Soul Infusion Tea House & Bistro is the kind of place you expect to be hidden. It’s that restaurant every town has that only the locals know about, off the back roads and through someone’s yard. The kind of place you’d never find unless you knew just where to look. All the locals know it’s got some of the best food in town, a staff that knows your name or is quick to learn it, and the best local brews. Luckily for us here in Sylva, Soul Infusion is right on E Main St., though you’d never know it to look at it.

Though the little yellow house seems a bit out of place on the main thoroughfare, it is far enough removed and landscaped so beautifully that, as you are walking in through their pet-friendly outdoor backyard-esque seating, you forget the noise of the road behind you as you are surrounded with an atmosphere both extremely casual and welcoming.

The whole feel of the interior is one of relaxed nonchalance, with tables in no specific order, unique art objects adorning the walls and a hand-painted counter top where you place your order. The folks taking your order (and making your tea, should you want to sample some of their ridiculously large assortment of them) are incredibly friendly, helpful and fun to talk to. Their Southern chattiness and welcoming demeanor allow locals to enjoy a hang-out spot and tourists to feel right at home.

Their menu, which boasts an extensive variety of wraps, sandwiches and burritos, also presents a plethora of vegan and vegetarian options, providing a lot of tasty choices for any diet. As an added bonus, nothing on the menu exceeds $10, which is saying something with the high quality of the food they make. Be sure to check out their Wall of Teas, located around the corner of the counter. Can you find a tea you’ve never heard of before?

The only negative I’ve had in my experiences at Soul Infusion was in the amount of time it took to make the food. This is easily forgiven, however, with the quality of the food you receive. Everything is made fresh-to-order with any and all substitutions available, said co-owner and manager Haley Milner. Besides, it gives you time to really enjoy your tea or your beer, have some quality time with those you came in with or strike up a conversation with waiters/tea makers Martin or Courtney behind the counter, both of whom are great to talk to and models of customer service.

So far, I’ve had a chance to try their wasabi roast beef sandwich and a southwestern burrito special, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both. It’s hard to say anything more about really good food other than that it was… really good. From the flavors to the presentation of the dish, the small restaurant packs a big punch of deliciousness and local vibe. I can say that if I could just buy a jar of the wasabi horseradish mayo that they put on that sandwich, I’d use it on everything at home.

On top of the comfortable atmosphere, great service and amazing food, owners Milner and Tori Walters have set out to make Soul Infusion as farm-fresh as possible and are close to being entirely farm-to-table. Their commitment to the local atmosphere doesn’t end with their food, however; they also host live local music Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and offer a wide variety of local brews, and well as micro-brews from the surrounding areas.

Soul Infusion is a place we’re lucky to have here in Sylva, one that I’m sad to say I’d driven past without even noticing far too many times. My suggestion is that you don’t do the same. Stop in, say ‘hi’ to the wonderful folks there, have a great meal and make this great little restaurant one of your favorite local hot spots.

Soul Infusion Tea House & Bistro is located at 628 E Main St. They are open from Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Saturdays beginning at noon. They provide catering, private events, reservations, take-out and a large outdoor seating area, both on a deck and out in the yard. For more information on their menu and services, call 828-586-1717.