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Local food for local eatery in 12South

What: Sloco Where: 2905 12th Ave. South When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily Cost: $6.50-$8; $4.50 soup of the day; $3.50-$4 kids Info: 615-499-4793;

Before you walk into 12South’s Sloco sandwich shop, be ready for a tight squeeze.

It’s small and narrow. A long prep table on one side has meats, veggies, cheese and sauces. Bar stools line up against the opposite wall in front of a long, narrow dining bar.

At the end of the line, an iPad sits where a clunky cash register usually would. It’s another unique and creative feature of the tiny restaurant next to Las Paletas and Burger Up.

When the restaurant opened in October 2011, its focus wasn’t on the shop’s size, but instead on its slow food and organic ideals.

With the increasing popularity of local and organic foods, the chef/owner, Jeremy Barlow, who’s also owns Tayst, wanted to make a point that slow food doesn’t mean expensive.

“He wanted to show local, organic food could be affordable,” manager Jason Lockman said.

With only six months under its belt, Sloco has already received high praise for the variety of fresh organic sandwiches and delicious vegan options.

Depending on the farmers’ schedules, about 90 percent of the ingredients on the menu are local, coming from areas one to two hours away, Lockman said.

Sandwiches at the shop are about $7 each. There are no fountain drinks here, just bottled organic ones. Employees wrap the sandwiches in thick paper, so guests are free to eat where they choose. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

“Sandwich shops don’t do well for dinner,” Lockman said.

Lockman, Barlow and another chef from Tayst contributed to the main menu, but they are always open to suggestions.

“Everyone has a say,” Lockman said.

Sloco offers a variety of unique sandwiches from the Redneck Reuben, with caraway slaw, Dijon and corned pork shoulder, to the Shaved Seitan, with house-made seitan or “wheat meat,” sesame dressing, chickpeas and squash.

Though the place can get busy, the employees don’t seem to mind. “It’s just a bunch of fine dining kids having fun,” Lockman said.

The food’s fast, but healthy

When I went to Sloco, I was surprised at how small it was. I stepped down into the narrow restaurant and an employee told me to order in the back. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted, but I love sandwiches, and ordered one with an unusual name, the Loafless Meatloaf.

The employee quickly grabbed a sheet of brown paper, cut a 10-inch loaf and piled on the meat, jus, sweet potato puree and greens.

I signed the iPad with my index finger after the cashier swiped my card. I took my Oogave root beer and packaged sandwich and went to eat outside on a ledge.

I won’t lie; it was messy.

But it was also tasty.

The sweet potatoes made all the difference. I had never experienced sweet potatoes and meat before, but it worked. The beef was extremely tender and juicy, adding to the mess, and whenever I bit down, sweet potatoes oozed out the back. I literally licked sweet potatoes off my fingers.

I dragged my fiancé along with me for the lunch, and of course, we tasted each other’s meals. As I predicted, he got the pesto chicken with tomatoes and goat cheese. The pesto tasted fresh and complemented the juicy tomatoes.

I wouldn’t call his sandwich all that neat, either.

I recommend Sloco to all the students, faculty and staff who have time somewhere between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to walk over to 12th Avenue South and grab a healthy and flavorful sandwich, and support local food.

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