Shacked up

Adriana Diaz serves up chef Paul Morrison’s hearty sandwiches, such as this French Dip panini.

Adriana Diaz serves up chef Paul Morrison’s hearty sandwiches, such as this French Dip panini.


Food Shed Cafe is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Learn more here:

Since 2005, the Great Basin Community Co-Op has been a hub for local and near-sourced organic groceries and other healthy comestibles. In 2018, the upper floor of the downtown shop was turned into a cafe featuring recycled and reclaimed materials. It’s a pretty inviting space with friendly service and plenty of seats, though online ordering and delivery or take-out are available.

Whether you’re omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, paleo or gluten-free, the cafe has got you covered. Allergen and ingredient information is clearly stated on the menu of baked goods, fresh juices, smoothies, specialty coffees, soups, toasts, salads, breakfast and lunch burritos, paninis and acai-granola bowls. Nearly everything is labeled “organic,” so that’s the last time I’m going to use the word here.

A cup of chicken bone broth ($2.99, eight-ounces) was a pretty satisfying start on a snowy winter afternoon. Also available with beef or lamb, the savory, hearty brew is stewed for 72 hours with enough seasoning to be satisfying, but not overpowering—just plain comforting. I would definitely appreciate a cup of this to start every cold morning.

Traditionally, a “French dip” is a French roll or baguette, stuffed with a pile of thin-sliced roast beef, served au jus (with juice). My panini French dip ($9.99) was a little lackluster, despite quality ingredients. A small quantity of thick-sliced, marinated beef, white cheddar and egg-free mayo substitute were served on sliced sourdough—with fresh horseradish and broth on the side. The flavors were fair, and the horseradish had interesting herbal notes, but it just didn’t register as “French dip” to me. It’d be more accurate to label it “Boeuf panino au jus.”

I’ve sampled iterations of vegan “mock tuna” over the years. They’ve varied in in quality, but none transmitted the essence of tuna. The “Un-Tuna Melt” ($9.99) of housemade sunflower seed mash, vegan “cheddar,” tomato and olive oil was actually a tasty panini. The cheese substitute isn’t remotely cheese, but it’s good in its own way. The sunflower mix was well-seasoned, but was it tuna? Nope. Maybe quit calling seed sandwiches “tuna” and just let them shine on their own.

I ordered a braised pork burrito ($11.99), but bit into local, grass-fed, marinated and shredded beef, refried beans, lime white rice, cheddar, lime crema, tomatillo salsa and cilantro. It was damn good, so I didn’t bother correcting the error. Here, the beef was plentiful and on center stage. The hint of lime was a perfect complement to the salsa verde and cilantro. It had a really nice bit of heat, and I’m not sure when I last enjoyed a burrito with this much gusto.

Neck and neck with the beef burrito on the tastiness scale was a vegan walnut cauliflower burrito ($9.99) with marinated walnut meat, cauliflower, mushroom, lime white rice, cabbage slaw, cilantro and housemade chipotle mayo. I’ll be honest, this didn’t sound remotely appealing to me—at all. Nonetheless, it was something of an epiphany. I’ve had other veggie burritos, some of which were perfectly fine. This was something else completely. Yeah, I could taste the walnut and cauliflower—two things I would never think to pair—but layered with all of the other ingredients and an expert level of spicy seasoning, it was perfectly, amazingly delicious. The beef burrito edged it out on my scale of appreciation, but not by much.