Best Take-Out

2955 E. Speedway

READERS' PICK: From the ingenious folks who brought you Boccata Bistro comes a novel notion in Tucson fast food: the semi-gourmet take-out at Pronto. For prices not too much higher than what you'll burn on a Royale with cheese at you-know-where, you can savor a selection of salads, pastas, sandwiches and deserts, most in the light, white Northern Italian style of Boccata. Blow on by the golden arches and opt for a Mediterranean pasta salad, some angel hair awash with olive oil, garlic and basil, or a tasty Taos chicken sandwich. You won't go broke, people will still think you're cool, and you'll feel good about yourself for by-passing the quick and easy for something with more class. Furthermore, you can avoid summer death-hour Speedway traffic in your un-air-conditioned bakemobile by getting your repast delivered through Delicious Deliveries. In this modern age, that's the whole point, isn't it?

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Boston Market, four locations.

STAFF PICK: Samurai, 3912 N. Oracle Road. We come for katsudon. We come for cheap sushi and bento plates. We come for light, delicate gyoza with a seductive hint of ginger; we come for stuffed tofu pockets that smell faintly of French toast; and in the summer we come, again and again, for the heavenly cold ramen. We pay small to reasonable amounts of money. We take our brown paper bags full of well-prepared, healthful Japanese food; we take the free chopsticks and packages of soy sauce; we grasp Styrofoam containers full of warm food, and then we leave. We get in our cars. We drive. We get out of our cars. We carry the food into our domiciles. We put it in our mouths. We chew. We swallow. We are satisfied. The universe, for a brief moment, ceases to be a disconnected series of meaningless events.

A PERFECT 10: There was a time when we saw those food wagons and all we thought of were greasy burritos and hot dogs, which, truth be told, we actually enjoyed. Now, however, there's a delicious and healthful alternative to the meals-on-wheels tradition thanks to Chef Shawn Stanchfield, who operates his own vehicular kitchen with an eye to fresh ingredients and low-fat cuisine. Chef Shawn's, which has occupied the parking area of the Texaco gas station on the southeast corner of Fifth Street and Alvernon for the better part of a year, will soon move to semi-permanent quarters next door at 550 N. Alvernon Way. But what we lose in charm when the good chef takes off the training wheels, we gain with a selection of lean cuisine that's anything but tired. On Chef Shawn's menu you'll find daily specials, soups, sandwiches and pastas that reflect a more health-conscious perspective, utilizing plenty of vegetables and going light on the salt and saturated fat. And Chef Shawn's insistence on accommodating any and all special requests and dietary restrictions has made confirmed followers out of many who once stopped by merely to fill their gas tanks. Number yourself among the converted.

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