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Best Take-Out

2955 E. Speedway Blvd.

READERS' PICK: A few weeks ago one of the Weekly's web of informants was dining at Pronto, a nicely decorated, squeaky-clean midtown deli, and overheard a stockbroker type saying to his lunch companion, "Man, I never eat at these funky little places. Chains are where I usually go." The absence of such fellows is one of the many things Pronto has going for it. Others are fish tacos that taste as if they'd just come out of the sea by way of Mazatlan, mounds of grilled-chicken salad, fresh pizzas and pastas, and what may be the best Italian sub west of the Mississippi. Top that off with a nice range of desserts, coffees and teas, and Pronto will satisfy just about any palate.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Gandhi Cuisine of India, 150 W. Ft. Lowell Road

CLUE IN: Guilin Chinese Restaurant, 3250 E. Speedway Blvd., is a mecca for Cantonese-style food aficionados. This midtown eatery across from the Loft Cinema does its namesake proud with a wide range of Chinese favorites that leans toward the vegetarian, with specialties like fried yam, garlic-sautéed green beans, and stir-fried spicy tofu. The cooks do a fine job with standard meat dishes, too, like sesame chicken and Mongolian beef, all prepared with fresh ingredients and a light hand on the oil, which in lesser hands drowns so much gringofied Chinese cuisine. During the day the restaurant provides a buffet priced from $2.95 to $5.95, according to the amount of food eaten, along with specials featuring a large-portion entrée, eggroll, and rice for well under $5.

CLUE-IN: If you're weary of typical take-out fare, Epic Café, 745 N. Fourth Ave., offers gourmet-style alternatives for your fast-food doldrums. From fresh baked focaccia, to the daily pasta salad specials, Epic serves delectable food at affordable prices. Among our favorites are the tantalizing Thai peanut pasta and sun-dried tomato pesto--always served with a generous chunk of baguette. And don't miss the breakfast burritos on the weekends--potato and eggs with optional chorizo, all rolled up in a warm flour tortilla and served with a side of fresh, hot salsa. You'll wonder why you ever ate anywhere else. P.S.: The baked goods here are near legendary.

Case History

1997 Winner: Pronto
1996 Winner: Pronto
1995 Winner: Pronto

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