The Skinny: Panini power lunch at the Swapmart

There aren't many places in town worse for dieters than the Indoor Swapmart near 27th Ave. & Camelback. Well, there's the state fair. Or the Heart Attack Grill. But a recent costume-hunting excursion to the 'Mart (don't even ask...you'd guffaw like a schoolyard bully at my geekiness) had me prowling for a lunch that wouldn't set me back three weeks on my weight loss goals -- or require that I down a triple-cocktail of antacid, Pepto and Imodium afterwards.

ribs.bmpRibs? Nice try. Tacos? Not unless there's a new "fatty, greasy, grade-D-but-edible meat" diet. Fry Bread? Seriously, you're killing me here.

The best I could do was Frenchie's Cafe (or possibly Frenchy's Cafe, as it was suffering from some sort of dual-signage crisis), a cute center-aisle booth with a couple of plastic tables and a wrought iron trellis out front. Honestly, I didn't hold out much hope for this one. I saw signs of a microwave oven and a grill press, but not much else in the way of cooking provisions. But, in the land of candy-coated taffy apples and puffy fried dough topped with grey, meat-like substance, this was the best shot I had. Sigh.

Color me surprised, but I found a new menu item on a handwritten card that actually sounded pretty tasty: grilled chicken panini with melted mozzarella, tomato and peppers. And it was a pretty decent little sammy for a place with no real kitchen to speak of. The bread was crispy, the white meat chicken tender and the green peppers still slightly crunchy.

I was a little confused by the 10-minute wait, especially when I kept watching my sandwich randomly move around to different parts of the booth. But considering that Frenchy's is the only decent option when I'm trolling the Swapmart for treasures, maybe it's just best that I don't know.

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