Philadelphia dining report

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Is this the line for wit or witout? (Fluto Shinzawa/Globe Photo)

Before every big game, players need a good warmup. That was the case this morning prior to the Great Cheese Steak Investigation, with an early breakfast at Sabrina’s Cafe around the corner from the Italian Market. This is one of my favorite breakfast joints in the league. Warm, down-to-earth, good eggs (omelet with cheddar, mushrooms, and spinach, which comes with sturdy slices of multigrain toast, is recommended), strong coffee.

But breakfast was only the prelude to lunch at Tony Luke’s, the cheese steak joint preferred by the natives (an outstanding American witout). And having heard of the Pat’s-Geno’s wars (on kitty corners on Passyunk) but never seen it in person, I took a spin up to take in the scene.

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Yikes. The line at Pat’s hooked around the building and spilled onto Passyunk itself (cheese steak lovers cannot be contained by the sidewalk!). The wait at Geno’s looked just as long. But in a fit of gluttony, I joined the 20-minute wait for Pat’s — maybe a touch under Tony Luke’s version but still miles better than anything in New England. Gave a half-second’s worth of thought about sampling the Geno’s fare, but I didn’t want to be responsible for structural collapse of Wachovia Center press box.

Someone will have to explain why something so simple — ribeye steak, cheese, bread — can taste so much better in Philly than elsewhere.

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