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Where to Go, What to Know

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Travel section contributor Tim Warren recently spent a day in Philly sampling roast pork sandwiches. His reporter's notebook:

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DRIVE TIME

About 2-3 hours from the Beltway, depending on traffic.

COST

The sandwiches tested started at $5.75.

THE GAME PLAN

I focused on South Philadelphia, the home turf of Tony Luke's and John's Roast Pork -- and, for that matter, Pat's and Geno's, both of which offer a perfectly serviceable roast pork sandwich. I complemented my sub-buying with visits to the Italian Market, just up the street from Pat's on Ninth Street. Center City, home to the wonderful Reading Terminal Market, is a short drive north of the Italian Market.

If you get to Philly by 11 a.m., you should be able to hit at least a couple of the sub places as well as the markets and still make it home at a reasonable hour.

WHERE TO EAT:

* Tony Luke's (39 E. Oregon Ave., 215-551-5725), right off Exit 19 from Interstate 95, is a good place to start. The cheesesteaks and cutlet sandwiches look good, but you know why you're there. A roast pork sandwich without rabe or provolone runs $5.75, but you want the roast pork Italian, which has both ingredients and is a steal at $7.25. The lines can be long and the decor is drab, but who cares? Open Monday-Thursday 6 a.m.-midnight; Friday-Saturday 6 a.m.-2 a.m.; closed Sunday.

* John's Roast Pork, several blocks away at 14 E. Snyder Ave. (215-463-1951), is housed in equally humble digs, but it won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2006 in the Classics category. Go with the large roast pork sandwich ($6.50): The bread is better than with the small sandwich, and there's enough meat, cheese and greens inside the roll to fill you up for a week. Open Monday-Friday 6:45 a.m.-3 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; closed Sunday.

* The parking is terrible around the Reading Terminal Market (12th and Arch streets), but don't let that deter you from a visit to DiNic's (1136 Arch St., 215-923-6175). It could be the best of several good eating places in the market, despite having a limited menu. You'll be tempted to try the roast beef sandwich, which is another favorite of Philly foodies, but stick with the roast pork. Don't worry about this sub ($7.50, with rabe and provolone) being juicy enough: You may need to clean up with a beach towel. Open 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

ONE GREAT MARKET

¿ The Italian Market (Ninth Street, from Wharton to Federal streets) isn't what it used to be, but it's still a cool place to shop for Italian food. Although the produce stands are pretty ordinary, the butcher shops and cheese stores are first-rate. You'll need a box to carry it all home, and probably a credit card or two. Most stores are open Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

I usually visit four or five stores, but a favorite of mine is Talutto's (944 S. Ninth St., 215-627-4967), which sells a number of homemade pastas (the lobster ravioli is fabulous) as well as imported cheeses and olive oils.

INFO

* Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., 215-599-0776, http://www.gophila.com.

* Reading Terminal Market, 215-922-2317, http://www.readingterminalmarket.org .


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