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Blame the trolley for this. They’ve set up a temporary stop just about outside Tommy Pastrami’s New York Delicatessen while they repair America Plaza’s platform.

So you get off and immediately catch wafts of beef, salty beef, sauerkraut, brisket.

I know where it’s coming from.

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I've trundled past Tommy’s (555 West C. Street, at Columbia, downtown, 619-487-0800) on this trolley a hundred times.

I see a bunch of sheriff’s officers munching at the tables on the sidewalk under a huge old Canary Island palm.

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Them and clumps of lawyers, looks like, from the thick wads of papers they’re arguing over.

Plus there’s a line out the door.

Me, never saw a line I didn’t like.

Inside, finally. Jazmyn and Christina stand underneath a huge menu, taking orders.

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Jazmyn and Christina

Have to think quick. Guess it’s gotta be a pastrami, but not too much.

Their sandwiches are so thick their slogan is “Climb it or eat it?” And from the orders coming out, I see they exaggerate only a little. I order a "halfer" -- a half pastrami on rye ($5.95). Then, to help it down, a side order (8 oz.) of chicken soup ($2.75).

Actually just that little carton of scalding soup has enough chicken and carrots in it to make a meal. The sandwich? It’s the smallest, but I’m struggling to finish here.

Jazmyn says, yes, they have picky New Yorkers come in saying, “I’m from the Big Apple. I’ll know if it’s not right.”

“But usually they end up admitting this is the real thing. They usually tell us ‘This is just like home.’”

Also, it’s kinda cool sitting out here under the palms, watching the trolley go by. Why didn’t someone think of this before?

Someday I’ll screw up courage to order their Skyscraper sandwich ($13.95, “built for two,” they say). It’s a three-quarter pound stack of meat. Gonna have to make like the python. Evolve a detached lower jaw.

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