August 23, 2018

South Street Neighborhood Guide

The Colorful Shops, Restaurants, Cafes & More Of Philadelphia Classic South Street

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Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Gardens in Philadelphia is a mosaic wonderland filled with ceramic tiles, mirrors and found objects. Photo by C. Smyth for Visit Philadelphia
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South Street is known for its book shops, boutiques, pubs, tattoo parlors, live music venues and restaurants. Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®Visit Philadelphia
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Jim’s Steaks has four locations, but the classic smell of fried onions wafting down South Street makes that address the most memorable. Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia
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The Theatre of the Living Arts, located in the heart of South Street, has become one of Philadelphia's premier small-concert venues. Photo by G. Miller for Visit Philadelphia
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South Street is known for its book shops, boutiques, pubs, tattoo parlors, live music venues and restaurants. Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia
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Long known as the edgiest street in Philadelphia, South Street welcomes more than just hippies these days. Shoppers searching for a statement-making look, visitors hungry for a real Philly cheesesteak and music lovers who want to catch an up-and-coming band head to the storied boulevard. Also lining South are ethnically diverse and destination restaurants, bars that keep the party going long after dessert, galleries and performance spaces. Each May, the blocks between Front and 8th Streets close to car traffic and transform for a spring festival with loads of live music, vendors and a beer-centric Maifest, for the South Street Spring Festival.

Over the past decade, the development of South Street’s east side has spread west of Broad Street, but the traditional definition of the district (depending on who you ask) spans up to 14 blocks: Front Street all the way up to Broad Street.

Jim’s Steaks has four locations, but the classic smell of fried onions wafting down South Street makes that address the most memorable.   — Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Food & Drinks:

  • Banh Mi and Bottles – Vietnamese classics and street eats come together with crafty cocktails at this moodily lit date-night destination. A well-stocked bottle shop next door has fridges full of rare beers to take out or drink in. 712-714 South Street, (215) 800-1533,
  • BAP – This simple Korean quick-serve devotes its full attention to bright bibimbap: rice bowls topped with fresh and pickled vegetables, a choice of proteins plus a fried egg. 1224 South Street, (215) 735-0553,
  • The Bean Cafe – With local art on the walls, a dessert case full of treats and a full coffee, tea and smoothie menu, this cozy cafe plays host to South Street’s artistic and indie crowd. The rotating selection of vintage action figures and other nostalgic items on display round out the fun vibe. 615 South Street, (215) 629-2250,
  • Big Gay Ice Cream – Rainbows, unicorns and portraits of the Golden Girls set the stage for the city’s most flamboyant soft-serve spot. Specials change with the seasons but a chocolate-dipped, caramel-coated Salty Pimp cone is never a bad idea. 521 S. Broad Street, (267) 886-8024,
  • The Boyler Room – “Good food, good fun, good friends.” That’s The Boyler Room promise, fulfilled with a weekly changing menu, 20 rotating beers on tap, TVs and an upstairs game room (pool table, arcade games). 328 South Street, (215) 413-8294
  • Brauhaus Schmitz – At this authentic German beer hall, diners dig into hearty lunches, dinners and late-night dishes with modern, approachable twists. To wash it all down, they can choose from 30 beers on a tap and a bottle list so big it knocks the lederhosen off of any beer fan. 718 South Street, (267) 909-8814,
  • Bridget Foy’s – Featuring a fantastic sidewalk deck, this South Street staple packs its menu with casual favorites for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. The all-day menu is stuffed with a selection of shareables, including big salads, veggie and standard burgers and great choices for kids. 200 South Street, (215) 922-1813,
  • Caribbean Delight – A jerk food destination, Caribbean Delight dishes out curry goat, curry shrimp, fried chicken and even vegetarian options. A large outdoor seating area and reggae music set the mood, so guests enjoy a mini-island retreat along with their Jamaican fare. 1124 South Street, (215) 829-1030
  • City Diner – Retro booths and shiny chrome lend vintage vibes to this new addition to the city’s late-night dining scene. Patty melts and all-day breakfast can be paired with bottomless coffee, shakes or cocktails from the bar. 521 S. Broad Street, (215) 383-3330,
  • Copabanana – This brightly painted, vacation-inspired eatery has been a South Street staple for more than 30 years. What keeps diners coming back? The tropical drinks, half-pound burgers and spicy Spanish fries. 344 South Street, (215) 923-6180,
  • Ishkabibble’s – This pink-and-yellow vendor has been cooking up cheesesteaks and chicken cheesesteaks since 1979. They also operate a second location less than two blocks away. Favorites include Spanish fries and the original Gremlin, a half-lemonade, half-grape-juice concoction. 337 South Street, (215) 923-4337; 517 South Street, (215) 922-0494,
  • Jim’s Steaks South Street – Philadelphians love their cheesesteaks, and at Jim’s on South Street, locals and visitors alike stand in line for a taste of some of the city’s best. From lunchtime past 2 a.m., the queue of hungry patrons stretches out the door and around the block. 400 South Street, (215) 928-1911,
  • Johnny Rockets – A perpetual crowd pleaser, Johnny Rockets keeps the 1950s alive with shakes, floats, hamburgers, desserts and a slew diner-inspired menu items. The South Street location is the chain’s only Philly outpost. 443 South Street, (215) 829-9222,
  • Jon’s Bar & Grille – The actual birthplace of Larry Fine, one of The Three Stoogies, Jon’s has 10 big-screen sets, 20 beers on tap and daily and game-time drink specials. A not-so-subtle mural overlooking the outdoor patio pays homage to the smartest Stooge. 300 South Street, (215) 592-1390,
  • La Fourno Ristorante Trattoria – Along with an extensive wine list and bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) nights every Wednesday and Friday, this Italian restaurant dishes out mussels and shrimp scampi, along with more casual eats. 636 South Street, (215) 627-9000,
  • Las Bugambilias – Those who crave Mexican fare can find authentic dishes for lunch and dinner here seven days a week and brunch Friday through Sunday. The restaurant’s draws include inventive cocktail and tequila lists and traditional house-made mole sauce that tops entrees, including enchiladas with Chihuahua cheese gratin. 148 South Street, (215) 922-3190,
  • Little Negril – The flavors of Jamaica come with friendly, island-style hospitality at this steam table restaurant. Diners choose from curry, jerk or brown stew and round out meals with rice and peas, sticky fried plantains and spicy ginger beer. 627 South Street, (215) 925-2100
  • Lorenzo and Sons – Oversized slices served after-hours are the reason that this pie shop has been a South Street staple for decades. The rules here: no credit cards, no toppings, no utensils and no pretense. 305 South Street, (215) 800-1942,
  • Lovash Indian Cuisine – This white tablecloth establishment comes with all the traditional and noto-so-traditional plates one expects to find at an Indian restaurant—and a full-service bar. 236 South Street, (215) 925-3881,
  • Manny Brown’s – Open since the summer of 1983, this standby does up Buffalo wings, chicken fingers, potato skins and craft beer. Daily specials often make drinking at Manny’s an affordable project. 512 South Street, (215) 627-7427
  • Ms. Tootsie’s Restaurant Bar & Lounge – Serving Southern specialties with a big side of soul, KeVen Parker’s popular spot entices the dinner crowd with award-winning fried chicken, lobster macaroni and cheese and collard greens. Patrons can make a night of it at the Luxe Lounge Sky Bar, offering cocktails, bottle service and a late-night menu. 1312 South Street, (215) 731-9045,
  • Nora’s Taqueria – Tacos, burritos, bowls and chicken and rice plates make up the menu at this fast-casual, family-run Mexican spot. Attention to detail and house-made everything ensure that even the simplest orders satisfy. 248 South Street, (267) 819-1557
  • Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria – Alfresco Italian bites and beer are available on the patio of this coal-fired pizzeria on the quiet end of South Street. Weekday happy hour and lunchtime prix-fixe menus offer serious deals on drinks and light fare. 121 South Street, (215) 733-0675,
  • Primo Hoagies – Philadelphia’s favorite cold sandwich is expertly composed at this local chain’s South Street outpost. This Primo gets points for its full bar with local craft drafts to pair with prosciutto and provolone-stuffed Italian. 326 South Street, (215) 923-3101,
  • Red Poke Express – The poke trend has touched down on South Street. This Hawaii-inspired spot offers sushi burritos and bowls and fish fantasies of customized poke with a rainbow of bright mix-ins. 135 South Street, (215) 923-0800,
  • Sansom Kabob – A move from subterranean Center City digs to a sunlit corner comes with plenty of perks for this family-run Afghan eatery. Expertly grilled kebobs and fluffy pilafs are now enjoyed in a bright BYOB with plenty of window seats. 1300 South Street, (215) 751-9110,
  • Serpico – New York’s Peter Serpico (of Momofuku Ko fame) and Philadelphia’s own Stephen Starr collaborate on this one-room, 60-seat project. Serpico has been credited with heralding a culinary renaissance for South Street, via an evolving menu of playful yet unfamiliar takes on global fare. 604 South Street, (215) 925-3001,
  • Sip-N-Glo Juicery – The premier location of this Philly-born juice chain draws the post-yoga crowd with a rainbow of beneficial and tasty smoothies, shots and cold-pressed options. 932 South Street, (215) 351-9300,
  • Smoke’s Poutinerie – Gravy and cheese curds are just the beginning at this north-of-the-border fry specialist. Toppings tend to run heavy, with options like chicken with bacon and ranch and double pork, but Smoke’s also stocks vegetarian gravy, to give the meatless set a chance to indulge in the Quebecois comfort food. 411 South Street, (215) 351-0292,
  • SNAP Kitchen – Folks with dietary restrictions have a field day at this grab-and-go spot where allergies, calorie counts and ingredients are fastidiously listed on everything from chia seed parfaits to hearty grain bowls. 609 S. 10th Street, (215) 845-0002,
  • South Street Diner – Open 24 hours a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this 40-something favorite serves traditional diner fare, along with Greek specialties such as spanakopita. Fresh baked goods and free delivery make it a go-to. 140 South Street, (215) 627-5258,
  • South Street Souvlaki – For well over three decades, this South Street staple has been dishing out authentic Greek and Mediterranean fare such as stuffed peppers, souvlaki, gyros and falafel. 509 South Street, (215) 925-3026,
  • Spice End – Halal cart staples like chicken and rice are on offer here, but the real draw are kati rolls, oversized flatbreads that come filled with everything from chicken tikka masala to grilled paneer. 650 South Street, (267) 543-5970,
  • Tattooed Mom – Beers and a casual comfort-food menu take the spotlight in this dive bar with a rocker, art-gallery edge. Upstairs, a lounge, two pool tables and an eclectic art collection add to the joint’s laid-back vibe. 530 South Street, (215) 238-9880,
  • Vegan Tree – The folks at Vegan Tree tout their love for three things: vegan food, their customers and the planet. The wide variety of vegetarian-friendly goodies here includes smoothies, cakes, bubble tea, chow mein, wraps and salads. 742 South Street, (215) 454-2898,
  • Woodrow’s Sandwich Shop – Updated riffs on Philly faves are what it’s all about at this sandwich-centric newcomer. Cheesesteaks come topped with truffle Whiz and cherry pepper mayo; bacon, egg and cheeses get sandwiched into pretzel croissants. 630 South Street, (215) 470-3559,

Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Gardens in Philadelphia is a mosaic wonderland filled with ceramic tiles, mirrors and found objects.   — Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Arts & Entertainment:

  • MilkBoy South Street – This two-story venue spins off a similarly named spot for live music, local drinks and good food at 11th and Chestnut Streets. Beyond glass garage doors, six draft lines, including one nitro, pour Pennsylvania beer, a chef-musician creates the menu and up-and-coming bands do their thing. 401 South Street, (215) 925-6455,
  • Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens – Mosaics bloom at this fantasy-like art showplace, presenting and preserving the work of artist Isaiah Zagar. Visitors can take a tour or attend a mosaic workshop led by the artist himself, a player in the South Street community since the 1960s. 1020 South Street, (215) 733-0390,
  • Theatre of Living Arts (TLA) – The smallest large venue in Philadelphia, the TLA offers concertgoers a more personal environment in which to take in well-known post-rock (Mogwai), rap (Prophets of Rage & Tyga), death metal (Cannibal Corpse), pop (EchoSmith) and, on occasion, Brandy. The venue houses two bars, a snack stand and a 21+ balcony. 334 South Street, (215) 922-1011,


  • Accent on Animals – This brightly painted pet-supply shop fills its shelves with high-quality foods and accessories for all types of pets. 804 South Street, (215) 625-8420
  • Atomic City Comics – Atomic City features new comic book and graphic novel releases each week, an extensive collection of back-issue and $1 comics, a handful of 1990s arcade games and a sizable selection of independent and small-press books for comic enthusiasts and casual readers alike. It also hosts parties for highly anticipated releases, as well as movie and television viewing parties. 638 South Street, (215) 625-9613
  • Bridgeset Sound – This independent, family-owned store caters to musicians of all levels with a variety of instruments, including ukuleles and synthesizers. Bridgeset is also the go-to spot for recording equipment and offers lessons to audiophiles of all ages in recording, songwriting, music theory and several instruments. 710 South Street, (267) 507-4350,
  • Dudes Boutique – This clothing shop offers goods for both men and women, including handmade leather jackets and an international selection of shoes. 646 South Street, (215) 928-0661,
  • Eyes Gallery – Julia Zagar, spouse of prolific mosaic muralist Isaiah, opened this must-shop destination for exotic South American crafts back in 1968. Religious iconography, sterling-silver jewelry, hand-woven blankets and folk art fill three stories, floor to ceiling. 402 South Street, (215) 925-0193,
  • Garland of Letters – At this New Age bookstore, people can find serenity—or at least a book to direct them there. Crystals, journals, incense and gifts assist in the journey to Zen. 527 South Street, (215) 923-5946
  • Gilly Jeans – Urban cowboys and cowgirls shop for American-made boots and leather goods here. The belt buckle selection alone impresses all who enter. 320 South Street, (215) 592-9926
  • Greene Street Consignment – The upscale atmosphere at corner boutique delights secondhand shoppers. One of several Philly-area Greene Streets, this store stocks seemingly limitless fashion treasures, from Gap to Gucci, clothes to shoes to accessories. 700 South Street, (215) 733-9261,
  • Harry’s World – A holdover from the strip’s hippy-dippy days of yore, Harry’s stocks all manner of candles, herbs and other spell-casting paraphernalia. Love, wealth or retribution: No matter the quest, the staff here is always ready to recommend a notion or a potion. 1210 South Street, (215) 309-3326
  • Mineralistic – Exotic artifacts, rare gems, fossils, figurines and silver, gemstone and Celtic jewelry, pack the displays of this longtime retailer. A knowledgeable staff is always on hand to inform shoppers. 319 South Street, (215) 922-7199,
  • Nocturnal – Catering to both real skateboarders—and those who just want to look the part—Nocturnal stocks its shelves with all of the necessary gear. This neighborhood spot is more than just a place to shop; it’s a hub dedicated to supporting and growing the Philadelphia skating community. 533 South Street, (215) 922-3177,
  • Platinum – This contemporary clothier stocks select pieces from French Connection, PRPS, Versace, Moschino, Pierre Balmain, Iceberg, Alexander McQueen, BBC, Comme des Garçons and Hugo Boss. The store also offers women’s and men’s outerwear, footwear and accessories. 526 South Street, (215) 599-7528,
  • Ps and Qs – At this menswear boutique, heritage brands such as Herschel Supply Co. and Pendleton share racks with trendy labels like Norse Projects, Penfield and Victory Press. Each piece has been thoroughly vetted to be on point, right down to the masculine scents of the rugged candles. 820 South Street, (215) 592-0888,
  • Raxx Vintage – Plentiful polyester and parachute pants line the racks in this shop, where the definition of vintage means anything made before the year 2000. Come holiday season, Raxx’ ugly Christmas sweater selection is unparalleled. 832 South Street, (215) 922-2898
  • Repo Records – This 30-something music haven provides audiophiles with CDs and vinyls of their favorite indie, punk, hardcore, new wave, soul, jazz and alternative rock bands, along with hard-to-find releases. 538 South Street, (215) 627-3775,
  • Retrospect Vintage – At Retrospect Vintage, throwback fashionistas find jeans, furs, coats, hats, jewelry and old T-shirts. 508 South Street, (215) 925-3761
  • Suplex – Savvy sneakerheads make regular rounds to this upscale resale shop for limited-edition Yeezys, Jordans and other fresh out-of-the-box kicks. 624 South Street,
  • Totem Brand – Classic, rustic, made-in-the-U.S.A. men’s fashion is the stock-in-trade at this rugged yet dapper dudes’ boutique. Clothing and shoe lines include Wolverine, Danner, Rogue Territory, Steven Alan, Red Wing, Filson, Woolrich, Pendleton and Norman Porter, while candles, soaps and incense that appeal to the outdoorsman in everyone. 535 South Street, (215) 440-9922,
  • Villa – Head-to-toe gear for men, women and children fill a high-energy environment equipped with flat-screen TVs and computers. The company is also committed to helping the local community via neighborhood partnerships, educational initiatives and anti-violence programs. 608 South Street, (215) 574-4980,
  • Wooden Shoe Books – An indie neighborhood isn’t complete without a collectively run anarchist bookstore, and Wooden Shoe fills that role for South Street. Volunteers stock the shelves with resources for activism, organizing, art and community building. Be on the lookout for events such as musical performances and film screenings. 704 South Street, (215) 413-0999,

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