South Street may not be pleasant to the nose, but it sure is pleasing to the eyes and taste buds. There are several restaurants, many specializing in cheese steaks, and small shops, ranging from jewelry stores such as Nova Ice to the very macho Dudes Boutique, filled with nothing but leather and snake skin. The street itself has an artsy feel, with red lampposts and murals galore.
Perhaps the most unique work of art is the Magic Garden, a multilevel indoor/outdoor mosaic masterpiece. All the walls, ceilings, and floors are decorated with ceramic tiles, broken mirrors, glass, bottles, colored cement, dishes, and even bicycle spokes. As you walk under archways and up and down stairs, every inch of space is decorated, including the bathrooms.
Various words and phrases can be found throughout the mosaic collage. “I built this sanctuary to be inhabited by my ideas and my fantasies” is written along one of the outside walls by the creator, Isaiah Zagar. Today his artwork spans half a city block.
The Magic Garden is only $3 per person and is open from 11 a.m. to 6p.m, March through Nov.
Steaks on South
Steaks on South is a cozy eatery with bar and table seating and a brick façade. The restaurant has two-levels, decorated with pictures taken all around South Street.
Food is served on time, piping hot, at a decent price. For just seven dollars, one can enjoy a true Philadelphian cheesesteak, courtesy of the winners of the Cheesesteak CityPaper ChoiceAwards 2006.
In addition, if one brings a ticket from an event, show or game, Steaks on South gives out a free basket of fries with the purchase of a sandwich.
It is Salvation Army meets Happy Days, The Brady Bunch and Growing Pains.
Located at the corner of Sixth and South streets, the vintage thrift store, Retrospect, carries a broad range of secondhand clothing, shoes, accessories and furniture. Browse through racks of sock-hop skirts, pinstriped suits and dresses straight out of The Breakfast Club. Floral printed couches, piled with antique dishes and knick-knacks, are staggered in front of a colorful wall of shoes, books and movies.
With those good old Salvation Army prices, it is impossible to leave without finding something to compliment a new vintage style. Make sure to visit on Wipeout Wednesdays, when selected items are discounted an extra 50 percent.
Beyond the Wall
Beyond the Wall is a fun and innovative poster store that can please any artistic, theatrical or musical taste.
With posters ranging from Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and the Beatles to George Castanza and Homer Simpson, this small shop offers an extensive variety of room décor.
Other interesting accessories include Da Vinci inspired light-up pillows and black and white postcards.