South Philly’s Block Party
Shield your eyes from the fluorescent glare and touristy mobs of Pat’s and Geno’s and beeline to this dark, spacious drinkery. The owners (who are also behind Bar on Sansom Street) have rehabbed an old auto-body shop, kept the huge garage door (which is rolled up on temperate days), installed a long wooden bar (at which you can order from a list of 100-plus canned craft beers), added five TVs for game-day action, and brought in classics like Skee-ball and billiards. Hot dogs are currently the only edible offerings, but come February, a permanent on-site food cart will feature bites from a rotating slate of food-truck owners and chefs. go here for: A place to enjoy your Whiz wit’—Garage encourages patrons to bring their cheesesteaks inside. // 1231 east passyunk avenue.
Sammi’s Shoe Box by Loro’s
On a street that’s ever-changing (see: auto-body shop turned into bar, above), Sammi’s is proof that some things are best left untouched. The throwback children’s shoe store opened in 1937 and still custom-designs its own hard-soled t-strap baby shoes, which alone are worthy of a visit. But owner Dara Shipp has an eye for the modern, too, so you’ll also find sweet mary janes from See Kai Run, handsome suede saddle shoes from Badorf, and flowery high-top sneaks from Lelli Kelly. go here for: Well-fit kids’ shoes that won’t ever have to be returned. // 1916 east passyunk avenue.
The problem with eating in this ’hood? Too many world-class restaurants from which to choose. For casuals eats, follow the smell of French-pressed coffee to this tiny orange-awninged cafe. The waits for brunch are legendary but worth it: The kitchen turns out show-stopping waffles, either made from cornbread batter and topped with sausage gravy and an egg, or from French-toast bread and topped with berries. go here for: Brunch with the locals. (Arrive before 10:30 a.m. to beat the weekend rush.) // 1823 east passyunk avenue.
Nice Things Handmade
Artist Elissa Kara was upset when some of the shops that supported local artists (and carried her wares) started closing up shop. So she opened her own. Four years later, she stocks goods from more than a hundred artists and designers, most from the area. Pieces range from clever and ironic (South Philly onesies and bacon-themed wall art) to fashionable (paper-thin wooden cuff bracelets), and pack a healthy dose of quirk appeal. go here for: Small-batch, locally produced gifts, jewelry and knickknacks. // 1731 east passyunk avenue.
A sign of the times: Nestled among shops selling frothy communion gowns and stained glass is Cloth, a cheery boutique stocked with adorable BPA-free kiddie accoutrements: forks shaped like construction trucks, colorful wooden toys, balance bikes, a smattering of sweet clothes. But it’s owner Angela Shaw-Halperin’s focus on cloth diapering and baby carriers that draws people in all the way from Maryland; she holds monthly cloth-diapering workshops and sells all the accessories old-school moms need to go Pampers-free. go here for: The shop’s “baby-wearing” experts, who walk perplexed parents through the countless types of baby-toting devices every Sunday. // 1605 east passyunk avenue.