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Hi, I grew up near Philly but haven't been back in 10 years. Returning with my 10 and 12 yr olds and sister for 2 days of history and one night at the Meridian on Arch near 15th St. My 12 year old NEEDS to try a good cheesesteak and I haven't been on South St in years. Without driving all over the place, are we near any decent restaurants for italian, cheesesteaks, or anything? Have never stayed in a Philly hotel and not really sure where we will be. Apart from restaurants, what is South St like these days? Thanks!!

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    > what is South St like these days?

    South Street is losing its edge and "funkiness" as the entire area becomes more and more gentrified. After sixty years of flight, young professionals are moving back into the city, and buying into areas where they can afford the housing. This generally means that gentrification is occurring at a rate of about one street southward every few years -- ie, that's how long the "border" between neighborhoods that need some work, and the ones that have been fixed up, to move south one block. South Street now seems to have as many chain drug stores as tattoo parlors.

    As you know, if you ask two Philly restaurants the eternal question -- "Which place has the best cheese-steaks?" -- you'll get three profanities in each of the replies. All I can suggest is do an internet search for
    philadelphia best cheesesteaks
    and the slog through the 521,000 hits.

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    For that age group, South Street will propbably still hold some interest. Some of the old guard stores are still there... Zipperhead (now renamed Crash, Bang, Boom), Garland of Letters, Eyes, deVecchis poster gallery, Gilly Jeans. There are also some used record stores and the Wooden Shoe, probably the most famous anarchist bookstore in the city, moved over from Wash West a few years ago. Unfortunately the Book Trader moved to 2nd and Market. On today's South Street, there are more stores catering to urban style, and there will always be a few that sell clothing and shoes for women who dance on poles or want to look like them. Thankfully the chain stores that were around in the 90s and 2000's -- including the Gap, of all things-- have packed up and moved away.

    I won't take a stand on the cheesesteak issue, but do suggest the lengthy thread on Chowhound for more info in fewer than half a million google hits. Jim's on South Street, Campo's on Market, or someplace in Reading Terminal would likely be the most convenient options for you.

    Also note that over the past 10 years, the cheesesteak has been replaced by the Roast Pork Italian (with sharp provolone and rabe) as the city's most beloved sandwich. Try DiNic's in the RTM for that one. The kids might also enjoy Dutch Eating Place and seeing the other Amish vendors, if that is new to them.

    Le Meridian is a bit of an odd location, if only because it shares a block with the Municipal Services Building (check out the sculptures on the plaza) and the Probation & Parole office, so the restaurants on that block cater to those crowds. [Different crowds... I am not suggesting that city employees are criminals! Or, at least, not most of them.]

    If you tell us more about the places you are going to see and where you are coming from, we can also suggest places to eat that may be of interest (eg, ethnic choices you might not be able to get at home).

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