DJ Jazzy Jeff's Day Off in Philly's South Street Is a True Local's Routine
The "Summertime" DJ walks us through his favorite spots in the tough city he absolutely adores, showing us the truly local cheesesteak joints and the most scenic hangouts.
DJ Jazzy Jeff absolutely loves Philadelphia, but he will tell you one thing: the city is tough. "You don't necessarily want to give it [to] that stereotype," he said in a recent interview with Thrillist. "But that is the honest to god truth."
The rule applies to everything from sports to music. Philly is a city that will have your back as long as you show your commitment. "If you give your best, you [are allowed to] lose," DJ Jazzy Jeff said. "But if they know that you gave your best, they're going to ride with you."
Jazzy Jeff owes everything he is to Philly and its hardcore spirit. If it wasn't for the city pushing him throughout his career, he wouldn't be the DJ he is today. "What that did for me, especially musically, is I don't take any shortcuts," he said. "You don't ever forget where you come from, because who I am is a result of where I come from."
In our series "Ride With Me" DJ Jazzy Jeff guides us through the South Street area, which built him from the ground up, and teaches us the Philly cheesesteak dos and don'ts that true Philadelphians know religiously. Vibrant and famous pizza shops, jalapeño fries so hot you'll need to cool down with pitchers of margaritas, and blissful parks that acted as a music video set are only some of the incredible highlights Philly has to offer.
Make plenty of room in your stomach and come with us—we're going to Philly!
Places to Eat & Drink
For the sake of true Philadelphians, do not put Cheese Whiz on a cheesesteak. "That's a tourist thing," DJ Jazzy Jeff said. According to the DJ, Ishkabibble's is the place you need to go for a real cheese steak sandwich. He means no disrespect to Geno's Steaks or Pat's King of Steak, but that's where you take tourists.
DJ Jazzy Jeff's go-to Ishkabibble's order? He doesn't eat cheese, so he usually gets a plain steak with mayonnaise, ketchup, salt, pepper, and fried onions. And to drink, he highly recommends a Gremlin, which is a lemonade mixed with grape juice.
Until this interview, DJ Jazzy Jeff never realized how difficult it is to say Copabanana. "We never said the whole name," he explained. "We would just say, 'Yo, meet me at Copa.'"
Copabanana—or Copa, as the cool kids call it—is a staple Mexican-American cantina in Philly that's famous for its burgers and margaritas. And don't get DJ Jazzy Jeff started on the fries, which come with onions and jalapeños and are both absolutely delicious and very, very spicy.
"Where it gets dangerous is because the jalapeños make the fries hot," he warned. "And you try to cool your mouth down with the margarita, which is not the thing to do!"
Copa definitely holds a special place in DJ Jazzy Jeff's heart. "The Copa is not an eye-catching place," he said. "But to me, that kind of reflects what Philly is. The Copa is real. The vibe is the people. The vibe is the place."
The best way to end any night in Philly is at Lorenzo's Pizza with a huge slice in your hand.
But make sure to get your slice and eat it right away, as timing is everything. "Lorenzo's Pizza is the best pizza on the planet at 2 am, when the club lets out," DJ Jazzy Jeff explained. "It don't taste great if you bought it at 2 am and you ate it at 2:30 am. It don't translate. It don't travel well."
Pizzas come out incredibly fast from the ovens at Lorenzo's, and they're loaded with delicious, greasy juices. You have to act fast, though. If you don't take the first bite right away, all those juices will travel from the paper plate onto your sleeve, so it's better to be safe than sorry.
Things to See & Do
It's located in West Fairmount Park, and it's a spot where you can sit, chill, and admire a complete 360-degree view of the city. "The feeling that you have coming out of the winter, the way the trees bloom, it's a special thing," DJ Jazzy Jeff said. "You would stay out there and as the sun starts to go down, the city lights up and now you're watching the skyline of Philadelphia. It was beautiful."
If you're looking for a date spot, Penn's Landing is the place to be.
It's a pretty romantic setting. You can take your date to one of the benches right by the water and watch the boats go by to the sound of the water splashing. If you're hungry or want to do something together, there are plenty of options, too. "It's very scenic down there and it's completely different now," DJ Jazzy Jeff said. "They have the ice skating and they have food trucks and all the rest of this stuff."