Readers’ choice: Perfect Touch Day Spa, 2525 Weisenberger St, 817-870-3610
Critic’s choice: Panther City BBQ, 201 E Hattie St, 817-300-3743
Chris, Ernie, and the team at this Near Southside food truck (soon to be restaurant) simply cannot do enough for their customers. Want to preorder and pay to beat the lines? No problem. Need an event catered? Cool. About the best ’cue in town served with a smile and a chat. Things can only get even better inside the bricks and mortar.
Readers’ choice: Novak Hair Studios, 250 W Lancaster Av, St 110, 817-592-4247
Critic’s choice: Novak Hair Studios
In this me-first age we’re stuck in, it’s nice to know that a few local businesses are still considering the greater good. Novak’s Earth-friendly ethos permeates every aspect of its business – it’s North Texas’ first fully sustainable zero-waste salon. Even hair clippings are repurposed for cleaning up oil spills in the ocean. Of course, a salon’s main job is to help you look fab, and the West Lancaster studio houses dozens of top-shelf stylists and color specialists who can help you feel great about your hair and the planet.
Readers’ choice: Fort Worth Barber Shop, 3529 Lovell Av, 817-731-5252
Critic’s choice: District Barbershop, two locations, 817-420-9552
Whether you’re preparing for a big night out or simply need to tame that beard, Distrcit Barbershop knows how to help a man look his best. This old school business specializes in hot towel shaves, classic cuts, and fades. Here, the barbers are known for their masterful snips and precise buzz lines, and you can even order a black mask facial. While free beer is no longer a novelty at hair salons, District Barbershop doesn’t peddle the cheap stuff. Only local craft suds are offered to waiting customers.
Readers’ choice: Ink817 Tattoo Co., 3204 Camp Bowie Blvd, 682-204-0696
Critic’s choice: Urban’s Tattoo and Piercing Studio, 2301 N Collins St, Ste 112, Arl, 817-276-9353, and 2927 S Cooper St, Arl, 817-472-9119
With two Arlington locations, Urban’s has your back, front, sides, arms, and legs covered. The multi-award-winning studios provide upwards of 20 artists whose specialties cover all genres of ink art. From the itty-bitty butterfly on the wrist you never knew would sting like that to a body suit and everything between, Urban’s coterie of ink masters and mistresses offer up high quality work with great customer service in clean and cool studios.
Critic’s choice: The Poor People Store, Booth 501 at Doc’s Records & Vintage, 2628 Weisenberger St, 817-732-5455
This little one-person operation is the perfect place to not just buy those bellbottoms you covet but to see paisley flowers stitched into them as well. Alfredo Posada is a madman with a pair of scissors and a sewing machine, turning otherwise old schmatas into beautiful clothes straight out of yesterday. His prices are great and his work impeccable.
Readers’ choice: Doc’s Records & Vintage, 2628 Weisenberger St, 817-732-5455
Critic’s choice: Record Town, 120 St. Louis Av, Ste 105, 817-926-1331
Record Town is a Fort Worth staple among music lovers –– and that affection is justified. Opened in 1957, Record Town is one of the oldest running record shops in America and has deep ties to the music industry. Plus, shopping at Record Town is just plain cool. There’s a strong vintage vibe, memorabilia, instruments, and more. The listening station is a particularly helpful finishing touch. With a wide selection, from sealed collectors’ pieces and used 78s to local and national bands, there’s something for everyone.
Readers’ choice: Fusion Hookah Lounge and Smoke Shop, 2205 W Berry St, 817-921-5500
Critic’s choice: Twisted Smoke, 1527 Jacksboro Hwy, 817-624-0420
This cool little shop with its walls covered in classic rock ’n’ roll posters has the goods whether you are a tobacco enthusiast, a stoner, CBD proponent, or Kratom lover. Good location, fair prices, knowledgeable staff –– heck, it’s worth taking up the habit just to visit this shop regularly.
Readers’ choice: Spec’s Wine, Spirits and Finer Foods, 2750 Hulen St, 817-923-2700
Critic’s choice: Chicotsky’s Liquor and Fine Wine, 3429 W 7th St, 817-332-3566
You won’t find artisan meats, groceries, or fancy gift bags at Chicotksy’s. What you will come across is a family-owned liquor store that manages to cater to both connoisseurs and novices. Robert Chicotsky will help you plan your event –– whether you’re entertaining a dozen or 100 people, he’ll magically organize the types and quantities of wine and spirits you’ll need. And if you have any unopened wine bottles, you can return them. Yeah, like you’d really have leftover wine.
Readers’ choice: Bicycles Inc., 5125 Granbury Rd, 817-292-2911
Critic’s choice: Playtri — Alliance Bike & Triathalon Store, 3409 N Tarrant Pkwy, Ste 109, 817-562-2453
Along with a vast selection of bikes (mountain, hybrid, road, gravel) and full-service mechanics, this recently opened shop near Alliance has what you need for your next/first triathalon, including swim gear. The owners are almost always on hand and ready to assist you with a smile, whether you’re a pro, a kid, or a newbie.
Readers’ choice: Inursha Fitness, 2927 Shamrock Av, 817-332-7554
Critic’s choice: Inursha Fitness
We might as well name this award after this place for as many times as they’ve won it. Though there are a few gyms in town that are great for breaking a sweat and/or getting pumped (the hardcore Metroflex, the lifestyle-centric BlackBox, any 24-Hour Fitness), Inursha is tops primarily for its laid-back atmosphere, which is great if you’re just starting out or are just getting back into the swing of things. Also, no contracts and lots of certified personal trainers on hand.
Readers’ choice: Magnolia Skate Shop, 1455 W Magnolia Av, Ste 105, 469-738-8927
Critic’s choice: Magnolia Skate Shop
Opened by a pair of local skaters, Magnolia Skate Shop jams a tight selection of decks, hardware, wheels, and apparel into its relatively small space, and it still has room for a lounge area where you can kick back and while away an afternoon watching classic skate videos. This place stocks local labels whenever possible, and the crew who works there is all-in on fostering the local skate scene.
Readers’ choice: All Auto Service and Body, 1600 W Berry St, 682-224-2942
Critic’s choice: JB, the service manager at Ichiban Autos, 1901 W Berry St, 817-920-9148
Fair, honest, reasonably priced, well-established, talented and attentive staff –– Ichibahn hits all the criteria for what makes a great auto shop. Established in 2002, Ichibahn is a near one-stop shop that performs most any repairs. Shop manager JB is the guy with mad mechanic skills who keeps everything running smoothly.
Readers’ choice: Perfect Touch Day Spa, 2525 Weisenberger St, 817-870-3610
Critic’s choice: Perfect Touch Day Spa
Now in a new, spacious building, perennial winner Perfect Touch looks better than ever while still offering the same quality service and expertise that have established it as the day spa to beat in North Texas. Our favorite is the champagne couple’s massage ($140), but along with a variety of therapies to work out any kinks in your muscles and joints, Perfect Touch also takes care of your skin, body, face, and nails and also does waxing and tanning.
Boutique Fitness Studio
Readers’ choice: The Dailey Method, 2000 W Berry St, Ste 200, 817-889-2551
Critic’s choice: Abundio’s Fit Society, 4661 White Settlement Rd, 817-885-8900
Ditch the dirty, crowded, big-box sweat zone chains and step up your fitness game at Abundio’s, where a personalized approach to training is of paramount importance. Classes and sessions are small, affordable, and designed to produce lifelong results.
Readers’ choice: Berry Good Buys Resale, 1701 W Berry St, 817-921-2793
Critic’s choice: Dr. Deals Resale Mall, 4715 E Lancaster Av, 817-709-7901
Dr. Deals is dealing great prices on funky finds for your home and wardrobe, plus other goodies you didn’t even know you wanted.
Place to Buy …
Readers’ choice: Houston St. Toys, 309 Houston St, 817-810-9644
Critic’s choice: Toy Works, 6333 Camp Bowie Blvd, 817-737-8697
Old toys. New toys. Girl toys. Boy toys. Lincoln Logs. Rubber frogs. Paints, books, and Silly Putty. Dinosaurs and all things nutty! A good toy store brings out the child in us all, silliness included.
Critic’s choice: Doc’s Records & Vintage, 2628 Weisenberger St, 817-732-5455
A caveat: Anywhere you buy vinyl records is fine with us, because vinyl records (especially ones made by local bands) need to be bought and cherished like the pieces of hi-fi nostalgia and lasting cultural artifacts they are. But along with its massive selection across multiple genres, the fine-tuned ears of its taste-making staff, and its side biz as a low-key vintage marketplace, Doc’s is tough to beat, and you’ll probably find what you’re looking for. And if not, there’s like six or seven other locally owned record stores waiting for you to dig through their crates.
Readers’ choice: Pop’s Safari Cigars, 2929 Morton St, 817-334-0559
Staff choice: Pop’s Safari Cigars
OK. OK. This hangout in the West 7th corridor has won the readers’ choice in this category for some years running, and this place does have an extensive line of smoking paraphernalia for pipe smokers as well as cigar aficionados. Most cigar shops serve brown drinks to go with the stogies, but Pop’s has craft beer, port, and Madeira as well. It’s enough to make us bow to our readers’ will.
Readers’ choice: BT Furnishings, 1650 S Cherry Ln, 817-246-9988
Critic’s choice: World Market, 4701 W Fwy, Ste 400, 817-737-8370
World Market is the master of the soft upsale. Many an unwitting customer has traipsed in to buy a bottle of merlot only to leave with a new Ashlyn bookshelf or Brewston accent table. And who could blame them? The specialty retail store is affordably priced and chock full of furniture lines that include everything but the kitchen sink. Looking to go all Mad Men? There’s a midcentury modern line for that. There are plenty of finely made mainstream options too. There’s something for anyone who has progressive taste in furniture. Just don’t forget to grab that bottle of wine you originally came in for before you check out.
Readers’ choice: Guitar Center, 5250 S Hulen St, 817-423-3800
Critic’s choice: Zoo Music, 3409 Indale Rd, 817-377-4411
Stop wasting your money at big-box music retailers and head to the Zoo. The Camp Bowie District retailer carries a vast array of new and used guitars, drums, keyboards, PA equipment, pedals, and every other imaginable instrument and accessory. You can also sign up for music lessons from its staff of onsite badasses, all who play in great local bands. Where else can you support a local business and help a musician afford good weed?
Readers’ choice: Montgomery Street Antique Mall, 2601 Montgomery St, 817-735-9685
Critic’s choice: Montgomery Street Antique Mall
Lots of little places sprinkled around Fort Worth offer antique and vintage stuff, but nobody has everything under the sun like at Montgomery Mall with its 200 or so separate booths crammed with old rugs, clothes, toys, sports memorabilia, kitchen utensils, pianos, and just about everything an antique collector is trying to find.
Readers’ choice: Sovereign Jewelry Company, 207 S Jennings Av, 817-885-7848
Critic’s choice: Sovereign Jewelry Company
Master jeweler and shop owner Brandon Smith’s handcrafted designs bear a personal touch that the chain stores simply cannot beat. Sovereign pretty much does it all: engagement and wedding rings, custom-made rock ’n’ roll accessories, hand-engraved pieces, repairing, cleaning, and even estate jewelry selling.
Readers’ choice: Gifted, 212 Carroll St, Ste 110, 682-250-5963
Critic’s choice: Earth Bones, 308 Main St, 817-332-2662
At Earth Bones, you can buy Earthbound-esque gifts while still supporting a local business. This quirky boutique in Sundance Square has clothes, art, tchotchkes, and funny cards for pretty much every occasion. Whether your hipster friend needs more candles for her apartment or your roommate needs a dashboard bobblehead, Earth Bones has you covered.
Readers’ choice: Velvet Box, 2917 Morton St, 817-744-7841
Critic’s choice: Jumping Jax, 3736 Golden Triangle Blvd, Keller, 817-431-4823
Jumping Jax isn’t the biggest adult toy store around, but it offers a wide variety of fun stuff to discover your inner freak. Need a bondage kit? Giant inflatable penis? Dildos? Lingerie? It’s all here. In a nod to cleanliness, employees use gloves to handle the sex toys –– and there is a wide selection of goodies hanging on the pink walls. Inventory is geared toward men, women, transgenders, and everything in between or outside those lines. The store offers regular discounts and gives a permanent 20 percent discounts to military veterans with an ID.
Readers’ choice: Defender Outdoors Shooting Center, 2900 Shotts St, 817-935-8377
Critic’s choice: Lead Heads, 2019 N Saginaw Blvd, Saginaw, 682-224-5531
Owner Taylor Spence spent about half an hour the other day answering questions about handguns, ammunition, and concealed carry laws from a customer who, upon entering the store, said, “I’m not planning on buying anything today, but I’d like some information.” Courteous service is what you can expect at Lead Heads, where Spence stocks what you need, knows all about it, and can order it quickly if he doesn’t stock it.
Readers’ choice: Thrive Apothecary, 212 Carroll St, 817-480-7098
Critic’s choice: Zen Alchemy Labs, zenalchemylabs.com
Texas finally joined the list of other reasonable states that allow hemp to be grown for agricultural, commercial, and medical purposes. That small step goes a long way in normalizing CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid that thousands of Texans rely on to prevent seizures or to mitigate (and in some cases eliminate) chronic pain. Fort Worth-based Zen Alchemy Labs puts a premium on quality control. Each CBD product is tested multiple times to ensure that the CBD levels match what is listed and that all products are chemical- and pesticide-free.
Readers’ choices only
Readers’ choice: TCU Florist, 3131 S University Dr, 817-924-2211
Readers’ choice: Pat Gallagher, 555 S Summit Av, 817-332-3115
Readers’ choice: Spencer Hoyt, 2421 W 7th St, Ste 103, 817-529-1600
Readers’ choice: Amanda Pittman, 2106 E Hwy 114, Ste 101, 972-800-1535
Readers’ choice: Jabo’s Ace Hardware Westcliff, Ste 12, 3548 S Hills Av, 817-926-1789
Readers’ choice: Heidi Tomlinson, 1400 8th Av, 817-922-7592
Bang for Buck
Readers’ choice: Town Talk Foods, 121 N Beach St, 817-831-6136
Readers’ choice: Park Place Pharmacy, 1601 Park Place Av, Ste B, 817-924-9292
Readers’ choice: Archie’s Gardenland, 6700 Z Boaz Pl, 817-737-6614
Readers’ choice: Left Bank Nails and Spa, Tom Thumb, 629 Stayton St, Ste 121, 682-250-2777
Readers’ choice: Kite’s Custom Cleaners, 4839 Camp Bowie Blvd, 817-732-6031
Readers’ choice: University Car Wash and Oil Service, 3124 Collinsworth St, 817-714-5290
Place to Buy Books
Readers’ choice: Half Price Books, 5417 S Hulen St, 817-294-1166