Adult Toys, Place to Buy
Critic’s Choice: Velvet Box, multiple locations
Obviously, adult stores have progressed way beyond dildos and vibrators. Leading the way has always been Velvet Box. With three storefronts in Tarrant County, the esteemed and perennial Best Of winner offers classes for everything from landing that first date to keeping the fire burning in a marriage. Hint: Velvet Box’s assortment of lingerie and lubes are huge helps.
Antiques/Vintage Finds, Place to Buy
Readers’ Choice: Montgomery Street Antique Mall, 2601 Montgomery St,
Critic’s Choice: Benbrook Antique Mall, 9250 Benbrook Blvd, 817-249-0844
A trove of furniture, coins, collectibles, and other items that have lasted long enough to be appreciated awaits. Whether you are looking for a one-of-a-kind gift or something to liven up your home, Benbrook Antique Mall is the perfect one-stop-shop for your collectible and memorabilia needs. The sprawling 38,000-square-foot space hosts around 150 dealers and is large enough to carry a wide selection of unique options but not large enough to get lost in.
Readers’ Choice: The Cutting Room Barber Salon, 1306 May St, Ste 100, 682-250-4451
Critic’s Choice: South Barbershop, 129 E Daggett Av, 817-380-8117
It’s a small shop but with big flava. As a one-woman show with a single chair in South Main Village, Laleh Rezaie can do just about anything for dudes at around the same prices as the chains. From a basic cut ($30) and long hair ($45) to the buzz and kids’ cut ($22) and beard trim ($15), Rezaie’s got you covered. The local suds while you wait and in-house art gallery are perfect touches.
Critic’s Choice: Bicycles Inc, 5125 Granbury Rd, 817-292-2911
There’s a reason Bicycles Inc is consistently either a critic’s or the readers’ choice as the go-to Funkytown bike shop. The staffers are completely knowledgeable regardless what kind of riding you want to do. If you love spandex-clad Saturday morning rides or ride a fixed-gear sporting a messenger bag with flannel, it doesn’t matter. They’ll find the right bike for you. This shop basically purged its racks during quarantine as residents yearned for fresh air and new wheels. Their service department isn’t always the fastest, because they’re extremely in demand for the quality of work that is produced. Plan ahead if you need a major service and know that you’ll pay a fair price for meticulous work.
Readers’ Choice: Red Carpet Car Wash, 5829 Camp Bowie Blvd, 817-732-8651
Critic’s Choice: Tony’s Express Wash & Lube, 4530 Western Center Blvd, Haltom City, 817-605-9274
If ever on the North Side and in need of a quick scrub or even a thorough washdown, Tony’s is the place. Fast, friendly, and clean, this one-stop-shop will wash your ride for free after you purchase an oil change. Bring some folding money to tip the guys working the line who wipe down your chariot after running it through the scrub-a-dub-dub.
CBD, Place to Buy
Readers’ Choice: Thrive Apothecary,
212 Carroll St, 817-480-7098
Critic’s choice: Thrive Apothecary
Every day, CBD and other legal cannabinoids help millions of Americans cope with or treat chronic pain, stress, and other problems without having to use potentially addictive and dangerous pharmaceuticals. Setting Thrive Apothecary apart is its board-certified and surgically trained physician and founder, Dr. Lisa Gardner-Phillips. While scientific research is finally documenting the health benefits of CBD, you can rely on the sound medical experience of Dr. Gardner-Phillips and her staff to help you find safe relief from whatever is ailing you.
Cigars, Place to Buy
Critic’s Choice: The Boardroom Whisky and Cigar Lounge, 1708 8th Av,
With a shotgun-style bar and walk-in humidor, the Boardroom Whisky and Cigar Lounge is the perfect spot to order an Old Fashioned and forget 2020 ever happened. The staffers at this Black-owned business are known for keeping cigars well-lit and drinks full. Far from an exclusive club for cigar aficionados, this swanky lounge is a safe place to ask questions like, “What spirit would pair best with this cigar?” or “What’s a good cigar for a first-timer?”
Coffee, Place to Buy
Readers’ Choice: Avoca Coffee Roasters, 1311 W Magnolia Av, 817-924-1514
835 Foch St, 817-878-4249
Critic’s Choice: Avoca Coffee Roasters
Avoca is not only, clearly, the best place to buy coffee, it’s also one of the most primo spots for working in peace. Before the pandemic, we did a lot of WFA (Working from Avoca), and not only is the sitting area well-kept, but pretty much everyone is respectful of everyone else trying to get some work done. Throw in one of Avoca’s superior espressos or chai teas, and you’ll wonder why going back to the office is even an option. On your reluctant way out, grab a bag of Wendigo blend (with plum and dark chocolate notes and a buttery mouthfeel) for $19.50-46.80 or maybe even some fruity Nkanda for $21.50-$51.60. For the affordable prices and quality of flavor, Avoca just can’t be beat.
Readers’ Choice: Novak Hair Studios & Salon, 250 W Lancaster Av, Ste 110, 817-592-4247
Critic’s Choice: Francesca’s, 1600 S University Dr, 817-882-8077
As any TCU sorority chick will probably tell you, the Francesca’s on University has some of the nicest staffers out there, and they’ll go out of their way to help you find what you need. Unlike at most other stores, the sales reps are never pushy and won’t pester you every five minutes. They’ll even help you put together full outfits and find accessories to go with your style. On top of that, this location has discounts for teachers, military, and TCU students.
Readers’ Choice: Perfect Touch Day Spa, 2525 Weisenberger St, 817-870-3610
Critic’s Choice: Massage Express, 841 N Tarrant Pkwy, Keller, 817-428-8087
If you’re looking for a massage that’ll be undone when you look the wrong way in your car mirror while leaving the parking lot, feel free, but that’s not what you’ll get at Massage Express. The therapists there are always helpful and care about fixing whatever hurts. They’ll give you advice on avoiding future problems, such as recommended stretches and ways to decrease inflammation, and they’ll pay close attention to all the problem spots. The more reserved might also appreciate their courtesy when it comes to chatting — if you want to talk, they’re happy to. If you prefer to lay in silence, it won’t be awkward. Also, the services are reasonably priced.
Readers’ Choice: Kite’s Custom Cleaners, multiple locations, 817-732-1419
Critic’s Choice: Kite’s Custom Cleaners
That dropped slice of cake or coffee spill doesn’t have to mean the end of your favorite garment. Kite’s Custom Cleaners has been family-owned since 1958, and their cleaners have a reputation for quality work and personalized service. Kite’s uses biodegradable, nontoxic solvents and other forms of environmentally friendly cleaning technology. Keeping dangerous chemicals off your fabrics is healthier for you and the environment. Beyond traditional dry-cleaning services, Kite’s Custom Cleaners offers custom tailoring, run cleanings, and wedding gown restoration.
Readers’ Choice: Clearfork Farmers Market, 4801 Edwards Ranch Rd,
Critic’s Choice: Cowtown Farmers Market, 3821 Southwest Blvd, 817-821-3124
Buying local isn’t solely good for the economy and the environment. It can be good for your health. Farmers’ markets that meet standards set by the North Central Texas Farmers Market Association must sell food that is grown or produced within 150 miles of the market, and re-sellers are not allowed. As an outdoor market, Cowtown Farmers Market was able to remain open throughout the pandemic, providing healthy and affordable food and produce to locals and steady income to local farms like J&L Family Farm, Turley’s Fruity and Veggie Farm, and Maggie’s Farm, among others. While you’re shopping for fruits and veggies, you can peruse the artisan market for flowers, hand-crafted doggie treats, and other locally made goodies.
Furniture, Place to Buy
Readers’ Choice: There’s No Place Like Home, 855 Foch St, 817-244-3371
Critic’s Choice: Woodbine Furniture,
8705 Davis Blvd, Keller, 817-514-0372
Handcrafted, long-lasting, Amish-made furniture can be hard to find these days, especially when you’re looking for a specific style. Woodbine Furniture lets you design your own pieces — you pick the wood, stain, style, and dimensions based on a catalogue of options (or even custom designs). There’s no particle board, no assembly, no weird synthetic smell, no tiny bags of screws to lose under your couch. Orders take a bit longer to arrive than your usual Rooms to Go pieces, but that’s to be expected when your table is being handmade by an Amish guy in Ohio.
Gifts, Place to Buy
Readers’ Choice: Gifted, 212 Carroll St, Ste 110, 682-250-5963
Critic’s Choice: Shop Small Fort Worth — The Collective, 3608 Pershing Av,
Shop Small Fort Worth is a community and retail space where everything is locally made or locally inspired. Whether you are shopping for cutesy tumblers or a trendy dress, this retail store is the perfect place to fine products made by local artists and artisans.
Readers’ Choice: Central Market, 4651 W Fwy, 817-989-4700
Critic’s Choice: Trader Joe’s, 2701 S Hulen St, 817-922-9107
If one can manage to survive the Mad Max: Fury Road, every-man/woman-for-themselves gauntlet of a parking lot out front, a fine little friendly market awaits. Once safely inside, you’re greeted with a wall of sweet-smelling, reasonably priced, fresh-cut flowers. This is the sunny, welcoming vibe that permeates the rest of the small but well-stocked store. With brightly colored organic fruit and veg, lean and inviting meats, wholesome prepackaged fare, and a respectable wine selection (which includes the world-famous, budget-friendly “Two-Buck Chuck” house wines), TJ’s has all one needs for a delicious and healthy meal at home. Though not near as comprehensively stocked as its Austin-based competitor down the road, a dollar definitely goes a lot further and the friendly, helpful, Hawaiian-shirt-sporting staff make up for the little grocer’s lack of A5 Miyazaki Wagyu beef and artisanal, hand-clipped, Italian-imported Arugula Coltivata.
Guns, Place to Buy
Defender Outdoors, 2900 Shotts St, 817-935-8377.
Critic’s Choice: Trinity Ordnance, 4224 Karen Ln, Lake Worth, 817-237-3239
Hunters, recreational shooters, and 2A enthusiasts should all take the opportunity to head west and peruse the impressive inventory at Trinity Ordnance. Ditch the impersonal experience of buying your weapons at a Super Target-sized store. Trinity’s staffers are known for their approachability and personable nature, especially for first-time buyers. If you’re a regular in shooting sports or three-gun competitions, they can help craft your style with customized accessories and builds. Their gunsmithing is meticulous and reasonably priced and features fun options for custom finishes on hand- and long guns. The inventory is impressive for the size of their store, and if you’d like to sell, they have consignment options also.
Readers’ Choice: Novak Hair Studios, 250 W Lancaster Av, Ste 110, 817-592-4247
Critic’s Choice: The Bee’s Knees Hair Studio, 3851 Camp Bowie Blvd,
Residing in an immaculately modernized Victorian-style house located smack-dab in the Cultural District, The Bee’s Knees Hair Studio is the cat’s meow in the glow-up game. The salon’s classy and inviting boho aesthetic gives clients waiting for their turn in the chair a stylish and comfy spot to hang bathed in warm natural light from the shop’s near full-wall windows. Led by stylists Priscilla Gish and Krystal Neely, Bee’s is a progressive salon schooled in modern techniques honed through classic ideals. Offering a full range of services from cut, color, and styling to mini-facials, neck and shoulder massages, and ever in-demand nail technician Jenny Rex, The Bee’s Knees is a one-stop for top-notch self-care.
Readers’ Choice: Sovereign Jewelry Company, 207 S Jennings Av,
Critic’s Choice: Andrew Mendoza, Hurst Gold and Silver, 803 W Pipeline Rd, Hurst, 817-282-0223
Family-owned and -operated by owner and master jeweler Andrew Mendoza, Hurst Gold and Silver has been creating custom jewelry for more than 40 years. Mendoza has been known to donate jewelry pieces to local churches’ charities and L.D. Bell High School. Mendoza started working as a jewelry polisher at downtown Fort Worth’s Wolf and Klar, which is now gone and lost in Fort Worth’s memory, but Mendoza said after learning more about the jewelry business and working with his brother as a jeweler, he grew into his expertise working in Houston and Arlington as a jeweler. TKIC Gold, Silver, and Diamonds sold the store to Mendoza, and after relocating his store a few blocks down from the original location, he named his shop Hurst Gold and Silver.
Readers’ Choice: King’s Liquor, 2810 W Berry St, 817-923-3737
Critic’s Choice: Crow’s Liquor, 9510 White Settlement Rd, 817-246-8345
You won’t become lost in the aisles. Crow’s Liquor is large enough to stock your favorite beer, wine, or liquor and small enough to have you in and out quickly (if you’re in a rush). The family-owned business has served the West Side since 1969. If they don’t have it, they’ll order it. Locals have come to expect polite service and clean shelves from Crow’s. The pandemic has raised awareness of the importance of small businesses like Crow’s, so stop by and drink up. Responsibly, of course.
Readers’ Choice: The Table Market & Culinary Studio, 120 St Louis Av, Ste 103-B, 682-703-1092
Critic’s Choice: The Table Market & Culinary Studio
The Table is the brainchild of four local culinary enthusiasts. The Near Southside business blends cooking classes with an artisan retail market for a unique customer experience. The local food offerings include produce, cheeses, breads (including a legendary sourdough), meats, and more. Shopping at this gem of a local grocer supports local business owners, chefs, and food producers.
Mask, Place to Buy
Critic’s choice: Morgan Mercantile,
121 S Main St, Ste 1, 817-720-6160
Owned and operated by the husband-and-wife duo of Kala and Chance Morgan, this Near Southside retailer that specializes in durable, unique merchandise and everyday essentials for men, women, and children also worked overtime to bring reusable, machine-washable, exceptionally breathable masks to market at the start of the pandemic. Morgan Mercantile’s Helping Hand face masks are emblazed with the word “hope” and come in every size. In April, the company delivered nearly 300 masks to the local restaurant community.
Critic’s Choice: Mr. Mark’s Auto Repair, 7355 W Vickery Blvd, Ste 3A, Benbrook, 817-732-4801
Relationships are an oft-overlooked component in auto repair. Shiny dealerships and chain shops overwhelm customers with options without them ever knowing who will be wrenching on their vehicle. Mr. Mark’s doesn’t need a fancy waiting room with leather-bound chairs and a coffee bar, because they fully supersede their competitors via experience and competency. Mark and Chris possess more than 70 combined years of repair experience and are well-known to gearheads around town from their time at Gordon Permann’s Auto Repair before it was bought and closed to accommodate the parking needs of Dickies Arena. If you want to be on a first-name basis with your mechanic and trust their recommendations, Mr. Mark’s is your place.
Critic’s Choice: Grow, 1250 W Magnolia Av, 817-367-9212
Plant lovers, beware: Grow will have you spending all your money before you know it. If you’re on a budget or your significant other told you, “No more plants in the house,” either turn back now or get your excuses lined up. Grow has the usual options (monsteras, pothoses, yuccas, succulents, cacti) as well as rarer finds (like black velvet alocasias and calathea veitchianas). It’s hard to believe they can fit so many plants inside the tiny trailer. Like the Tardis from Dr. Who, Grow seems bigger on the inside. They also have online sales, so you can swing by and pick up your order if you want to keep socially distant.
Readers’ Choice: Doc’s Records & Vintage, 2628 Weisenberger St, 817-732-5455
Critic’s Choice: Panther City Vinyl, 1455 W Magnolia Av, Ste 113, 682-252-8441
While perennial winner Doc’s is certainly hard to beat in terms of depth and breadth of selection, Panther City Vinyl makes up for that by offering supremely knowledgeable, super-friendly staffers and competitive prices.
Though closed earlier in the pandemic – and offering egift cards to be used when the store reopened – Panther City is now open for in-person shopping. Customers can still shop online at Discogs.com/seller/panther_city_vinyl/profile, of course.
Critic’s Choice: Magnolia Skate Shop, 1455 W Magnolia Av, Ste 105, 469-732-8927
Owned by Bobby Wilson and Coyt Caffey for more than two years, Magnolia Skate Shop encompasses everything you need for skating. After transitioning to an online platform during lockdown, they are now open to the public. The walls are decorated with creative art pieces and have a rotating wall of art where local artists can display their work. The shop promotes the creative community and believes that skateboarding is an artform, which it is.
Readers’ Choice: Fusion Hookah Lounge & Smoke Shop, 2205 W Berry St,
Critic’s Choice: Smokies House of Pipes, 5725 Camp Bowie Blvd, 817-377-0149
Flavored tobacco rolls, high-tech vaporizers, water pipes, hookahs, and other “tobacco” smoking devices await your smoking pleasure at this popular head shop destination. The space is bright and clean, and the staffers are always friendly and informative. Whether you just need to drop in for an e-cig or are ready to drop several hundred on a custom water pipe, you likely won’t leave Smokies House of Pipes without a quality and affordable smoking device, merchandise, herbal supplement, or tobacco product.
Readers’ Choice: (tie) Ink 817, 3204 Camp Bowie Blvd, 682-204-0696 • Fade to Black, 209 S Jennings Av, 817-878-4349
Critic’s choice: Lucky Horseshoe Tattoo, 1426 N Main St, 817-378-8933
Located near the historic Stockyards, Lucky Horseshoe Tattoo’s facade, with its stylish, can’t-miss vintage-style vertical sign, is a cheery pop of bright color among the otherwise bistre-hued North Main Street corridor. Within is an immaculate workspace layered with rustic 19th-century charm, complete with authentic, full-body cowhide wall decorations. The shop is home to an enviable roster of top-notch needle-pokers with extra focus and attention on operating a female-friendly establishment. From owner and one-time Spike TV tattoo reality show personality Thomas “Tommy Tattoo” Barrington to Shane Standifer, local master of the popular, bold neotraditional style, there are plenty of artists to slap something on the ’ol bod guaranteed to pop off the skin equally as much as Lucky Horseshoe does along its otherwise urban cowboy-auraed block.
Readers’ Choice: McCart Thrift Store, 5203 McCart Av, 817-921-9971
Critic’s Choice: Doc’s Records & Vintage, 2628 Weisenberger St, 817-732-5455
If there’s ever a reason for the invention of wallet locks, it’s Doc’s. How anyone can walk out of here without dropping at least a cool 20 bucks is beyond us. Not only is the selection of vinyl and other music media unparalleled in yon Fort, but the duds on the racks are myriad. There was a time in Fort Worth not too long ago when togging disco shirts was done unironically. They fell out of fashion over the past few years, but if you have the right vibe and the right kind of glowing confidence, Doc’s is here for you. And disco shirts are only the beginning of the sartorial goodness on the hangers here. Just try to keep track of how much dough you’re dropping.
Readers’ Choice: 3 Chicks Vapors, 4209 Broadway Av, Ste 105, Haltom City,
Critic’s Choice: Artisan Vapor & CBD Hulen, 3250 Hulen St, Ste 150,
Vaping, regardless of what legislators’ or anyone else’s opinions are of it, seems here to stay. If e-cigs interest you or you’ve been clouding it up from the beginning, then Artisan has something for your needs, including a full selection of self-contained units and mods as well as brand-name and house-blended juices. Shops are still popping up like wildflowers, but Artisan’s customer service is excellent for first-time vapers and veterans alike. The Hulen store is spotless and spacious, and it allows plenty of natural light. The staff and space provide an upscale feel to an industry that is still somewhat controversial in mainstream life.
Wine, Place to Buy
Readers’ Choice: Put a Cork in It, 2972 Park Hill Dr, 817-924-2675
Critic’s Choice: Grand Cru Wine Bar & Boutique, 1257 W Magnolia Av,
Featuring more than 200 choices by the bottle, this homey little Near Southside spot is bound to have what you’re looking for. While enjoying one of Grand Cru’s excellent sandwiches pre-pandemic, we were introduced to viognier, a deliriously delicious and fruit-forward white wine from France that we’ve been hooked on ever since. Grand Cru also offers discounts of up to 25% or more and also has over a dozen craft beers to enjoy in the small dining area or to take home. Open for curbside now.