Astro Vintage, 720 S. Fifth St. 215.922.0483. astrovintage.com
Best Up-and-Coming Leathersmith
Johnny Mateu works out of his South Philly home making intricately etched purses, wallets, bad-ass motorcycle accessories and personalized dog collars with expert care. What began as a DIY project to create a leather seat for his Harley-Davidson and wedding presents for his sister and brother-in-law has grown into a small business for custom leather goods. With the holidays coming up, Same Boy is a great place to turn for customized pieces. “You imagination is our limit,” says Mateu, who plans to open an Etsy shop soon but encourages prospective clients to check out the Same Boy Leather album on his Facebook page for inspiration.
Same Boy Leather, 215.688.3703. facebook.com/JohnnyMateu
Best Shop for Teabrains
Cups & Chairs boasts 55-plus flavors of loose tea, which you can browse and smell in self-serve test jars. Then, order a cup to stay and a bag to take with you along with natural-fiber DIY steeping bags and other tea accessories. Enjoy traditional varieties like English Breakfast or something different like Mango Black, Chocolate Vanilla or Passion (with passion fruit, peach and marigold.) The cafe’s streamlined decor and spacious interior make it an ideal spot to read or work without feeling like you should drink up and leave. Added bonus: The playlist is strictly background music, condusive to studying and won’t have you chugging your tea or lulling you into a spalike coma.
Cups & Chairs, 701-03 S. Fifth St. 215.238.8832. cupsandchairs.com
Best Salon For When You’re Going Through A Break-Up and Need a Drastic Change (or Disguise)
Whether you’re on the lam or just avoiding a certain not-so-special someone, Salon Sugar is your go-to spot for post-break-up hair therapy. Candace McNerney, aka Candi Kaboom, runs the one-chair shop by herself and specializes in dreads (real or synthetic), pinch braid highlight extensions, neon bright color and Lady Gaga-inspired looks. While the shop is anything but incognito—the storefront is Barbie pink and the decor looks as if Betsey Johnson and Dita Von Teese had a baby and then that baby became an interior designer—Salon Sugar is the place to turn to when you want a big change or a way to add some funkiness to your ’do without the damage.
Salon Sugar, 711 E. Passyunk Ave. 609.760.6059. facebook.com/salonsugarphiladelphia
Best Way to Reverse Evidence of Your Sins
Losing and succeeding at life has one terrible thing in common. Whether you are partying away the better parts of your youth or working too hard under way too much stress, the result is the same: it wrecks your face. Fear not. Kara at Ease Healing Studio on Walnut Street can help you put off the incision decision. Tiny needles stabbed into your face make lines vanish and releases tension trapped in the muscles underneath. A well-placed needle into your brow tacks the skin up a bit higher. The treatment gets energy flowing again and the results—what Kara calls Qi but you’ll see as a rush of rosy glow—are immediate but peak two weeks after the service. Bonus: The needles don’t hurt any more than a pinch and you don’t even have to stuff your face with bo-toxins.
Ease Healing Studio, 1518 Walnut St.215.262.3103. healingwithease.net
Best (Only?) Reason To Venture Into Manayunk
We know, we know. But in this case, the same reasoning behind avoiding Manayunk is the same reason to go—when rifling through consignment racks seeking treasure, you want to have as few competitors as possible. Since moving into the old Banana Republic space on Main Street, the newest Greene Street consignment shop has emerged as the best location of all. The racks are both stacked with better duds—less casual wear and more fancy cocktail dresses, heels and accessories than what you can find at the flagship on South Street—and aren’t as picked-over. Location bonus: If you bomb out here, cruise down the street to the Attic, a consignment shop with a more bohemian vibe that caters more to the owl-necklace set. Bomb there, and drown your sorrows in the new fro-yo joint Whirled Peace.
Greene Street Consignment Shop, 4313 Main St. 267.335.5478. greenestreetconsignment.com
The Store with Enough Niche Scents to Make You Smell Like Any Flower or Spice in the World
Reward Boutique may be more recognizable for the hip brands it carries on its clothing racks (Zuriick, Insight, Opening Ceremony and Vanessa Bruno, to name a few), but the first display you’re likely to walk past (and possibly ignore) is its incomparable selection of perfumes and colognes, which beats almost every place in Philly in terms of originality and selectivity. Find the more obscure fragraces by TokyoMilk, or some woodsy, wintery selection scents from Comme des Garçons (gotta smell the Wonderwood). They even carry the uber-exclusive “Series” collection by Six Scents, which includes one-off scents by smaller designers like Henry Holland and Richard Nicoll. Stop in—your nose will thank you, and so will your significant other.
Reward, 55 N. Second St. 267.773.8675. rewardproject.com
Ever think to yourself: Hey, I wonder where I can have a threesome and then promptly forget about it? Well, one of our writers thinks he's found that place. Want Mexican food that doesn't burn on the way out? Of course you do. More of these questions and answers have found their way into this year's Better Than Best issue. And what's better than best, you ask? We have no idea. We just knew we couldn't use Best Of, because another publication in this town has it on lockdown. But that doesn't mean we didn't put an enormous amount of effort into bringing you the most random hidden gems Philly has to offer. Because we did. And we think we've got a pretty good list going on here.