A person’s relationship with their barber is unlike any other. Before coming to Penn, I had the same guy, Manny, cut my hair for the past fifteen years. I would walk in the door and he would know what I wanted; our conversations started where they left off the last time I left.
Arriving at Penn, therefore, broke the fifteen year unspoken bond we shared. I came on campus not knowing where to get my hair cut, and choosing a new barber was an immense, paradigm–shifting decision. You don’t just go to a new guy for each haircut—it’s a commitment. At the same time, though, there are plenty of options to choose from for new students looking for a trim.
$15 full cut. $10 for clippers on the sides. Cash only. No nonsense. It sits above Makkah Market on 43rd Street, so it’s a little difficult to get out there. If you want any kind of complicated hard parts or sideburn art, you might not want to come here, but if you want a great cut for a low price point, this is your best bet in the area. The barbers won’t force conversation with you, but they know their stuff. This is probably the truest neighborhood joint on this list.
4249 Walnut Street
Joseph Anthony has possibly the best location of any of these shops—right next to Huntsman on the Walnut Street side. However, it’s a little more expensive than the other locations ($23 for a cut). The outside decor is upscale, with flower pots and benches, and the inside definitely has more of a salon look than a barbershop. That doesn’t mean they can’t cut men’s hair, though—they're solid for standard fades, undercuts, regular trims, and more.
3743 Walnut Street
While yes, this location is primarily for training new hairstylists and barbers, they still do offer haircuts to people looking for them. Be ready for it to take a long time (think an hour), since the person will have a supervisor ensuring their work is good, but at the end of the day, the cut turns out great. You might not have a professional directly cutting your hair, but they’ll be making sure it turns out nicely nonetheless. Because it’s a salon training location, you can opt for a hair wash and similar amenities, but don’t expect to pay the salon price—it’s much cheaper than you’d think. Appointment recommended.
3945 Chestnut Street
Ah, the corporate stylings of Supercuts. Don’t expect anything beyond the basics, and your mileage may vary. Some people report great cuts for a fairly cheap price; others will rail on Supercuts’ failings for hours. It’s a bit of a hike, given that the store is by Drexel, but it’s not too expensive. Good for those who want to venture a little beyond Penn for their haircuts, or who might not have too complicated an order.
3200 Chestnut St
Michael’s is the first place I went to in the city for a haircut, and it’s a fairly classic establishment, but with a bit of an upscale twist. The standard red–and–blue pole is outside, and the chairs are the same standard black stools as they are in every neighborhood joint, but the interior design is kicked up a notch. There's a receptionist to take appointments and walk–ins. The experience itself, though, is evergreen—the barbers are more than willing to talk sports, politics, and rumblings around town with the locals. I was ushered right in, even though I had no appointment, and my barber of the day sat me down post–haircut to fix a bit he wasn’t particularly happy about in the back. This place is an institution.
4002 Spruce St