You would think that barbers would be a competitive bunch. A bunch of testosterone and sharp things do not usually make for friendly congeniality. But these Brothers and Sisters of the Smock know that there are plenty of heads for everyone, and thus we never hesitate to sing the praises of like-minded barbers and shops in the industry.
It is with that sense of community in mind and heart that we want to put together the definitive listing of barbers and barbershops where you can get a stellar haircut, shave, and beard work, excellent knowledge of traditional barber techniques, and a slight deficit of what one might call “appropriate” language and behavior.
Below are our favorite shops where we personally know the work and reputation of the barbers, but if you are a barber or have a shop that you would like included in our upcoming listing page, just send us your information at the bottom of this post!
1) Pete’s Barber Shop
These two yahoos are not just our favorite barbers in Chicago, they are some of our favorite barbers anywhere. When Natalie left her old shop in Wicker Park, she told all of her clients that if they can handle the wait (it’s walk-in only, cash only and they don’t answer the phone), Pete and Mike are your guys.
Their cuts are fantastic, they know their beards, their barberly and product-related technical knowledge is second to none, and they have beer. If you go, don’t forget to check in to the Pete’s Barber Shop’s Restroom Facebook page. Yes, it is listed as a water park.
2) Belmont Barbershop
Belmont Barbershop has been a Chicago destination shop for the last 10 years. It is also home to two of the finest barbers we have ever had the pleasure of working with, Jose, master of the bliss coma inducing post-shave facial massage and our dear departed (obviously he is still alive, seen above) Foley, now called Colin again.
This shop does take appointments and is often booked for weeks in advance, although they are cash only.
3) Joe’s Barbershop
Joe’s and Joe himself have been a Chicago institution since 1968. Although the place was recently renovated to include more chairs, don’t think that made the wait time let up any. They’re always busy, and just like the rest of the old school guys, they are no appointments, cash only.
Although they boast a 4.5-star rating on Yelp, this is a 5-star shop for sure. Between the wait, the no bullshit-ness of the barbers, and their glee in booting folks who come in for a haircut in flip flops, some folks get a bit butthurt at Joe’s, but the shop takes pride even in those few bad reviews.
Take it from Natalie though, as a woman who survived both barber school and basic training, you can’t go to a barbershop with paper-thin skin or with the attitude that you’re the only customer in the world. Toughen the hell up, haters, put on some proper shoes and go get a great cut the old fashioned way.
4) Esquire Barber Shop
While Esquire doesn’t have much of a web presence, Justin, one of their barbers, is currently sitting at a staggering 35,000 Instagram followers. He knows his craft, his brand, and he pumps out consistently stellar work. He even has a pomade with his face on it!
This services are nice and affordable, cheap even for how great the work is in a simple, no frills shop with what appears to be a narcoleptic shop dog.
5) Punch Barber Shop
I know, I know, we said this was going to be Chicago barbershops, but we couldn’t help throwing in a suburban shop, because as we prove out here in the Here Be Dragons section of Illinois here, there are some hidden barber gems outside the city.
Punch Barbershop is a beautiful little shop (dat barber pole doe) with barbers who are insanely passionate about what they do, and are also partners of one of our favorite local beard brands, Merlin’s Beard.