Best Local Bookstore
410 S. Craig St., Oakland
412-681-9111 or www.calibanbooks.com
It's easy for a used bookstore, especially one that offers first-editions and other rarities, to get stuffy. But not a lot of dust gathers at Caliban, whose offbeat taste and wry humor are apparent in its window displays, and whose shelves offer up esoterics and ephemera alike. Caliban also offers contemporary zines and indie publishers and an expertly, if quirkily, curated music department.
2nd: Eljay's Used Books, Dormont
3rd: Amazing Books, Downtown
Best Local Store to Buy Music
Dave's Music Mine
1210 E. Carson St., South Side
412-488-8800 or www.davesmusicmine.com
From The Dickies to Miles Davis, a bonanza of affordable used CDs is crammed into this unassuming storefront, with often even-more-affordable vinyl LPs filling the basement. Dave's is lately also riding the vogue for new vinyl. But no matter your format, don't be afraid to ask for aid or advice — the friendly staff stands ready to help.
2nd: The Exchange, multiple locations
3rd: Jerry's Records, Squirrel Hill
Best Local Place to Buy Vintage Clothing
5858 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill
412-421-2911 or www.avalonexchange.com
With changing temperatures come thoughts of new clothes. Not just sweaters and boots, but Halloween costumes, holiday-party outfits and all the accessories these new get-ups require. Fortunately — with its assortment of hand-selected, stylish vintage (and not-so-vintage) gear for men and women — Avalon Exchange makes it easy to look good on the cheap.
2nd: Goodwill, multiple locations
3rd: Eons Fashion Antique, Shadyside
Best Thrift Shop
Multiple locations, www.goodwillswpa.org
Feel good when you donate your gently used clothing, furniture, books, dishware and more. Feel good when you score that perfect $6 shirt or bargain paperback. And feel good because Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania isn't about making money so much as helping folks with special needs improve their lives and contribute to our community.
2nd: Red White & Blue Thrift Store, Brookline and Avalon
3rd: Salvation Army, multiple locations
Best Local Shoe Store
5850 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill
412-521-3530 or www.littlesshoes.com
Some MBA student out there should study how this Squirrel Hill institution thrives in an age of DSWs and global supply chains. But as City Paper readers already know, it has to do not just with wide selection — ranging from Cole Haan and Mephisto to Dansko and Uggs — but with the kind of knowledgeable, attentive staff you can't find in the strip mall.
2nd: Gordon Shoes, Homestead
3rd: Pavement, Lawrenceville
Best Local Fashion Boutique
3629 Butler St., Lawrenceville
412-621-6400 or www.pavementpittsburgh.com
Since 2006, this charming storefront boutique has been offering a well-curated selection of casual-and-up clothing, with an emphasis on "local, indie and eco" designers. Now, expect seasonal favorites — oversized sweaters, patterned tights, skinny trousers, hats and boots — as well as unexpected décor: old kids' books and deer antlers.
2nd: Figleaf, South Side
3rd: Jupe Boutique, South Side
Best Local Jewelry Store
5857 Forbes Ave.,
532 Beaver St.,
In 1952 — years before they began running advertising campaigns featuring local sports stars like Andrew McCutchen and Hines Ward — Bill Orr was selling jewelry out of his little shop in Midland, Pa. More than 60 years later, Orr's is one of the area's most popular jewelers, as our "Best of" issue regularly attests.
2nd: Henne Jewelers, Shadyside
3rd: Goldstock Jewelers, Downtown
Best Bicycle Shop
1408 Bingham St., South Side
412-390-3590 or www.thickbikes.com
Thick Bikes is a full-service bike shop with a down-to-earth attitude. Visitors can find two floors of bikes — new and used, plus walls of accessories and decades of experience from the floor-staff and mechanics. They won't sell you crap: Owner Chris Beech posts a list of what he won't sell to document his belief in every product on display.
2nd: Kraynick's Bike Shop, Garfield
3rd: Trek of Pittsburgh, multiple locations
Best Car Dealer
MINI of Pittsburgh
4900 Baum Blvd., Bloomfield
412-682-0788 or www.miniofpittsburgh.com
Quite a coup for a dealership specializing in just one make, and with just one location, to capture the checkered flag. But the sporty retro styling of models like the flagship Cooper — named after British racing legend John Cooper — still excites drivers. Mini of Pittsburgh caters to their taste with new and used vehicles, and a service department that draws raves.
2nd: #1 Cochran, multiple locations
3rd: Day Automotive, multiple locations
Best Local Store to Buy Furniture
Multiple locations, 800-262-5200 or www.levinfurniture.com
When Sam Levin opened his first hardware and furniture shop, in 1920, he could not have imagined that it would grow into 24 stores across two states offering everything imaginable to furnish a home. In addition to standard furniture store, Levin also has 10 stores focused on selling mattresses.
2nd: Perlora, South Side
3rd: IKEA, Robinson Township
Best Hair Stylist
Dana Bannon, Pageboy Salon & Boutique
3613 Butler St., Lawrenceville
412-224-2294 or www.pageboypgh.com
Four years ago, Dana Bannon opened her Lawrenceville Pageboy Salon and Boutique because she wanted to do things her own way.Now she's adding service, like a barber and hot shaves. And Bannon's known for her personal touch, which is her goal. "I wanted to have a more intimate feeling," she says. "I want to have a close relationship with my clients."
2nd: Bethany Novak, Salon Ivy (South Side)
3rd: Dan Burda, Studio Raw (North Hills)
Best Day Spa
337 Beaver St., Sewickley
412-741-4240 or www.sewickleyspa.com
Around these parts, the very name "Sewickley" connotes a life of ease and comfort, and for more than 15 years, Sewickley Spa has been delivering on that promise from its Victorian-era home. The Spa offers nearly 50 treatments, ranging from straightforward "muscle deknotting" and acne-treatment regimens to more esoteric practices like seaweed botanical wraps.
2nd: Esspa Kozmetika, Aspinwall
3rd: La Pomponnee Salon & Spa, Mount Lebanon
Best Yoga Studio
Multiple locations, www.amazingyoga.net
Get your power flow on at one of Amazing Yoga's locations in Shadyside, South Side and Wexford. The studio has been stretching, bending and revitalizing Pittsburgh bodies since 2001. Try a $7 class at the South Side studio: The huge second-story windows let yogis stare out into East Carson's less-healthful bar scene, reinforcing that you're in the right place.
2nd: Schoolhouse Yoga, multiple locations
3rd: South Hills Power Yoga, Dormont and Peters Township
Best Tattoo Artist
Jason Angst, Artisan Tattoo
5001 Penn Ave., Garfield
412-661-0503 or www.artisantattoogallery.com
If all you want is a rose tattooed on your ankle, there are any number of tattoo shops you can visit. But if your interest in tattooing goes more than skin-deep, Jason Angst is the guy to see. At his studio, tattooing is an artform featuring often surprising imagery — ranging from birds to blast furnaces — and Angst's own soft-spoken philosophy.
2nd: Justun Palencsar, In the Blood Tattoo (South Side)
3rd: Josh Suchoza, Tattoo Noir (Bloomfield)
Best Body-Piercing Shop
Hot Rod Piercing Company
115 Oakland Ave.,
95 S. 16th St.,
If you've got a body part in serious need of bling, then the Hot Rod Body Piecing Company has an experienced crew ready to take care of your needs. Whether it's ears, lips, navel, nose or something a little more ... personal, they've got you covered.
2nd: In the Blood Tattoo, South Side
3rd: Tattoo Noir, Bloomfield
Best Smoke Shop
Leaf and Bean Company
2200 Penn Ave., Strip District (412-434-1480)
3525 Washington Road,
With its original location billed as the "Key West" of the Strip District, this coffee-and-cigar shop is a laid-back hang-out, with plenty of spots to cozy up and escape. The shop boasts a walk-in humidor with a stock of cigars ranging from Acid to St. Luis Rey, coffee roasted fresh on site and singer-songwriters on weekends.
2nd: Bloom Cigar Shop, South Side
3rd: Smoke Wizard, Squirrel Hill
Multiple locations, www.pnc.com
With branches in 19 states and Washington, D.C., PNC Bank is everywhere. But you don't need to leave home to handle your accounts: Its online Virtual Wallet allows you to sort your money into everyday, short-term and long-term needs.
2nd: Dollar Bank, multiple locations
3rd: Citizens Bank, multiple locations
Best Place to Buy Health Food
5880 Centre Ave.,
10576 Perry Highway,
What you eat matters — where it comes from, how it was grown, even how it's packaged. And the one-stop for health-conscious consumers is Whole Foods. It's a national chain, sure, but one that makes an effort to stock and identify local produce and food items. Plus: in-house butcher, cheesery, bakery and some of the area's most entertaining parking lots.
2nd: East End Food Co-Op, Point Breeze
3rd: Trader Joe's, East Liberty and South Hills
Best Place to Adopt a Pet
562 Camp Horne Road, Avonworth
412-847-7000 or www.thinkingoutsidethecage.org
Studies show that owning a pet helps reduce stress, and the positive vibes only increase when you adopt a pet from an animal shelter. Founded in 1943 to help find homes for deployed soldiers' pets, Animal Friends now has a comprehensive facility for temporarily housing dogs, cats and rabbits, as well as providing training and related services.
2nd: Animal Rescue League, Larimer
3rd: Western PA Humane Society, North Side
Best Place to Take the Kids for an Afternoon
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
1 Wild Place, Highland Park
412-665-3640 or www.pittsburghzoo.org
No surprise that kids love seeing elephants grazing or sea lions gamboling, or looking up through a transparent tunnel at polar bears underwater. But even non-cuddly creatures fascinate here, as with the stingray exhibit, which allows kids to touch the rays themselves. Their enthusiasm may even help you get over lingering feelings of awkwardness in the monkey house.
2nd: Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, North Side
3rd: Carnegie Science Center, North Side
Best Bowling Alley
212 44th St., Lawrenceville
412-683-5992 or www.arsenalbowl.com
Arsenal mixes a normal bowling-alley experience with a trip to the bar, replete with live bands on Wednesday nights and DJs spinning '80s and '90s music on other evenings. It's a big hangout for twentysomethings on Friday and Saturday nights, and the signature drink at the bar? The Dude-approved White Russian, of course.
2nd: Forward Lanes, Squirrel Hill
3rd: Paradise Island Bowl, Neville Island
Best Event-Rental Spot
1 Schenley Park, Oakland
412-622-6914 or www.phipps.conservatory.org
True, Phipps' Summer Flower Show just ended — but the Fall Flower exhibit is ready to begin. And where else in town but this venerable Victorian greenhouse can you hold a cocktail reception in an outdoor garden and treat your wedding guests to a Tropical Forest Conservatory ... year-round?
2nd: Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters, Strip District
3rd: Union Project, Highland Park