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Rafael’s Barber Shop is about a five-minute walk from either the First Avenue L or the Astor Place 6 stop in the East Village, and even if you don’t live near it, it begs to be a destination, if only for the consistency among its rotating cast of barbers, from the newer trimmers up to Rafael, the owner. A haircut — which includes a neck shave and brief massage — costs $19, a scarce price point in Manhattan. The attention to detail and listening ability of your barber will put even a first-timer at ease — and there are more and more of those as time goes on: Rafael’s customer base has grown to the point where your best bet is to make an appointment online a few days in advance (and in the morning, if you can hack it). The shop does welcome walk-ins, who are free to peruse the usually untouched copies of the New York Post and Daily News (or Playboy, if that’s your thang). In a town where style and money are critical, you can be sure of exiting Rafael’s with more of both than you probably expected.
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