Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
Petworth has as many discount nail salons as Dupont Circle has Starbucks, but Envy Nails stands out for one thing: its cheap, cheap prices. As the storefront’s bright yellow sign shouts, Envy offers a mani-pedi for just $20.90—which would cover just fingernails at the average salon in upper Northwest. The salon is just steps north of the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metrorail station, but it’s hard to find unless you’re walking by: It doesn’t show up in Yelp! reviews or Google Maps, and it’s not listed in 411. But ever since Envy opened a year and a half ago, it’s grown so popular that its five massage chairs and three manicure stations fill up around 4 p.m. on weekdays and throughout the weekend. Unless you like to watch Vietnamese soap operas amid the whir of whirlpool footbaths, Envy isn’t much in terms of ambiance. But with prices like theirs, who cares?