March 20, 2008

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Hippo’s Best Of Everything 2008
8th annual readers’ poll
By Hippo Staff news@hippopress.com

For the eighth year in a row, you, the Hippo readers, let us know your favorites and here are the tallied results.

You picked the very best in food, personalities, beauty and more in southern New Hampshire. (How did the voting work? See the “Best Of FAQ” for the answers to all your Best Of questions.) Now, like Fritz Wetherbee (best local television personality), let’s dig in to the answers.

THE ARTS
Best live theater show
Overall: The Who’s Tommy Live presented by All Access Productions, a Nashua-based theater company, in August 2007.
Concord: Menopause the Musical, which played at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord in September 2007.
Manchester: The Full Monty, which was presented at the Palace Theatre this past fall.
Nashua: Jekyll & Hyde, which was presented by StageCoach Productions of Nashua in summer 2007.

Best art gallery
Overall: Art 3 Gallery, 44 W. Brook St. in Manchester, 668-6650, www.art3gallery.com. Art 3 Gallery features art in a variety of media and is open from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment.
Concord: McGowan Fine Art, 10 Hill Ave. in Concord, 225-2515, www.mcgowanfineart.com
Manchester: East Colony Fine Art, 55 S. Commercial St. in Manchester, 621-7400.
Nashua: Nashua Arts Association Gallery One at the Mill House, 5 Pine Street Extension, No. 6 Mill Annex, 2nd Floor in Nashua, 883-0603, www.naaasite.com

Best art in a public space
Overall: Greeley Park Art Show, held every August. This year’s event will be the 55th annual show. The art show runs Saturday and Sunday and features a variety of artists whose work is judged. The event is free to the public.
Concord: Eagle Square in downtown Concord.
Manchester: City Hall, 1 City Hall Plaza (off Elm Street near its intersection with Hanover Street) in Manchester features works from local artists in its main hallways.
Nashua: Nashua City Library, 2 Court St. in Nashua, 589-4600, www.nashualibrary.org, features regularly changing exhibits by area artists.

BEAUTY
Best barbershop
Overall: La Coupe Barber Shop, 165 Kelley St. #2 in Manchester, 669-9299
Concord: Michael John’s the Studio, 45 S. Main St. in Concord, 223-9925
Manchester: Dudes Barber Shop, 123 Webster St. in Manchester, 626-0533
Nashua: Chuck’s Barber Shop, 168 Main St. in Nashua, 882-3711

Best independent clothing store
Overall: Alapage, 25 S. River Road #301 in Bedford, 622-0550, www.alapageboutique.com.
Concord: Gondwana, 13 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-1101, www.gondwanashop.com
Manchester: George’s Apparel, 675 Elm St. in Manchester, 621-4088, www.georgesapparel.com
Nashua: Tallulah Rose, 87 Main St. in Nashua, 883-7467

Best laundromat
Overall: Bird Bath Laundromat, with locations at 49 Beech St., 253 Lake Ave. and 1000 Hanover St. in Manchester.
Concord: South End Village Laundromat, 71 Downing St. in Concord, 228-8768
Manchester: Bea’s Wash N Dry, 478 S. Main St. in Manchester, 668-7110
Nashua: Hometown Laundry & Dry Clean, 76 Lowell Road in Hudson, 883-9842

Best salon
Overall: Not So Plain Jane’s Salon, 155 Dow St. #102 in Manchester, 622-5971, www.notsoplainjanes.com.
Concord: Michael John’s the Studio, 45 S. Main St. in Concord, 223-9925
Manchester: Salon Beauchesne, 32 Hanover St. in Manchester, 621-0500
Nashua: Salon Apryl, 27 Elm St. in Nashua, 886-5701

Best spa
Overall: Not So Plain Jane’s Salon, 155 Dow St. #102 in Manchester, 622-5971, www.notsoplainjanes.com.
Concord: Serendipity Day Spa, 23 Sheep Davis Road in Pembroke, 229-0400, www.serendipitydayspa.com.
Manchester: Chill Day Spa, 1224 Hanover St. in Manchester, 622-3722, chilldayspa.net
Nashua: Innovations Day Spa & Wellness Center, 228 Naticook Road in Merrimack, 880-7499, www.innovationsnh.com

Best independent shoe store
Overall: Alec’s Shoe Store, 201 Main St. in Nashua, 882-6811.
Concord: Joe King’s Shoe Shop, 45 N. Main St. in Concord, 225-6012, joekings.com.
Manchester: Bee Bee Shoe Store, 1525 S. Willow St. #7 in Manchester, 621-0608, www.beebeeshoes.com.
Nashua: Shoe Box, 17 Route 101A in Amherst, 672-6570

FOOD
Best Asian food
Overall: Lilac Blossom, Greystone Plaza at 650 Amherst St., 886-8420, and Skymeadow at 385 E. Dunstable Road, 888-9588, both in Nashua, www.lilacblossom-nh.com. The extensive menu include house specialties of Canton, Shanghai, Hunan and Szechuan dishes and a list of suggestions for diet-friendly dishes.
Concord: Siam Orchid, 158 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-1529, www.siamorchid.net
Manchester: Chen Yang Li, 124 S. River Road in Bedford, 641-6922, www.chenyangli.com
Nashua: San Francisco Kitchen, 133 Main St. in Nashua, 886-8833, www.sanfranciscokitchen.com

Best beer selection
Overall: Strange Brew Tavern, 88 Market St. in Manchester, 666-4292, www.strangebrewtavern.net. Strange Brew boasts more than 65 beers on tap as well as a wide variety in bottles.
Concord: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com
Manchester: Murphy’s Tap Room, 494 Elm St. in Manchester, 644-3535, www.murphystaproom.net
Nashua: Martha’s Exchange, 185 Main St. in Nashua, 883-8781, www.marthas-exchange.com

Best breakfast
Overall: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com. The Red Arrow offers hearty breakfast eats such as the Queen Dinah’s Full Breakfast (two eggs, two pancakes, two sausages, two pieces of bacon, beans and toast) and the Crabcake Benny Special (two eggs and two crab cakes on a grilled English muffin topped with hollandaise and served with pan fries).
Concord: Cityside Grille, 25 Manchester St. in Concord, 227-0884
Manchester: MaryAnn’s Diner, 29 E. Broadway in Derry, 434-5785, www.maryannsdiner.com
Nashua: Parker’s Maple Barn, 1316 Brookline Road in Mason, 878-2308, www.parkersmaplebarn.com

Best burger
Overall: Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill, 34 Tarrytown Road in Manchester, 622-3644, www.billyssportsbar.com. Billy’s isn’t just the home of dozens of TVs (even in the bathroom); it’s also the place to get the Billy Burger (half-pound burger with barbecue sauce, Swiss cheese and Canadian bacon) — in regular burger and slider size.
Concord: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com
Manchester: Puritan Backroom Restaurant, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com
Nashua: Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 DW Highway in Merrimack, 424-0995, buckleysgreatsteaks.com

Best cheap eats
Overall: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com. The Red Arrow Diner dinner menu features more than two dozen big meals for less than $10 — check out the ale-battered fish and chips, honey fried chicken and chicken fried steak.
Concord: Dos Amigos, 26 N. Main St. in Concord, 410-4161, www.dosamigosburritos.com
Manchester: Pindos Restaurant & Pizza, 49 Massabesic St. in Manchester, 669-2019
Nashua: Nashua Garden, 121 Main St. in Nashua, 886-7363

Best cheese counter
Overall: Angela’s Pasta & Cheese Shop, 815 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 625-9544, www.angelaspastaandcheese.com. Need a midday pick-me-up? Head to Angela’s and spend a few minutes hanging around the cheese counter, where you might be able to sample such delights as a melt-in-your-mouth aged Quebec cheddar or a new favorite cheese from Spain and France. Just try to get away without buying at least three or four varieties.
Concord: Butter’s Fine Food and Wine, 70 N. Main St. in Concord, 225-5995
Manchester: Harvest Market, Route 101 Plaza in Bedford, 472-5017
Nashua: Cooking Matters, 97 Main St # 3 in Nashua, 880-6200

Best chicken tenders
Overall: Puritan Backroom Restaurant, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com. Is it the juicy chicken or is it that sweet duck sauce that accompanies the tenders that makes this such an addictive dish? Uhm, maybe we should order one or 10 tender dinners to test it out.
Concord: The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175
Manchester: Ollie’s, 761 Mast Road in Manchester, 626-3711
Nashua: Chicken ’n’ Chips, 12 W. Hollis St. in Nashua, 889-2001

Best cocktail
Overall: Mudslide at the Puritan Backroom Restaurant, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com. The Backroom actually has seven varieties of Mudslide, from the original (Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua and vodka) to a Thunder Roadslide (Jack Daniels, Amaretto, Kahlua and Bailey’s).
Concord: Mojito at the Concord Grille (formerly the Capitol Grille), 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 228-6608, www.capitol-grille.com
Manchester: Cosmo at CR Sparks, 18 Kilton Road in Bedford, 647-7275, www.crsparks.com
Nashua: Stoli Doli at Saffron Bistro, 80 Main St. in Nashua, 883-2100, www.thesaffronbistro.com

Best desserts
Overall: CR Sparks, 18 Kilton Road in Bedford, 647-7275, www.crsparks.com. Forget the diet and order from the list that includes a classic crème brulee, a pear financier cake and the “Chocolate Indulgence” (praline and dark chocolate creams with hazelnut-cinnamon meringue, truffle cake with burnt caramel ice cream and hazelnut vanilla sauce).
Concord: Madeleines Elegance Defined, 140 N. Main St. in Concord, 224-5353, www.madeleinesed.com.
Manchester: Bedford Village Inn, 2 Olde Bedford Way in Bedford, 472-2001, www.bedfordvillageinn.com
Nashua: Frederick’s Pastries, 109 Route 101A in Amherst, 882-7725, www.pastry.net

Best diner
Overall: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com. The Red Arrow is more than just famous (it appears in New Hampshire primary coverage every four years and was recently featured on the Food Network) — it’s always open (except Christmas Eve) and ready to get you a much-needed grilled cheese with sweet potato fries.
Concord: Tilt’n Diner, 61 Laconia Road in Tilton, 286-2204, www.thecman.com
Manchester: Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave. in Manchester, 623-5040
Nashua: Joey’s Diner, 1 Craftsman Lane in Amherst, 577-8955, www.joeysdiner.com

Best french fries
Overall: Caesario’s Pizza, 1057 Elm St. in Manchester, 699-8383. Caesario’s fries have been a longtime favorite of Hippo readers. Is it OK to order fries with your pizza? Well, they’re award-winning, so why not?
Concord: The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175
Manchester: Puritan Backroom Restaurant, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com
Nashua: The Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St. in Nashua, 821-7535, www.thepeddlersdaughter.com

Best grilled cheese
Overall: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com. Whether it’s a comfort food lunch or post-night-on-the-town eats, the Red Arrow grilled cheese fulfills all your cheesy, toasty urges. Finish it with a pickle and you might just have diner perfection.
Concord: Tilt’n Diner, 61 Laconia Road in Tilton, 286-2204, www.thecman.com
Manchester: Puritan Backroom Restaurant, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com
Nashua: Jackie’s Diner, 168 Main St. in Nashua, 889-4957

Best ice cream
Overall: Puritan, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com. There are dozens of reasons to love Puritan ice cream. Let’s start with ginger, chocolate fudge brownie and blueberry pie and then move on to a discussion of baklava.
Concord: Arnie’s Place, 164 Loudon Road in Concord, 228-3225, www.arniesplace.com
Manchester: Goldenrod Restaurant, 1681 Candia Road in Manchester, 623-9469, www.goldenrodrestaurant.com
Nashua: Hayward’s Ice Cream Stand, 7 DW Highway in Nashua, 888-4663, haywrdsicecream-nh.com

Best Italian restaurant
Overall: Piccola Italia Ristorante, 815 Elm St. in Manchester, 606-5100, piccolaitalianh.com. This downtown eatery has expanded over the years to include function space and a martini bar. The menu offers everything from hearty pasta dishes to bright and flavorful salads.
Concord: Don Giovanni Restaurant, 11 Depot St. in Concord, 226-4723, www.dongiovanni.org
Manchester: Fratello’s Ristorante Italiano, 155 Dow St. in Manchester, 624-2022, www.fratellos.com
Nashua: Giorgio’s Ristorante & Martini Bar, 707 Milford Road in Merrimack, 883-7333, giorgios.com

Best menu item
Overall: Chicken Tenders at the Puritan Backroom Restaurant, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com. It’s gotta be the duck sauce.
Concord: Steak at the Concord Grille (formerly the Capitol Grille), 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 228-6608, www.capitol-grille.com
Manchester: French Toast at Chiggy’s Place, 372 Kelley St. in Manchester, 627-5755
Nashua: Espinaca con queso at Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse, 328 Nashua Mall in Nashua, 882-4070, www.shortysmex.com

Best Mexican/Latin-American restaurant
Overall: La Carreta Mexican Restaurant, locations at 545 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 628-6899; 35 Manchester Road in Derry, 421-0091; and 139 DW Highway in Nashua, 891-0055; www.lacarretamexican.com. Whether it’s margaritas and nachos or tamales and enchiladas, La Carreta offers the full spectrum of Mexican eats.
Concord: Hermanos Cocina Mexicana, 11 Hills Ave. in Concord, 224-5669, hermanosmexican.com
Manchester: Consuelo’s Taqueria, 36 Amherst St. in Manchester, 622-1134, www.consuelostaqueria.com
Nashua: Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse, 328 Nashua Mall in Nashua, 882-4070, www.shortysmex.com

Best muffins
Overall: The Bridge Café, 700 Elm St. in Manchester, 647-9991. The muffins at Bridge are more than just a tasty morning treat — they’re big enough to serve as a meal and they are available in flavors that change daily.
Concord: Bread & Chocolate, 29 S. Main St. in Concord, 228-3330
Manchester: Chiggy’s Place, 372 Kelley St. in Manchester, 627-5755
Nashua: Cooking Matters, 97 Main St # 3 in Nashua, 880-6200

Best neighborhood market
Overall: Bunny’s Superette, 75 Webster St. in Manchester, 622-5080. Lotto tickets, the Sunday New York Post (with the trashy fun magazine), coffee, an enormous candy selection, a solid wall of wine offerings (including a very tasty Gruner Veltliner), oodles of magazines, emergency baking ingredients and a lovely offering of ice creams — Bunny’s fulfills the “super” in “superette.”
Concord: Ordway’s Market, 250 South St. in Concord, 224-0075
Manchester: Sully’s Superette, 10 N. Mast St. in Goffstown, 497-8176, www.sullyssuperette.com
Nashua: Jeannotte’s Market, 2 Courtland St. in Nashua, 882-0161

Best outdoor food vendor
Overall: Puppy Love, North Main Street in Concord. Dogs are cooked, garnished and devoured right on the sidewalk on North Main Street in front of the Puppy Love cart.
Concord: Arnie’s Place, 164 Loudon Road in Concord, 228-3225, www.arniesplace.com
Manchester: Big J’s Dawgs at the Home Depot, 129 March Ave. in Manchester.
Nashua: The Sausage King of Nashua, thesausagekingofnashua.com

Best pizza in your neighborhood
Overall: Alley Cat Pizzeria, 486 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 669-4533. Alley Cat offers not only ultra-thin crusts but an inventive menu of toppings including a buffalo chicken and blue-cheese-flavored pizza and a Greek pizza (the AristaCat) with spinach and feta.
Concord: Constantly Pizza, 39 S. Main St. in Concord, 224-9366
Manchester: 900 Degrees, 50 Dow St. in Manchester, 641-0900, www.900degrees.com
Nashua: Espresso NY Style Pizza, 85 Main St. in Nashua, 889-9826

Best pizza worth the drive
Overall: 900 Degrees, 50 Dow St. in Manchester, 641-0900, www.900degrees.com. The name of this new Millyard eatery comes from the temperature of the wood-fired pizza oven in which its inventive pizzas are cooked. The resulting crispy crust is a whole different way to do pizza.
Concord: Vinnie’s Pizzeria, 200 S. Main St. in Concord, 224-7727
Manchester: Alley Cat Pizzeria, 486 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 669-4533
Nashua: Bob’s Pizza, 115 E Hollis St. in Nashua, 881-9822

Best ribs
Overall: KC’s Rib Shack Barbecue, 837 Second St. in Manchester, 627-7427, www.ribshack.net. There is food you eat with a knife and fork and napkin and there is food where you just dive in with both hands and don’t worry about getting sauce on your chin. The ribs, pulled pork and other offerings at KC’s will have you not just eating with your hands but licking your fingers.
Concord: Arnie’s Place, 164 Loudon Road in Concord, 228-3225, www.arniesplace.com
Manchester: City Flame Smoke House, 363 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 622-6022, www.cityflamesmokehouse.com
Nashua: Humble Pie, 142 Nashua St. in Milford, 672-9130

Best sandwich
Overall: Steak and Cheese at Nadeau’s Subs, 100 Cahill Ave. in Manchester, 669-7827; 776 Mast Road in Manchester, 623-9315, and 1095 Hanover St. in Manchester, 606-4411.
Concord: French Dip at Concord Grille (formerly the Capitol Grille), 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 228-6608, www.capitol-grille.com
Manchester: Nacho-crusted chicken, Wild Rover, 21 Kosciuszko St. in Manchester, 669-7722, www.wildroverpub.com
Nashua: The Larry Bird, Nashua Garden, 121 Main St. in Nashua, 886-7363

Best seafood restaurant
Overall: Surf, 207 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9293, www.surfseafood.com. Surf takes a creative approach to seafood, going beyond just fried (though they do have a pan-fried rainbow trout over pecan wild rice) for flavorful dishes such as the grilled miso marinated salmon and a sesame seared tuna over wasabi mashed potatoes with tempura carrots, maple soy drizzle and scallion oil.
Concord: Newick’s Lobster House, 317 Loudon Road in Concord, 225-2424, newicks.com
Manchester: Commercial Street Fishery, 33 S. Commercial St. in Manchester, 296-0706, www.csfishery.com
Nashua: Lobster Boat, 453 DW Highway in Merrimack, 424-5221

Best steakhouse
Overall: Hanover Street Chophouse, 149 Hanover St. in Manchester, 644-2467, www.hanoverstreetchophouse.com. The current menu has 10 cuts of steak as well as some sumptuous alternatives including a rack of lamb and a seared yellowfin tuna.
Concord: Concord Grille (formerly the Capitol Grille), 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 228-6608, www.capitol-grille.com
Manchester: Gauchos Brazilian Steakhouse, 62 Lowell St. in Manchester, 669-9460, www.gauchosbraziliansteakhouse.com
Nashua: Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 DW Highway in Merrimck, 424-0995, buckleysgreatsteaks.com

Best subs
Overall: Nadeau’s Subs, 100 Cahill Ave. in Manchester, 669-7827; 776 Mast Road in Manchester, 623-9315, and 1095 Hanover St. in Manchester, 606-4411. Manchester’s local chain does subs right by focusing on tasty ingredients to give old favorites like an Italian cold cuts sub a special zing.
Concord: Yellow Submarine, 192 N. State St. in Concord, 228-4500
Manchester: Candia Road Convenience Store, 836 Candia Road in Manchester, 669-6565
Nashua: Bill Cahill’s Super Subs, 8 Kimball Hill Road in Hudson, 882-7710

Best vegetarian menu
Overall: Café Momo, 1065 Hanover St. in Manchester, 623-3733, cafemomonh.com. Café Momo is one of those rare places where both vegetarians and meat-eaters can happily dine together. The Nepalese cuisine is flavorful, hearty and occasionally spicy while still leaving you with the feeling that you’re eating healthy.
Concord: Café Indigo, 128 Hall St. in Concord, 224-1770, www.cafeindigo.com
Manchester: Jewell & the Beanstalk, 793 Somerville St. in Manchester, 624-3709, www.jbeanstalk.com
Nashua: The Seedling Café, 9 Water St. in Nashua, 594-4002, www.theseedlingcafe.com

Best wine list
Overall: UnWined, 865 Second St. in Manchester, 625-9463, www.unwined.net. Sit back in one of the big comfy chairs and peruse UnWined’s extensive wine list. Food offerings of fondue and bread and cheese plates go perfectly with flights or wines tried by the glass. Or get a bottle and check out the entrees.
Concord: 55 Degrees, 55 N. Main St. in Concord, 224-7192, www.55degreesnh.com
Manchester: Bedford Village Inn, 2 Olde Bedford Way in Bedford, 472-2001, www.bedfordvillageinn.com
Nashua: Michael Timothy’s, 212 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9334, www.michaeltimothys.com

Best wine shop
Overall: The Wine Studio, 53 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 622-9463, www.thewinestudionh.com. This north Manchester wine shop offers the most important ingredient for a fun vino shopping excursion — wine know-how. Owner Maureen Adams will help you find the perfect bottle to fit your taste and your menu plans.
Concord: Concord Wine Cellar, 28 S. Main St. in Concord, 224-2200
Manchester: Angela’s Pasta & Cheese Shop, 815 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 625-9544, www.angelaspastaandcheese.com
Nashua: Wine Society, 650 Amherst St. in Nashua, 883-4114, and Pond View Plaza 18C Pond View Place in Tyngsborough, Mass., 978-649-8993, www.winesociety.us

Best restaurant to take kids to
Overall: Puritan Backroom Restaurant, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com. Picky eater? The Backroom’s extensive menu has you covered — from grilled cheese sandwiches to vegetable plates to soups and those chicken tenders. And, if none of that works, you can always bribe your little dinner companion with the promise of ice cream.
Concord: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com
Manchester: Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse, 1050 Bicentennial Dr. in Manchester, 625-1730, www.shortysmex.com
Nashua: Chunky’s Cinema Pub, 150 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua, 880-8055, www.chunkys.com

Best new eatery
Overall: 900 Degrees, 50 Dow St. in Manchester, 641-0900, www.900degrees.com. This pizza place offers not only a unique and upscale take on the slice but also a fun menu of wines by the glass and a comfortable yet classy atmosphere.
Concord: Granite Restaurant at The Centennial, 96 Pleasant St. in Concord, 227-9000, www.graniterestaurant.com
Manchester: Z, 860 Elm St. in Manchester, 629-9383, www.zfoodanddrink.com
Nashua: Saffron Bistro, 80 Main St. in Nashua, 883-2100, www.thesaffronbistro.com

Best restaurant - overall
Overall: Puritan Backroom Restaurant, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com. Manchester’s favorite sport for chicken tenders, mudslides and ice cream is also the kind of pleases-the-whole-family eatery that is a favorite year after year.
Concord: Common Man, 25 Water St. in Concord, 228-3463, www.thecman.com
Manchester: CR Sparks, 18 Kilton Road in Bedford, 647-7275, www.crsparks.com
Nashua: Michael Timothy’s, 212 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9334, www.michaeltimothys.com

NIGHTLIFE
Best bar for live music
Overall: The Black Brimmer American Bar & Grill, 1087 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-5523, www.blackbrimmer.com. The Black Brimmer features best cover band Mama Kicks every Wednesday night, acoustic dance-rock on Thursdays and live music Friday and Saturdays.
Concord: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com
Manchester: Strange Brew Tavern, 88 Market St. in Manchester, 666-4292, www.strangebrewtavern.net
Nashua: The Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St. in Nashua, 821-7535, www.thepeddlersdaughter.com

Best dance club
Overall: Wally & Bernie’s, WB’s, 20 Old Granite St. in Manchester, 641-BLUE, www.wallyandbernies.com
Concord: Concord Grille (formerly the Capitol Grille), 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 228-6608, www.capitol-grille.com
Manchester: The Black Brimmer American Bar & Grill, 1087 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-5523, www.blackbrimmer.com
Nashua: Amber Room, 53 High St. in Nashua, 881-9060, theamberroomnightlife.com

Best place to be seen
Overall: The Black Brimmer American Bar & Grill, 1087 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-5523, www.blackbrimmer.com
Concord: The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175
Manchester: Wally & Bernie’s, WB’s, 20 Old Granite St. in Manchester, 641-BLUE, www.wallyandbernies.com
Nashua: Amber Room, 53 High St. in Nashua, 881-9060, theamberroomnightlife.com

Best place to people-watch
Overall: Mall of New Hampshire, 1500 S. Willow St. in Manchester, www.simon.com
Concord: Main Street in downtown Concord
Manchester: Elm Street in downtown Manchester
Nashua: Pheasant Lane Mall, 310 DW Highway in Nashua, www.simon.com

Best place to play pool
Overall: Jillian’s, 50 Phillippe Cote St. in Manchester, 626-7636, www.jillians.com
Concord: Penuche’s Ale House, 6 Pleasant St. in Concord, 228-9833
Manchester: Raxx Billiard and Night Club, 1211 Elm St. in Manchester, 625-0029, www.raxxbilliards.com
Nashua: Boston Billiards, 55 Northeastern Blvd. in Nashua, 595-2121, www.bostonbilliardclub.com

Best pub
Overall: Wild Rover, 21 Kosciuszko St. in Manchester, 669-7722, www.wildroverpub.com
Concord: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com
Manchester: The Shaskeen, 909 Elm St. in Manchester, 625-0246, www.theshaskeen.com
Nashua: The Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St. in Nashua, 821-7535, www.thepeddlersdaughter.com

Best sports bar
Overall: Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill, 34 Tarrytown Road in Manchester, 622-3644, www.billyssportsbar.com
Concord: The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175
Manchester: JW Hill’s Sports Bar & Grill, 795 Elm St. in Manchester, 645-7422, www.jwhills.com
Nashua: Nashua Garden, 121 Main St. in Nashua, 886-7363

Best bar with an outdoor deck
Overall: Derryfield Restaurant, 625 Mammoth Road in Manchester, 623-2880, www.derryfieldrestaurant.com
Concord: Common Man, 25 Water St. in Concord, 228-3463, www.thecman.com
Manchester: Jillian’s, 50 Phillippe Cote St. in Manchester, 626-7636, www.jillians.com
Nashua: Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, 1 Nashua Drive in Nashua, 883-0996, www.margs.com

Best place to go after last call
OK, we let some national chains into this category; there aren’t many places that stay open until the wee hours. And, as always, home is a popular choice for post-last-call destination.
Overall: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com.
Manchester: Taco Bell, 1045 S. Willow St. in Manchester, 641-8226, www.tacobell.com
Nashua: Denny’s, 160 Broad St. in Nashua, 883-6165

LOOKING FOR LOVE
Best pick-up place
Overall: The Black Brimmer American Bar & Grill, 1087 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-5523, www.blackbrimmer.com
Concord: Concord Grille (formerly the Capitol Grille), 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 228-6608, www.capitol-grille.com
Manchester: Derryfield Restaurant, 625 Mammoth Road in Manchester, 623-2880, www.derryfieldrestaurant.com
Nashua: Martha’s Exchange, 185 Main St. in Nashua, 883-8781, www.marthas-exchange.com

Best date place
Overall: UnWined, 865 Second St. in Manchester, 625-9463, www.unwined.net.
Concord: Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main St. in Concord, 224-4600, www.redrivertheatres.org
Manchester: Cotton, 75 Arms St. in Manchester, 622-5488, www.cottonfood.com
Nashua: Michael Timothy’s, 212 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9334, www.michaeltimothys.com

Best make-out spot
Overall: Lake Massabesic, which has a parking lot on Depot Road near the Auburn-Manchester line
Concord: Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main St. in Concord, 224-4600, www.redrivertheatres.org
Manchester: Rock Rimmon Park on Manchester’s West Side with access on Mason Street.
Nashua: Greeley Park, off Concord Street in Nashua

Best break-up spot
Overall: Mall of New Hampshire, 1500 S. Willow St. in Manchester, www.simon.com
Concord: Concord Grille (formerly the Capitol Grille), 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 228-6608, www.capitol-grille.com
Manchester: Arms Park, the grass next to the big parking lot off Arms Street near the river in Manchester’s Millyard
Nashua: Greeley Park, off Concord Street in Nashua

ENTERTAINMENT
Best CCTV show
Best: Rapping with Rose Marie. On the air since 1992, this show and its host, Rose Marie Lanier, focus on a variety of issues during a 30-minute interview, according to CCTV’s Web site.

Best community event
Overall: Winter Holiday Stroll held the Saturday after Thanksgiving in downtown Nashua
Concord: Market Days — a three-day festival held in July which features food, shopping and music on Main Street in downtown Concord.
Manchester: Rock 101 Sky Show held Memorial Weekend in Manchester’s Millyard and featuring bands throughout the day and fireworks at night.
Nashua: Hollis Town Band Apple Festival — it will be held this year on Sunday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m. in the center of Hollis. The event includes a concert, apple pie contest, activities for the kids and a raffle.

Best gym
Note on the inclusion of the YMCA: YMCA is a national organization, but it is a nonprofit and offers localized services, including financial assistance for families who cannot afford their services.
Overall: Executive Health & Sports Center, 1 Highlander Way in Londonderry, 668-47553, www.executivehealthclub.com; also a location at 1328 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, 314-8900.
Concord: Concord Family YMCA, 15 N. State St. in Concord, 224-5351, www.concordymca.org
Manchester: Greater Manchester Family YMCA, 30 Mechanic St. in Manchester, 623-3558, www.ymca.net
Nashua: Best Fitness, 55 Northeastern Blvd. in Nashua, 889-6186, www.bestfitness.us/nashua/home.asp

Best local radio show
Best: NH in the Morning with Mike, Nancy and Ed on WZID, 95.7 FM
Runner up: Greg & the Morning Buzz on WGIR, 101.1 FM in the greater Manchester area
Third: The Exchange on NHPR, 89.1 FM and 88.3 FM in the southern Merrimack Valley

Best local radio station
Best: WZID, 95.7 FM
Runner up: Rock 101, WGIR, 101.1 FM
Third: The Mill, WMLL, 96.5 FM

Best MCTV or MCAM show
Best: WAW: Aftermath, a wrestling show which (according to www.mcam.org) airs Friday at 11 p.m. on MCAM, channel 23
Runner up: Joe Levasseur Show, a local politics show which, according to the Web site, airs Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on MCAM

Best place to take your kids
Overall: SEE Science Center, 200 Bedford St. in Manchester, 669-0400, www.see-sciencecenter.org
Concord: Kaleidoscope Children’s Museum, 8 S. Main St. in Concord, 229-4526, www.kaleidoscopechildrensmuseum.net
Manchester: Livingston Park off Hooksett Road in north Manchester
Nashua: Chunky’s Cinema Pub, 150 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua, 880-8055, www.chunkys.com
Best place to take kids on a snowy/rainy day
Overall: Chunky’s Cinema Pub, 150 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua, 880-8055, www.chunkys.com
Concord: Kaleidoscope Children’s Museum, 8 S. Main St. in Concord, 229-4526, www.kaleidoscopechildrensmuseum.net
Manchester: SEE Science Center, 200 Bedford St. in Manchester, 669-0400, www.see-sciencecenter.org
Nashua: Leda Lanes, 340 Amherst St. in Nashua, 889-4884, www.ledalanes.com

Best place to take visiting relatives
It should be noted that in addition to wise-alecky responses like “the airport,” various Portsmouth destinations (from Strawbery Banke to simply the city itself) received the majority of the out-of-the-area votes.
Overall: Anheuser-Busch tour at the brewery in Merrimack, 221 DW Highway, 595-1202, www.budweisertours.com
Concord: Canterbury Shaker Village, 288 Shaker Road in Canterbury, 783-9511, www.shakers.org
Manchester: Currier Museums of Art, 180 Pearl St. in Manchester, 669-6144, www.currier.org
Nashua: Parker’s Maple Barn, 1316 Brookline Road in Mason, 878-2308, www.parkersmaplebarn.com

Best locally produced TV show
Best: NH Chronicle, which airs weeknights at 7:30 p.m. on WMUR. The show features Tom Griffith, Tiffany Eddy and Fritz Wetherbee.

Best locally produced podcast or blog
Best: Nancy’s Blog at www.wzid.com/morning_nancyblog.shtml

Best local movie theater
Overall: Cinemagic Hooksett IMAX, 1226 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, 644-4629, www.cinemagicmovies.com
Concord: Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main St. in Concord, 224-4600, www.redrivertheatres.org
Manchester: Flagship Cinemas, 10 Ashleigh Drive in Derry, 437-8800, www.flagshipcinemas.com
Nashua: Cinemagic Merrimack, 11 Executive Park Drive in Concord, 423-0240, www.cinemagicmovies.com

OUTDOORS
Best local hiking trail
Overall: Mine Falls Park on Riverside Street in Nashua
Concord: Oak Hill Trail off Oak Hill Road in Concord
Manchester: Lake Massabesic, which has a parking lot on Depot Road near the Auburn-Manchester line
Nashua: Beaver Brook Association, 117 Ridge Road in Hollis, 465-7787, www.beaverbrook.org

Best city park
Overall: Livingston Park, off Hooksett Road in north Manchester
Concord: White Park, off White Street in Concord
Manchester: Derryfield Park, off Bridge Street west of the intersection with Mammoth Road in Manchester
Nashua: Greeley Park, off Concord Street in Nashua

Best state park
Best: Bear Brook State Park, off Deerfield Road in Allenstown, 485-9874, www.nhstateparks.org
Second: Pawtuckaway State Park, off Mountain Road in Nottingham, 895-3031, www.nhstateparks.org
Third: Odiorne Point State Park, off Pembroke Road in Rye, 436-6507, www.nhstateparks.org

Best swimming hole
Overall: Pool at Livingston Park off Hooksett Road in north Manchester
Concord: Pool at Sewells Falls Park, off Sewells Falls Road in Concord
Manchester: Crystal Lake off Bodwell and Corning roads in Manchester
Nashua: Silver Lake State Park, off Silver Lake Road in Hollis, www.nhstateparks.org

PERSONALITIES
Best bartender
Overall: Joey Zontini at the Black Orchid Grille. Joey Zontini told people to vote for the Black Orchid Grille (8 Temple St. in Nashua, 577-8910, www.blackorchidgrille.com) as the best restaurant, not for him as the best overall bartender, for this year’s Hippo awards. “I can’t lie, it’s nice,” he said about being chosen. “I’ve always had a very good knack for hosting. People feel comfortable very quick.” He’s worked at the Black Orchid since it opened two and half years ago, and his boss, Tim Gilday, said he is “very lucky to have him.” “He knows good service,” he said. “You can’t teach that.” Zontini knows people well — when to joke with them, and when to leave them alone.“I can pretty much give people a hard time, and they enjoy it. It’s respectable,” he said. “There’s a right way and a wrong way.”

Concord: Chuck Nutting at The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175. Nutting is more than just a bartender. As bar manager for the Draft in Concord, he’s in charge of scheduling, ordering and other basic restaurant duties. Just walking behind the bar, Nutting always hears a barrage of customers calling his name.

Manchester: Billy LaForge of Wild Rover, 21 Kosciuszko St. in Manchester, 669-7722, www.wildroverpub.com. LaForge has been serving up drinks at the Rover for 12 years now, and his loyal following at the bar has gotten him onto the list twice before. Not that he’s counting or anything. “I don’t really know why I keep getting voted in, it’s not like I’m paying people off or anything,” said LaForge, who loves to swap stories and figure out exactly what customers are thinking about the moment they walk through the door. With an easy confidence mixed with a sharp sarcastic wit, the Manchester native entertains and delivers top-quality service every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evening at the bar, as well as during the day on Thursday. “It’s very comfortable here. I love our customers,” he said.

Nashua: Charles B. Hugo Jr. at Saffron Bistro, 80 Main St. in Nashua, 883-2100, www.thesaffronbistro.com. You can find Charles B. Hugo, Jr., behind the bar at Saffron Bistro just about every night the swanky new place is open – which is Tuesday through Saturday. Hugo moved up Main Street from Surf, where he tended bar for five years before Saffron Bistro opened in June. “Good drinks, good conversation,” and putting the customer first are key ingredients for being a great bartender, said Hugo, 36. He tries to remember people’s first names and what they drink and tries to make sure people enjoy themselves. Saffron’s signature drinks are fruit-infused vodkas, which he and the chef change each week, Hugo said.

Hottest bartender
Overall: Melissa Sheppard at C.R. Sparks in Bedford. On any given night, a couple bar patrons will unsuccessfully attempt to pick up C.R. Sparks bartender Melissa Sheppard, this year’s overall hottest bartender, according to a co-worker. She is successful, however, at obtaining phone numbers. Sheppard was selected as second runner up in last year’s poll, and still she’s occasionally spotted by others, an embarrassing ordeal for her. “I was at the bank. A lady standing in line looked at me and said, ‘You’re the hottest bartender,’” Sheppard recalled. “I thought, this is so lame.” She constantly reaches out to the business folk who frequent the C.R. Sparks to raise money for St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., where children with catastrophic diseases are treated whether a family has insurance or not. “I use my hotness for charity,” she said. “It’s really for a good cause.”

Concord: Teresa Lewis at The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com

Manchester: Julie Manni of Derryfield Restaurant, 625 Mammoth Road in Manchester, 623-2880, www.derryfieldrestaurant.com. A high school teacher by day, Manni said she was more than a little embarrassed to be recognized as a hot bartender, and wasn’t so sure she was deserving of the title. “I just think that there are just so many more hot bartenders even at the Derryfield than me,” said Manni, who has been at the Derryfield for three years and tended bar in Nashua prior to that. She loves working there, especially the atmosphere and the customers who apparently have more than a little crush. “Thanks to all that voted,” she said, “but seriously, get your eyes checked.”

Nashua: AJ Miller of Nashua Garden, 121 Main St. in Nashua, 886-7363. AJ Miller, 33, of the Nashua Garden said he’s honored to be voted the hottest bartender in Nashua. “You have to act as young as you feel,” Miller said when asked his secret. So far we know he’s worked at the Garden for about five years and is usually behind the bar Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. But if readers want to know more, “They’ll have to come in and find out,” Miller said

Best chef
Overall: Michael Buckley at Michael Timothy’s. Michael Buckley oversees three restaurants: Michael Timothy’s Urban Bistro, Surf Restaurant — both on Main St in Nashua — and Buckley’s Great Steaks in Merrimack. He was chosen best chef for Michael Timothy’s. “There are so many things you can do with food,” he said. For years he tried to be very elaborate with his food creations. But in recent years he’s worked to simplify his food and bring in more fresh ingredients. “In the summer it’s light and simple, and the winter is hearty and simple,” he said. While he’s honored with the award, he notes there are many people who work to make his restaurants successful. “I’m just one person out of 200,” he said. “I don’t do it alone.”

Concord: Ryan Smith of The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175. Smith is the kitchen manager for the Draft and is currently working on revamping the restaurant’s entire menu, hopefully without removing those wings and fries. Smith is originally from Riverside, R. I., and after working in a corporate restaurant setting for nine years, he’s happy to be working at the Draft.

Manchester: Richard Vareschi of Richard’s Bistro, 36 Lowell St. in Manchester, 644-1180, www.richardsbistro.com. Vareschi says he has “too many” years of experience, but the customers at the bistro don’t seem to mind. Fresh foods and a willingness to try something new are the secrets to Vareschi’s success, as the bistro collects awards seemingly annually for its food.“We keep the menu small, so everything that is on it is something I take pride in serving,” Vareschi said. “Keep it fresh, keep it simple. That’s all we do.”

Nashua: Joseph Drift of Saffron Bistro, 80 Main St. in Nashua, 883-2100, www.thesaffronbistro.com. Before Saffron opened, Drift was the executive chef at Cassis Bistro Francais? in Andover, Mass., and also the chef de cuisine at the Andover Inn on Phillips Academy, where Drift served alumni presidents George Bush, junior and senior. Drift, 28, has been cooking for about 14 years. He changes the American French cuisine dishes at Saffron Bistro every month, which allows him to offer three totally different menus each season and several different fish dishes per year. Some regulars they’ve gained come monthly to try the menus, and a few come more frequently to try everything before it’s gone. Drift has even accommodated people wishing for an item from a previous month. But mostly, “people love to try new stuff,” Drift said. Drift’s second passion is making desserts, and he creates new offerings each night. Drift knew owner Ben Mercuri for years before Saffron opened. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do,”

Drift said. He majored in cooking and minored in baking at Southern New Hampshire University. Being a chef is a cutthroat business, he said. “I have a lot of friends I went to school with who don’t do this anymore and they were talented chefs ... you’ve just got to have a passion for it and really love it.”

Best local waiter/waitress
Overall: Alicia Iannalfo at Chiggy’s Place. Chiggy’s Place (372 Kelley St., Manchester, 627-5755) is a regulars spot. The waitstaff knows most of the names; the customers know the waitstaff. Between them all is fun banter, all while the food’s prepared and Alicia Iannalfo serves the customers. It’s the environment that keeps Iannalfo working here over the past couple of years, even after she moved to Haverhill, Mass. Now she commutes four days a week to serve breakfast and lunch. “I’m still here because it’s a great place to work. We have [too] much fun to call it work some days,” she said. “I hope the reason why people come here is because we’re so pleasant. We play off each other well.” She’s a bit vain and not afraid to admit it. “I went online; I voted for myself. I’m not going to lie,” she said. “I smile a lot more than any other waitress I know of.”

Concord: Kim Hampstead of The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175. Hampstead just celebrated her one-year anniversary at the Draft and doesn’t plan on going anywhere. “I love it here,” Hampstead said. Before she started working in downtown Concord, Hampstead spent several years working at Billy’s Sports Bar and Strange Brew Tavern, both in Manchester. Hampstead said she enjoys the Draft’s laid-back atmosphere.

Manchester: Heather Marino at Ollie’s. 761 Mast Road in Manchester, 626-3711. In her third year at Ollie’s, Marino brings energy to work every day and says she puts effort into learning the menu front to back to give expert advice to customers. She works every day except for Monday, and couldn’t say thanks to the people who voted for her often enough. Marino lives on the West Side with her family and three cats, and loves to make guests to the restaurant feel at home while they are eating. “This is completely unbelievable. You’ve made my day. My week, My year,” Marino said. “I can’t wait to tell my mom about this.”

Nashua: Bastian DiCaprio of San Francisco Kitchen, 133 Main St. in Nashua, 886-8833, www.sanfranciscokitchen.com. Who doesn’t know Bastian at San Fransisco Kitchen? Whether you pop in for a drink or lunch, Bastian DiCaprio, 37, is probably there (he works doubles Tuesday through Saturday), probably knows your name, your drink, that you will order crab Rangoon — and if you aren’t at one of his tables, he’ll probably stop by when he gets a few seconds. “I’ve known the people that come in for a long, long time. Some kids I waited on when they were little come in now with their dates — it’s kind of scary,” he said. The Manchester resident has worked at the Asian fusion favorite for more than 10 years; it’s the only place he’s been a server. A five-year SFK patron said Bastian genuinely cares about his customers. Bastian also does some bartending and managing and helped with design for SFK’s expansion. They actually let him out of the building periodically and Bastian, who speaks Cantonese fluently, plus some French and Spanish, has traveled throughout the world — a few summers ago he went all around Asia.

Best fitness instructor
Overall: Donna Wilczek at Be Fit NH Goffstown. Wilczek’s first career was in insurance claims, an office job where her health deteriorated. She gained weight and didn’t feel good about it. She set out to find a trainer who would come to her home, as she had no time for the gym. Finding no one, she started her second career. In 1999, she became certified with the National Strength and Conditioning Association and starting bring fitness to people in their homes. “When I show up at their door, they have no other choice but to work out,” she said. “I only provide the motivation.” Her car is filled with different exercise tools that she totes from client to client — weights, steps, medicine ball and BOSU (Both Sides Up), just to name a few. Some people she visits three times a week, others once a month. She helps designs exercise plans and demonstrates how to exercise properly. “Once they start to see results, they want to work out more,” she said. Contact her at 305-1826 or www.befitnh.com.

Concord: Melinda Parker of A Better U for Women, 539 Route 3A in Bow, 228-1031. Parker has been the owner of A Better U for Women for just over a year and she couldn’t be happier. “I’ve been training women for 12 years and I finally bought my first studio ... I worked at a previous employer and had 22 clients ... all of them followed me to my new business,” Parker said. She is currently working with 35 women on her own and she doesn’t plan on hiring anyone to help her with the work load. “I personalize each program, for each person’s wants and fitness goals ... A client that [participates in sessions] three times a week won’t repeat the same exercise in a month. I 100 percent believe that a variety [of activities] will produce the best results. Variety is my key to fitness,” Parker said.

Manchester: Mary Wiseman of Fitwise Personal Training at Function Junction LLC, 250 Commercial St. in Manchester, 626-3978, www.fitwisefj.com.Wiseman has been a trainer for approximately 16 years in the greater Manchester area, the last four of which were at Fitwise. Prior to that, Wiseman was a trainer at Gold’s Gym. This is her first year on the Hippo “Best of” list, and she is pleased that her hard work is paying off. Part of the secret to being a trainer, she said, is getting to know clients both personally and professionally and making them the best they can be. “It’s a really nice feeling and an honor to get this kind of recognition,” she said.

Nashua: Diane LaCourse of Natural Physique, 264 Main Dunstable Road in Nashua, 881-9961, www.naturalphysiquellc.com. Diane LaCourse opens up shop for clients when they need her too. She’s owned Natural Physique for 12 years, helping people reach their fitness goals for anything from body-building to health issues to sport-specific training. “I would do anything for my clients,” LaCourse of Nashua, said. She’s available seven days per week, she said, and some clients have been with her for about 10 years.

Best gadfly
Concord: Dick Bouley. Currently a delegate at large for the Concord City Democrats, Bouley can’t help being involved in Concord’s political scene. He was born and raised in the capital city. Bouley left Concord to attend Plymouth State College, then found employment as a teacher in the town of Littleton for 19 years. Bouley has been a lobbyist since 1983, and the firm he runs today represents more than 24 groups across the state. “The bottom line is, if you’re interested, you should definitely get involved,” Bouley said. Bouley’s son, James, took that advice. After being a city counselor for 10 years he ran for the mayor’s seat in Concord and won.

Manchester: Joe Kelly Levasseur. Levasseur was nonplussed upon hearing that he was named best gadfly for the city, saying that he had won the award “for as long as The Hippo’s been giving it out.” He said the nod shows that residents appreciate his work challenging elected officials in City Hall. “It’d be nice to win for best French fries or best pizza or something else, you know?” he said of his Joe Kelly’s restaurant at 866 Elm St. in Manchester. Levassuer thought he’d be passed over this time around. “I thought it would be Rich Girard. He’s been working on it,” he said.

Nashua: Glenda Gotcsik of Litchfield. Gotcsik was working at the Amber Room, where her fiancée was a co-owner until two months ago. In Nashua, Gotcsik got involved in the downtown promotions group, Great American Downtown, Donnalee Lozeau’s mayoral campaign and Iugo, the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce’s new young professionals association. Gotcsik said she’s always been interested in community service, and that getting involved locally, is “a cool way to advertise yourself in the downtown area,” she said. The night club participated in several daytime events, including the Nashua Art Walk, and hosted a fundraiser for the Friends of the Court Street Theater.

Best local visual artist
Overall: Peter Noonan “I’m honored, perplexed but honored,” Noonan siad. His political cartoons and illustrations appear in the Hippo and were in the Manchester Daily (now Weekly) Express. He created an outdoor mural in 2007 outside of the Merrimack Restaurant in Manchester of caricatures of presidents who campaigned here. Noonan studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Paris, but also majored in communications at Colby-Sawyer and wanted to be a journalist. When he has a few free minutes he works on some of his fine art, which includes portraits, oils and still lifes. “I don’t want all my art to look like Frank Guinta,” he said. Drawing Guinta is like drawing a pineapple with a little shock of hair on his head and a “perpetually shocked look on his face.” Noonan was recently asked to join the mayor’s anti-graffiti task force, so he will get to see one of his favorite subjects up close and have a “dastardly influence on city policy,” he said. Bob Baines was fun to draw, too with the gap in his teeth and big ears, Noonan said — “Big ears are fun to draw.” Noonan said he was recently commissioned to paint a historical mural on the West Side, and he thinks a lot more murals can be done in Manchester. See his work at Manchester’s Art on the Wall at City Hall gallery in the spring or at noonanarts.com.

Concord: Photographer Brian J. Martin. Martin said he photographs “whatever’s interesting to the eye,” from nature to industrial sites. The 36-year-old is self-taught and “just always had an inclination” toward photography. He uses a Canon Rebel XT digital SLR and has been taking pictures for about five years. See them at brianjmartin.com. He’s also planning to show his work at Bagel Works. Artwork helps Martin lift his spirits when he feels down, he said. A musician, he’s recording a CD right now, and said he gets some inspiration from a circle of friends who are also musicians and photographers.

Manchester: Illustrator Cameron Bennett. An illustrator and fine artist, Bennett attended the Baltimore School For the Arts, Rhode Island Institute of Design, Maryland Institute College of Art, and MassArt, and later studied with Paul Ingbretson in Manchester for four years. He’s illustrated for The Hippo, New Hampshire Magazine, Salem Observer, Annalee Dolls and others. His fine art includes landscapes and portraits, frequently in oil or charcoal. “Bascially for me it’s about really capturing human life,” Bennett said about his work. He last exhibited in December and January at the Wine Studio. In 2007, Bennett, 37, of Manchester, began teaching art. (He also teaches Argentine tango.) See his work at www.cameronbennettart.com.

Nashua: Painter Carolyn Parello. Parello dropped her New York corporate life to paint about 15 years ago, she said. “I just love it. It’s like making giant coloring books, it’s great,” she said. She studied oil painting in Tuscany through University of Georgia in 1996 for a year. Her oils are expressions of urban landscapes, she said. Originally from Chicago, Parello said architecture and big cities inspires her art. “We live in our art basically and I like to capture it, and the way I feel about it,” she said. Parello, 46, moved to Nashua six years ago when she tired of New York, where she lived for about 16 years. “I love New Hampshire,” she said. See her work at www.carolynparello.com or hanging in Charle Aidan Salon. She has an upstairs studio on Main Stree.

Best local TV personality
Best: Fritz Wetherbee of WMUR. At 71, Wetherbee is still a ferocious writer and storyteller. Hunkered at home in Acworth, he writes his historical stories for WMUR’s New Hampshire Chronicle (weekdays, 7:30 p.m.). With seemingly little effort, he pushes the stories out with frequency. “I can write a good news story and write it fast,” he said. He has three books out, filled with hundreds of stories of the Granite State, and a new one due this summer. For years, he was the news director for WSCV/WSLE-FM in Peterborough. For 10 years, he was the host of New Hampshire Crossroads on New Hampshire Public Television. And he’s held numerous other jobs. “Somebody put me on Wikipedia,” he said. He’s searched his name elsewhere, including iTunes. “Somebody wrote a song about me. I put my name into Facebook. There’s a lot of people talking about me. I’m feeling pretty hip. I’m not sure if I should get some tight leather pants and some earrings, what do you think?”

“I write because they give me a paycheck,” he said. “There’s a great tradition on that. Mark Twain didn’t write anything but for money.”

Runner up: Al Kaprielian of MyTV. It’s common for people in the news world to move from job to job over the years. MyTV’s weatherman, Al Kaprielian, is an oddity in that sense, as he’s worked at the same station since he graduated from college. He’s actually been at the same station since it started.

Kaprielian is perhaps one of the best-known TV meteorologists in the region – maybe even the country. His antics are well known and widely impersonated. His MySpace headline quote is one of his most impersonated sayings: “High Pressure,” which he says in a high, squeaky voice. He does numerous weather updates throughout the day and even has a weatherphone that he’ll update seven days a week (432-5050). “I take the weather seriously,” he said. “It can be more fun than news.” Kaprielian doesn’t see himself moving anytime soon. “I just developed a following,” he said. “It’s hard to leave your following.”

Third: Tiffany Eddy of WMUR. Eddy is also a host on WMUR’s New Hampshire Chronicle as well as the anchor of the weeknight 11 p.m. news. She’s been with station for the past 10 years.

She initially was terrified of becoming a TV reporter. She first wanted to be a print and photo journalist. Out of college, she had a job making corporate videos and legal documentaries. Her boss was really into TV news, and soon she got the bug as well. In Springfield, Mass., she tried without luck to get a callback from the local television station. “Nobody would take my calls,” she said. She finally cased the station, found a sidedoor open to the news room and sneaked in. She was finally offered a job as an associate producer.

It’s the stories of people that keep her going. “There are always these moments that you think, ‘This is the greatest moment,’” she said. “But those are soon eclipsed by another moment.”

Best local Internet personality
The Guy From Boston
If you’re looking to hear someone rant and rave about whatever, check out The Guy from Boston (www.theguyfromboston.com). His tagline? “I got the balls to say what you’re thinking.” You can even have him create a personal rant for you (“All rants take approximately 2 weeks and will be delivered via e-mail”), or have him come to one of your parties for a more intimate rant. His real name is Joe Ligotti.

Best hairstylist
Overall: Colleen Jamieson of Charlë Aidan Salon. “I look at people as art,” said Colleen Jamieson, chosen this year’s overall best hairstylist. “When I look at a person in my chair, I look at them as an unpainted canvas.” For seven years she’s created artwork through styling hair at Charlë Aidan Salon (142 Main St., Nashua, Suite 106). And she continues to further her education by taking classes around the country, where she learns from some of the top hairstylists. Still, her customers don’t allow her free reign on hair creations. “I do have some guidelines,” she said. But even those guidelines can become relaxed, “especially after they see me a couple of times.” Jamieson frequently enters competitions, like the North American Hairstyling Awards. “It’s the best of the best. I haven’t got any yet,” she said. While she enjoys creating hairstyles for photo work, and thinks she might move someday to pursue that, she’s content right now in Nashua. “I like to bring a little more creativity to Nashua,” she said.

Concord: Brian Waldron of Michael John’s the Studio Salon, 45 South Main St. in Concord, 223-9925. Waldron said that he’s humbled by the fact that the Concord community continues to recognize him as the best in the area. Waldron is the owner of Michael John’s the Studio Salon in downtown Concord. The studio’s planned move to Capital Commons in downtown Concord will give Waldron and company 3,000 square feet to work with. For a studio that’s grown so fast in the past 10 years, this move validates Waldron’s efforts in creating a different vibe in New Hampshire’s hair design industry.

“[At Michael John’s] we’re an inspiring breed of hair designers. We’ve gone from beauticians to hairstylists ... We’re designers focused on artistry and focused on making the industry standard higher,” Waldron said.

Manchester: April Arnold of 26th on Hanover, 26 Hanover St. in Manchester, 626-0250, www.26thonhanover.com. “Total shock” was the phrase first used by Arnold upon hearing she made the list. Arnold has been the owner at 26th on Hanover since the salon opened two years ago. Once she got over the disbelief and became convinced that there was no punchline, Arnold expressed deep gratitude to the clients she works with every week for getting named to the “Best of” list for the first time. “It’s all about understanding the needs of your clients and helping them look the way they want,” Arnold said.

Nashua: Jessica Duplessis of Salon Apryl, 27 Elm St. in Nashua, 886-5701. Duplessis, 23, is told she’ll always be the “baby” at Salon Apryl. Yet she’s worked there for four years, is a certified colorist and offers all hair services. She specializes in finishing styles, blowouts and precision cutting. She’s also a make-up artist and recently started entering hair competitions. The native Nashuan attended Artistic School of Cosmetology in Nashua before it closed, started as an assistant at Salon Apryl, and worked her way up to senior stylist, she said.

Best local band/performer playing original songs
Best: Josh Logan. It’s the music, but perhaps more importantly, the performance that Josh Logan credits for his popularity in the area. “I take the time to focus on every person in the audience, not just the hot chicks,” he said. He plays frequently around town, usually at least a few times a week with his band or solo as well as hosting an open mike at the Shaskeen every Thursday night. It’s a different sort of open mike, as people play or sing with his band. While he plays often around the area, he’s positioning himself for the next step, like being the opening band to a national act. He hopes to capitalize on his name recognition from his stint in 2006 on CBS’ Rockstar: Supernova. He has an album ready to go, but he and his manager are working to figure out the best way to release it, whether independently or a with record label. “We’re worried about about th next 15 years, not the next 15 days,” David Kipe, his business manager, said. “We’re looking for long-term success.”

Runner up: Alli Beaudry. It’s the second straight year for Alli Beaudry to be runner-up for best local performer. It’s the second straight year behind Josh Logan. “It’s a repeat of last year, but I’m psyched,” she said. “Josh and I are good friends.” Beaudry, now a Boston resident, still plays frequently in the area with her jazz-funk pop sound. She also has her cover band, Incadence, that she plays with, but mostly in Boston. She’s releasing an album soon and she hopes next year’s Best Of results will be different. “Hopefully when my CD comes out, it’s going to give me that extra boost.”

Third: Sons of Kalal. Sons of Kalal have a formula for success.“If you get the people drinking, the girls start dancing and the guys will follow,” said Mike Capone of Kalal. “When we play shows, we’re straight-up party music. “That wasn’t always the case, but it didn’t take too long for the six-person old-school hip-hop group to figure it out. “We started out like every other group started out: in a bowling alley,” said Capone, who goes by M.C. Capone on stage. “It’s not to say the shows were bad; we just wanted a different reaction. We expected people to be crazy and dancing. The music wasn’t delivering that.” They retooled their sound, listening to old hip-hop albums, and debuted on a floating stage at a dance club in Lebanon following a DJ. The crowd never left the dance floor and more people piled on. “This is the proof that our new formula works,” he said. And it still does

Best local band/performer playing covers
Best: Mama Kicks. After rocking for 14 years, Mama Kicks still rocks it enough to be named the area’s best cover band, a title they’ve had more than once before. They’re one of the few bands that make a living playing music together – that means no day jobs, only music.The core of the band, Lisa Guyer and Gardner Berry, have been together since 1994, and added drummer David Stefanelli years ago and guitarist Chris Lester in 2006. Guyer’s not even sure why the band remains a favorite for the area, playing an average of four nights a week, including many Wednesdays at the Black Brimmer in Manchester. “The only thing I can tell you is we all enjoy playing together. We all respect each other musically and we enjoy ourselves on stage together. We have fun on stage and that’s infectious.”

Runner up: Chad LaMarsh. He’s played in the music scene for the past 17 years. Currently he has gigs with five-piece The Chad LaMarsh Band as well as his solo acoustic gigs. He has original music too, and even had five of his songs played on ABC’s All My Children. But, “I’m known for my covers,” he said. He has a wide repertoire of cover songs which he plays with his own flair.

Third: Last Kid Picked. Last Kid Picked has rocked shows for 11 years. “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing,” said John DeGange, the only original member of the 11 year-old band. That means strobe lights, wigs and haze machines. With Jason Ricci on guitar, Eric Stone on bass and Kyle Flewelling on drums, Last Kid Picked travels all around the upper half of New England, playing a wide range of covers, from Tom Jones to a disco medley

Best local stage actor
Best: Brandon Mallard. Mallard, 25, has been acting for about 10 years. He is the artistic director of All Access Productions in Nashua and director and creator of Cabaret De Boheme. He also performs with Northern Ballet — just acting these days, no dance, due to a leg injury. (He’ll be playing the stepmother in Northern’s upcoming Cinderella performance.) He is an acting coach, choreographer and director as well. Cabaret De Boheme will probably start performing regularly at Fody’s again in the spring or summer, and the group will tour Boston and New Hampshire, he said. He’ll also act in Closer for All Access in the spring.His sister Jennifer and father Brett are entrenched in the area theater scene and have won New Hampshire Theatre Awards. “They’ll probably rag on me until there is no tomorrow,” Mallard said about his win.

Runner up: George Piehl. Piehl is a professional actor who has been in the area for 30 years. For 26 of those years he’s run a dinner theater series called StageOne. The setup can be “very close and very intimate and I love doing comedy in that sort of environment,” Piehl said. He acted opposite Sally Struthers at Ogunquit, Maine, two recent summers in Hello Dolly and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He performed in The Palace Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol and has also performed with Barnstormers. See www.stageoneproductions.net.

Third: Billy Butler. Butler toured as an actor, technician and director for 10 years, including a stint as Performance Director for the Ringling Brothers circus and technical director for Broadway tours of Greater Tuna. The 15-year Equity actor has spent lots of time on stage at Seacoast Repertory Theatre and other venues. He’s graced the cover of the Hippo generally dressed as a women, for his roles in Rocky Horror and Hedwig and the Angry Inch for Pirate Stage Productions. “I was the kid who sang along with his radio and then took it apart to see how it worked and then put it back together,” Butler said. Instead of waiting tables, he learned the technical aspects of production to augment his actor’s income. He also produces and directs. “To watch something go from words on a page to a fully realized show is an amazing experience,” he said. Butler is also a songwriter and musician who pens “everything from punk rock (my roots) to ballads.” He performs Thursdays at the Central Wave in Dover. He starts workshopping his first full musical soon, he said. Butler lives “On the Seacoast. In a trailer by the interstate.”

Best New Hampshire author
Best: Jodi Picoult. Favored by book clubs nationwide, Jodi Picoult has written 15 novels, most recently Nineteen Minutes in 2007 — which debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list — and Change of Heart in 2008. Three of her earlier books have been made into Lifetime television movies, and My Sister’s Keeper is expected to hit big screens next year, starring Cameron Diaz. Picoult studied at Princeton and got a leg up in publishing by having two stories published in Seventeen magazine. The Dallas Morning News calls her fiction “one part romance, one part courtroom thriller, two parts social commentary.” Picoult cites Alice Hoffman as a big favorite. Details about that and most other Picoult-related matters are at www.jodipicoult.com, where the 41-year-old mother of three writes about her life and her books.

Runner up: Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Devils. Time magazine named Brown one of the world’s 100 most influential people a few years ago; The Da Vinci Code and its movie adaptation starring Tom Hanks stirred plenty of discussion (and plenty of cash flow), some about the sheer thrill of the fiction, some about the religious conspiracy theories it implied. A 2006 Boston Globe article said Forbes magazine had ranked Brown the sixth-best-paid celebrity in the world, and said he and his wife lived in a $1.6 million home in Rye. The Exeter native has reportedly made hefty donations to community projects in his home town of Exeter, where Brown graduated from (and later taught at) Phillips Exeter Academy.

A 2006 Portland Herald story said his next novel, in the works, would be called The Solomon Key and would be set in Washington D.C.; subsequent rumors online discounted that title. In any case, it’s sure to sell a lot of copies.

Third: John Clayton. Clayton recently left the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News, where he was a columnist. He has several books featuring stories about Manchester and New Hampshire personalities. His most recent book is You Know You’re In New Hampshire When…For more on Clayton go to www.johnclayton.info

Best local radio show host
Best: Mike Morin, co-host of NH in the Morning on 95.7 FM WZID. Mike Morin is in his 37th year in radio, “if that’s humanly possible,” he said. “Has radio been around that long?”

It’s his third year as the top radio host in the Hippo readers’ poll. He been the morning host on WZID 95.7’s NH in the Morning since 2002, and a couple of years before that he was the afternoon host for the station for five years. But he enjoys morning the best. “You have the whole world to yourself. You can think clearly,” he said. “It’s the best time of the day to do radio.”

And it’s radio that he loves. “You have real intimate relationships with thousands of people that you’ll never know,” he said. “It’s the best way to be connected to a lot of people.”

Runner up: Greg Kretchmar, the Greg of Greg & The Morning Buzz on 101.1 FM WGIR. Greg & the Morning Buzz has always had a significant following, as judged by our readers. The show airs on Rock 101 and on 100.3 WHEB from 5:30 to 10 a.m. For more on the show, go to www.morningbuzzonline.com.

Third: Laura Knoy, host of The Exchange, which airs live weekdays at 9 a.m. on NHPR. Hear old episodes of Knoy’s call-in show at www.nhpr.org.

Best local sports team
Best: Manchester Monarchs (hockey). It’s good to be the only minor-league hockey affiliate in a hockey town like Manchester. The team has played .500 hockey so far for the 2007-08 season, with standout seasons from right wing Teddy Purcell, currently fourth in the Eastern Conference in scoring, and center Gabe Gauthier. There’s still a good month of season left for the Monarchs to make a push for the AFL playoffs, but popular event nights like the always well-attended Mullet Night assure that, win or lose, the Monarchs are always a strong draw at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Last spring, the Monarchs made their deepest push into the playoffs in the franchise’s eight-year history by making it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before losing to the Hershey Bears. The Monarchs were fifth in attendance in the league.

Runner up: NH Fisher Cats (baseball), who play at MerchantsAuto.com Stadium off Commercial Street in the Millyard in Manchester. With a new logo and uniform, the Fisher Cats will open the 2008 season assured of at least one big game: the city will host the Northeast Delta Dental All-Star Game in celebration of the team’s fifth anniversary in Manchester. The AA Blue Jays affiliate might still have to compete with the die-hard Sox fans every time the Portland Sea Dogs come to town, but the team set its single-game attendance record last year against the Erie Sea Wolves, the Tigers affiliate.

Third: Nashua Pride (baseball), who play at Holman Stadium off Amherst Street in Nashua. As a member of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball, the Pride lack the MLB ties that the Fisher Cats have, but that doesn’t mean that the team lacks star power. In fact, the Pride featured rotund Red Sox cult hero Rich “El Guapo” Garces for the 2007 season. Two years removed from the majors, the 36-year-old reliever made 36 appearances for the Pride in 2007, good for a 6-4 record and a 4.42 ERA. Nicknamed “El Guapo” after the villain in The Three Amigos, Garces had seven successful seasons with the Red Sox.

Best local athlete
Overall: Jeff Giuliano of Manchester and of the Los Angeles Kings. Giulinio has played with the Los Angeles Kings, since he was called up from the Manchester Monarchs, the King’s minor-league affiliate. The left wing is not looking to come back to New Hampshire to play anytime soon. “I’ve been here for three and half months,” he said about L.A. “It’d be nice to stay here.” The season will be over for the Kings come April 6. After a vacation, he expects to be back in Manchester later this spring, where he owns a condo. But he enjoys the warm weather of winter in L.A. “It’s a fun place to play,” he said.

Concord: Matt Bonner of Concord (he graduated from Concord High School). Bonner now plays basketball for the San Antonio Spurs.

Manchester: Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals. Carpenter, who graduated from Trinity High School in Manchester and has a home in Bedford, made just one start at the start of the 2007 season before hurting his elbow. By season’s end, Carpenter had undergone surgery. Hopefully, 2008 will include the pitcher’s return to his former Cy Young form.

Nashua: Reliever Steve Palazzolo played for the Nashua Pride Can-Am baseball league in 2007 and struck out 63 batters in the 54.2 innings he pitched, allowing 41 hits. The Can-Am League sold his contract to Major League’s San Francisco Giants in September. Palazzolo is a North Reading, Mass., native but has also been part of the Milwaukee Brewer’s organization.

Best live DJ
Overall: DJ Bob, who plays at Club 313. There’s a discipline of spinning tunes as a DJ, said DJ Bob, the resident DJ at Club 313 (93 S. Maple St., Manchester) on Saturday nights. “A lot has to do with format and program. I know how to program a room,” he said. “You can’t get sucked into playing one style all night long.” It doesn’t mean he knows what he might play in any given night, except for the “key songs,” as he calls them, the top songs of the day played on top 40 radio stations. But it’s the mixture of songs. He plays blocks of genres, ranging from 10 to 20 minutes, from hip-hop, to dancehall reggae to house music. The ones who like a particular genre dance, and the ones who don’t, have a few minutes to go to the bar and grab a drink before DJ Bob reels them back to the dance floor. “You want to do it with a balance,” he said. “You want to change it up, but you don’t want to send them out the door.”

Concord: Nazzy of Nazzy Entertainment DJ’s in Concord, 965-6200, www.nazzydjs.com.You probably know DJ Nazzy from his morning show on WJYY, 105.5, but Nazzy stands out in this category for providing the best event entertainment in the Concord area via his personal business endeavor, Nazzy Entertainment DJ’s. “My passion is music, I love entertaining, but it’s almost as hard as it is fun. When I’m live at a party, I’m interacting with [the crowd’s] energy. When I’m on the radio, I’m staring at a wall ... I have to create an image of a party [to keep my energy up]. It’s a lot of theater in the mind. I love everything I do,” Nazzy said. When he isn’t confined by a sound booth, Nazzy is creating memories for all manner of special events. “I’ve been [DJ-ing] for 17 years now. Every party is unique, be it a barbecue, a high school reunion, anniversary [or] a black tie wedding. There is no cookie cutter. I try to customize [each event] to [the client] and their budget. If I had no overhead, no responsibilities, I would do this for free. I get excited and nervous before every party. Each is a unique celebration every time I go. That’s what I love about it,” Nazzy said.

Manchester: DJ Midas. DJ Midas is described by his MySpace page as 34, male and living in Manchester. He apparently has a radio show featuring triphop, house, ambient, techno, disco and more that streams Sunday nights from 8 to 11 p.m., according to his page.

Nashua: DJ Rick Naples, who plays at the Amber Room, 53 High St. in Nashua, 881-9060, theamberroomnightlife.com. Rick Naples has been spinning for 15 years, starting out at The Palace Entertainment Complex and Bahama Beach Club, and then workingall over Boston at Axis, Avalon, Roxy, Fuel, Pravda, Saint and others. Now he is the general manager at Amber Room in Nashua, and DJs Saturday nights there, playing vocal house music. Saturday nights have been sold out since Amber Room opened; Naples has gathered a following over the years, he said. Naples, 38, lives in Dracut, Mass.

Best mechanic
Overall: Glen Boisvert of Kelley Street Garage, 339 Kelley St. in Manchester, 622-7893, www.kelleystreetgarage.com. Glen is the third generation of Boisverts to own Kelley Street Garage, according to the shop’s Web site. It was founded by Albert Boisvert (Glen’s grandfather) in 1931.

“We’re honest. We don’t do work that’s not needed. If it’s something that needs to be done in a couple of months, we’ll let the customer know. That’s why people come to me, because I’m fair and honest,” Boisvert said. “That’s what I think.” The shop has been in the family for the past 75 years and under Boisvert’s ownership the past nine years. He’s worked at the shop since he was 13, taking only a few years off for additional education. He enjoys the challenges of newer vehicles. “It takes more brains than it did 20 or 30 years ago,” he said. But he doesn’t expect either one of his two daughters to take over the shop when they get older. “They have no interest whatsoever,” he said.

Concord: Dan Weed of Weed Family Automotive, 124 Storrs St. in Concord, 225-7988, www.weedfamilyautomotive.com. Dan Weed has been a mechanic for “longer than I care to count,” he said, — close to 27 years. Weed and his wife Jodi have owned Weed Family Automotive for 13 years. Weed doesn’t think he was chosen as Concord’s best mechanic because he’s handy with tools or knows your engine inside and out.

“It’s not always about me, it’s about our customers. It just comes down to customer service and we try to treat people fairly and honestly ... the way we would like to be treated on the other side of the counter,” Weed said. Weed Family Automotive has four technicians and one service manager on staff, each boasting more than 15 years experience in their field.

Manchester: Carlos Colon of Colon Auto, 396 Union St. in Manchester, 621-0894. Good prices, good work, and plain old honesty are the only reasons Colon gives for his first ever appearance on the “Best of” list. Colon, a 1996 graduate of Manchester Central, has been working out of his garage on Union Street for the last nine years. He currently works on the 20 or so vehicles that pass through on a weekly basis with friend Juan Posada.

“Just be honest with people. It’s that simple,” Colon said. “If someone comes in to get a blinker fixed, don’t do a bunch of other stuff.”

Nashua: Steven Maffee. Maffee is one of three brothers who co-own Maffee’s Garage, 11 Clinton St. in Nashua, 889-9201

Best city politician
Concord: State Senator Sylvia Larsen. Larsen has been a New Hampshire State Senator for the past 14 years and before that Larsen was a member of the Concord City Council. For two years, those jobs overlapped. “I wanted to serve out my term [as a city councilor] so the city would haven’t to hold a special election. I knew everything that was going on but it was too much for one person, going all day and all night. I took a pay cut for the job [as senator], but it’s a terrific honor,” Larsen said. Larsen’s objective as a politician is to maintain a government that is effective on both the state and local levels. “It’s really heartwarming ... A great thrill to think after 14 years people still appreciate what I’m doing. I hope people can still feel comfortable talking to me, either on the street or in the grocery store,” Larsen said.

Manchester: Mayor Frank Guinta. Guinta was re-elected to his second term this past fall. As the potential front-runner for the Republican candidacy for governor, Guinta is increasing his visibility outside city limits. He recently announced a plan to tackle the problem of homelessness in the city.

Nashua: Mayor Donnalee Lozeau. Lozeau already had 16 years as a state legislator under her belt and 14 years in community development at Southern New Hampshire Services before running for mayor of Nashua. She beat opponent alderman Jim Tollner and took office in January. She was a founding member of Great American Downtown and Greater Nashua Workforce Housing Coalition. She’s been a member of the Continuum of Care for the Homeless, New Hampshire Workforce Housing Council and New Futures Adolescent Treatment Collaborative. She’s also been a Big Brothers Big Sisters president, a director of the Nashua Chamber of Commerce, and chaired the 2003 Mayor’s Task Force on Housing.

Best state politician
Best: Gov. John Lynch. The governor remained a popular figure in the state despite the storm clouds of an economy on a downward trend and concerns of a drop in state revenue that may impact several departments. After roundly beating Republican opponent Jim Coburn, Lynch was inaugurated to his second term in office in 2007, and found a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate.

Runner up: U.S. Senator John Sununu. Sununu grabbed headlines in the summer of 2007 by calling for the dismissal of then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Sununu was the first Republican to make such a demand, and Gonzales later resigned. Sununu has said that he will run for re-election in 2008, setting up a likely rematch with former Governor Jeanne Shaheen. Sununu defeated Shaheen in 2002. Upon hearing he had been named to the “Best of” list, Sununu said that he was “flattered” to be named runner up.

Third: Ted Gatsas, Manchester alderman and state senator. In his fourth tern as state senator and fifth as alderman in Manchester, Ted Gatsas has been wearing two hats for the better part of a decade, and said that he was honored to have made the list as a top politician in the state. However, Gatsas said that he had no intention of running for a higher office anytime in the near future.

Hottest Mancunian
Josh Greenwood. “That’s ridiculous,” said Greenwood when he was told he was chosen as this year’s hottest Mancunian. “This was a Kelleigh Domaingue and Keith Murphy joke.”

Ward 12 Alderman Domaingue was 2005’s hottest Mancunian. Her fiancée, Keith Murphy, owns Murphy’s Tap Room. The two sent out a link to the Hippo’s online voting forum with suggestions on who and what to vote for, and Greenwood was their Mancunian choice. Greenwood later saw Domaingue. “She said, ‘I wanted to pass my title to someone fitting.’” He’s not known as a dapper dresser. “I’m usually at the bar in a flannel and wind pants,” said the Nashua High School South teacher. “I’m not so into my appearance.” He coaches lacrosse and also frequents the local watering holes”

Hottest person in Concord
Teresa Lewis. Lewis works evening shifts as a waitress at the Barley House. Lewis was surprised by her Hippo award. She hasn’t been working at the Barley House for more than a year yet, but she has quite a fan following. While Lewis isn’t technically a bartender, in her waitress duties she does serve drinks.

Hottest person in Nashua
Brie Hetherington. A co-owner of SKIN in Nashua, Hetherington was kind of shocked about the vote. She doesn’t have some special fitness routine or diet – she loves rich food, she said. However, she does take advantage of a combination of photorejuvination and ultrasonic facial treatments at SKIN, which offers esthetic and clinical esthetic services. Her favorite face products are organic cosmaceuticals from Luzern Laboratories. SKIN is associated with Charle Aidan Salon (soon to be Aidan James Salon), where Hetherington takes advantage of the hair services. Also, she drinks plenty of water. Hetherington is from Litchfield.