March 19, 2009

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Hippo’s best of 2009 readers’ poll
Your favorite stuff about southern New Hampshire
By Hippo Staff news@hippopress.com

You voted, we report.

Actually, a lot of you voted. More than ever before. Thousands more people voted in the readers’ poll this year than last year. And this year, the voting was (for the most part) all online. The result was more restaurants, people, salons and other local establishments duking it out to be the best.

And the winners here really are your choices for the very best — while we did the counting, you did the picking. Readers’ votes, not editors’ choices, give us the list you see here today. (Trust us, our eyes are still all red and a little crossed from staring at the computer so long.) And if you entered our contest for our Tropical Staycation Prize Package, keep your eyes on your e-mail. The winner will be notified soon.

So, without further ado, the winners — your favorite Asian restaurant, your favorite local TV show, your favorite thing about living in New Hampshire. It’s the Best of 2009.

Best local theater performer
Best: Brandon Mallard of Phoenix Academy and Cabaret De Boheme. Mallard, 26, of Manchester, said he’s been kept busy teaching, directing and choreographing at Phoenix Academy in Nashua, of which he is a cofounder. (A previous version was All Access Productions.) He created Cabaret De Boheme and performs with that company mainly for corporate functions and private parties these days.

Mallard said he tells his students it’s important to know which roles fit you.

“I would never audition for the Romeo. I’m not the leading male type. I play the villain very well. I play the bad guy. I play the character role,” Mallard said. (Photo by Joshua Gagnon.)

Runner Up: Broderick Lang. Lang, 26, recently performed with Ghostlight Theater Co. of New England and in Company at the Acting Loft in Manchester. Lang has been acting for about 12 years and attended Merrymount Manhattan College for acting.

Honorable Mention: George Piehl. Peihl, of Manchester, has acted professionally for 35 years. Piehl was most recently seen as Scrooge in the Palace Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol in Manchester.

Best local visual artist
Best: Joshua Gagnon. Gagnon, 25, of Concord, is a self-taught photographer who got started through theater photography. He thinks his work (all of which involves people as subjects) has an “edgier” or “younger” style than what he perceives as fine art photography. He keeps a studio at Phoenix Academy (see “Best Local Performer”). Gagnon said he thinks winning a “best of” award is “fantastic.” “I have a small following in the area of people that really enjoy my work,” Gagnon said. He hopes to move to New York to continue to grow his audience. See Gagnon’s work at www.jagfotoz.com.

Runner Up: Carolyn Parello. Parello classifies her colorful oil paintings as “urban landscapes.” She lives in Nashua and keeps a studio there, but doesn’t normally exhibit. See Parello’s work at www.carolynparello.com.

Honorable Mention: Stephen Previte. East Boston native Previte has lived in Hollis for about 30 years. “I came up with a buzzword for what I do ... representational impressionism,” the oil painter said. Previte teaches in a studio at 142 Main St. in Nashua and is running workshops in Jaffrey. Contact him at 465-2647.

Best arts instructor
Best of Concord: Dan Dustin at Kimball-Jenkins School of Art, 266 N. Main St., Concord, 225-3932. Dan Dustin is a fascinating person. Ironically, Dustin said he was just laid off from NHTI. Dustin has made wooden spoons for about 40 years; the Currier Museum of Art bought a number for their collection about two years ago. Dustin, of Contoocook, asked his first NHTI class to figure out “how we make a spoon.” Now he gives copies of the two best exams from that class to his new students. He has been a juried member of the League of NH Craftsmen for almost 40 years. You can find him at their August fair in Sunapee, or just call him (746-5683) if you are interested in wooden spoons. Call Kimball-Jenkins regarding his class.

Best of Manchester:Monique Staples, art teacher at Northwest Elementary School, Manchester. “I’m an active painter myself. ... I just try to share the joy of art with kids, I guess,” Staples said. She’s in her seventh year at Northwest, and also teaches general art and preteen acrylic painting at the Currier Museum Art Center. Her Northwest classes paint, draw and work in a variety of medias

Best of Nashua: Brandon Mallard of Phoenix Academy. (See “Best local theater performer.”) Mallard said he starts by working more on the person than the craft itself. He wants the student to learn how the student’s body moves, voice sounds, etc. They work on sense memory and emotional recall. Mallard has also worked with Peacock Players, the Acting Loft, Actorsingers and Junior Actorsingers locally.

Best barber
Best of the Best: Nancy Dixon, La Coupe, 165 B Kelley St. in Manchester, 669-9299

Formerly a sales manager with a major retailer, Dixon, who owns La Coupe, appreciates living a more laid-back life now. “I just wanted something that I could, at some point, work for myself,” she said. “I enjoy working with the public. I like the way I can pretty much work around my schedule. I don’t have anyone breathing down my neck.” The 38-year-old, who has always lived in Manchester, attended barbering school in Massachusetts and worked in her first shop in Andover for a few years, before moving to a shop in Derry. “Then I came out on my own.” La Coupe, which she mans by herself, has been around nearly six years.

Best of Concord: David Caron, American Barber Studios, 4 Park St. in Concord, 225-3052, www.neschoolofbarbering.com. The 43-year-old Caron, who co-owns American Barber Studios with his wife, cares deeply about his profession. “On the passion list, it’s high for me,” he said. “It’s something I value tremendously and it’s something that consumes quite a bit of my life.”

Best of Manchester:Brett Sellingham, Not So Plain Jane’s Salon, 155 Dow St. in Manchester, 622-5971, www.notsoplainjanes.com. For about eight years Sellingham, 37, has been crafting hair cuts for Not So Plain Jane’s. The Concord resident said he was honored by his selection and said there are many great barbers in the area, and there needs to be, because people in New England “take great pride in how their hair looks.”

Best of Nashua: Richard MacDonald, Dick’s Barbershop, 263 Union Square in Milford. MacDonald, 67, lives in Nashua and says his shop has been in Milford center since 1895. He took it over in 1962. He said he enjoys talking with his customers when they come in. “They’re almost like family after all this time,” he said.

Best hairstylist
Best of the Best: April Bohaker, Salon Apryl, 27 Elm St. in Nashua, 886-5701, www.salonapryl.com. As a 6- or 7-year-old, Bohaker said, she always told her best friend they’d open a salon and call it “A&D’s.” The name might have changed along the way, but the love of the profession certainly didn’t. At 24, the Nashua resident said she needed to get her life in order and began attending hair design school. Now 37, she says she’s “loving doing it every day.” In 2004, she took over an existing Nashua salon. A former winner in Hippo’s annual reader poll, Bohaker still likes the recognition. “I’m kind of surprised,” she said. “Kind of shocked, kind of neat. I won in 2006, so it’s neat to win again.” Bohaker said.

Best of Concord: Catie Landry, Anjou Hair Studio, 287 South Main St. in Concord, 225-2828. At 35, Landry dove into hairstyling full board. “It was something I always wanted to do,” she said. Now 50, Landry co-owns Anjou Hair Studio, which opened more than four years ago.

Best of Manchester: Christine Sheldon, Salon Thairapy, 1100 Hooksett Road, Suite 108, in Hooksett, 641-9600      . Sheldon, 37, opened Salon Thairapy in November 2008. She co-owns the salon. Now about four months in, she says business is great.  “I’m an extreme people person,” she said.

Best of Nashua: Robert Bouchard, NYC Hair, 142 Lowell Road in Hudson, 816-1040, www.nycityhair.net. “I just love everything about it,” said the 26-year-old Hudson resident, who has been in the industry for five years.

Best fitness instructor
Best of the Best: Susanne Larkham of Manchester Jazzercise, 259 Hanover St. in Manchester, 624-9122, www.manchjazz.com. Larkham has owned Manchester Jazzercise since October 2007, but has been teaching there since August 1997. She teaches Saturday mornings, as well as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the early evenings. Larkham said she got into Jazzercise, which combines jazz dance, resistance training, yoga and more, after a friend brought her to a class. “I took to it like a duck to water,” Larkham said. “So I started taking classes, and in six months the instructor asked me if I wanted to teach.” When asked what she enjoys most about teaching Jazzercise, Larkham credits the Jazzercise class environment. “It’s a phenomenal atmosphere,” she said. “It builds friendships, is a lot of fun, and people don’t feel like they’re exercising.”

Best of Concord: Andy Sevigny of Planet Fitness, 89 Fort Eddy Road in Concord, 228-8680, www.planetfitness.com/concord. Sevigny has been at Planet Fitness for a little over a year but has worked at other gyms in the Concord area in the past.

Best of Manchester: Donna Wilzeck of Be Fit NH in Goffstown, 305-1826, www.befitnh.com. Wilczek, a personal fitness trainer who brings the gym to people’s homes, makes the list for a second year in a row.

Best of Nashua: Kevin Buckley of Dynamic Strength & Conditioning, 100 Factory St. in Nashua, 882-2348, www.dynamicsc.com. With a gym that focuses on functional strength training and conditioning, Buckley takes a distinctly non-equipment approach to working out.

Best Yoga instructor
Best of the Best: Elizabeth Vlangas of Riverflow Yoga, 198 Londonderry Turnpike, Suite 2, in Hooksett, 935-9822, www.riverflowyoga.com. Vlangas started out as a personal trainer before going into yoga, and has now been instructing for five years, opening Riverflow last year. Vlangas teaches a flowing style of yoga, which eases gently between poses and incorporates a lot of stretching. “I just love to teach people who have never done yoga before,” Vlangas said. “People get a lot out of it, and when they leave and say how much better they feel, that’s very rewarding.” Her studio focuses on offering yoga for all levels of experience or inexperience. “We call it ‘yoga for real people,’” Vlangas said. “We like to make people see that it’s accessible to everyone — that it’s something everyone can do.”

Best of Concord:  Maureen Miller of Living Yoga, 120 A North Main St. in Concord, 226-9642. www.livingyoganh.com, www.yoganh.com. Miller is an instructor and the owner of River Flow Yoga, which offers classes in gentle flow yoga, Ashtanga yoga, and pre-natal yoga, to name a few.

Best of Manchester:Pubali Campbell of Bikram Yoga Manchester, 195 McGregor St., Mill West Annex in Manchester, 669-7711, www.manchesterbikramyoga.com. In the yoga business for six years, Campbell seemed destined to go into the field (her uncle is Bikram Choudhury, founder of the Bikram yoga style).

Best of Nashua: Melissa Dabilis of Open Space Yoga, 19 Factory St. in Nashua, 557-8172, www.osyoga.com. So new they don’t even have a sign up yet, Open Space Yoga offers classes in Kripalu yoga, pre-natal yoga, Kundalini yoga, and more.

Friendliest dentist
Best of the Best: Dr. Lawrence J. Puccini of Puccini & Roberge, 505 Riverway Place, Bedford, 622-3445. “It’s fantastic. It’s wonderful. I’m so appreciative that my patients feel that way,” Puccini said. Why do people think he’s friendly? Puccini said just recently a woman came in stressed from her work week. She sat down, he gave her Novocaine and they chatted. “She said, ‘You know what’s pathetic? I think I come to the dentist to relax,’” Puccini reported. “I think people really enjoy their experience here. It is the dentist after all,” he said. Puccini and his wife, Dr. Susan Roberge, founded their practice in 1985. 

Puccini said he would not have received such an award without “the best staff in the world”: Sarah Maziarz, Lynda Hadlock and Debra Gaudet. Hadlock and Gaudet have worked with the couple for 20 years.

Best of Concord:Dr. David A. Bogacz, 102 Pleasant St., Concord, 225-4143. Bogacz has practiced since 1985, solo for most of that time. “Maybe it’s my office. I have a really friendly staff,” he said.

Best of Manchester:Dr. Elizabeth Spindel, 862 Union St., Manchester, 669-9049. “I’m honored, really honored,” Spindel said. She’s practiced for about 24 years and has had her solo office on Union for about 15. Spindel laughed when the Hippo reached her about being voted Manchester’s friendliest dentist because her staff was not initially friendly. That’s because people try to reach Spindel’s brother, Adam Sandler, through Spindel’s office — resulting in a lot of call screening. (They really are nice there, so give them a break and only call Spindel’s office with tooth- and not Adam-related questions.)

Best of Nashua: Dr. Charles Pipilas, 280 Main St, Nashua, 881-8280. Pipilas has practiced for almost 26 years. “I run a very easy practice. I’m not strict with my staff or with my patients. We have a lot of fun on a daily basis,” Pipilas said.

Best bartender
Best of the Best: Joey Zontini of the Black Orchid Grille, 8 Temple St. in Nashua, 577-8910, www.blackorchidgrille.com. This is the second year in a row Zontini has topped the list, and as a bartender and manager of the Grille, he’s developed a knack for listening to the wants and needs of his customers. “People say they don’t know what they want, but they really do,” Zontini said. “They may say, ‘I’m kind of in the mood for this, but don’t really like that,’ and you try and decipher it.” Paying attention to the customer is key to Zontini, who doesn’t understand bartenders who act bothered by their customers. “That is where your money is,” Zontini said. “You have to make them feel special, and especially in this economy, you want to get them to stay.” Zontini credits the crew at the Black Orchid for his appearance on the list. “All of the pieces have to fit together – you have to have a good team,” he said. (Photo by Ceaser Photography)

Best of Concord: Chuck Nutting of The Draft, 67 South Main St. in Concord, 227-1175. Nutting has been bartending for 20 years, 16 of those years spent right in Concord. “Not to toot my own horn, but I’m a pretty popular guy in the area,” Nutting said.

Best of Manchester: Billy LaForge of Wild Rover, 21 Kosciuszko St. in Manchester, 669-7722, www.wildroverpub.com. Now at Wild Rover for 13 years, LaForge can be found behind the bar on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. “Personality makes a good bartender,” La Forge said.

Best of Nashua:Jared Bracci of Stella Blu, 70 East Pearl St. in Nashua, 578-5557, www.stellablu-nh.com. Bracci is part of the founding team at Stella Blu. As a bartender, Bracci said that he takes a lot of chances. “I’ve always been into the fresh ingredient thing,” he said. “I’m not necessarily better, I just try and be creative.”

Hottest bartender
Best of the Best: Josh Durand of 900 Degrees, 50 Dow St. in Manchester, 641-0900, www.900degrees.com. Durand has worked at the popular Manchester pizzeria since it opened a little more than a year ago and was surprised he made the list. “I don’t think I’m the hottest bartender,” Durand said. “There are plenty of other bartenders around here who are hotter than me.” Having now earned the hottest bartender title, Durand says he’s prepared for the teasing to begin. “I can’t believe it,” he said. “My sister’s going to laugh at me — I’m going to get so much flak for that.” You can find Durand behind the bar on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.

Best of Concord: Liu Kang of The Draft, 67 South Main St. in Concord, 227-1175. Kang has worked at the bustling sports bar for about two and a half years and can usually be found behind the bar on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Best of Manchester: Leah Bunka of KC’s Rib Shack, 837 Second St. in Manchester, 627-7427, www.ribshack.net. Bunka can be found slinging drinks among the guitar and music memorabilia-lined walls of KC’s on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Best of Nashua:AJ Miller of Nashua Garden, 121 Main St. in Nashua, 886-7363. Miller can be found behind the bar on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, and at age 34, he is still pleased to be recognized as hottest Nashua bartender.

Best Waiter/Waitress
Best of the Best: Melissa Hall, at Black Orchid, 8 Temple St., Nashua, 577-8910. “I guess I just wait on people the way I would want to be served if I was in a restaurant myself,” Hall said. She puts effort into knowing the menu and making sure she has answers ready. “I think people appreciate that,” Hall said. There are a lot of allergies these days and Hall keeps track of things like which menu items are gluten-free or can be modified to be. “We have so many regulars...it almost feels like I’m hanging out with my friends,” Hall said. She’s worked at Black Orchid since it opened in September 2005, and many coworkers seem like family, she said. Hall can also be found working a few lunches at Peddler’s Daughter. She’s worked at Chili’s, Margarita’s and Manhattan on Pearl in Nashua. Hall has worked in a kitchen, as a hostess and as a bartender, and likes knowing those different perspectives in a restaurant.

Best of Concord: Kim Hampstead of The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175. This is Hampstead’s second win, and her second year at The Draft.

Best of Manchester: Jennifer Mallard at Olive Garden, 1888 S. Willow St., Manchester, 668-8871. Mallard has been at Olive Garden for almost a year.

Best of Nashua: Bastian diCaprio, general manager at San Francisco Kitchen, 133 Main St. in Nashua, 886-8833. He’s worked on and off at the Asian fusion restaurant for about 16 years — and for  the proprietors for about 20.

Best Chef
Best of the Best: Michael Buckley at Michael Timothy’s, 212 Main St., Nashua, 595-9334. Buckley also won this award for Michael Timothy’s in 2008 and 2007. He opened the restaurant in 1995 with his wife, Sarah. The Hollis couple has since opened Surf, a seafood place across the street, plus Buckley’s Great Steaks in Merrimack. Buckley thinks he is probably best known for Michael Timothy’s because it’s his first and where he’s most visible. His main office is at Michael Timothy’s, and he’s often in the dining room during Sunday brunch — you might find him at the carving station.

Michael Timothy’s offers a little bit of everything, while his other eateries are more specialized. It’s where they do much of their experimenting. The menu changes every four weeks. “We never have a time where we’re not thinking about new dishes or being progressive,” Buckley said.

Best of Concord: Ben Lane at C.C. Tomatoes, 209 Fisherville Road, Concord, 753-4450. “I try to put out a good-quality product all the time,” Lane said. Lane said he’s cooked at probably 20 restaurants in Concord since 1972.

Best of Manchester: Jeffrey Paige at Cotton, 75 Arms St., Manchester, 622-5488. “I think there’s a lot of great chefs in New Hampshire … so I think it’s nice to be recognized for what we do. Very nice, actually,” said Paige, who co-owns Cotton with his wife.

Best of Nashua: Richard Girard at Black Orchid, 8 Temple St., Nashua, 577-8910. “I like to cook food that I would like to eat, myself,” Girard said. He’s worked at Black Orchid for two years.

Best local performers playing covers
Best: Mama Kicks. Topping the list for best local cover band is no surprise to Mama Kicks keyboardist Gardner Berry, but he said it’s always an honor for the band. Gardner and vocalist Lisa Guyer started out as a duo in 1994, adding drummer David Stefanelli and guitarist Chris Lester later down the line. “It’s still making me happy, to tell you the truth,” Berry said. “I still enjoy it.” The group is a regular fixture on the Manchester scene, appearing at venues like The Black Brimmer, The Derryfield and Murphy’s Taproom. Gardner doesn’t know why they keep receiving the honorific, but having all of the members be full-time musicians helps. “It makes us work a little harder and we really enjoy it,” Berry said. “To actually get paid to do something you love is a happy situation and we have a great time on stage.” Though they enjoy their shows as Mama Kicks, the members of the group also work on side projects, and Gardner said that Guyer and Lester will appear on an upcoming solo album from Sully of the rock group Godsmack. But fear not, Mama Kicks won’t be disappearing anytime soon. “We all have a good time and we hope that Mama Kicks will be around for a long time,” Berry said. See www.mamakicks.com.

Runner Up: Best Not Broken. Manchester’s Best Not Broken has only been together for about a year, but guitarist Eric Jackson said in their short time together, the band has been focusing on their marketing and are happy about their appearance on the list. “We are working hard to get the word out, so this should help,” Jackson said. Though known for their covers, the band is now working on their first full-length original album. You can check out a few tracks at www.bestnotbroken.com.

Honorable Mention: Josh Logan. There is hardly a venue in Manchester that rocker Josh Logan hasn’t played, either solo or with his group, The Josh Logan Band. Though he writes his own original music, it’s Logan’s covers that have been getting attention. Logan hosts an open-mike night at The Flambeaux in Manchester every Thursday and his new Web site, www.joshloganonline.com, is now up and running.

Best local performers playing Original music
Best: Alli Beaudry. Having been runner up for two straight years to Josh Logan for best local performer, Manchester’s Alli Beaudry said she’s honored to top the list this year. “I must say I’m very excited,” Beaudry said. “It’s been kind of a funny joke between Josh and I the last couple of years. I did think that with my new CD I was going to win it, so that makes me really happy, especially since it’s people who vote for it.” The CD, Wicked Webs We Weave, was released in June 2008 and has received play on 92.5 The River. Beaudry graduated from Boston’s Berklee College of Music in 2006 and now splits her time between Boston and Manchester, singing with her cover band, Incadence, in the Boston area, and showcasing her solo, jazzy/pop sounds in local venues. “I love to play Manchester,” Beaudry said. “The audiences are really receptive and supportive.” Beaudry said she is getting ready to go back into the studio to record more material. “I’ve been playing and teaching [at the Bosse School of Music in Weymouth, Mass.], so I’m pretty inspired lately.” Learn more about Alli and her music at www.allibeaudry.com.

Runner Up: Amy Petty. Derry’s Amy Petty has been steadily performing her own songs for the last five years in local venues like Milly’s Tavern in Manchester, Milford’s Pasta Loft, and Nashua’s Simple Gifts Coffeehouse. Petty released her debut CD, Mystery Keeps You, in July 2008, and will perform with Dan King and Kascade on Sunday, March 22, at 8 p.m., at The Black Brimmer. See www.amypetty.com

Honorable Mention: Kara’s Boyfriend. Armed with only an iPod as his backing band and a guitar in his hand, Manchester’s Nicholas Lavallee is the sole member of the pop and punk band Kara’s Boyfriend. Lavallee made the Best Of list in 2004 for Best Local Band for his old group, Air Hockey Champion. You can catch Kara’s Boyfriend at local venues like Ground Zero or check out the music at www.myspace.com/karasboyfriend.

Best live DJ
Best: DJ Bob. Not to be confused with DJ Bobby G, whom he says he gets mixed up with all the time, DJ Bob can be found working up the Manchester crowds on Thursday and Friday at Wally & Bernie’s and Saturday at Club 313. “Both clubs are great,” he said. “I like the staff and the customers that come into both every week.” DJ Bob has been spinning tunes for about 15 years, and says he tries to incorporate a little bit of everything into the music he plays. “I consider myself a Top 40 DJ, but I make sure that I also play an equal balance of popular house stuff, and mix in rock and reggae.” Playing 15- to 20-minute blocks of genres, DJ Bob says that music programming is key for his kind of deejaying. “It’s about knowing how much of one genre or format to play,” he said. “I’ve learned where the attention span threshold is for a crowd.” As a Top 40 DJ, he realizes the importance of staying up on all the latest songs and making sure he has them in his sonic arsenal, but more than anything, he says he recognizes the importance of the crowds that come out to the clubs: “Without those people who come out to parties and support them, the room would be empty.” See www.djbob.com.

Best of Concord:Nazzy. Not merely a morning radio DJ for WJYY, 105.5, Nazzy also runs his own mobile entertainment outfit, Nazzy Entertainment, 965-6200, www.nazzydjs.com, playing weddings and special events. “I started in my own back yard doing house parties, and then worked with a company in Boston going all over New England,” Nazzy said.

Best of Manchester: DJ Midas. DJ Midas plays regularly around the Manchester area at Wally & Bernie’s, Milly’s Taven, and The Flambeaux, where you can find him Saturday nights for Groove Saturdays. “The one thing that’s consistent is that I never play conventional music,” he said. “I like experimental music – jazz, funk, weird soundscapes.”

Best of Nashua: DJ Influence. Based primarily in Boston, DJ Influence does monthly and special events at The Amber Room, 53 High St. in Nashua. An open-format DJ, Influence plays Top 40, house, rock, hip-hop, mashups and more. He says the key to a good DJ is the gift of anticipation. “A DJ has to be able to read the crowd and know when to play the right record at the right time – can read the audience.”

Best local radio show host
Best: WZID’s Mike Morin. Mike Morin got his first taste of morning radio when he was in elementary school. Listening to the radio on his way to school, he thought, “They’re having a lot of fun. I have to do that some day.” Morin, 58, never lost sight of that and now, 38 years in the business, he has been voted best local radio show host for four straight years by Hippo readers. He co-hosts NH in the Morning on  95.7 FM WZID.  “I’m really flattered that year after year, people give me this honor,” Morin said. “I just come in and do my job, and if they appreciate it, then that’s great gratification.” The Hooksett resident said he tries to reflect to his listeners that he and his partner are simply “one of them. We’re just two regular people who just happen to have two microphones...” Morin spent five years in the 1990s with WZID covering the afternoon shift, and has been the morning show host since 2002. “The morning is absolutely the place to be. We get to really have some fun.” Morin said he tries to keep in mind how much stress people are under with the economic situation pressing down all around. “We try to create a little bit of a diversion. They count on us taking them away for a while.” Catch Morin on WZID from 5 to 10 a.m.

Runner Up: Greg Kretschmar. Kretschmar, a regular on Hippo’s readers’ poll over the years, leads Greg and the Morning Buzz, which takes to the airwaves weekdays 5:30 to 10 a.m. on Rock 101, 101.1 FM WGIR and 100.3 WHEB. Visit www.morningbuzzonline.com.

Honorable Mention: Laura Knoy. Knoy hosts New Hampshire Public Radio’s The Exchange, which is a live caller-generated talk show dealing with prominent state issues. It airs weekdays at 9 a.m. Visit www.nhpr.org.

Best local sports team
Best: Manchester Monarchs. No stranger to the top, the Monarchs took home the top post last year in Hippo’s poll as well. “It’s a thrill,” said team President Jeff Eisenberg. “We’ve had a great run here in Manchester and in southern New Hampshire. The area has been very kind and very supportive to us.” The Monarchs play in the American Hockey League, and this year, Eisenberg said the team has caught fire of late, winning six in a row as of last week. The team is young and talented, he said, adding they are in position to make the playoffs and are creeping up on some of the division leaders. “They’re coming together now.” Eisenberg said the team loves being in Manchester, which he termed a great market for the team — he said it is big enough to support the team but not so big that the Monarchs get lost in it. “We’ve been able to be Manchester’s team,” he said. Eisenberg said the team appreciates the recognition as well. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to continue to win this award,” he said. “We don’t take this lightly.” With only six home games remaining, Eisenberg said the team has special ticket deals for nearly every game. Visit www.manchestermonarchs.com.

Runner Up: New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The Toronto Blue Jays’ Double-A affiliate has been a fan favorite for Manchester and the surrounding communities for several years now. Opening day is Wednesday, April 8, and with the economy as it is, the team offers a nice value with tickets starting at $6. Still shaping the roster, the team expects to compete for the Eastern League championship. New this year will be all-you-can-eat buffets for every game in the Samuel Adams Bar and Grill. The team will also have a new option this year to print tickets at home to avoid lines at the stadium. And they’ll be mixing in plenty of fireworks nights once again as well. Visit www.nhfishercats.com.

Honorable Mention: Manchester Wolves. Coming off a season where the arena football league Wolves made it the deepest into the playoffs in their history, General Manager Stephanie Bike figures the team will only build on last year’s success. With training camp two weeks ago, the team is finalizing its roster in time for its first game March 27 in Pennsylvania. “It’s exciting to have the team coming together,” Bike said. “We have a solid core group of guys.” The Wolves play their first home game April 18. Visit www.manchesterwolves.com.

Best NH author
Best: Jodi Picoult. “As a commercial fiction author, winning an award is a big deal because it doesn’t often happen  — and being honored by my home state is even more exciting. I love living in NH, and writing about New England —  which, with its hardscrabble history, has bred a collection of fiercely independent, loyal folks. I hear from my NH fans all the time, and there’s nothing I like more on a far-flung book tour than having someone come up and tell me she’s originally from Manchester or Keene — it’s an instant connection with someone who knows how lucky I am to still live in NH! Thanks so much for this honor,” Picoult wrote in an e-mail during her current book tour. Handle with Care is the latest of her 15 novels. The Princeton graduate worked as a technical writer, for an ad agency, for a textbook publisher and as an English teacher, and attended Harvard for an education master’s degree, according to her Web site. She and her husband, Tim Van Leer, live in Hanover with their three children and various animals. Picoult recently wrote issues for the Wonder Woman comic books. A film version of her book My Sister’s Keeper is due out this summer. Yellow Taxi Productions in Nashua has commissioned a playwright to adapt Picoult’s The Pact for the stage; it will run in April. 

Runner Up: Dan Brown. Big news on the Dan Brown front: he’s “finally” finished his first novel since The Da Vinci Code, the title that so irked the Catholic Church, and of which more than 80 million copies exist, according to NYDailyNews.com on Feb. 13. (Doubleday didn’t confirm, they said.) Plus, the film version of his Angels and Demons is scheduled for release in May. According to assorted media reports, Brown, who was born in Exeter, has a house in Rye.

Honorable Mention: Janet Evanovich. There are about 19 Stephanie Plum novels now. The latest one, Finger Lickin Fifteen (most are numbered), is due for release in June. “I’m flattered. It’s very exciting,” Evanovich e-mailed Hippo via her publicist. Does working in New Hampshire help her write? “Absolutely. It’s a sane peaceful environment and helps me feel normal when my life gets whacky. When I come home from [a] book tour I put on my jeans and sweatshirt and go food shopping at Price Chopper.” Evanovich lives in Etna, she wrote, which is “not far from Dartmouth College,” according to her bio on www.evanovich.com.

Best local television personality
Best: Fritz Wetherbee of WMUR. Wetherbee, 72, who took home the same honor last year, said he doesn’t really like being in front of a crowd. But when he’s doing the shoots for New Hampshire Chronicle, it’s just him and the camera. “I’m the guy who goes to town meeting and doesn’t say a word,” he said. See him weekdays at 7:30 p.m. on WMUR.

Runner Up: Tiffany Eddy of WMUR. “I’m always thrilled just to be recognized. It’s an honor that people are watching and responding. I love Fritz and I think the world of him. Truly to come in second to him is an honor,” said Eddy, who also appears on New Hampshire Chronicle. Viewers can also catch Eddy, who has been with WMUR for more than 10 years, co-anchoring the 11 p.m. news.

Honorable Mention: Kevin Skarupa, weatherman at WMUR. “It’s an honor especially considering the winter we’ve gone through,” he said. “I figured I’d be one of the least popular.” Skarupa, 37, has been on the job for about three and a half years at WMUR. He’s usually at the studio studying weather maps at about 2 a.m. Skarupa’s reports air during the morning news.

Best local athlete
Best: Matt Bonner. Bonner, a Concord High School graduate and University of Florida product, now plays with the perennial powerhouse, the San Antonio Spurs. The 6-foot 10-inch  forward is averaging nearly nine points and five rebounds per game this season. The 28-year-old is in his fourth year in the NBA and is averaging a career-high 23 minutes per game this season. He spent two years with the Toronto Raptors before joining the Spurs in 2006.

Runner Up: Chris Carpenter. The 33-year-old St. Louis Cardinals pitcher is a former Cy Young award winner, though arm troubles have slowed him in recent years. Carpenter graduated from Trinity High School in Manchester. He looks to be back to his old ways this year. Last week, he tossed four scoreless innings in spring training action against the Boston Red Sox. His career record is 100 wins and 70 losses. In 2005, when he won the Cy Young, he went 21-5. Carpenter was limited to four games in 2008.

Honorable Mention: Kyle Jackson. Jackson, who is from Litchfield and attended high school in Hudson, spent six years in the Boston Red Sox organization. The 25-year-old right-handed pitcher ended up finishing out last season with the Worcester Tornadoes. He said he’s planning to sign a contract with the Connecticut Bluefish this season, though he has had a couple major-league tryouts recently as well. He features a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. Before joining Worcester, Jackson spent two and a half years with the Portland Sea Dogs, the Red Sox Double-A affiliate. Looking back on his time in professional baseball, Jackson said it can be a grind that forces players to grow up quickly. “I’ve had my ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change it for anything,” he said. Jackson was named the 2003 Red Sox Gulf Coast Pitcher of the Year, according to the Tornadoes Web site.

Best teacher
Best of Concord: Stacy Macri at the Conant School, Concord. Macri has taught kindergarten at Conant since 1987. She was leading her class in the “Numbers rumba,” which is set to the Rocky theme song, Friday, March 13. “Like so many other kindergarten classes, fun is our middle name,” Macri wrote. They bring stories alive with puppets and cooking projects. “The multi-sensory approach is key,” Macri wrote.

Asked about signature teaching techniques, Macri said, “loving each one of those faces and souls that come in with their variety of differences and variety of talents and special gifts.” Kindergarten is a year of major growth. In what’s called “magical January,” the kids “really become independent students and self-sufficient learners,” she said.

Best of Manchester:Sarah Brancone at Parker-Varney Elementary School in Manchester. Brancone is in her fifth year as a third-grade teacher at Parker-Varney. She said she’s flattered to win a “Best of.” “I guess my philosophy is to really get to know my students and build a rapport with them and try to meet their needs the best way that I can,” Brancone said. She’s an advocate for hands-on activities, small group work and “manipulatives.” An example is incorporating blocks into a math lesson rather than just  worksheets, she said.

Best of Nashua: Sean Muller at Merrimack High School, Merrimack. “Everybody leaves class with goggle marks. I tell them goggle marks will make them popular,” Muller said.

Muller is in approximately his 10th year teaching chemistry at Merrimack High School.

“I have juniors, so I try to relate a lot of it to prom,” Muller said. For example, “I’ll do the solids, liquids and gas dance,” Muller said. His feet are glued to the floor to show that particles in the solid state can’t move and he bounces around the room to explain the gas state. “Every teacher tries to do their best. It’s nice to hear that you’re making a difference. It made my day,” Muller said of the award.

Best Mechanic
Best of the Best: Ralph Brutus of Brutus Auto, 148 Merrimack St. in Manchester, 624-8881, www.brutusautonh.com. Just look for the bright blue building on Merrimack Street and you’ve found Brutus Auto. Owner Ralph Brutus opened the shop in 2000, specializing in Saab repair and maintenance, but says that he’ll work on just about any type of car model out there. “We’ll help anyone that comes along,” Brutus said. The shop also offers local car pick-up and delivery service. “Some people have kids, or are on vacation, and we try and service people in the way they need it,” Brutus said. “We’re not the best mechanics in the world, but we work hard and respect our customers. It’s a team effort, and I have an amazing team.”

Best of Concord:Garry Gerossie of Garry’s Service Center, 323 South Main St. in Concord, 224-9541, www.garrys.net. Serving Concord for 17 years, Garry’s Service Center specializes in Volvo and Saab automotives, but repairs and services a wide range of domestic and imported vehicles.

Best of Manchester: Phil Whitten of Darling’s Tire & Auto, 16 Milford St. in Manchester, 669-6827. Manager Phil Whitten has been overseeing Darling’s Auto for 11 years, the shop providing everything from tune-ups, alignments and brake repair to oil changes and transmission fluid exchange.

Best of Nashua: Ron Lewis of RK Auto, 7 Congress St. in Nashua, 595-7575. Lewis has owned RK Auto for more than three years, providing general automotive repairs for the Nashua area. Lewis credits honesty and fair prices for his appearance on the list. 

Best city politician
Best of Concord: Concord Mayor Jim Bouley. Bouley said, upon hearing of his selection, that it gave him a “good chuckle,” but he spread the recognition around to the rest of the City Council. “No one individual gets any special credit,” he said. Pointing to the city’s work with issues such as the new pay-as-you-throw trash program and the Council’s responsiveness to overnight parking issues, Bouley, 42, says local government in Concord hasn’t shied away from tackling big issues. “We’ve been very open to the community,” he said. “Hopefully we’ve provided an atmosphere that people feel welcome at City Hall.” Bouley traces his political roots back to his parents, who were active in public policy for many years. Bouley first ran for the City Council 11 years ago. “As long as my family thinks it’s OK, I’ll continue to try to serve,” he said. Bouley’s term as mayor ends this year.

Best of Manchester: Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta. Guinta, mayor of northern New England’s largest city, appreciates the recognition and said he does his very best to serve the city. A 38-year-old Republican, he began his political career with a successful run for the state House of Representatives in 2000 before running for alderman in Manchester and finally Mayor. He’s currently in his second term, which is up in November. “I really very much believe in serving the public,” Guinta said. “It’s a way of having an ability to improve the community you represent.” His office has worked hard, and with some success, to curb the city’s crime rate. He’s continuing with a development plan for the Queen City, while also coping with the same budgetary issues facing municipalities across the board. He cited that Manchester was just recently named the number two “tax-friendly” city in America by Kiplinger.com. Guinta hasn’t tipped his hand as of yet, but he’s rumored to be a possible candidate for a few different state races in 2010.

Best of Nashua:Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau. Lozeau, who was elected mayor in 2008, presides over the Gate City. Among her accomplishments in the past year, are settling  the teachers’ contract, keeping the city tax rate increase less than 1 percent and balancing the city’s operating budget —not to mention that Nashua has no deficit. “We will need to be more creative than ever before,” Lozeau said during her State of the City speech last month. “We must avoid adding on more burdens as [we] weather the financial storms to come. And we will be forced to make many tough decisions, but they won’t be as tough as some of the decisions our families, businesses and neighboring communities are facing.” In 1984, she was elected to the state House of Representatives, where she served for 16 years.  In 1998 Lozeau served as the Deputy Speaker of the House.

Best Gadfly
Best of Concord:  Alex Ray. In 1971, Alex Ray, 63, opened the first Common Man restaurant in Ashland. Since then the chain has blossomed, mostly along the Interstate 93 corridor, including one in Concord. Ray has been known to get involved with communities. “I think this community involvement thing has sort of taken on its own life,” he said. In the late 1960s when Ray, who lives in Holderness, was working in the corporate world, a mentor of his told him he wouldn’t last a year and “it broke my heart,” Ray said. A year later though Ray quit because he couldn’t stand the corporate setting — much as his mentor had predicted. “I hated it, and now I’m a part of it, and I still hate it,” he laughed. For each community with a Common Man, Ray believes in a philosophy: “We just felt a restaurant should be an image and a brand that is appreciated by your customers and by the ones who aren’t your customers yet.” Today, he says he doesn’t want to make another nickel for himself. He wants to reinvest everything he can into the restaurant and communities. Better employees mean happier customers, which means a better value for businesses, he said.

Best of Manchester:Joe Kelly Levasseur. Frequent winner of “Best Gadfly,” Levasseur is an attorney, owner of Joe Kelly’s restaurant in downtown Manchester, a columnist for the Manchester Express and a co-host of the popular MCAM show 2 Joes, which airs live on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on MCAM and then replays throughout the week (the show is a Runner Up for Best MCAM or MCTV Show on this year’s list). Levasseur, who did not return calls for this article, said last year that his regular gadfly wins show that residents appreciate his work challenging elected officials at City Hall.

Best of Nashua: Robert Sullivan. “Citizen Sullivan,” as he’s known to some, has been a staunch advocate for public access television in Nashua. The 58-year-old Nashua resident can be a regular at local government meetings. “I am involved in local government as a concerned citizen,” he said. “On the important issues, I tend to speak out.” When not speaking out, Sullivan works in business consulting. “I think it’s important that all citizens participate in a Democratic-type government and society. When it comes to the important issues, people should speak up and let their voices be heard.”

Best state politician
Best: Gov. John Lynch. The ever popular Democratic governor won reelection to a third term in resounding fashion in November. The state’s budget issues loom large over Lynch and the rest of the Statehouse, but his approval rating seems to remain high. After acknowledging his recognition this year, Lynch, via e-mail, reiterated statements he made to the Hippo this past fall.  “For me it’s all about working with people and trying to help people and make a difference in their lives,” Lynch said in October. “And that’s what I try to do every day. Being governor is all about working with people.”

Runner Up: Sen. Judd Gregg. With a career in public service spanning nearly 30 years, Gregg has been a staple in New Hampshire politics. “Well it’s a very nice recognition,” Gregg said. “Obviously, I’ve enjoyed representing the state. I think we’ve accomplished some good things.” Gregg said he likes being able to help people with their individual issues or concerns. “You can solve their problems. You can make their lives better.” On the policy front, he said he’s always found it interesting how policy can impact things on a number of different levels. He said he got satisfaction recently from his efforts to help restore Great Bay and from protecting environmentally sensitive areas in New Hampshire. And of course he’s one of the Republican leaders in the effort to stabilize the nation’s financial issues. Gregg said last month he would not seek reelection in 2010.

Honorable Mention: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. The former governor bested incumbent Republican Sen. John Sununu in November to claim her spot in the Senate. “It’s certainly always nice to be recognized,” she said. “But the most important thing for me is to do the best job I can. ... That’s what I’ll continue to focus on.” Similar to Gregg, Shaheen said she likes the opportunity public office allows for her to make a difference in people’s lives. “That’s what really has motivated me,” she said. With the economy as it is, she’s working to reduce unemployment and to provide support to small businesses. “I’m trying to do everything I can...in creating jobs and putting people back to work.”

The Arts

• Best Live Theater Show
Best of the Best: The Wizard of Oz, presented by the Educational Theatre Collaborative of Plymouth State College at the Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St. in Concord, 225-1111, www.ccanh.com, in February of this year.   

Best of Concord: Menopause the Musical, a touring production, which played at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord in November 2008. 

Best of Manchester: A Christmas Carol, a Palace Theatre professional production, played at the Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St. in Manchester, 668-5588, www.palacetheatre.org, in December 2008.

Best of Nashua:Bare: A Pop Opera, performed by the Phoenix Academy for the Performing Arts, 25 Front St. in Nashua, 886-2768, www.phoenixacademynh.com, in December 2008.

• Best Art Gallery
Best of the Best: East Colony Fine Art, a member-run gallery, located in Langer Place at 55 S. Commercial St. in Manchester, 621-7400, www.eastcolony.com.

Best of Concord: McGowan Fine Art & Framing, 10 Hills Ave. in Concord, 225-2515, www.mcgowanfineart.com. McGowan has represented emerging and established professional New England artists who work in a range of media and styles for more than 20 years.

Best of Manchester: Art 3 Gallery Fine Art, 44 W. Brook St. in Manchester, 668-6650, www.art3gallery.com. Art 3 presents a variety of work from New Hampshire through international artists.

Best of Nashua: Previte Gallery, 112 Silver Lake Road in Hollis, 465-2647. Stephen Previte holds two open houses at his Hollis studio every year (the spring open house will be in May). He also teaches art classes at Previte Art Studio in Nashua at the Odd Fellows Building, 142 Main St., Room 318.

• Best Art in a Public Space
Best of the Best: “Origins,” the sculpture by American artist Mark di Suvero in front of the Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St. in Manchester, 669-6144, www.currier.org. The Currier installed this contemporary acquisition, which is about 35 feet tall, in 2007.

Best of Concord: Bicentennial Square on Blake Street, a block in from the corner of Pleasant and Main streets in Concord. This square was rebuilt in 2007 with a paved path representing the Merrimack River and “history tiles” designed by Concord students, according to Groundwork Concord.

Best of Manchester: Art on the Wall at City Hall, a program at Manchester’s City Hall, on Elm Street where Hanover Street intersects in downtown Manchester. Exhibited works change regularly and receptions are often held to coincide with Open Doors Manchester nights.

Best of Nashua: Nashua Public Library, 2 Court St. in Nashua, 589-4600, www.nashua.lib.nh.us. Sculptures are installed outside on library grounds.

Inside, in addition to films and musical performances from a variety of genres, the library displays works by artists in its gallery, with new exhibits opening every two months.

• Best Art, Theater or Classical Music Event of the Year
Best of the Best: Boston Pops Orchestra at the Verizon Wireless Arena, 555 Elm St. in Manchester, 644-5000, www.verizonwirelessarena.com. The Pops usually offer an annual performance at the Verizon during the holiday season.

Best of Manchester: “Andy Warhol: Pop Politics,” an exhibit of portraits of world leaders by Andy Warhol at the Currier Museum of Art, Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St. in Manchester, 669-6144, www.currier.org. The exhibit ran from late September 2008 through early January.

Best of Concord:The Wizard of Oz, presented by the Educational Theatre Collaborative of Plymouth State College at the Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St. in Concord, 225-1111, www.ccanh.com, in February of this year.

Best of Nashua: Sweeney Todd, presented by StageCoach Productions, at 14 Court St. in Nashua in October 2008. StageCoach Productions can be reached at 7 Bayberry Way, Mont Vernon, 672-9664, stagecoachproductions.org.

BEAUTY & HEALTH

• Best Gym
Best of the Best: Dynamic Strength & Conditioning Gym, 100 Factory St. in Nashua, 882-2348, www.dynamicsc.com.

Best of the Chains: Planet Fitness, www.planetfitness.com. National chains play a special part in the local gym scene, thus an award here to the chain that received the most votes. Planet Fitness has locations in New Hampshire including 89 Fort Eddy Road in Concord, 228-8680; the Hood Commons Plaza on Crystal Avenue in Derry, 421-2990; 736 Huse Road in Manchester, 621-9919; 195 McGregor St. in Manchester, 627-5566; 15 Freetown Road in Raymond, 895-6981.

Best of Concord: Concord Family YMCA, 15 N. State St. in Concord, 224-9622, www.concordymca.org.

Best of Manchester:Executive Health & Sports Center, 1 Highlander Way in Manchester, 668-4753, www.ehsc.com.

Best of Nashua: Hampshire Hills Sports & Fitness, 50 Emerson Road in Milford, 673-7123, www.hampshirehills.com.

• Best Independent Clothing Store
Best of the Best: Alapage, 25 S. River Road #301 in Bedford, 622-0550, www.alapageboutique.com. Alapage sells women’s clothes and accessories.

Best of Concord: Gondwana, 13 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-1101, www.gondwanashop.com. Gondwana sells women’s clothes and accessories as well as fair-trade and eco-friendly products.

Best of Manchester:George’s, 675 Elm St. in Manchester, 622-5441, www.georgesapparel.com. George’s sells men’s suits, outerwear, accessories and more.

Best of Nashua: Fresh of Nashua, 178 Main St. in Nashua, 821-9888, www.freshofnashua.com. Fresh sells women’s clothes and accessories.

• Best Independent Shoe Store
Best of the Best: Alec’s Shoes, 201 Main St. in Nashua, 882-6811, www.alecs-shoes.com.

Best of Concord: Joe King’s Shoe Shop, 45 N. Main St. in Concord, 225-6012, www.joekings.com.

Best of Manchester: Bee Bee Shoes, 1525 S. Willow St. in Manchester, 621-0608, www.beebeeshoes.com.

Best of Nashua: The Shoe Box, 17 Route 101A in Amherst, 672-6570.

• Best Independent Jewelry Store
Best of the Best: Scontsas Fine Jewelry & Home Decor, 169 Main St. in Nashua, 882-3281, www.scontsas.com.

Best of Concord: Mark Knipe Goldsmiths, 2 Capital Plaza in Concord, 224-2920, www.knipegold.com.

Best of Manchester:Bellman’s Jewelers, 1650 Elm St. in Manchester, 625-4653, www.bellmans.com.

Best of Nashua:Barmakian Jewelers, 300 DW Highway in Nashua, 888-7800, www.barmakian.com.

• Best Laundromat
Best of the Best: Bird Bath Laundromat, with locations at 253 Lake Ave., 622-2694, and 1000 Hanover St., 623-6826, in Manchester.

Best of Concord: South End Village Laundromat, 71 Downing St. in Concord, 228-8768.

Best of Manchester: Bea’s Wash N Dry, 478 S. Main St. in Manchester, 668-7110

Best of Nashua: Palmer’s Cleaners, 300 Main St. in Nashua, 889-7922.

• Best Barbershop
Best of the Best: Dude’s Barber Shop, 1311 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, 626-0533.

Best of Concord: Lucky’s Barber Shop, 50 S. State St. in Concord, 715-5470.

Best of Manchester:La Coupe Barber Shop, 165B Kelley St. in Manchester, 669-9299.

Best of Nashua: Chuck’s, 168 Main St. in Nashua, 882-3711.

• Best Salon
Best of the Best: Not So Plain Jane’s Salon and Spa, 155 Dow St. Suite 102 in Manchester, 622-5971, www.notsoplainjanes.com.

Best of Concord:Anjou Hair Studio, 287 S. Main St. #302 in Concord, 225-2828.

Best of Manchester: Arcadya Salon & Day Spa, 989 Cilley Road in Manchester, 644-1355, www.arcadyasalonanddayspa.com.

Best of Nashua: Salon Apryl, 27 Elm St. in Nashua, 886-5701, www.salonapryl.com.

• Best Yoga Studio
Best of the Best: Bikram Yoga Manchester, Mill West Annex, 195 McGregor St. in Manchester, 669-7711, www.bikramyogamanchester.com.

Best of Concord: Living Yoga, 120A N. Main St. in Concord, 226-9642, www.livingyoganh.com.

Best of Manchester:Riverflow Yoga, 198 Londonderry Turnpike, Suite 2, in Hooksett, 935-9822, www.riverflowyoga.com.

Best of Nashua: Bikram Yoga Nashua, #6 Mill South, 5 Pine St. Ext. in Nashua, 880-9642, www.bikramyoganashua.com.

• Best Spa
Best of the Best: Not So Plain Jane’s Salon and Spa, 155 Dow St. Suite 102 in Manchester, 622-5971, www.notsoplainjanes.com.

Best of Concord: Serendipity Day Spa, 23 Sheep Davis Road in Pembroke, 229-0400, www.serendipitydayspa.com.

Best of Manchester: Chill Day Spa, 1224 Hanover St. in Manchester, 622-3722, www.chilldayspa.net.

Best of Nashua: Hair We Are Face & Body Spa, 28 Lowell Road #10 in Hudson, 882-5295, www.hairwearespa.com.

FOOD

• Best Asian Restaurant
Best of the Best: Lilac Blossom, with locations at 385 East Dunstable Road in the Sky Market Plaza, 888-9588, and 650 Amherst St. in Greystone Plaza, 886-8420, both in Nashua, www.lilacblossom-nh.com.

Best of Concord: Siam Orchid, 158 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-1529 or 228-3633, www.siamorchid.net.

Best of Manchester:Thousand Crane, 1000 Elm St. in Manchester, 634-0000.

Best of Nashua: You You Japanese Bistro, 150 Broad St. #4 in Nashua, 882-8337, www.youyoujbistro.com.

• Best Bakery
Best of the Best: Frederick’s Pastries, with locations at 109 Route 101A in Amherst, 882-7725, and 25 S. River Road in Bedford, 647-CAKE, www.pastry.net.

Best of Concord: Bread & Chocolate, 29 S. Main St. in Concord, 228-3330.

Best of Manchester: Michelle’s Gourmet Pastries, 819 Union St. in Manchester, 647-7150, www.michellespastries.com.

Best of Nashua: Crosby Bakery, 51 E. Pearl St. #A in Nashua, 882-1851.

• Best Bar Menu
Best of the Best: Strange Brew Tavern, 88 Market St. in Manchester, 666-4292, www.strangebrewtavern.net.

Best of Concord: Common Man, 25 Water St. in Concord, 228-3463, www.thecman.com.

Best of Manchester:Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill, 34 Tarrytown Road in Manchester, 622-3644, www.billyssportsbar.com.

Best of Nashua:Stella Blu, 70 E. Pearl St. in Nashua, 578-5557, www.stellablu-nh.com.

• Best Beer Selection
Best of the Best: Strange Brew Tavern, 88 Market St. in Manchester, 666-4292, www.strangebrewtavern.net.

Best of Concord:The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com.

Best of Manchester: Milly’s Tavern, 500 N. Commercial St. in Manchester, 625-4444, www.millystavern.com.

Best of Nashua:Martha’s Exchange Restaurant, 185 Main St. in Nashua, 883-8781, www.marthas-exchange.com.

• Best Breakfast
Best of the Best: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com.

Best of Concord: Corner View, 80 1/2 South St. in Concord, 229-4554.

Best of Manchester: Julien’s Corner Kitchen, 150 Bridge St. in Manchester, 622-4044.

Best of Nashua: DW Diner, 416 DW Highway in Merrimack, 424-1116.

• Best Burger
Best of the Best: Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill, 34 Tarrytown Road in Manchester, 622-3644, www.billyssportsbar.com.

Best of Concord: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com.

Best of Manchester: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com.

Best of Nashua: Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 DW Highway in Merrimack, 424-0995, www.buckleysgreatsteaks.com.

• Best Butcher
Best of the Best: Bull Run Beef and Specialty Shoppe, 1100 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, 669-0891, www.bullrunbeef.com.

Best of Concord: The Meat House, 16 Sheep Davis Road in Pembroke, 227-5261, www.themeathouse.com.

Best of Manchester: The Meat House, 254 Wallace Road in Bedford, 472-5444, www.themeathouse.com.

Best of Nashua: Bare Bonz Butcher Shop, 123 Route 101A in Amherst, 889-9600, www.barebonzbutchershop.com.

• Best Chocolate/Candy Shop
Best of the Best: Van Otis Chocolates, 341 Elm St. in Manchester, 627-1611, www.vanotischocolates.com.

Best of Concord: Granite State Candy, 13 Warren St. in Concord, 225-2591, www.nhchocolates.com.

Best of Manchester: Candy Kingdom, 235 Harvard St. in Manchester, 641-8470, www.thecandykingdom.com.

Best of Nashua: Swan Chocolate, 144 Main St. in Nashua and 436 DW Highway in Merrimack, 800-490-SWAN, www.swanchocolates.com.

• Best Cheap Eats
Best of the Best: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com.

Best of Concord: Dos Amigos, 26 N. Main St. in Concord, 410-4161, www.dosamigosburritos.com.

Best of Manchester: Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave. in Manchester, 623-5040, www.thecman.com.

Best of Nashua: Nashua Garden, 121 Main St. in Nashua, 886-7363.

• Best Cheese Counter
Best of the Best: Angela’s Pasta and Cheese, 815 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 625-9544, www.angelspastaandcheese.com.

Best of Concord: Butter’s Fine Food and Wine, 70 N. Main St. in Concord, 225-5995.

Best of Manchester: The Meat House, 254 Wallace Road in Bedford, 472-5444, www.themeathouse.com.

Best of Nashua: Cooking Matters, 97 Main St. in Nashua, 880-6200.

• Best Chicken Tenders
Best of the Best: Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com.

Best of Concord: The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175.

Best of Manchester: Ollie’s, 761 Mast Road in Manchester, 626-3711.

Best of Nashua: T-Bones Great American Eatery, 77 Lowell Road in Hudson, 882-6677, www.t-bones.com.

• Best Cocktail
Best of the Best: The Mudslide at the Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com. The Mudslide comes in seven varieties — the original Mudslide (Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua Coffee Liquor and vodka) as well as the Mexican Apeslide (which adds Jose Cuervo gold, 99 Bananas Liquer and fresh banana), Captain Hookslide (with Captain Morgan rum and Disaronno Amaretto, After Fiveslide (with Rumpleminze), Snicker Slide (with Frangelico, Arrow Dark Crème de Cacao and chocolate syrup), Southern Slide (with Southern Comfort) and Thunder Roadslide (with Jack Daniels and Amaretto).

Best of Concord: The Firecracker at The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175.

Best of Manchester: Margarita at La Carreta Mexican Restaurant, 545 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 628-6899.

Best of Nashua: The Stella Blu at Stella Blu, 70 E. Pearl St. in Nashua, 578-5557, www.stellablu-nh.com.

• Best Cup of Coffee
Best of the Best: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com.

Best of Concord: White Mountain Gourmet Coffee, 15 Pleasant St. in Concord, 228-3317, whitemountaingourmetcoffee.com.

Best of Manchester: J Dub’s Coffee, 1000 Elm St. in Manchester, 622-7944.

Best of Nashua: Riverwalk Cakery & Coffee House, 35 Railroad Square in Nashua, 578-0200, www.riverwalkcakery.com.

• Best Desserts
Best of the Best: Frederick’s Pastries, with locations at 109 Route 101A in Amherst, 882-7735, and 25 S. River Road in Bedford, 647-CAKE, www.pastry.net.

Best of Concord: Bread & Chocolate, 29 S. Main St. in Concord, 228-3330.

Best of Manchester: CR Sparks Restaurant & Bar, 18 Kilton Road in Bedford, 647-7275, www.crsparks.com.

Best of Nashua: Michael Timothy’s, 212 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9334, www.michaeltimothys.com.

• Best Diner
Best of the Best: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com.

Best of Concord: Tilt’n Diner, 61 Laconia Road in Tilton, 286-2204, www.thecman.com.

Best of Manchester: Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave. in Manchester, 623-5040, www.thecman.com.

Best of Nashua: Red Arrow Diner, 63 Union Square in Milford, 249-9222, www.redarrowdiner.com.

• Best Ethnic Market
Best of the Best: Saigon Asian Market, 93 S. Maple St. in Manchester, 644-3555.

Best of Concord: Concord Cooperative Market, 24 S. Main St. in Concord, 225-6840, www.concordfoodcoop.com.

Best of Manchester: The Spice Center, 245 Maple St. in Manchester, 626-7290.

Best of Nashua: Saigon Asian Market, 33 Pine St. in Nashua, 521-6171.

• Best Farmers’ Market
Best Farmers’ Market: Downtown Manchester Farmers’ Market on Concord Street between Chestnut and Pine streets, Thursdays late June through Octobers, 3 to 6:30 p.m.

Runner Up: Bedford Farmers’ Market at Benedictine Park, Tuesdays mid-June through mid-October, 3 to 6 p.m.

Honorable Mention: Concord Farmers’ Market, on Capitol Street in downtown Concord, off Main Street near the state Capitol, Saturdays, June through October, 8:30 a.m. to noon.

• Best French Fries
Best of the Best: Caesarios Pizza, 1057 Elm St. in Manchester, 623-8286.

Best of Concord: Beaver Meadow Golf Course, 1 Beaver Meadow Dr. in Concord, 225-7033, www.ci.concord.nh.us.

Best of Manchester: Joe Kelly’s, 866 Elm St. in Manchester, 622-6400, joekellys.com.

Best of Nashua: The Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St. in Nashua, 821-7535, www.thepeddlersdaughter.com.

• Best Grilled Cheese
Best of the Best: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com.

Best of Concord: Beaver Meadow Golf Course, 1 Beaver Meadow Dr. in Concord, 225-7033, www.ci.concord.nh.us.

Best of Manchester: Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com.

Best of Nashua: Martha’s Exchange, 185 Main St. in Nashua, 883-8781, www.marthas-exchange.com.

• Best Hot Chocolate
Best of the Best: Swan Chocolate, 144 Main St. in Nashua and 501 DW Highway in Merrimack, 800-490-SWAN, www.swanchocolates.com.

Best of Concord: Bread & Chocolate, 29 S. Main St. in Concord, 228-3330.

Best of Manchester: J Dub’s Coffee, 1000 Elm St. in Manchester, 622-7944.

Best of Nashua: Patisserie Bleu, 215 Main St. in Nashua, 886-0007, patisseriebleu.com.

• Best Ice Cream
Best of the Best: Puritan, 245 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com.

Best of Concord: Arnie’s Place, 164 Loudon Road in Concord, 228-3225, www.arniesplace.com.

Best of Manchester: Goldenrod Drive-In, 1681 Candia Road in Manchester, 623-9469, www.goldenrodrestaurant.com.

Best of Nashua: Hayward’s Ice Cream Stand, 7 DW Highway in Nashua, 888-4663, www.haywardsicecream-nh.com.

• Best Italian Restaurant
Best of the Best: Piccola Italia Ristorante, 815 Elm St. in Manchester, 606-5100, www.piccolaitalianh.com.

Best of Concord: Angelina’s Ristorante Italiano, 11 Depot St. in Concord, 228-3313, www.angelinasristorante.com.

Best of Manchester: Fratello’s Ristorante Italiano, 155 Dow St. in Manchester, 624-2022, www.fratellos.com.

Best of Nashua: Villa Banca, 194 Main St. in Nashua, 598-0500, www.villabanca.com.

• Best Late Night Eats
Best of the Best: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com, which is open 24 hours.

Best of Concord: The Common Man, 25 Water St. in Concord, 228-3463, www.thecman.com, which serves its lighter fare menu until 11 p.m.

Best of Manchester: Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com, which serves its menu daily until 11 p.m. and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Best of Nashua: Red Arrow Diner, 63 Union Square in Milford, 249-9222, www.redarrowdiner.com, which is open 24 hours.

• Best Menu Item
Best of the Best: Chicken Tenders at Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, Manchester, 669-6890, puritanbackroom.com.

Best of Concord: Dublin Burger (which is peppercorn charred with whiskey gravy, blue cheese and crispy onions) at The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com.

Best of Manchester: North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ at KC’s Rib Shack Barbecue, 837 Second St. in Manchester, 627-7427, www.ribshack.net.

Best of Nashua: Fried Tomato & Crispy Bacon Salad (over greens with creamy cracked black pepper Parmesan dressing) at Surf, 207 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9293, www.surfseafood.com.

• Best Mexican/Latin American Restaurant
Best of the Best: La Carreta, 545 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 628-6899.

Best of Concord: Hermanos Cocina Mexicana, 11 Hills Ave. in Concord, 224-5669, www.hermanosmexican.com.

Best of Manchester: Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse, 1050 Bicentennial Dr. in Manchester, 625-1730, www.shortysmex.com.

Best of Nashua: La Carreta, 139 DW Highway in Nashua, 891-0055.

• Best Muffins
Best of the Best: The Bridge Café on Elm, 1117 Elm St. in Manchester, 647-9991.

Best of Concord: Bread & Chocolate, 29 S. Main St. in Concord, 228-3330.

Best of Manchester: Jewell & The Beanstalk, 793 Somerville St. in Manchester, 624-3709, www.jbeanstalk.com.

Best of Nashua: Swan Chocolates, 144 Main St. in Nashua, 800-490-SWAN, www.swanchocolates.com.

• Best Neighborhood Market
Best of the Best: Bunny’s Superette, 75 Webster St. Manchester, 622-5080.

Best of Concord: Quality Cash Market, 11 Eastman St. in Concord, 225-9661, www.qualitycashmarket.com.

Best of Manchester: Harvest Market, Route 101 in Bedford, 472-5017.

Best of Nashua: Jeannotte’s Market, 2 Courtland St. in Nashua, 882-0161.

• Best Outdoor Food Vendor
Best of the Best: Puppy Love, North Main Street in Concord — outdoor stand near Butter’s during the summer, indoor stand in the winter.

Best of Concord: Big J’s Dogs outside Home Depot, 42 D’Amante Drive in Concord.

Best of Manchester: Sausage seller outside The Black Brimmer, 1087 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-5523.

Best of Nashua: The Sausage King outside of Home Depot, 12 Coliseum Drive in Nashua.

• Best Pizza in Your Neighborhood
Best of the Best: Alley Cat Pizzeria, 486 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 669-4533, alleycatpizzerianh.com.

Best of Concord: Vinnie’s Pizzeria, 200 S. Main St. in Concord, 224-7727.

Best of Manchester: 900 Degrees, 50 Dow St. in Manchester, 641-0900, 900degrees.com.

Best of Nashua: Espresso Pizza, 85 Main St. in Nashua, 889-9826.

• Best Pizza Worth a Drive
Best of the Best: 900 Degrees, 50 Dow St. in Manchester, 641-0900, 900degrees.com.

Best of Concord: Vinnie’s Pizzeria, 200 S. Main St. in Concord, 224-7727.

Best of Manchester: Alley Cat Pizzeria, 486 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 669-4533, alleycatpizzerianh.com.

Best of Nashua: Lui Lui, 259 DW Highway in Nashua, 888-2588, www.luilui.com.

• Best Poutine
Best of the Best: Chez Vachon, 136 Kelley St. in Manchester, 625-9660.

Best of Concord: Tilt’n Diner, 61 Laconia Road in Tilton, 286-2204, www.thecman.com.

Best of Manchester: Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave. in Manchester, 623-5040, www.thecman.com.

Best of Nashua: Pine Street Eatery, 136 Pine St. in Nashua, 886-3501.

• Best Restaurant to Take Kids To
Best of the Best: Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com.

Best of Concord: Tilt’n Diner, 61 Laconia Road in Tilton, 286-2204, www.thecman.com.

Best of Manchester: Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse, 1050 Bicentennial Drive in Manchester, 625-1730, www.shortysmex.com.

Best of Nashua: Lui Lui, 259 DW Highway in Nashua, 888-2588, www.luilui.com.

• Best Ribs
Best of the Best: KC’s Rib Shack Barbecue, 837 Second St. in Manchester, 627-7427, www.ribshack.net.

Best of Concord: Arnie’s Place, 164 Loudon Road in Concord, 228-3225, www.arniesplace.com.

Best of Manchester: City Flame Smokehouse, 363 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 622-6022.

Best of Nashua: Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse, 328 Nashua Mall in Nashua, 882-4070.

• Best Salads
Best of the Best: Seedling Café, 9 Water St. in Nashua, 594-4002, www.theseedlingcafe.com.

Best of Concord: In a Pinch Café, 146 Pleasant St. in Concord, 226-2272, www.inapinchcafe.com.

Best of Manchester: Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com.

Best of Nashua: Michael Timothy’s, 212 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9334, www.michaeltimothys.com.

• Best Sandwich
Best of the Best: Steak and Cheese, Bob Nadeau’s, 776 Mast Road in Manchester, 623-9315.

Best of Concord: The Larry Bird at The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175.

Best of Manchester: The Cardiac Sam (Pulled pork topped with cheese, pulled chicken breast, bacon, roasted red peppers, lettuc and garlic & herb mayo), KC’s Rib Shack Barbecue, 837 Second St. in Manchester, 627-7427, www.ribshack.net.

Best of Nashua: The Big Papi (turkey, pepperoni, muenster cheese) at Nashua Garden, 121 Main St. in Nashua, 886-7363.

• Best Seafood
Best of the Best: Surf, 207 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9293, www.surfseafood.com.

Best of Concord: Newick’s Lobster House, 317 Loudon Road in Concord, 888-579-7576, www.newicks.com.

Best of Manchester: Tinker’s Seafood, 545 DW Highway in Manchester, 622-4272, www.tinkersseafood.com.

Best of Nashua: Lobster Boat, 453 DW Highway in Merrimack, 424-5221, www.lobsterboatrestaurant.com.

• Best Soups
Best of the Best: Collins Brothers Clambake, 59 Temple St. in Nashua, 883-2347.

Best of Concord: Beaver Meadow Golf Course, 1 Beaver Meadow Drive in Concord, 225-7033, www.ci.concord.nh.us.

Best of Manchester: Ollie’s, 761 Mast Road in Manchester, 626-3711.

Best of Nashua: Cooking Matters, 97 Main St. in Nashua, 880-6200.

• Best Steakhouse
Best of the Best: Hanover Street Chophouse, 149 Hanover St. in Manchester, 644-2467, www.hanoverstreetchophouse.com.

Best of Concord: Concord Grille, 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 228-6608.

Best of Manchester: Depot Square Steakhouse, 1 E. Broadway in Derry, 437-4200, www.depot-square.com.

Best of Nashua: Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 DW Highway in Merrimack, 424-0995, www.buckleysgreatsteaks.com.

• Best Subs
Best of the Best: Nadeau’s with locations at 100 Cahill Ave. in Manchester, 669-7827; 776 Mast Road in Manchester, 623-9315; 1095 Hanover St. in Manchester, 606-4411, and 805 Canal St. in Manchester, 644-8888.

Best of Concord: Yellow Submarine, 192 North State St. in Concord, 228-4500.

Best of Manchester: USA Subs, with locations in Derry at 66 Crystal Ave., 437-1550, and in Hooksett at 1292 Hooksett Road, 625-1800.

Best of Nashua: Christophers Subs & Pizza with locations at 22 Ash St. in Hollis, 465-7200, and 264 Main Dunstable Road in Nashua, 883-2362.

• Best Vegetarian Menu
Best of the Best: Seedling Café, 9 Water St. in Nashua, 594-4002, www.theseedlingcafe.com.

Best of Concord: Café Indigo, 128 Hall St. in Concord, 224-1770, www.cafeindigo.com.

Best of Manchester: Café Momo, 1065 Hanover St. in Manchester, 623-3733, www.cafemomonh.com.

Best of Nashua: Vietnamese Noodle House, 138 Main St. in Nashua, 886-4566.

• Best Wine List
Best of the Best: Unwine’d, 865 Second St. in Manchester, 625-9463, www.unwined.net.

Best of Concord: Granite Restaurant & Bar at The Centennial, 96 Pleasant St. in Concord, 227-9000, www.graniterestaurant.com.

Best of Manchester: Bedford Village Inn, 2 Olde Bedford Way in Bedford, 472-2001, www.bedfordvillageinn.com. Several voters also made particular mention of Corks, the BVI’s new wine bar.

Best of Nashua: Michael Timothy’s, 212 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9334, www.michaeltimothys.com.

• Best Wine Shop
Best of the Best: The Wine Studio, 53 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 622-9463, www.thewinestudionh.com.

Best of Concord: Butter’s Fine Food and Wine, 70 N. Main St. in Concord, 225-5995.

Best of Manchester: Angela’s Pasta and Cheese, 815 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 625-9544, www.angelspastaandcheese.com.

Best of Nashua: state liquor store #69 at 27 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua, 882-4670, www.nh.gov/liquor.

• Best New Eatery
Best of the Best: Firefly American Bistro & Bar, 22 Concord St. in Manchester, 935-9740, www.fireflynh.com.

Best of Concord: Nonni’s Italian Eatery, 172 N. Main St. in Concord, 224-0400, www.nonnisitalianeatery.com.

Best of Manchester: Ate Doors Down, 967 Elm St. in Manchester, 518-5008.

Best of Nashua: Stella Blu, 70 E. Pearl St. in Nashua, 578-5557, www.stellablu-nh.com.

• Best Restaurant Overall
Best of the Best: Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com.

Best of Concord: The Common Man, 25 Water St. in Concord, 228-3463, www.thecman.com.

Best of Manchester: Cotton, 75 Arms St. in Manchester, 622-5488, www.cottonfood.com.

Best of Nashua: Michael Timothy’s, 212 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9334, www.michaeltimothys.com.

• Best CCTV Show
Best: High school sports, on CCTV channel 6, the education channel (www.yourconcordtv.org). Currently, the station is showing several Concord High School hockey games.

• Best MCAM or MCTV Show
Best: WAW Wrestling. MCAM, Manchester’s community access station, on channel 23, had all three of the most-beloved shows in this category. The winner (and longtime champion) is this local wrestling show, which airs Fridays at 11 p.m., according to the schedule on the station’s Web site, www.mcam.org.

Runner Up: 2 Joes. This show featuring Joe Kelly Levasseur and Joe Briggs airs live on Thursdays from 8 to 11 p.m. The show focuses on local politics; see www.2joes.org.

Honorable Mention: Scorch’s PFG-TV. Hosted by Rock 101’s Scorch, PFG-TV shows off local talent in the world of music and more. The show tapes live every Monday at 10 p.m. and replays throughout the week. See www.pfg-tv.com.

• Best Locally Produced TV Show
Best: New Hampshire Chronicle, WMUR, airs weeknights at 7:30 p.m. The show, which features businesses, people and organizations across the state, is hosted by Tom Griffith and Tiffany Eddy and features the stories of Fritz Wetherbee. See www.wmur.com.

Runner Up: Scorch’s PFG-TV. See www.pfg-tv.com for more.

Honorable Mention: Wildlife Journal on New Hampshire Public Television. The show explores outdoor recreation, wildlife and more. See www.wildlifejournal.tv.

• Best Locally Produced Radio Show
Best: New Hampshire in the Morning on WZID, 95.7 FM. The morning show airs weekdays from 5 to 10 a.m. and features Mike Morin, Ed Brouder and Tracy Caruso. See www.wzid.com.

Runner Up: Greg and the Morning Buzz on Rock 101, WGIR FM. The show, which also airs on 100.3 FM WHEB, airs weekdays from 5:30 to 10 a.m. See www.morningbuzzonline.com.

Honorable Mention: The Morning Waking Crew on WOKQ, 97.5 FM. The country station’s morning show features Mark Ericson and Danielle Carrier and airs Monday through Friday from 5 to 9 a.m. See www.wokq.com.

• Best Local Radio Station
Best: WZID, 95.7 FM. The station plays what it calls “the best variety of yesterday and today.” See www.wzid.com.

Runner Up: Rock 101, WGIR 101.1 FM. The station plays hard rock. See www.rock101wgir.com.

Honorable Mention: NHPR. New Hampshire Public Radio, which can be found locally at 89.3 FM, 88.3 FM and 90.3 FM, features local programming as well as national public radio shows. See www.nhpr.org.

• Best Locally Produced Blog or Podcast
Best: “Redefining Fitness with Functional Conditioning,” a blog by Kevin Buckley at dynamicstrength.blogspot.com.

Runner Up: “Live at Lago,” a podcast at www.lindenmusic.net featuring live musical performances at Lago Trattoria in Meredith.

Honorable Mention: “Blue Hampshire,” at www.bluehampshire.com, which calls itself a “progressive online community for the Granite State.”

• Best State or Local Government Web Site
Best: NH.gov — the state’s Web site, which can take you to a variety of information on tourism, liquor sales, various types of licenses and the state government.

Runner Up: www.manchesternh.gov — the city’s official Web site.

Honorable Mention: Gonashua.com — the city’s official Web site.

• Best Community Event
Best of the Best: Winter Holiday Stroll, an annual event in downtown Nashua, held the weekend after Thanksgiving. The event, which happens mostly in the evening, features a candlelight walk, street vendors, street performers and sales and samples at downtown shops.

Best of Concord: Market Days, the annual event in downtown Concord featuring performances, street sales of food and merchandise and other events. Market Days are held during a long weekend in June.

Best of Manchester: Glendi, the annual festival of Greek culture and food at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Hanover Street in Manchester. The event is held annually on a weekend in September and brings thousands of people to the church for gyros and Greek pastries.

Best of Nashua: Taste of Downtown Nashua, an annual evening of food and window shopping in downtown Nashua. This year’s Taste will be held on Wednesday, June 1, starting at 6:30 p.m. A ticket gets you a passport to tasting samples of food from area restaurants that set up in downtown stores. See greatamericandowntown.org.

• Best Movie Theater
Best: Cinemagic Hooksett IMAX, 1226 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, 644-4629, www.cinemagicmovies.com. This Cinemagic is a multiscreen theater with an IMAX screen.

Runner Up: Wilton Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St. in Wilton, 654-3456, www.wiltontownhalltheatre.com. This two-screen theatre features a mix of current mainstream releases and independent and foreign films as well as a weekly screening of classic movies.

Honorable Mention: Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main St. in Concord, 224-4600, www.redrivertheatres.org. Concord’s recently built theater features three screening rooms and shows independent and limited-release films, foreign films and some local films.

• Best Place to Take Your Kids
Best: SEE Science Center, 200 Bedford St. in Manchester, 669-0400, www.see-sciencecenter.org. This kid-friendly science museum offers hands-on exhibits.

Runner Up: Chunky’s Cinema Pub, 151 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua, 880-8055, www.chunkys.com. This cinema features mainstream current releases with restaurant-style seating and a menu of items like burgers, salads, chicken dishes and more.

Honorable Mention: New Hampshire Fisher Cats game at Merchantsauto.com Stadium, off Commercial Street in Manchester. Home games begin on Wednesday, April 8, when the Fisher Cats take on the New Britain Rock Cats at 6:35 p.m. See www.nhfishercats.com.

• Best Place to Take Kids on a Snowy/Rainy Day
Best: SEE Science Center, 200 Bedford St. in Manchester, 669-0400, www.see-sciencecenter.org. In addition to secretly teaching your kids science while they have fun, the center offers plenty of different ways to work out their pent-up snow- or rain-day energy.

Runner Up: Chunky’s Cinema Pub, 151 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua, 880-8055, www.chunkys.com. Dinner and a movie without the clean-up.

Honorable Mention: Cinemagic Hooksett IMAX, 1226 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, 644-4629, www.cinemagicmovies.com.

• Best Place to Take Visiting Relatives
Best: Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St. in Manchester, 669-6144, www.currier.org. Along with its expanded footprint, the Currier is displaying an increased amount of its collection. 

Runner Up: Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tours, 221 DW Highway in Merrimack, 595-1202, www.budweisertours.com. See how beer is made and, for those visiting relatives of age, enjoy some samples.

Honorable Mention: New Hampshire Fisher Cats game at Merchantsauto.com Stadium, off Commercial Street in Manchester. Home games begin on Wednesday, April 8, when the first 1,000 fans will get a free fleece blanket. See www.nhfishercats.com.

LOOKING FOR LOVE

• Best Pick-Up Place
Best of the Best: The Black Brimmer, 1087 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-5523, www.blackbrimmer.com.

Best of Concord: The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175.

Best of Manchester: The Derryfield, 625 Mammoth Road in Manchester, 623-2880, www.derryfieldrestaurant.com.

Best of Nashua: Amber Room, 53 High St. in Nashua, 881-9060, www.theamberroomnightlife.com.

• Best Date Place
Best of the Best: Unwine’d, 865 Second St. in Manchester, 625-9463, www.unwined.net.

Best of Concord: The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175.

Best of Manchester: Cotton, 75 Arms St. in Manchester, 622-5488, www.cottonfood.com.

Best of Nashua:Michael Timothy’s, 212 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9334, www.michaeltimothys.com.

• Best Make-out Spot
Best of Concord: The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175.

Best of Manchester: Rock Rimmon Park on Manchester’s West Side with access on Mason Street.

Best of Nashua: Greeley Park, off Concord Street in Nashua.

• Best Breakup Spot
Best of Concord: White Park, off White Street in Concord.

Best of Manchester:Mall of New Hampshire, on South Willow Street just south of Interstate 293 in Manchester.

Best of Nashua:Greeley Park, off Concord Street in Nashua.

NIGHTLIFE

• Best Bar for Live Music
Best of the Best: The Black Brimmer, 1087 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-5523, www.blackbrimmer.com.

Best of Concord: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com.

Best of Manchester:Strange Brew, 88 Market St. in Manchester, 666-4292, www.strangebrewtavern.net.

Best of Nashua: The Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St. in Nashua, 821-7535, www.thepeddlersdaughter.com.

• Best Bar with an Outdoor Deck
Best of the Best: The Derryfield, 625 Mammoth Road in Manchester, 623-2880, www.derryfieldrestaurant.com.

Best of Concord:  Beaver Meadow Golf Course, 1 Beaver Meadow Street in Concord, 225-7033, www.ci.concord.nh.us.

Best of Manchester: Jillian’s, 50 Phillippe Cote St. in Manchester, 626-7636, www.jillians.com.

Best of Nashua: Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, 1 Nashua Drive in Nashua, 883-0996, www.margs.com

• Best Bathrooms
Best of the Best: Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill, 34 Tarrytown Road in Manchester, 622-3644, www.billyssportsbar.com. The draw of these restrooms? TVs so that you don’t have to miss a moment of the game.

Best of Concord: The Common Man, 25 Water St. in Concord, 228-3463, www.thecman.com. Readers liked these bathrooms for the folksy sayings.

Best of Manchester: Hanover Street Chophouse, 149 Hanover St. in Manchester, 644-2467, www.hanoverstreetchophouse.com.

Best of Nashua:Giorgio’s Ristorante, 524 Nashua St. in Milford, 732-4058, www.giorgios.com.

• Best Dance Club
Best of the Best: Amber Room, 53 High St. in Nashua, 881-9060, www.theamberroomnightlife.com.

Best of Concord: Concord Grille, 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 228-6608.

Best of Manchester: Wally & Bernie’s, 20 Old Granite St. in Manchester, 641-BLUE, www.wallyandbernies.com.

Best of Nashua: Martha’s Exchange, 185 Main St. in Nashua, 883-8781, www.marthas-exchange.com.

• Best Place to be Seen
Best of the Best: J.W. Hill’s Sports Bar & Grill, 795 Elm St. in Manchester, 645-7422, www.jwhills.com.

Best of Concord:The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175.

Best of Manchester:The Black Brimmer, 1087 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-5523, www.blackbrimmer.com.

Best of Nashua:Amber Room, 53 High St. in Nashua, 881-9060, www.theamberroomnightlife.com.

• Best Place to Go After Last Call
Best: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com, which is open 24 hours.

Runner Up: Denny’s, 34 Gusabel Ave. in Nashua, 883-6165, www.dennys.com., which is open 24 hours.

Honorable Mention: Manchester Diner, 119 A Hanover St. in Manchester, 669-8928, www.manchesterdiner.com, open from midnight to 4 a.m., Thursday through Saturday.

• Best Place to People-Watch:
Best: Mall of New Hampshire, off South Willow Street just south of Interstate 293.

Runner Up: Manchester Boston Regional Airport, exit 5 off Interstate 293.

Honorable Mention: Main Street and its surrounding area in downtown Nashua.

• Best Place to Play Pool
Best of the Best: Jillian’s, 50 Phillippe Cote St. in Manchester, 626-7636, www.jillians.com.

Best of Concord: The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175.

Best of Manchester: Raxx Billiard and Nightlife, 1211 Elm St. in Manchester, 625-0029.

Best of Nashua: Boston Billiard Club, 55 Northeastern Blvd. in Nashua, 595-2121, www.bostonbilliardclub.com.

• Best Pub
Best of the Best: Wild Rover, 21 Kosciuszko St. in Manchester, 669-7722, www.wildroverpub.com.

Best of Concord: Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com.

Best of Manchester:Strange Brew, 88 Market St. in Manchester, 666-4292, www.strangebrewtavern.net.

Best of Nashua:The Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St. in Nashua, 821-7535, www.thepeddlersdaughter.com.

• Best Sports Bar
Best of the Best: Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill, 34 Tarrytown Road in Manchester, 622-3644, www.billyssportsbar.com.

Best of Concord:The Draft, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175.

Best of Manchester: J.W. Hill’s Sports Bar & Grill, 795 Elm St. in Manchester, 645-7422, www.jwhills.com.

Best of Nashua: Nashua Garden, 121 Main St. in Nashua, 886-7363.

OUTDOORS

• Best Local Hiking Trail
Best of the Best: Lake Massabesic, which has a parking lot on Depot Road near the Auburn-Manchester line.

Best of Concord:Oak Hill Trail off Oak Hill Road in Concord.

Best of Manchester: Livingston Park, off Hooksett Road in north Manchester.

Best of Nashua:Greeley Park, off Concord Street in Nashua.

• Best City Park
Best of Concord:White Park, off White Street in Concord.

Best of Manchester:Livingston Park, off Hooksett Road in north Manchester.

Best of Nashua: Greeley Park, off Concord Street in Nashua.

• Best State Park
Best: Bear Brook State Park, 157 Deerfield Road in Allenstown, 485-9874, www.nhstateparks.org.

Runner Up: Pawtuckaway State Park, 128 Mountain Road in Nottingham, 895-3031, www.nhstateparks.org.

Honorable Mention: Hampton Beach State Park, Route 1A in Hampton Beach, 926-3784, www.nhstateparks.org.

• Best Swimming Hole
Best of Concord:Pool at Rollins Park on Bow Street in Concord. 

Best of Manchester:Pool at Livingston Park off Hooksett Road in north Manchester.

Best of Nashua:Silver Lake State Park, off Silver Lake Road in Hollis, www.nhstateparks.org.

LIVING HERE

• Best Spot from Which to Enjoy the View
Best of Concord: Oak Hill Fire Towers (which are technically in Loudon), park at Oak Hill and Shaker roads in Concord.

Best of Manchester: Top of Rock Rimmon on Manchester’s West Side.

Best of Nashua: Sky Meadow Towers (a gated private in Nashua comunity on Mountain Laurel Drive) in Nashua.

• Best Thing about Your City
Best: The people. Readers cited their neighbors, and particularly the friendliness of people in their city, as the best thing about the city they live in. “The great people,” one person gave as their reason for loving Manchester; “we care about each other” is how a reader from Deerfield put it.

Runner Up: Proximity to everything. Mountains, Boston, beaches — whatever it is you like, our chunk of southern New Hampshire is close to it. “Close to Boston, close to the coast, close to the mountains and the lakes,” said one Manchester reader.

Honorable Mention: Lots of stuff to do. “Lots to do in our own backyard,” wrote one Nashua reader. “Lots of entertainment,” wrote another reader. “Lots of great restaurants” was a common comment and one reader put it more specifically, “lots of ice cream.”

• Best Thing about New Hampshire
Best: Nature — our natural beauty, clean air and land, and landscape. As one reader put it “65% forest land. Booya.”

Runner Up: Low taxes. Our lack of a sales and income tax won a lot of love — “so far, still tax free,” is how one reader put it. Perhaps this answer goes hand in hand with another popular answer, “It’s not Massachusetts — yet.”

Honorable Mention: Four seasons. Readers appreciate the fact that we have four distinct seasons, with fall getting the most mention. Not surprising, no one specifically mentioned winter although a few people did say the snow was their favorite thing about New Hampshire and one even reminds us that “snow does melt...eventually.”

Runner Up Honorable Mention: Live Free or Die. As one reader said, “LIVE FREE OR DIE! And the no seat belt law. I love my freedom.”

• Best Thing We Forgot to Ask About
Not that plenty of voters don’t take the opportunity to mouth-off in the regular categories (one of the answers for “Best Make-Out Place” was “Ask your mother”) but we wanted to give you an entire category to talk about your favorite things we didn’t previously get to (plus, this can be how new categories are born for future years). Supporters of Manchester Acupuncture Studio lobbied for a “Best Acupuncturist” category and supporters of Valerie Tukey at Aesthetics by Valerie  in Nashua pushed for “Best Esthetician.” The beginning and end of a car’s life cycle — Best Auto Dealership and Best Auto Recycler — were suggested as categories that need attention. Hottest Firefighter, Best Boss, Best Barista and Best Doctor were mentioned and Best Mom and Best Dad got a vote each. “Biggest Jerk” is a category that would probably get lots of answers but might have some associated legal problems and we’re not completely sure how something like “How Much Project Mess Rocks!!” could be quantified (ditto to “Who’s Your Daddy”). More food and things-to-do categories were suggested but we couldn’t help but be a little delighted by those who suggested a “Best Newspaper” category and said their answer would be “The Hippo.” (Thanks!) Now that all the voting is done, do you have a good suggestion for a new category for next year (this thing just keeps getting bigger!)? Let us know at letters@hippopress.com and a sincere thank you so much for voting


Notes on the results
The Best of the Best is the entry that received the most votes overall in a category. The winners in each city are then the entries who received the most votes for those areas, excluding the Best of the Best winner. Therefore, if the Best of the Best winner is from the Concord area, the Best of Concord winner is the second place winner in Concord.

For purposes of this poll, Manchester includes the city itself, Goffstown, Bedford, Hooksett, Auburn, New Boston, Dunbarton, Windham and Litchfield. Nashua includes the city, Amherst, Hollis, Hudson, Brookline, Merrimack and Milford. Concord includes the city, Bow, Canterbury, Allenstown and Pembroke.

With a few exceptions, votes for national chains were not considered.

All results are final.