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Sep 1, 2014







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THE ARTS

Best live theater show
Best of the best: Rent at the Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St. in Manchester, 668-5588, www.palacetheatre.org. The show ran in spring 2010.
Best of Concord: Monty Python’s Spamalot at the Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St. in Concord, 225-1111, www.ccanh.com. The show came to the Cap Center in October 2010.
Best of Manchester: A Christmas Carol at the Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St. in Manchester, 668-5588, www.palacetheatre.org. The show ran in early December 2010.
Best of Nashua: Guys & Dolls at the Amato Center for the Performing Arts, at the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley, 56 Mont Vernon St. in Milford, 672-1002 ext. 20, www.svbgc.org.

Best art gallery (not the Currier, which is a museum)
Best of the best: McGowan Fine Art, 10 Hills Ave. in Concord, 225-2515, www.mcgowanfineart.com.
Best of Concord: The Mill Brook Gallery & Sculpture Gardens, 236 Hopkinton Road in Concord, 226-2046, www.themillbrookgallery.com.
Best of Manchester: Art 3 Gallery, 44 West Brook St. in Manchester, 668-6650, www.art3gallery.com.
Best of Nashua: Picker Building, 99 Factory Street Extension in Nashua. See a list of the studios at www.pickerbuilding.com.

Best art in a public space
Best of Concord: Concord Arts Market, an outdoor market featuring artists and artisans that runs in the summer on Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Eagle Square in downtown Concord. Find more information on their Facebook page.
Best of Manchester: Art on the Wall at City Hall, 1 City Hall Plaza in downtown Manchester, featuring regularly changing exhibits. Find out more at www.facebook.com/manchesterarts.
Best of Nashua: Greeley Park Art Show, a two-day art show held in August in Greeley Park in Nashua.

Best art, theater or classical music event of the year
Best of the best: Boston Pops holiday concert at the Verizon Wireless Arena, 555 Elm St. in Manchester, 644-5000, www.verizonwirelessarena.com. The Boston Pops performed at the arena in December 2010.
Best of Concord: Monty Python’s  Spamalot at the Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St. in Concord, 225-1111, www.ccanh.com. The show came to the Cap Center in October 2010.
Best of Manchester: Art in Veterans Park in downtown Manchester, a two-day festival in late August.
Best of Nashua: Greeley Park Art Show, a two-day art show held in August in Greeley Park in Nashua.

BEAUTY & HEALTH
Best gym
Best of the best: Executive Health & Sports Center, 1 Highlander Way in Manchester, 668-4753, www.executivehealthclub.com.
Best of Concord: Get Fit NH, 287 S. Main St. in Concord, 344-2651, getfitnhbootcamp.com.
Best of Manchester: YMCA of Downtown Manchester, 30 Mechanic St. in Manchester, 623-3558, www.yogm.org.
Best of Nashua: Hampshire Hills Sports & Fitness Club, 50 Emerson Road in Milford, 673-7123, www.hampshirehills.com.

Best independent clothing store
Best of the best: Alapage, 25 S. River Road in Bedford, 622-0550, www.alapageboutique.com.
Best of Concord: Gondwana Divine Clothing Co., 13 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-1101,www.gondwanashop.com.
Best of Manchester: George’s Apparel, 675 Elm St. in Manchester, 622-5441, www.georgesapparel.com.
Best of Nashua: Fresh of Nashua, 178 Main St. in Nashua, 821-9888, www.freshofnashua.com.

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 Shoe Store, 1525 S. Willow St. in Manchester, 621-0608, www.beebeeshoes.com.
Best of Nashua: The Shoe Box, 17 Route 101A in Amherst, 672-6570, www.shoeboxnh.com.

Best independent jewelry store
Best of the best: Bellman’s Jewelers, 1650 Elm St. in Manchester, 625-4653, www.bellmans.com.
Best of Concord: Capitol Craftsman & Romance Jewelers, 16 & 18 N. Main St. in Concord, 224-6166, www.capitolcraftsman.com.
Best of Manchester: Elizabeth’s on Elm, 889 Elm St. in Manchester, 626-0688, www.elizabethsonelm.com.
Best of Nashua: Scontsas Fine Jewelry & Home Decor, 169 Main St. in Nashua, 882-3281, www.scontsas.com.

Best Laundromat
Best of the best: Bird Bath Laundromat, with locations at 253 Lake Ave. (622-2694), 1000 Hanover St. (623-6826) and 855 Hanover St. (627-7855) 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: Hometown Laundry and Dry Cleaning, 76 Lowell Road in Hudson, 883-9842, www.hometownlaundry.com.

Best barber shop
Best of the best: Dude’s Barber Shop, 1311 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, 626-0533, www.dudesbarbershop.us.
Best of Concord: Lucky’s Barbershop & Shave Parlor, 50 S. State St. in Concord, 715-5470, www.myspace.com/luckysbarbershop.
Best of Manchester: Spencer Martin Barber Shop, 178 Route 101 in Bedford, 471-3606, www.spencermartinbarbers.com.
Best of Nashua: Chuck’s Barber Shop, 168 Main St. in Nashua, 882-3711.

Best salon
Best of the best: Not So Plain Jane’s Salon & Spa, 155 Dow St. Suite 102 in Manchester,  622-5971, www.notsoplainjanes.com.
Best of Concord: Creative Color & Cuts, 259 S. Main St. in Concord, 228-1158, www.creativecolorandcuts.com.
Best of Manchester: Philip Mark Salon, 27 Webster St. in Manchester, 622-5225.
Best of Nashua: Aidan James Salon & Spa, 44 Broad St. in Nashua, 598-0795, www.aidanjamessalon.com.

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

Best yoga studio
Best of the best: Bikram Yoga Manchester, 195 McGregor St. in Manchester, 669-7711, www.manchesterbikramyoga.com.
Best of Concord: Sharing Yoga, 3 Pleasant St. in Concord, 630-5576, sharingyoga.com.
Best of Manchester: Riverflow Yoga, 198 Londonderry Turnpike in Hooksett, 935-9822, www.riverflowyoga.com.
Best of Nashua: NH Power Yoga, 704 Milford Road in Merrimack, 594-2494, www.nhpoweryoga.com.
 

FOOD
Best Asian food
Best of the best: Lilac Blossom, with locations at 385 East Dunstable Road (888-9588) and 650 Amherst St. (886-8420) in Nashua, lilacblossom-nh.com.
Best of Concord: Siam Orchid, 158 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-1529, www.siamorchid.net.
Best of Manchester: Taipei & Tokyo 3, 7 Colby Court in Bedford, 622-2588, www.taipeitokyo3.com.
Best of Nashua: You You Japanese Bistro, 150 Broad St. in Nashua, 882-8337, www.youyoujbistro.com.

Best bagels
Best of the best: Bagel Alley, 1 Eldridge St. in Nashua, 882-9343.
Best of Concord: The Works Bakery Café, 42 North Main St. in Concord, 226-1827, www.worksbakerycafe.com.
Best of Manchester: Bagel Café, 373 Hanover St. in Manchester, 647-2233, nhbagelcafe.com.
Best of Nashua: Hot Rize Bagel Café, 634 DW Highway in Merrimack, 424-3367, www.hotrizecafe.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 (647-2253), www.pastry.net.
Best of Concord: Bread & Chocolate, 29 South Main St. in Concord, 228-3330.
Best of Manchester: Michelle’s Gourmet Pastries & Deli, 819 Union St. in
Manchester, 647-7150, www.michellespastries.com.
Best of Nashua: Crosby Bakery, 51 E. Pearl St. 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: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.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 East Pearl St. in Nashua, 578-5557, www.stellablu-nh.com.

Best beer selection (at a bar/restaurant)
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 & Brewing Co., 185 Main St. in Nashua, 883-8781, www.marthas-exchange.com.

Best place to buy beer (retail)
Best of the best: Bert’s Better Beers, 1100 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, 413-5992, www.bertsbetterbeers.com.
Best of Concord: Barb’s Beer Emporium, 249 Sheep Davis Road in Concord, 369-4501, www.barbsbeeremporium.com.
Best of Manchester: North End Superette, 1308 Elm St. in Manchester, 627-1416.
Best of Nashua: Jasper’s Homebrew & Winemaking, 4 Temple St. in Nashua, 881-3052, www.boomchugalug.com.

Best breakfast
Best of the best: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com.
Best of Concord: City Side Grille, 25 Manchester St. in Concord, 227-0884, citysidegrille.net.
Best of Manchester: MaryAnn’s Diner, 29 E. Broadway in Derry, 434-5785, www.maryannsdiner.com.
Best of Nashua: City Room Café, 105 W. Pearl St. in Nashua, 882-5016, www.cityroomcafe.com.

Best burgers
Best of the best: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com.
Best of Concord: Cheers, 17 Depot St. in Concord, 228-0180, www.cheersnh.com.
Best of Manchester: Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill, 34 Tarrytown Road in Manchester, 622-3644, www.billyssportsbar.com.
Best of Nashua: Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 DW Highway in Merrimack, 424-0995, www.buckleysgreatsteaks.com.

Best butcher shop
Best of the best: Bull Run Beef, 1100 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, 669-0891. For hours, find them on Facebook.
Best of Concord: Concord Beef & Seafood, 75 S. Main St. in Concord, 226-3474.
Best of Manchester: Mr. Steer Marketplace, 27 Buttrick Road in Londonderry, 434-1444, www.mrsteermeats.com.
Best of Nashua: Brothers Butcher, 8 Spit Brook Road in Nashua, 809-4180, and on Facebook.

Best candy/chocolate shop
Best of the best: Van Otis Chocolates, 341 Elm St. in Manchester, 627-1611, www.vanotischocolates.com.
Best of Concord: Granite State Candy Shoppe, 13 Warren St. in Concord, 225-2591, www.nhchocolates.com.
Best of Manchester: Candy Kingdom, 235 Harvard St. in Manchester, 641-8470. For hours and more information, find them on Facebook.
Best of Nashua: Swan Chocolates, 436 DW Highway in Merrimack, 800-490-7926, 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 Burritos, 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/restaurants/airport-diner.
Best of Nashua: Red Arrow Diner, 63 Union Square in Milford, 249-9222, www.redarrowdiner.com.

Best cheese counter
Best of the best: Angela’s Pasta and Cheese Shop, 815 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 625-9544, www.angelaspastaandcheese.com.
Best of Concord: Butter’s Fine Food and Wine, 70 N. Main St. in Concord, 225-5995, www.buttersfinefood.com.
Best of Manchester: Harvest Market, 29 Route 101 in Bedford, 472-7075, www.myharvestmarket.com.
Best of Nashua: Cooking Matters, 97 Main St. in Nashua, 880-6200, www.cookingmatters.com.

Best chicken tenders
Best of the best: The Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com.
Best of Concord: Cheers, 17 Depot St. in Concord, 228-0180, www.cheersnh.com.
Best of Manchester: Goldenrod Drive-In, 1681 Candia Road in Manchester, 623-9469, www.goldenrodrestaurant.com.
Best of Nashua: Chicken N Chips, 12 W. Hollis St in Nashua, 943-5840, chicknnchips.us.

Best cocktail
Best of the best: Mudslide (the current menu has 10 different varieties of mudslide) at The Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com.
Best of Concord: Margaritas (the menu has about 15 different takes on the margarita) at Hermanos Cocina Mexicana, 11 Hills Ave. in Concord, 224-5669, www.hermanosmexican.com.
Best of Manchester: The Moroccan Old Fashioned at Republic, 1069 Elm St. in Manchester, 666-3723, republiccafe.com.
Best of Nashua: The Harry Potter at Old Amsterdam Bar and Lounge, 8 Temple St. in Nashua, 204-5534, www.oldamsterdambarandlounge.com.

Best cup of coffee
Best of the best: Republic, 1069 Elm St. in Manchester, 666-3723, republiccafe.com.
Best of Concord: True Brew Barista, 3 Bicentennial Square in Concord, 225-2776, www.truebrewbarista.com.
Best of Manchester: J Dubs Coffee, 1000 Elm St. in Manchester, 622-7944, www.jdubscoffee.com.
Best of Nashua: A&E Custom Coffee Roastery, 135 Route 101A in Amherst, 578-3338, www.aeroastery.com.

Best desserts
Best of the best: Frederick’s Pastries, with locations at 109 Route 101A in Amherst (882-7725) and 25 S. River Road in Bedford (647-2253), www.pastry.net.
Best of Concord: Bread & Chocolate, 29 S. Main St. in Concord, 228-3330.
Best of Manchester: Republic, 1069 Elm St. in Manchester, 666-3723, republiccafe.com.
Best of Nashua: The Black Forest Café, 212 Route 101 in Amherst, 672-0500, www.theblackforestcafe.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/restaurants/tilton-diner.
Best of Manchester: Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave. in Manchester, 623-5040, www.thecman.com/restaurants/airport-diner.
Best of Nashua: Red Arrow Diner, 63 Union Square in Milford, 249-9222, www.redarrowdiner.com.

Best ethnic food 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.coop.
Best of Manchester: Spice Center, 245 Maple St. in Manchester, 626-7290.
Best of Nashua: Lanna Asian Market, 495 Amherst St. in Nashua, 578-0438, lannaasianmarket.com.

Best farmers market
Best: Downtown Manchester Farmers Market, which runs Thursdays, late June through mid October, on Concord Street between Chestnut and Pine streets, from 3 to about 6 p.m. See intownmanchester.com for updates.
Runner up: Concord Farmers Market, which runs Saturdays, early June through early October, on Capitol Street next to the state capitol building, from about 9 a.m. to noon.
Honorable mention: Bedford Farmers Market, which is held on Tuesdays, late June through October, from 3 to 6 p.m. in Benedictine Park in Bedford. See bedfordfarmersmarket.org for updates.

Best food festival/event
Best of the best: Glendi, the annual Greek food and culture festival held in mid-September at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 650 Hanover St. in Manchester, www.stgeorge.nh.goarch.org.
Runner up: Rock ‘N Ribfest, the weekend-long barbecue festival and competition held at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Merrimack. See ribfestnh.org for details. This year’s festival is scheduled for June 17 through June 19.
Honorable mention: World’s Championship Chili Cookoff, held in downtown Manchester. The event came to the Queen City for the first time in 2010 and will return Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 of this year. See www.chilicookoff.com.

Best french fries
Best of the best: Caesario’s Pizza and Subs, 1057 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-8383, www.caesariospizza.com.
Best of Concord: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com.
Best of Manchester: Republic, 1069 Elm St. in Manchester, 666-3723, republiccafe.com.
Best of Nashua: 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: Tandy’s Top Shelf, 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 856-7614, www.top-shelf.biz.
Best of Manchester: The Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com.
Best of Nashua: Jackie’s Diner, 168 Main St. in Nashua, 889-4957.

Best hot chocolate
Best of the best: Swan Chocolates, 436 DW Highway in Merrimack, 800-490-7926, swanchocolates.com.
Best of Concord: True Brew Barista, 3 Bicentennial Square in Concord, 225-2776, www.truebrewbarista.com.
Best of Manchester: J Dubs Coffee, 1000 Elm St. in Manchester, 622-7944, www.jdubscoffee.com.
Best of Nashua: Riverwalk Roasters Coffee House, 35 Railroad Square in Nashua, 578-0200, www.riverwalkroasters.com.

Best ice cream
Best of the best: The Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in 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 with locations at 7 DW Highway in Nashua (888-4663) and 383 Elm St. in Milford (672-8383), www.haywardsicecream.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.angelinasrestaurant.com.
Best of Manchester: Fratello’s Italian Grille, 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.
Best of Concord: Cheers, 17 Depot St. in Concord, 228-0180, www.cheersnh.com.
Best of Manchester: Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave. in Manchester, 623-5040, www.thecman.com/restaurants/airport-diner.
Best of Nashua: Red Arrow Diner, 63 Union Square in Milford, 249-9222, www.redarrowdiner.com.

Best menu item
Best of the best: Chicken Tenders (served with the famous sweet duck sauce) at The Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com.
Best of Concord: Dublin Burger (peppercorn charred with whiskey gravy, creamy blue cheese and crispy onions, according to the menu) at The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com.
Best of Manchester: “Go Go” Bread (warm garlic bread with gorgonzola fondue, according to the menu) at Firefly American Bistro & Bar, 22 Concord St. in Manchester, 935-9740, www.fireflynh.com.
Best of Nashua: Butternut Squash Ravioli (fresh pasta squares filled with roasted butternut squash, tossed in sage brown butter and topped with parmesan cheese, according to the menu) at Villa Banca, 194 Main St. in Nashua, 598-0500, www.villabanca.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 Drive in Manchester, 625-1730, shortysmex.com.
Best of Nashua: La Carreta, 139 DW Highway in Nashua, 891-0055.

Best muffins
Best of the best: The Bridge Café, 1117 Elm St. in Manchester, 647-9991, www.thebridgecafe.net.
Best of Concord: Bread & Chocolate, 29 South Main St. in Concord, 228-3330.
Best of Manchester: Jewell & the Beanstalk, 793 Somerville St. in Manchester, 624-3709, jbeanstalk.com.
Best of Nashua: Cooking Matters, 97 Main St. in Nashua, 880-6200, www.cookingmatters.com.

Best neighborhood market
Best of the best: Bunny’s Superette, 75 Webster St. in Manchester, 622-5080.
Best of Concord: Concord Cooperative Market, 24 S. Main St. in Concord, 225-6840, www.concordfoodcoop.coop.
Best of Manchester: Sully’s Superette, 10 N Mast Road in Goffstown, 497-8176,  www.sullyssuperette.com.
Best of Nashua: Jeannotte’s Market, 2 Courtland St. in Nashua, 882-0161.

Best outdoor food vendor (include name of vendor and usual location)
Best of the best: Sausage King, which has a restaurant at 53 Main St. in Nashua, 204-5110, and outside of Martha’s Exchange in Nashua on some evenings during warm weather. See www.thesausagekingofnashua.com.
Best of Concord: Puppy Love, which has an indoor spot at 50 N. Main St. in Concord during the cold months and an outdoor spot from April to October in the alley next to Butter’s on Main Street. See www.puppylovehotdogs.com.
Best of Manchester: Jonathan’s Quick Eats, the sausage cart in front of Black Brimmer on Elm Street in Manchester on some nights.
Best of Nashua: Jean’s Express Dogs, a cart in Greeley Park in Nashua.

Best pizza in your neighborhood
Best of the best: Alley Cat Pizzeria, 486 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 669-4533, www.alleycatpizzerianh.com.
Best of Concord: Vinnie’s Pizzeria, 200 South Main St. in Concord, 224-7727.
Best of Manchester: Portland Pie Company, 786 Elm St. in Manchester, 622-7437, www.portlandpie.com.
Best of Nashua: Espresso NY Style Pizza, 85 Main St. in Nashua, 889-9826, www.espressopizzaonline.com.

Best pizza worth the drive
Best of the best: 900 Degrees Pizzeria, 50 Dow St. in Manchester, 641-0900, www.900degrees.com.
Best of Concord: Vinnie’s Pizzeria, 200 South Main St. in Concord, 224-7727.
Best of Manchester: Alley Cat Pizzeria, 486 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 669-4533, www.alleycatpizzerianh.com.
Best of Nashua: Bob’s Pizza, 115 E. Hollis St. in Nashua, 821-4093, www.bobspizzanh.com.

Best poutine
Best of the best: Chez Vachon, 136 Kelley St. in Manchester, 625-9660, www.chezvachon.com.
Best of Concord: Tilt’n Diner, 61 Laconia Road in Tilton, 286-2204, www.thecman.com/restaurants/tilton-diner.
Best of Manchester: Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave. in Manchester, 623-5040, www.thecman.com/restaurants/airport-diner.
Best of Nashua: Estabrook Grill, 57 Palm St. in Nashua, 943-5035, www.estabrookgrill.com.

Best kid-friendly restaurant
Best of the best: Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave. in Manchester, 623-5040, www.thecman.com/restaurants/airport-diner.
Best of Concord: Cheers, 17 Depot St. in Concord, 228-0180, www.cheersnh.com.
Best of Manchester: T-Bones Great American Eatery, 25 S. River Road in Bedford, 641-6100, www.t-bones.com.
Best of Nashua: Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse, 48 Gusabel Ave. in Nashua, 882-4070, shortysmex.com.
 

Best ribs
Best of the best: KC’s Rib Shack, 837 Second St. in Manchester, 627-7427, ribshack.net.
Best of Concord: Arnie’s Place, 164  Loudon Road in Concord, 228-3225, www.arniesplace.com.
Best of Manchester: Cactus Jack’s, 782 S. Willow St. in Manchester, 627-8600, www.go2cjs.com.
Best of Nashua: Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse, 48 Gusabel Ave. in Nashua, 882-4070, shortysmex.com.

Best salads
Best of the best: The Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com.
Best of Concord: Common Man, 25 Water St. in Concord, 228-3463, www.thecman.com/restaurants/common-man-concord.
Best of Manchester: Republic, 1069 Elm St. in Manchester, 666-3723, republiccafe.com.
Best of Nashua: Seedling Café, 9 Water St. in Nashua, 594-4002, www.theseedlingcafe.com.

Best sandwich (name of sandwich and restaurant)
Best of the best: Steak Tips & Cheese at Nadeau’s Subs, with locations at 100 Cahill Ave. (669-7827), 776 Mast Road (623-9315), 1095 Hanover St. (606-4411) and 805 Canal St. (644-8888) in Manchester and 81 S. Main St. (856-7563) in Concord, nadeaus.biz.
Best of Concord: Roast Beef Sandwiches at Beefside, 106 Manchester St. in Concord, 228-0208, www.beefsiderestaurant.com.
Best of Manchester: Nacho Crusted Chicken at Wild Rover Pub, 21 Kosciuszko St. in Manchester, 669-7722, www.wildroverpub.com.
Best of Nashua: Big Poppy at Nashua Garden, 121 Main St. in Nashua, 886-7363.

Best seafood restaurant
Best of the best: Surf, 207 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9293, www.surfseafood.com.
Best of Concord: Newick’s, 317 Loudon Road in Concord, 225-2424, www.newicks.com.
Best of Manchester: Tinker’s Seafood, 545 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 622-4272, www.tinkersseafood.com.
Best of Nashua: Lobster Boat, 453 DW Highway in Merrimack, 424-5221, www.lobsterboatrestaurant.com.

Best menu of small plates
Best of the best: Stella Blu, 70 East Pearl St. in Nashua, 578-5557, www.stellablu-nh.com.
Best of Concord: The Granite Restaurant at The Centennial, 96 Pleasant St. in Concord, 227-9000, www.graniterestaurant.com.
Best of Manchester: Republic, 1069 Elm St. in Manchester, 666-3723, republiccafe.com.
Best of Nashua: MT’s Local Kitchen and Wine Bar, 212 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9334, www.mtslocal.com.

Best soups
Best of the best: Collins Brothers Chowder, 59 Temple St. in Nashua, 883-2347, www.collinsbrotherschowder.com.
Best of Concord: In A Pinch Café & Bakery, with locations at 146 Pleasant St. (226-2272) and 2 Pillsbury St. (369-3598) in Concord, www.inapinchcafe.com.
Best of Manchester: Suddenly Soupy’s, 28 Hanover St. in Manchester, 657-7279, www.suddenlysoupys.com.
Best of Nashua: Cooking Matters, 97 Main St. in Nashua, 880-6200, www.cookingmatters.com.

Best steakhouse
Best of the best: Hanover Street Chophouse, 149 Hanover St. in Manchester, 644-2467, www.hanoverstreetchophouse.com.
Best of Concord: O Steaks and Seafood, 11 S. Main St. in Concord, 856-7925, magicfoodsrestaurantgroup.com/osteaks.
Best of Manchester: Gauchos Churrascaria Brazilian Steak House, 62 Lowell St. in Manchester, 669-9460, www.gauchosbraziliansteakhouse.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 Subs, with locations at 100 Cahill Ave. (669-7827) 776 Mast Road (623-9315), 1095 Hanover St. (606-4411) and 805 Canal St. (644-8888) in Manchester and 81 S. Main St. (856-7563) in Concord, nadeaus.biz.
Best of Concord: Yellow Sub, 192 N. State St. in Concord, 228-4500, www.theyellowsub.com.
Best of Manchester: USA Subs, with locations in Derry (66 Crystal Ave.; 437-1550), Salem (354 N. Broadway; 912-5481) and Hooksett (1292 Hooksett Road; 625-1800), www.usasubs.com.
Best of Nashua: Bill Cahill’s Super Subs, 8 Kimball Hill Road in Hudson, 882-7710.

Best vegetarian menu
Best of the best: Republic, 1069 Elm St. in Manchester, 666-3723, republiccafe.com.
Best of Concord: Café Indigo, 128 Hall St. in Concord, 224-1770, www.cafeindigo.com.
Best of Manchester: Café Momo, 1064 Hanover St. in Manchester, 623-3733, www.cafemomonh.com.
Best of Nashua: Meena’s Kitchen, 113 W. Pearl St. in Nashua, 204-5025, www.meenaskitchen.com.

Best vegetarian dish
Best of the best: Moroccan Red Lentil Stew (with bulgur wheat and spicy stuffed eggplant, with cucumber and tzatziki sauce) at Republic, 1069 Elm St. in Manchester, 666-3723, republiccafe.com.
Best of Concord: The Rachel (a “Reuben”-esque sandwich, homemade seitan on grilled rye with sauce and coleslaw, according to the menu) at Café Indigo, 128 Hall St. in Concord, 224-1770, www.cafeindigo.com.
Best of Manchester: Eggplant Napoleon (breaded eggplant, roasted tomatoes, spinach and asiago, with balsamic glaze, parmesan crisp, according to the menu) at Firefly American Bistro & Bar, 22 Concord St. in Manchester, 935-9740, www.fireflynh.com.
Best of Nashua: Six Course Meal (featuring a changing line-up including soup, chapatti and a dessert as well as other vegetarian Indian dishes) at Meena’s Kitchen, 113 W. Pearl St. in Nashua, 204-5025, www.meenaskitchen.com.

Best restaurant wine list
Best of the best: UnWine’d, 865 Second St. in Manchester, 625-9463, www.unwined.net.
Best of Concord: O Steaks and Seafood, 11 S. Main St. in Concord, 856-7925, magicfoodsrestaurantgroup.com/osteaks.
Best of Manchester: Bedford Village Inn, 2 Olde Bedford Way in Bedford, 472-2001, www.bedfordvillageinn.com. (Some voters specifically mentioned Corks, the inn’s wine bar.)
Best of Nashua: MT’s Local Kitchen and Wine Bar, 212 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9334, www.mtslocal.com.

Best wine shop
Best of the best: WineNot Boutique, 170 Main St. in Nashua, 204-5569, www.winenotboutique.com.
Best of Concord: Butter’s Fine Food and Wine, 70 N. Main St. in Concord, 225-5995, www.buttersfinefood.com
Best of Manchester: The Wine Studio, 53 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 622-9463, www.thewinestudionh.com.
Best of Nashua: NH Wine and Liquor Outlet, 27 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua, 882-4670.

Best new eatery
Best of the best: Republic, 1069 Elm St. in Manchester, 666-3723, republiccafe.com.
Best of Concord: O Steaks and Seafood, 11 S. Main St. in Concord, 856-7925, magicfoodsrestaurantgroup.com/osteaks.
Best of Manchester: Portland Pie Company, 786 Elm St. in Manchester, 622-7437, www.portlandpie.com.
Best of Nashua: Homestead Restaurant, 641 DW Highway in Merrimack, 429-2022, www.homesteadnh.com.
 

Best fine dining restaurant
Best of the best: Hanover Street Chophouse, 149 Hanover St. in Manchester, 644-2467, www.hanoverstreetchophouse.com.
Best of Concord: The Granite Restaurant 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.
Best of Nashua: Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 DW Highway in Merrimack, 424-0995, www.buckleysgreatsteaks.com.

Best restaurant overall
Best of the best: Republic, 1069 Elm St. in Manchester, 666-3723, republiccafe.com.
Best of Concord: Common Man, 25 Water St. in Concord, 228-3463, www.thecman.com/restaurants/common-man-concord.
Best of Manchester: The Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, www.puritanbackroom.com.
Best of Nashua: Surf, 207 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9293, www.surfseafood.com.

ENTERTAINMENT
Best locally produced TV show (commercial or public access)
Best: New Hampshire Chronicle on WMUR, channel 9, which airs weekdays at 7:30 p.m. See www.wmur.com.
Runner up: Scorch’s PFG –TV, which airs on MyTV on Saturday nights at midnight. See www.pfg-tv.com.
Honorable mention: Manchesterdam on Manchester TV, cable channel 23. See www.manchestertv.org.

Best local radio show
Best: Greg and the Morning Buzz, which airs weekdays from 5:30 to 10 a.m. on Rock 101 FM (101.1 FM) and WHEB (100.3 FM) and other New Hampshire stations. See www.morningbuzzonline.com.
Runner up: NH in the Morning with Mike Morin and Tracy Caruso, which airs weekdays from 5 to 10 a.m. on WZID (95.7 FM). See www.wzid.com.
Honorable mention: The Exchange from NHPR, which airs weekdays at 9 a.m. (the show is rebroadcast at 8 p.m.). See www.nhpr.org.

Best local radio station
Best: WZID 95.7 FM. See www.wzid.com.
Runner up: Rock 101 (101.1 FM). See www.rock101fm.com.
Honorable mention: NHPR (89.1 FM in Manchester and Concord, 88.3 FM in Nashua). See www.nhpr.org.

Best local movie theater
Best: Cinemagic, 1226 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, 644-4629, www.cinemagicmovies.com.
Runner up: Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main St. in Concord, 224-4600, www.redrivertheatres.org.
Honorable mention: Chunky’s Cinema & Pub, 151 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua, 880-8055, www.chunkys.com.

Best community event
Best of the best: Winter Holiday Stroll, held on Main Street and the surrounding area in downtown Nashua the Saturday evening after Thanksgiving. See downtownnashua.org.
Best of Concord: Market Days & Summer Music Festival, held along Main Street in downtown Concord. This year’s event is scheduled for Friday, July 15, and Saturday, July 16. See www.mainstreetconcord.com.
Best of Manchester: Glendi, the annual Greek food and culture festival at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 650 Hanover St. in Manchester, www.stgeorge.nh.goarch.org, held in mid-September.
Best of Nashua: Milford Pumpkin Festival, a three-day festival in early October celebrating all things pumpkin as well as music and other events. See www.milfordpumpkinfestival.org.

Best place to take your kids
Best of the best: SEE Science Center, 200 Bedford St. in Manchester, 669-0400, www.see-sciencecenter.org.
Best of Concord: White Park in Concord, between Washington and Liberty streets and White and Centre streets.
Best of Manchester: Kaleidoscope Children’s Museum, 250 Commercial St. in Manchester, 606-3381, www.kaleidoscopechildrensmuseum.net.
Best of Nashua: Chunky’s Cinema & Pub, 151 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua, 880-8055, www.chunkys.com.

Best place to take kids on a snowy/rainy day
Best of the best: SEE Science Center, 200 Bedford St. in Manchester, 669-0400, www.see-sciencecenter.org.
Best of Concord: McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, 2 Institute Drive in Concord, 271-7827, www.starhop.com.
Best of Manchester: Kaleidoscope Children’s Museum, 250 Commercial St. in Manchester, 606-3381, www.kaleidoscopechildrensmuseum.net.
Best of Nashua: Chunky’s Cinema & Pub, 151 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua, 880-8055, www.chunkys.com.

Best place to take visiting relatives
Best: Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St. in Manchester, 669-6144, www.currier.org.
Runner up: Anheuser-Busch Brewery, 221 DW Highway in Merrimack, 595-1202, www.anheuser-busch.com
Honorable mention: Canterbury Shaker Village, 288 Shaker Road in Canterbury, 783-4238, www.shakers.org

LOOKING FOR LOVE
Best pick-up place
Best of the best: Black Brimmer, 1087 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-5523, www.blackbrimmer.com
Best of Concord: Tandy’s Top Shelf, 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 856-7614, www.top-shelf.biz
Best of Manchester: The Derryfield, 625 Mammoth Road in Manchester, 623-2880, www.thederryfield.com
Best of Nashua: Martha’s Exchange Restaurant & Brewing Co., 185 Main St. in Nashua, 883-8781, www.marthasexchange.com

Best date place
Best of the best: UnWine’d, 865 Second St. in Manchester, 625-9463, www.unwined.net
Best of Concord: Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main St. in Concord, 224-4600, www.redrivertheatres.org
Best of Manchester: Firefly American Bistro & Bar, 22 Concord St. in Manchester, 935-9740, wwww.fireflynh.com
Best of Nashua: Studio 99, Mechanic St. in Nashua, 562-5179, www.studio99nashua.com

Best make-out spot
Best: Black Brimmer, 1087 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-5523, www.blackbrimmer.com
Runner up: Rock Rimmon Park, West Side of Manchester.
Honorable mention: Lake Massabesic, east side of Manchester and in Auburn.

Best break-up spot
Best: Black Brimmer, 1087 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-5523, www.blackbrimmer.com
Runner up: Mall of NH, 1500 S. Willow St. in Manchester.
Honorable mention: Via text — ooo, harsh.

NIGHTLIFE
Best bar for live music
Best of the best: 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 Tavern, 88 Market St. in Manchester, 666-4292, www.strangebrewtavern.net
Best of Nashua: Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St. in Nashua, 821-7537, wwww.thepeddlersdaughter.com

Best spot for comedy
Best of the best: Boynton’s Taproom, 155 Dow St., third floor, in Manchester, 623-7778, www.boyntonstaproom.com
Best of Concord: Capitol Center for the Performing Arts, 44 S. Main St. in Concord, 225-1111, www.ccanh.com
Best of Manchester: The Shaskeen, 909 Elm St. in Manchester, 625-0246, www.theshaskeen.com
Best of Nashua: Fody’s Great American Tavern, 9 Clinton St. in Nashua, 577-9015, www.fodystavern.com

Best larger music venue (not a bar/restaurant)
Best: Verizon Wireless Arena, 555 Elm St. in Manchester, 644-5000, www.verizonwirelessarena.com
Runner up: Tupelo Music Hall, 2 Young Road in Londonderry, 437-5100, www.tupelohalllondonderry.com
Honorable mention: Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion in Gilford, www.meadowbrook.net

Best bar/restaurant with an outdoor deck
Best of the best: The Derryfield, 625 Mammoth Road in Manchester, 623-2880, www.thederryfield.com
Best of Concord: Makris Lobster and Steakhouse, 354 Sheep Davis Road in Concord, 225-7665, www.eatalobster.com
Best of Manchester: Murphy’s Taproom, 494 Elm St. in Manchester, 644-3535, www.murphystaproom.net
Best of Nashua: Pasta Loft, 241 Union Square in Milford, 672-2270, www.pastaloft.com

Best bathroom
Best of the best: Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill, 34 Tarrytown Road in Manchester, 622-3644, www.billyssportsbar.com
Best of Concord: Red Blazer, 72 Manchester St. in Concord, 224-4101,  www.theredblazer.com
Best of Manchester: Hanover Street Chophouse, 149 Hanover St. in Manchester, 644-2467, www.hanoverstreetchophouse.com
Best of Nashua: Giorgio’s, 524 Nashua St. in Milford, 673-3939, giorgios.com

Best dance club
Best of the best: Club 313, 93 South Maple St. in Manchester, 628-6813, www.myspace.com/club313
Best of Concord: Tandy’s Top Shelf, 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 856-7614, www.top-shelf.biz
Best of Manchester: 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 be seen
Best of the best: Black Brimmer, 1087 Elm St. in Manchester, 669-5523, www.blackbrimmer.com
Best of Concord: Tandy’s Top Shelf, 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 856-7614, www.top-shelf.biz
Best of Manchester: The Derryfield, 625 Mammoth Road in Manchester, 623-2880, www.thederryfield.com
Best of Nashua: Studio 99, Mechanic St. in Nashua, 562-5179,  www.studio99nashua.com


 

Best place to go after last call
Best of the best: Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118,  www.redarrowdiner.com
Best of Concord: Beijing & Tokyo Lounge, 61 South Main St. in Concord, 228-0888, beijingtokyoconcordnh.com
Best of Manchester: Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave. in Manchester, 623-5040, www.thecman.com/restaurants/airport-diner
Best of Nashua: Sausage King, which has a restaurant at 53 Main St. in Nashua, 204-5110, and outside of Martha’s Exchange in Nashua on some evenings during warm weather. See www.thesausagekingofnashua.com

Best place to people-watch
Best of the best: Mall of NH, 1500 S. Willow St. in Manchester.
Best of Concord: Walmart, 344 Loudon Road in Concord, 226-0715.
Best of Manchester: Manchester Boston Regional Airport, exit 2, Brown Avenue, off Interstate 293 in Manchester.
Best of Nashua: Pheasant Lane Mall, 310 DW Highway in Nashua.

Best place to play pool
Best of the best: Jillian’s Billiard Club of Manchester, 50 Phillippe Cote St. in Manchester, 626-7636, manchester.jilliansbilliards.com
Best of Concord: Tandy’s Top Shelf, 1 Eagle Square in Concord, 856-7614, www.top-shelf.biz
Best of Manchester: Raxx Billiards, 1211 Elm St. in Manchester, 625-0029.
Best of Nashua: Boston Billiard Club, 55 Northeastern Boulevard in Nashua, 943-5630, www.bostonbilliardclub.com

Best pub
Best of the best: Wild Rover Pub, 21 Kosciuszko St. in Manchester, 669-7722, www.wildroverpub.com
Best of Concord: The Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com
Best of Manchester: The Shaskeen, 909 Elm St. in Manchester, 625-0246, www.theshaskeen.com.
Best of Nashua: Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St. in Nashua, 821-7537,  www.thepeddlersdaughter.com

Best sports bar
Best of the best: Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill, 34 Tarrytown Road in Manchester, 622-3644, www.billysportsbar.com
Best of Concord: The Draft Sports Bar and Grill, 67 S. Main St. in Concord, 227-1175, www.draftsportsbar.com
Best of Manchester: J.W. Hill’s Sports Bar & Grille, 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: Mine Falls Park in Nashua.
Runner up: Lake Massabesic, which has a parking lot on Depot Road near the Auburn-Manchester line.
Honorable mention: Mt. Uncanoonuc hiking trails in Goffstown, see goffstowntrails.com

Best city park
Best of Concord: White Park in Concord, between Washington and Liberty streets and White and Centre streets.
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: Odiorne Point State Park, Route 1A in Rye, 436-7406, www.nhstateparks.org

Best swimming hole
Best of Concord: Sewell Falls in Concord.
Best of Manchester: Pool at Livingston Park, off Hooksett Road in north Manchester, 624-6565, www.manchesternh.gov.
Best of Nashua: Rocky Pond in Hollis.

Best sledding hill
Best of Concord: White Park in Concord, between Washington and Liberty streets and White and Centre streets.
Best of Manchester: Next to The Derryfield, 625 Mammoth Road in Manchester, 623-2880, www.thederryfield.com.
Best of Nashua: Roby Park off Spit Brook Road in Nashua.

LIVING HERE
Best thing about your city
Best of Concord: Downtown — Concord’s downtown won lots of praise from voters.
Best of Manchester: Bars and restaurants — Manchester’s food and nightlife scene beat out downtown as the most favored thing about the city. It’s worth noting that “diversity” also got a fair amount of votes.
Best of Nashua: Downtown — in the Gate City, the downtown beats out location and the restaurant scene.

Best thing about New Hampshire
Best: Outdoors. Voters named the state’s outdoors as their favorite thing — from the natural beauty to the many activities available year-round. Our mountains, beaches, greenery, ski hills, etc. beat out even our “live free or die” spirit, which was readers’ second-favorite thing.

Best thing we forgot to ask about
Best: Best face painting: Making a Face — see the work of face-painter Karol DiPietro at www.makeaface4u.com.

 

Hippo’s readers’ poll frequently asked questions
“Best of the best,” “Best of Concord” — what does that mean?
“Best of the best” goes to the person, place or thing that received the most votes in any given category. “Best of Manchester,” “Best of Nashua” and “Best of Concord” go to the things that, after the “Best of the best,” received the most votes in those cities.

Why is something in Derry the “Best of Manchester”?
“Manchester,” for vote-tallying purposes, includes the towns around the city —Londonderry, Derry, Windham, Auburn, Candia, Hooksett, Bedford, Goffstown and New Boston. The Concord area includes Bow, Pembroke, Suncook, Allenstown, Hopkinton, Chichester, Loudon, Contoocook, Penacook, Hillsborough and Canterbury. The Nashua area includes Litchfield, Hudson, Hollis, Brookline, Milford, Amherst and Merrimack.  (Towns not mentioned here were lumped in with the nearest city.)

Why are winners in some categories listed as “Best,” “Runner up” and “Honorable mention”?
For things that are similar for all or most of the cities or accessible everywhere (radio, television) or that draw from all over the area (like food festivals and state parks), we simply awarded a first, second and third place based on number of votes.

How are the votes counted?
Winners for the Best of 2011 were picked by the readers. Readers wrote in their picks for best swimming hole and best yoga studio and then we counted the votes. There were no nominees, no drop-down menu of choices, no editors’ picks — which means that we got to see all the different ways people spell the name “Piccola Italia Ristorante.”

Target didn’t win for best independent clothing store? I’m shocked!
The readers’ poll is all about what you think is the very best about southern New Hampshire. Everybody in the country gets McDonald’s fries and Wendy’s hamburgers. National chains were not counted — this poll is about our local Bests. (Note: Businesses that are part of small regional chains were included in the answers.)

Wasn’t there a magazine listing all the winners last year?
Yes — and we’re doing it again this year. Look for the Best of 2011 magazine to hit stands in late April. If you have updated information to add to an entry here (new address, phone number, website, etc.), let us know at adiaz@hippopress.com.

I have a great idea for a category for next year.
Excellent! While many categories stay the same, new categories are added every year. If you have an idea for a category for next year, send an e-mail to adiaz@hippopress.com.





Hippo's Best of 2011
Your favorite stuff

03/24/11



 What is your favorite thing about life here in southern New Hampshire? What is your favorite salon, favorite radio station, favorite Italian restaurant?

More than ever before, Hippo’s readers went online to answer those questions and many more. Thousands and thousands of people voted in our annual Best of 2011 readers’ poll. We asked for “Bests” in about 100 categories — best art in a public space, best Laundromat, best local radio personality, best sledding hill and, of course, oodles of “bests” about food.

After weeks of counting, here are the results. As always, the winners here have been chosen by Hippo readers — no nominees, no editors’ picks. The winners represent your picks for the best things about life in southern New Hampshire. And the best are…

Best local radio show host
Best of the best: Greg Kretschmar, Greg and the Morning Buzz on Rock 101, 101.1 FM WGIR-FM Manchester, 100.3 WHEB-FM Portsmouth, 101.9 FM in Keene and 93.9 FM in Lebanon. He’s been  broadcasting in the morning since 1987 on Rock 101. “I think it’s awesome,” Kretschmar said of the award. “It’s an honor, that’s for sure, especially so because it’s actually voted on by the readers, which is nice. It’s not something we campaign for, so that kind of makes it extra special.” The show, which he said is like five people hanging out in the living room talking about “the things you talk about with your friends and family,” airs from 5:30 to 10 a.m. weekdays. “We all have different perspectives,” Kretschmar said. He said there’s not a lot his regular listeners don’t know about him. “I’m not much different than the person you hear on the radio,” Kretschmar said. Kretschmar said The Beatles and Aerosmith got him hooked on radio. “I always knew, that’s what I wanted to do, even as a kid,” he said. He said he couldn’t do it without the team the show has in place: “You really have to trust the people you are on the air with and they have to trust you. ... and what I love the most is the ability to have a discourse with so many people on a given day.... It’s a learning experience to me every day.” “We’re regular folks,” he said. “We appreciate when something like this happens. It really means a lot to us. We work hard at it.” Visit www.morningbuzzonline.com.  

Runner up: Mike Morin, NH in the Morning on 95.7 WZID-FM. “I’m grateful first of all that listeners took the time to put my name in, so I don’t take that for granted,” said Morin, who has 40 years of radio experience. “I like to think we’re part of [listeners’] … morning routine. It’s by virtue of having been there a long time.” Morin appreciates connecting with listeners each day. “I like the fact that I actually feel like I’m connected to people who care about me, and I care about them,” Morin said, and he likes running into people in public who tell him they enjoyed something he talked about on the show. Catch Morin from 5 to 10 a.m. weekdays. 

Honorable mention: Nazzy, Nazzy & the JYY Wake Up Crew on 105.5 WJYY-FM. “I think it’s awesome, absolutely awesome,” Nazzy said of this honor. “I think what it is is that I’m a real guy. I’m not pretending to be anybody on the air. Who you hear on the air is who I am in real life. It’s the same guy.” Nazzy thinks listeners appreciate his upbeat attitude on the air. He went to school for television broadcasting and never intended to become a radio DJ, but while he was attending the Art Institute in Boston, a friend pushed him to try radio. He did and loved it, he said. Catch Nazzy on the air weekdays from 5:30 to 10 a.m.

Best visual artist
Best: Scott Bulger. “It’s incredibly humbling to have my work appreciated by the public,” wrote Scott Bulger via e-mail. “I do what I do … because I am compelled to do so, and to have others enjoy the vision that I have is very gratifying.” Bulger began viewing life behind a lens at the age of 12 and was inspired by legendary photographers like Ansel Adams, Elliott Erwitt and Edward Weston. Bulger has developed his own distinct style and published two books of photographs, A Portrait of the Yucatan in 2001 and Khronikos this past year. “Art and photography give me a voice,” Bulger wrote. “They give me the ability to express myself in a way that I couldn’t otherwise accomplish.” He was also voted by Hippo readers as the Best Arts Educator for his work at Kimball-Jenkins School of Art and NHTI in Concord. Examples of Bulger’s work are available at www.scottbulger.com.

Runner up: Sid Ceaser. This has been a big year for Sid Ceaser. The Nashua professional creative portrait photographer captured headlines and hearts around the world when he created a movie trailer with Muppets that was a marriage proposal to his long-time girlfriend, Sara Prindiville. “I’m still getting e-mails from people all over the world about it,” Ceaser said. Of his fine art photography, Ceaser said there was nothing else he would rather be doing: “I get to make a living in a creative field.” He works at his Nashua studio, Ceaser Photography, 99 Factory Street Extension, 4th Floor, Nashua, 821-3812, www.sidceaserfineart.com. Ceaser also teaches a writing class to artists who want to write better captions for their work. Ceaser is represented by McGowan Fine Art Gallery, 10 Hills Ave., Concord, 225-2515, www.mcgowanfineart.com.

Honorable mention: James Chase. “Awesome!” was how multi-media artist James Chase described getting this award. The 2010 graduate of the New Hampshire Institute of Art described himself as a non-traditional student, as he took one class at a time and stretched his degree out over eight years. Chase is an assemblage artist who works in a variety of media. He gets an idea and likes to roll with it. Chase is an arts commissioner and often hosts workshops for high school students on assemblage and juxtaposing layers. In his own work he is spending a lot of time with printmaking. His work can be found at www.neverfading.com.

Best arts educator
Best: Scott Bulger, NHTI Concord. Visual artist Scott Bulger is passionate about his work and loves teaching. Teaching has rewarded Bulger in a different way than producing his own projects. “When I’m creating my own art, I know what it is that I’m trying to say and do,” Bulger wrote. “When I’m teaching others, sure, I teach them the mechanics of the process, but the ultimate goal is to help them find their own voice and allow them to express themselves in their own way.”

Runner up: Michael Cirelli, Merrimack High School. Michael Cirelli’s love of art began when he was a child and it has only gotten stronger. The portrait and landscape photographer is currently working on a documentary about a Connecticut skate shop and previously published several books of his photography. Cirelli is able to translate all this experience into the classroom at Merrimack High. He said his students appreciate his advice because they know he has lived it and is able to tell them different paths they can pursue in photography. “I can tell them about the ups and downs of the industry,” Cirelli said.

Honorable mention: Robin Peringer, Nashua School District visual arts director. In November Robin Peringer had a brain tumor removed, so she has been on extended medical leave but will return to school in the coming weeks. “I never expected this,” Peringer said of her Honorable Mention for Best Arts Educator. “I thought: out of sight, out of mind. Teenagers become more compassionate all the time!” At an early age, Peringer told her parents she was going to be an artist. Her love of art and teaching was cemented in third grade when she had “the world’s best art teacher.” She has taught at the college level but much prefers high school. “It’s exciting,” Peringer said.

Best local theater performer
Best: George F. Piehl. Manchester’s George Piehl and his Stage One Productions (669-5511, www.stageoneproductions.net) are celebrating their 29th season of dinner theater. “I love to perform and to entertain,” Piehl said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to make a career out of it. I’ll be doing it until the day I die. It is something you don’t retire from.” Piehl said it is  flattering to win this award and nice when he is stopped in the streets and told he is doing a good job. Piehl’s Stage One Productions performed The Female Odd Couple in March at the Chateau Function Facility, 203 Hanover St. in Manchester, which is its typical venue. They will close out the season in April with George Piehl and Friends. Piehl was honored last year by readers (he won this very award) and by his peers by winning the Francis Grover Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award at the New Hampshire Theatre Awards.

Runner up: Patrick Lavallee. Patrick Lavallee is loved by local fans but doesn’t spend a lot of time in the Granite State. The Manchester thespian has traveled the globe performing. Lavallee began 2010 on the high seas performing on a cruise line. Later he spent several months performing at the Ogunquit Playhouse, in Chicago with Sally Struthers (perhaps this is how his comedian brother, Nick, got her to do a video with him) and in Spamalot. Lavallee was off to Atlantic City for Christmas to perform in a show until he moved to New York City, where he is currently auditioning during the week. On weekends, he travels around the country judging dance competitions. Lavallee said he always looks forward to returning to Manchester to see family and friends and do an occasional show at the Palace Theatre.

Honorable mention: Jennifer Sue Mallard. Currently, this Manchester actress is involved in at least three projects. Mallard is working on an independent film, performed in the New Thalian Players’ first production at Southern New Hampshire University, A New Brain, and has “80 million auditions coming up.” She also just finished [title of show], which will be competing in Boston in June. “It’s pretty cool,” Mallard said of this award. “I was surprised.” Mallard said her brother used to have a cabaret show  around town. She credits her brother and father for helping her get involved with theater — they used to act and she would always be around their performances. Finally she gave it a shot and she has been hooked ever since.

Best hair stylist
Best of the best: Mark McAdams of Philip Mark Salon, 27 Webster St., Manchester, 622-5225. McAdams, 28, enrolled in hair school at 17 as soon as he graduated from Souhegan High School in Amherst. After working for another salon for seven years, McAdams opened Philip Mark Salon in September 2009. “We were voted Best Salon that year, and that has been my journey,” said McAdams, adding that he also enjoys makeup and even had a chance to do makeup for Nick Arrojo of What Not to Wear. That experience, plus the various interesting backgrounds of his co-workers, is what McAdams considers to “make the Philip Mark Salon stand out in our community.” McAdams says his trick is to use geometry combined with a knowledge of color science and theory when cutting and styling hair. “It’s the key to being a successful stylist. It helps customize somebody’s personal image,” he said.

Best of Concord: Gary Benson of Creative Color and Cuts, 259 South Main St., Concord, 228-1158. Benson always enjoyed working with his hands, and he put his skills to use as a machinist. Fifteen years ago, he decided it was time for a career change. Enrolling in Empire Beauty School in Laconia, he started working in the mall and built up a clientele. Benson, 41, now owns Creative Color and Cuts. “What I’m good at is realizing what the person really wants and not pushing them out of their comfort zone but if that’s what they need, I can do that too,” he said.
Best of Manchester: Christine Sheldon of Salon Thairapy, 1100 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 641-9600, www.salonthairapy.net. Having worked in the salon business for more than 20 years, Sheldon, 39, was ready to open her own shop. “When you work for other companies you learn what’s positive and negative. You build your own view.... There was nowhere to go but here. We call it our salon utopia,” said Sheldon of Salon Thairapy, which she opened two years ago with business partner Julie Johnson. A mother of two, she has been working on writing a novel about being a middle-aged hair stylist and “all the inspiring people that I’ve met.”

Best of Nashua: Robert Bouchard of Hair-a-holics, 238 Central St., Hudson, 718-8837, www.hairaholicsnh.com. Bouchard’s motto is “come in for a fix,” and that’s what he does best: fix your hair. “I think I’m someone you can come and see and I actually care about what your hair looks like when you leave. We make sure we know what you want before you leave. We’re cozy and when you come here it feels like a home,” said Bouchard, 27, who was born and raised in Manchester. After spending a few years in New York City as a makeup artist, Bouchard decided to move back home to pursue his career as a hair stylist, eventually opening Hair-a-holics just two months ago.

Best barber
Best of the best: Nancy Dixon of LaCoupe, 165B Kelley St., Manchester, 669-9299. Dixon, 40, was raised in Montreal, Canada, and has owned her own barbershop for eight years. Dixon opened LaCoupe, French for “the cut,” on Manchester’s West Side in celebration of her own French Canadian origins. She previously worked retail and loved the interaction with people, but not so much the corporate side of it. When changing professions, Dixon knew she “didn’t necessarily want to have the perming and color aspect of the work, but instead liked the clippers and blades.” She knew that “barbering would really suit my personality more” because of its quick-turnaround, no-nonsense style. “Guys come in for a quick appointment; I cut and they go,” she said, adding that she averages around 25 to 35 haircuts a day. “After so many years (14), I know my customers’ families, children ... I’ve been to their weddings, graduations, etc. You build a rapport with people ... it’s not just small talk. I’ve made great friendships with people and I really enjoy what I do.” Dixon is excited to have her 21-year-old nephew Justin working with her at the barbershop.

Best of Concord: Josh Craggy of Lucky’s Barbershop and Shave Parlor, 50 South State St., Concord, 715-5470, www.luckysbarbershop.biz. Craggy recalls visiting barber shops as a kid with his dad on Saturday mornings. “It reached the point when I was 12, my dad didn’t have a lot of hair left and he gave me his old clippers from the military. He asked me for a cut and...I did,” said Craggy, 30. “Once I turned the clippers on, it was a blast.” After enrolling in barber school in Concord, Craggy, at 19, became a Master Barber. He designed his shop with a “vintage, classic look” — he loves that “once upon a time, there were no beauticians, only barbers.” Craggy opened Lucky’s three years ago. In 10 years, he hopes to “be right here in the same chairs, still cutting hair. I love it. I want to continue to keep my business top notch,” said Craggy.

Best of Manchester: Spencer Hibbard of Spencer Martin Barber Shop, Village Shoppes of Bedford, 178 Route 101, Bedford, 471-3606, www.spencermartinbarbers.com. When asked to describe an average day in his life, Hibbard’s answer is “work, work, work.” The 46-year-old Bedford resident graduated from the New England Hair Academy in Marlboro, Mass., opened his shop about a year ago and describes business as being “really good” since then. “I believe in personality. I’m friendly, upbeat, y’know. The barbershop really expresses mine and Judy’s [his wife’s] personality,” Hibbard said, adding that the shop is set up like a bar, with four flat-screen TVs and a mini bar. He prides himself on a “clean, cozy and welcoming shop” that he says expresses his personality. “I was in the business/restaurant industry for 20 years and that personality for bar-tending really comes off in my barbering.”

Best of Nashua: Richard MacDonald of Dick’s Barber Shop, 263 Union Square, Milford, 321-1864. At age 69, MacDonald has been at Dick’s for 48 years now and looks back on the days when haircuts cost 50 cents, a shave was 15 cents and a shampoo was 10 cents. Dick’s has its own history as well. “The shop has been here since 1895. I asked Peggy, the barber inspector, if my shop is the oldest in the state — I think it is,” MacDonald said. The shop has had only four owners, including MacDonald. He has seen his fair share of stories over the years, though he wouldn’t dare tell the secrets he knows. “Life, death, weddings, every day is different. Your clientele becomes like family,” he said. “Milford is a nice community. We do all the surrounding towns too ... it’s really nice people. Just a nice area to live in with caring people.”

Friendliest dentist
Best of the best: Dr. Lawrence J. Puccini, Puccini & Roberge, 505 Riverway Place in Bedford, 622-3445. As a child, Puccini had a good relationship with his dentist, who used to invite him to observe him in action. “I got interested that way,” Puccini said. “And I kept the interest going through college.” Puccini went to dental school in Ohio, married one of his classmates and together they settled in New Hampshire. He was originally from the West Coast. “I was interested in the biology, surgery, and working with my hands,” Puccini said. He appreciates the social side of the job: “I’m always interested in what people are doing,” Puccini said. “Everyone has a fear of the dentist. … Our pace is slow and relaxed and I think people just take to it.”

Best of Concord: Dr. Chuck Albee, Suncook Dental, 119 Pembroke St. in Suncook, 485-2273. Albee wasn’t sure how friendly he really was, though he appreciated the honor. “I’m not grouchy,” said Albee, who attended high school in Manchester. “You get to help people; that’s why I did it,” Albee said. The area in Suncook needed a dentist and so Albee, who is originally from Connecticut, set up shop there. Today, his son Andrew Albee also works at the practice.

Best of Manchester: Dr. Elizabeth Spindel, 862 Union St. in Manchester, 669-9049. Spindel said she was always interested in science and art growing up, as well as hands-on projects, like pottery and painting. “I thought [dentistry] would be a great way to combine the fields,” Spindel said. Spindel, who was recognized by Hippo readers last year as well, said it was an honor to be recognized. She and her staff try to be friendly with patients, something that works well in her field, since dentists are always trying to put their patients at ease, she said.

Best of Nashua: Dr. Charles Pipilas, 280 Main St. Suite 311 in Nashua, 881-8280. Pipilas said he likes dealing with patients, particularly the one-on-one interactions. “I like making patients smile, giving them confidence,” Pipilas said. “It’s a nice way to make a living.” Growing up, Pipilas said, he enjoyed going to the dentist and “I thought it would be a cool profession to get into.” Pipilas, who said he was happy to hear of his selection in the readers’ poll, said he was the first member of his family to go to college, let alone professional school. “I get to know my patients’ likes and dislikes,” Pipilas said. “I’m very much a people-oriented person … I just enjoy talking to them every day and I try not to make it difficult for them to come in.”

Best fitness instructor
Best of the best: Nancy Carlson of Get Fit NH Bootcamp, 287 S. Main St. in Concord and 167 New Orchard Road in Epsom, 344-2651, www.getfitnhbootcamp.com. An Indiana native, Carlson owned a daycare facility for 15 years before taking a few years off and then opening Get Fit NH Bootcamp with her husband. The bootcamp is all about group personal training in a four-week process that encourages full-body workouts. Clients are not just mimicking an instructor’s moves but are physically helped along by an instructor who’s there with you, Carlson said. “Typical clients lose a significant amount of weight… the change is not just physical but personality as well,” Carlson said. Carlson says it’s important for her to live what she preaches in her classes, and that at age 46 she feels better than she did when she was 30 — not to mention she’s had six kids. “I don’t want to be a grandma that sits on the sidelines. I want to move when I’m 65…80….”

Best of Concord: Eric Marsh, Fun Intelligent Training, 30 Henniker St. #7 in Concord, 496-1402, www.funintelligenttraining.com. Marsh integrates his background in psychology and mental health into his fitness training, hence the name “intelligent” training. Marsh committed himself to staying in shape at the age of 14. Now at 30, he runs FIT full-time, where the focus is on group training, including boot camps and combat training. He boasts of clients who have lost a significant amount of weight in his training programs, including two on the brink of 100-pound weight loss. “I love to help people. My goal in life is to touch as many lives as I can — teaching and coaching has been one of the consistent things [in my life].”

Best of Manchester: Susanne Larkham of Jazzercise, 259 Hanover St. # 2 in Manchester, 624-9122, www.manchjazz.com. A resident of Manchester since 1997, Larkham found jazzercise through a local theater community project. “One of the people saw how I loved to dance. … I was losing weight through Weight Watchers and they suggested I try jazzercise [to help get in shape],” Larkham said. Larkham bought Manchester Jazzercise Fitness Center in 2007 and now teaches five to eight classes a week. She says people think her job would be tiring, but in fact it gives her energy. “The body is like a well-oiled machine. The more you use it, the more efficient it becomes. I wouldn’t go back to my 20s for love or money. I’m 40, baby!”

Best of Nashua: Scott Prunier of Top Fitness, 8 Riverside St. in Nashua, 661-8037, www.gotopfitness.com. Prunier fills his 5 a.m.-to-8 p.m. days with fitness. He not only teaches at Top Fitness but is fully employed by the Merrimack YMCA. During the summer he works on conditioning with young athletes. At 35, his favorite part of hisjob is the “diversity in clientele,” which includes ages 9 through adult. “We want [everyone] to feel like it’s not a regular gym. … We want people to know what they are doing so they are in tune with strength, nutrition, movement, etc.” Top Fitness recently paired with Nashua Parks and Recreation to offer an outdoor summer camp.


Best yoga instructor
Best of the best: Elizabeth Vlangas of Riverflow Yoga, 198 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, 935-9822, www.riverflowyoga.com. Vlangas, originally from Dorchester, Mass., started teaching yoga at Riverflow three years ago. Prior to that, Vlangas had done personal training and noticed her clients wanted to know more about yoga. “I started taking weekend workshops for yoga... It was a whole-body way to work out,” she said. Vlangas says her tagline for Riverflow is “yoga for real people,” because they are “laid back.” “We don’t chant, you don’t have to learn Sanskrit. You come here, get into your breath, your body, meet new people and really get the fitness aspect of yoga. You don’t have to be a gymnast to be here.” Vlangas says she is living and working her dream job. “I’m blessed every day,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without my husband; he’s my partner financially and emotionally. I’m lucky.”

Best of Concord: David Breen of Sharing Yoga, 3 Pleasant St., 2nd floor, Concord, 630-5576, www.sharingyoga.com. Breen came to New Hampshire from Lawrence, Mass., as a child and was drawn to the outdoorsy lifestyle. Before teaching yoga, he was in retail management at S&W Sports in Concord. “It was a high-stress job and I was already practicing yoga for stress reduction,” said Breen, 52. “I decided to make the transition [to teaching yoga], and I’m a lot happier.” Breen used to play bass in a punk band called Rat Sync.

Best of Manchester: Pubali Campbell of Bikram Yoga, 195 McGregor St., Mill West Annex, Manchester, 669-7711, www.manchesterbikramyoga.com. Campbell, 32, used to work “in the real world” as a research consultant in Providence, R.I. “I was at a crossroads and I wasn’t happy. That’s when I was approached by uncle to join the family business of bikram yoga. It was my golden opportunity...just like Eminem says in Eight Mile.” In her bikram classes, Campbell focuses on physical and mental empowerment. “We teach people here to find, condition and hone their strengths. I always say we train them how to be stronger.”

Best of Nashua: Melissa Dabilis of Open Space Yoga, 19 Factory St., Nashua, 557-8172, www.osyoga.com. When Dabilis isn’t teaching kripalu and kundalini yoga, she is working for a business consulting firm or practicing as a doula. Raised in Merrimack, Dabilis, 58, said, “I’ve taught in many places — doctors’ offices, night schools — I always wanted my own place that was peaceful and calm.” Dabilis loves teaching kripalu and kundalini yoga because she believes they are “two ends of the same stick, complementing each other in every way.” She most enjoys being able to help students “release tension, relax from their multi-tasking life and … take care of themselves.” ”
 
Best chef
Best of the best: Michael Buckley of MT’s Local Kitchen & Wine Bar, 212 Main St., Nashua, 595-9334, www.mtslocal.com, Surf, 207 Main St., Nashua, 595-9293, www.surfseafood.com, and Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 DW Highway, Merrimack, 424-0995, www.buckleysgreatsteaks.com. Michael Buckley began is culinary journey in 1976 while working as a dishwasher at the Brookline Station Restaurant. “I have just kind of been following my passion, my instincts and the opportunity that I have either created for myself or had come my way,” he said. Buckley credits most of his success to the people he surrounds himself with. “I can take credit for building great teams and they can take credit for doing an excellent job,” he said. Buckley is glad his latest dining venture has been well-received. “It’s very refreshing,” Buckley said of the support for MT’s Local. “You might think you have a great idea and you believe in it and you like it, but until you see the customers’ reaction you just don’t know.”

Best of Concord: Mat Mitnitsky of Nonni’s Italian Eatery, 172 N. Main St., Concord, 224-0400, www.nonnisitalianeatery.com. Mitnitsky takes pride in serving traditional Italian dishes “just like mama used to make” at Nonni’s Italian Eatery. “My recipes are from a lot of people’s grandmothers,” he said. Born and raised near New York City, Mitnitsky wanted to bring the food of “Little Italy” to the Granite State. He educates customers about sustainable and organic food at Monday night cooking classes. “There is a niche out there for people that want to know about food, where it comes from,” he said.

Best of Manchester: Chef Nicole Barreira of TBones/Cactus Jack’s with Cactus Jack’s in Manchester and Laconia, and T-Bones in Bedford, Derry, Hudson, Laconia and Salem, www.go2cjs.com. Barreira grew up in a “very Italian and Portuguese” family in Nashua in which “I couldn’t help but notice all of those great times in my life revolved around food … I wanted to carry that into the restaurant,” Barreira said. Barreira, 27, joined T-Bones/Cactus Jack’s in 2006 after graduating from Southern New Hampshire University. She loves experimenting with ingredients and cooking methods. “I like learning as I go,” she said. Barreira noted one of her favorite parts of being a chef and a mother (she has a one-year-old daughter and another child on the way) is that she has her own “in-home little experimenter.” “I like to see how many things I can get her to eat before she knows what they are,” Barreira said of her daughter.

Best of Nashua: Joe Drift of Saffron Bistro, 80 Main St., Nashua, 883-2100, www.thesaffronbistro.com. When creating a dish at Saffron Bistro, Drift, the restaurant’s chef and owner, tries to keep it simple. “The main focus on the dish is great flavor, great presentation, without having too many things going on,” he said. Drift opened Saffron Bistro in 2007. “Nashua is a great city,” he said. “It’s up and coming and I’m just glad to be part of the dining scene downtown.” Drift said his favorite part is seeing the customers’ reaction to the dishes he offers. “I’m pretty friendly with about 90 percent of our clientele and the other 10 percent I just haven’t met yet,” he said.

Best bartender
Best of the best: Billy Laforge of Wild Rover, 21 Kosciuszko St., Manchester, 669-7722, www.wildroverpub.com. Luckily for The Wild Rover, when the Grateful Dead stopped touring, Laforge had time to join their staff. “I had nothing else to do,” Laforge said, adding that he cut his shoulder-length hair when Jerry Garcia died. Laforge, 40, said he was not sure what stands out about him enough to be voted “Best of the Best.” “I have no idea, really I don’t … all the guys at Strange Brew are better than me, other bartenders here are better than me,” he said. “I just sling beers and whiskey, I’m not Johnny Cocktail, I’m old-school,” he said, showing calloused hands, which he uses in lieu of a bottle opener.

Best of Concord: Corey Garland of The Barley House, 132 N. Main St., Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com. Eight years ago, Garland worked his first shift at The Barley House, on St. Patrick’s Day. Having completed one week of training, he made it through his “very hectic” first day, said Garland, now 33. “And now I won’t leave,” he said. Garland, of Concord, started bartending while attending college to become an art teacher, and when he saw how much money he could make behind the bar, he dropped out. He continues with his passion for art at his photography studio in downtown Concord. He enjoys talking with lobbyists about hot topics in New Hampshire government, as The Barley House is so near the Statehouse.

Best of Manchester: Jason Cool of Portland Pie Company, 786 Elm St., Manchester, 622-7437, www.portlandpie.com. “I love my job. It’s one of those things where every day is pretty awesome,” said Cool, 29, who has manned the bar at the Pie Company since June and has been bartending for seven years. “I get to laugh pretty much the entire shift, just make jokes all night long,” he said. “The majority of my customers are funny, too.” Cool, of Manchester, likened the Pie Company staff to “a little family.” “I work with a great group of people, everyone is friendly,” he said. His secret to getting through a busy night at the bar, Cool said, is just to keep moving and get to as many customers as possible. “If you see someone with ‘thirsty eyes,’ get them a drink,” he said.

Best of Nashua: Jared Bracci of Old Amsterdam Bar and Lounge, 8 Temple St., Nashua, 204-5534, www.oldamsterdambarandlounge.com. “I like the improvisation [of bartending],” said Bracci, of Hollis, who has been bartending for 14 years. “I like not knowing what is going to happen. That is why I kind of always like working Wednesdays as opposed to Fridays and Saturday — those are fun but you know what you are going to get.” When helping a customer decided on a cocktail Bracci asks three questions: what is their favorite flavor, what is their favorite spice and what is their zodiac sign? “Let’s face it, birthdays are important to people, you look forward to that,” Bracci said. “Someone whose birthday is in the summer might like a summer drink. I just use it as a reference guide.”


Best waiter/waitress
Best of the best: Carrie McNiss at Strange Brew Tavern, 88 Market St., Manchester, 666-4292, www.strangebrewtavern.net. McNiss has spent six years waitressing at the Strange Brew Tavern.
Best of Concord: Mechelle Zydenbos at The Barley House, 132 N. Main St., Concord, 228-6363, www.thebarleyhouse.com. Zydenbos said waitressing suits her personality. “I do enjoy people, I really do, and I’m really good at reading people,” she said. Zydenbos, 42, also noted she is good at reading people’s needs and “assessing them before they know what they are.” Zydenbos loves working during legislative sessions as the restaurant sits across the street from the Statehouse and is a regular haunt of politicians. “I stay a lot more in touch with New Hampshire politics than I normally would be, despite listening to NHPR all the time,” she said. Zydenbos, of Concord, is an accomplished singer-songwriter who has performed at CBGB in New York.

Best of Manchester: Melissa Carr at Portland Pie Company, 786 Elm St., Manchester, 622-7437, www.portlandpie.com. Carr, of Goffstown, thrives on busy nights at the Pie Company: “It’s what I live for,” she said. Carr said she is able to turn an unhappy table around in 30 seconds “just by being friendly and having a big smile.” “I might never remember someone’s name but I will always remember what they eat or drink,” she added. Carr, 34, noted the people she works with as one thing she likes about her job. “We all have the same lifestyle, the same hours, we usually bond after work.”

Best of Nashua: Bastian DiCaprio at San Francisco Kitchen, 133 Main St., Nashua, 886-8833, www.sfkitchen.com. DiCaprio says he has formed such a bond with his customers that they invite him to the hospital to meet their newborn babies. “That’s why I never wanted to work in a big restaurant,” DiCaprio said. “I like a small, cozy family-style restaurant.” DiCaprio, of Manchester, noted that he has learned to read his customers: “I get that feel of what they want and give them what they want, whether it is formal, fun or casual,” he said. When he is not working, DiCaprio is traveling around the world. “Every year I try to go somewhere to get away and relax so I can come back relaxed,” he said.


Best local television personality
Best of the best: Fritz Wetherbee, WMUR. “It tickles me pink,” Wetherbee said of this award. Wetherbee reaches viewers weeknights on New Hampshire Chronicle. Wetherbee says his passion for story-telling is real. “It’s criminal that they pay me to do this job,” Wetherbee said. Wetherbee has started doing about one fiction piece per week, about the character “Binky Sears.” He’s also written seven books and he’s expecting to write another, which he said would make 1,000 stories he’s written. Wetherbee also ran a radio station in Peterborough for 10 years.

Runner up: Josh Judge, WMUR meteorologist. “...I’m obviously thrilled, especially since it’s been such an active winter,” Judge said of this recognition. Judge said every winter has its own character and it can take a little while to figure it out. With snowstorms, “This winter took a while but eventually we figured that no matter what the computer was telling us, we could probably throw a few more inches on,” Judge said. Judge, who wrote Extreme New England Weather and Weather Facts and Fun, gets to the WMUR studio about 1:30 a.m. and monitors the weather until he gets on the air. Judge began his career in radio but went back to school to study weather.

Honorable mention: Kevin Skarupa, WMUR meteorologist. Skarupa enjoys monitoring the weather, but what he enjoys the most is school visits. In February he did 20 school visits in 20 days. “That’s truly the most fun part about the job,” Skarupa said, and it’s also good practice for television, since he’s ad-libbing with the students. Skarupa said his real personality shows on the air. “I’m equally as geeky in real life,” he said. “I’m an equal-opportunity geek.”

Best local athlete
Best: Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals. When healthy, Carpenter is among the very best pitchers in baseball. The 35-year-old, who took home the Cy Young award in 2005 as the best pitcher in the National League, has been with the St. Louis Cardinals since 2004 and previously played six seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. Carpenter finished last season at 16-9 with a 3.22 earned run average. The previous year he was 17-4 with a 2.24 ERA. For his career, Carpenter, who stands 6’6” and starred at Trinity High School, holds a record of 133-83 with a 3.80 ERA. Carpenter was hurt earlier this spring but appears to be bouncing back.

Runner up: Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs. While the Celtics’ Ray Allen has gotten most of the attention this year as he broke the all-time record for three-pointers made, it has been Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs who has led the NBA in three-point percentage so far this season. He is currently hitting threes at a 48-percent clip. The 30-year-old product of Concord High School is averaging 7.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Now in his sixth year in the NBA, Bonner is playing about 21.5 minutes per game. Bonner starred at the University of Florida and then spent two seasons with the Toronto Raptors before joining the Spurs in 2006. The Spurs currently have the best record in the NBA.

Honorable mention: Bode Miller of the USA Ski Team. Miller, a 32-year-old Franconia native, drew accolades last year when he won a gold medal at the Olympics in Vancouver. Miller was an up-and-coming skier in 2002 when he won two silver medals in the Salt Lake City Olympics, but followed it up with a poor showing in the 2006 games. He bounced back in 2010 and now owns five Olympic medals. Miller has won the World Cup twice and the world championships four times.

Best local sports team
Best: Manchester Monarchs. The Manchester Monarchs, the affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, are taking the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference by storm. The team, which went to the conference finals last year, currently sits in second place just two wins away from the top spot and is priming for the playoffs. Team president and governor Darren Abbott took over from Jeff Eisenberg about a year ago. Not only is the team seeing success on the ice, but the Monarchs have seen an increase in season ticket sales this year as well. “It’s been a lot of fun,” Abbott said. “I took over a great franchise and we’re just trying to keep it moving in the right direction.” The Monarchs made a run into the conference finals last year before falling short. “Our hockey product is definitely as good as it’s ever been,” Abbott said, adding the Kings have a strong player development system. “We have a great roster. A lot of the players that went to the conference finals last year, they’re here this year. They’re young players but they’re playing like veterans. This is year 10, so maybe this could be the year we bring home the hardware.” The playoffs begin in April.

Runner up: New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The community has embraced the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, since they began playing ball in Manchester seven years ago. “It’s great to be in a city with so many wonderful choices for fans to enjoy sports at the professional level,” said Rick Brenner, president and general manager. The team finished last season with a record of 79-62. The Fisher Cats will unveil new team colors of red, white and blue when they open their home season Thursday, April 7. They’ll host the league all-star game July 13, and will be hosting a downtown block party at Veterans Park with games and music. “The businesses and fans are second to none,” Brenner said. “It’s a wonderful area to live and work.”

Honorable mention: University of New Hampshire Wildcats men’s ice hockey. Once again the men’s ice hockey team at UNH is in the thick of the Hockey East tournament. The 10th-ranked Wildcats, who finished second in Hockey East this year, battled Merrimack College in the Hockey East semifinals last weekend in Boston but ultimately lost. The team played at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester in January against Dartmouth College, a contest the Wildcats lost 5-4, said Tom Wilkins, associate director of athletic media relations at UNH. The Wildcats will take on Miami University on Saturday, March 26, at the Verizon in the first round of the NCAA tournament

Best local solo performer
Best: Tristan Omand. Omand has come a long way from his first live performance at a Boy Scout function at a church when he was 12 — he is now gearing up to release his first full-length solo album, Tolled Stories, on April 5. “The … most exciting, or rewarding, thing for me is that I wrote all of the songs and recorded [the album] myself in my bedroom,” said Omand, 24. His second love is film and books. “I’m like, a sucker for the [Manchester City Library], I’m there three to four days a week,” he said. Omand, of Manchester, said reading has helped him learn new words to help with the flow of his lyrics. After spending a summer in Brooklyn, N.Y., Omand realized that New Hampshire suited him and his writing best: “I just prefer this type of area, the people here are great and there is a wonderful music community here, too.” On being named “Best Solo Artist,” Omand said, “It feels good, I’ve never won anything before,” he said. “When I found out I was like ‘Should I celebrate? Nah, I’ll just practice more.”

Runner up: Alli Beaudry. At 26, Beaudry recently got engaged, just bought a house and is getting married in October. She has served as musical director for the Manchester Community Players and runs a music program at the YMCA for inner-city elementary school students. “I have been very, very busy but I can’t complain — I’m really happy … there is a lot to be inspired by,” she said. The Berklee College of Music graduate released her first CD in 2008 and has since been playing solo and with her band, Incandence, around New England, including a residency at Z Food and Drink in Manchester. “I’m just kind of really living it up musically,” Beaudry said. When she started singing at a young age, Beaudry said, her great-aunt asked her mother, “Have you ever really listened to what she does?” Beaudry, of Manchester, started voice lessons at age 5. “Now it’s come full circle — I’m the contemporary music teacher,” Beaudry said.

Honorable mention: Josh Logan. Logan loves “the reaction of the audience when certain songs hit them just right.” Logan, who appeared on the TV show Rockstar: Supernova in 2006, called his musical style “leagues different than anyone else locally.” “I don’t play the same cover songs as everyone else. My originals are unique and fresh,” Logan said. “It is strange that I got an honorable mention as a solo artist when I play with a band most of the time.” Logan performs at Fody’s Tavern in Nashua every Thursday and hosts an open-mike jam at Murphy’s Taproom in Manchester every Tuesday, where, he said, “there are always interesting and talented people to meet.”

Best local band playing mostly original songs
Best: JamAntics. Fiddle player Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki, 24, said JamAntics incorporates elements of funk, pop, rock and jazz into their music. “We sort of jam it out,” he said. “That is where part of our name comes from.” Recently, the five-member band performed from 9 p.m. to midnight at Crotched Mountain Ski Area and then drove in the middle of a blizzard to their next venue to play a set at 3:30 a.m. Traveling in a caravan of cars and vans, the band got lost and separated during the journey — and did not have any cell phone reception. “We all ended up in different parts of the state but luckily had all arrived within five minutes of each other and managed to play the second show, which ended at 6:30 a.m.,” Tirrell-Wysocki said. “We try to make sure that no two shows are ever the same, to keep things fresh for us and the fans,” he said.

Runner up: Best Not Broken. Having received accolades as a cover band, Best Not Broken is excited that their fans embrace their original music, said band member Eric Jackson. Best Not Broken, Jackson said, will be back in the studio this April and hopes to release an original EP in the summer. Jackson, of Amherst, described the sound of the band’s original songs as “somewhere between bands like Coldplay and The Killers.” The name of the band, formed in 2007, came from the group’s plan to give back to the community. “We want to try to bring people back to music,” Jackson said. “It’s our way of being mindful that humanity is best not broken.”

Honorable mention: Craving Lucy. On Steve Archambault’s first day of high school, he noticed a senior girl at in the school auditorium. “She was the most stunning, beautiful girl I have ever seen in my life … she gave me a half smile because she knew I was staring at her,” he said. Lisa, the girl whose face Archambault will never forget, has no idea she inspired the name of the band Craving Lucy. “I changed her name to Lucy because it had more rock connotation, more color and more character,” vocalist Archambault said. Formed in 2005, the band that was formerly named “Bionic” has had two singles in rotation on Sirius XM, Music Choice and Octane for 20 solid months. The band is also being filmed for a documentary. The four band members perform in local cover bands, including Mugsy, to fund the group’s career. “Anytime you can play and sing and make money, you do it,” Archambault said.

Best local cover band
Best: Nimbus 9. Nimbus 9 loves being part of the party, said band member Mike Kemp, 27: “We’ve been told that our energy level is something that you don’t see every day from cover bands — we’re totally high-energy,” “We want to see every single night be as fun as can be,” he said. The five-member band enjoys playing contemporary pop music and throwback ’90s music (“This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan is one of their favorites) but the most fun song to play, Kemp said, is “I’ve Got A Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. “I don’t know what it is about that song but the room just explodes every time we play it,” he said.

Runner up: Tom Dixon Band. The Tom Dixon Band “busted open a lot of rock clubs that hadn’t had any country bands play before” in New Hampshire, said front man Tom Dixon, 32, of Londonderry. “The country line dancing scene was disappearing…. We knew we had to bring it back to make country music more interesting to everybody.” While the band gets the crowd going with hits from Big and Rich and Jason Aldean, it also honors country roots with Johnny Cash classics. The five-member band is currently recording their second album at Indie Fair Studios in Londonderry; their first was released in 2007. “I love music, I love country music, I love what we do. It’s in my blood,” Dixon said.

Honorable mention: Mama Kicks. Three of Mama Kicks’ four members have garnered national attention in being tapped by Godsmack front man Sully Erna to write for and perform on his recent album and join him on tour. While they’re on the road, band member Gardner “G-Man” Berry said he will fill gigs with other players. Berry, 61, said he had always wondered why Lisa Guyer, his bandmate since 1988, had not seen more national success. “Of all the singers I know, she certainly deserves the success. Chris [Lester] and David [Stefanelli] are great musicians, so they deserve whatever comes their way,” he said. Berry said he always looks forward to going to work. “It is very rewarding for me,” he said

Best live DJ
Best of the best: DJ Midas, John Manning. Manning performs once a month at the Amber Room in Nashua. He got his first DJ setup at age 11 and within a year, he was mixing school dances and family reunions. “Don’t ask me why people let me [do that],” he said. “Once I hit 18 I started doing clubs, radio, raves and festivals.” His favorite music to mix with is funk: “There is so much trippy, electronic funk coming out right now, with cool bass lines and vocals.” Manning finds his inspiration within, he says. “I think about all my favorite artists, whether they are musicians, DJs, painters and people that I’ve met, plus feelings that I’ve had as a music-lover.” His favorite part of his job is sharing new music with people. “The best feeling you get is introducing someone to their next favorite song.” Manning does a radio show out of Manchester every Tuesday night from 9 p.m. to midnight that can be found at www.mixlr.com/meltdowncity/live.

Runner up: DJ Bob, Bob Caccamesi. DJ Bob can be found every Friday and Saturday night at Club 313 in Manchester. He remembers starting to collect his own club music in the ’90s. Once he realized he had a big enough collection, he met a Boston DJ by the name of Joe Jazz and the rest is history. “At the end of a tough work week people want to relax at a night club or bar, and I like being the guy that gets to take them to another place,” said Caccamesi. “I’ll play 20 minutes of hip-hop and reggae, then 20 minutes of mainstream house and then 20 minutes of Top 40...I like to mix it up.” Caccamesi wants to thank his family and Dan and the staff at Club 313 for everything they’ve done, as well as all the “people that come out to party with me.”

Honorable mention: DJ Dave, Dave Martinez. Martinez performs at the American Legion in Manchester on Fridays and Saturdays. He began doing a family karaoke show in 1997 at Milano’s Sports Bar in Nashua. In 2001 he started his own company, DJ Dave Entertainment. “I think people are afraid to try karaoke, because it’s not for everyone. But what is? If I could define karaoke and what it does for people: it’s a way to have fun and celebrate music and yourself.” Martinez finds inspiration for his mixes by taking in the crowd and assessing their age. “People appreciate the music of their youth. It’s not rocket science — people want to feel young.”

Best local comedian
Best: Nick Lavallee. Born and raised in Manchester, Lavallee, 31, has been doing standup comedy for two years, in which time he has opened for Bo Burnham, released a standup album on iTunes, and produced videos on www.funnyordie.com (including a makeout session with Sally Struthers). He will open for Bob Marley in Concord on April 29. When asked if he dreams of having a comedy career as big as Will Ferrell’s, Lavallee responded that his goal is to be “successful by using what I call the new L.A., the new NYC: the Internet.” Lavallee says his parents are the biggest inspiration for his jokes. “My mom is unintentionally the funniest person I know; she is funny to laugh with. My dad is funniest to laugh at. My brothers laugh beside me.” Lavallee enjoys standup in New Hampshire mostly because of the “bittersweet attitude where people are quick to laugh at themselves...it makes my job that much easier. What’s in the air?”

Runner up: Cory J Turner. Turner, always the class clown in school, says he was always the only one laughing at his jokes and that this award came out of left field. But Turner has been doing standup now for three years and is a regular at the Shaskeen in Manchester. He recalls his first night there: “I saw my friend Dave Carter there on stage and I was so impressed with it and the people laughing. So I went back the following week, not knowing I was supposed to reserve a spot before, with 20 of my closest friends and family,” said Turner. “I begged the comics and ended up bribing Justin Silva. I paid him $30 for his five minutes. It was the biggest rush I’ve ever felt.” Right now, Turner is working with friends on a 40-minute dark comedy film called “Chuck Lobsterman” that he hopes to film in New Hampshire.

Honorable mention: Alana Susko. Susko, 35, performs regularly at Fody’s Tavern in Nashua. “I’m a mom of three and I work a full-time job. Fody’s is a blessing and I get to work with comedians that are way more talented than me.” Susko’s children, ages 8, 12, and 14, love that she is a comedian. “They don’t think I’m as funny as their friends, but they like me.” Susko finds inspiration in her family. “My husband is an engineer and ignores me, so I act out. Some of the best comedy comes out of [family] dysfunctionality.” Susko continues to work on her company Comedy On Purpose.

Best mechanic
Best of the best: Dennis Hanson at Hanson’s Automotive Service, 271 West Hollis St. in Nashua, 883-7029. Hanson said he figures his shop is connected with honesty and said it was a privilege to be recognized. “I grew up in it,” Hanson said. “My dad ran a garage in...Maine and I’ve been around an automotive service station most of my life.” The key is to be honest when dealing with customers, he said, adding he enjoys working with his customers each day. He takes customer service seriously. Hanson’s shop takes in both foreign and American-made cars.

Best of Concord: Jon Chartier at Commercial Tech Service, 54 River Road in Bow, 225-8844. “It’s just awesome,” Chartier said of his selection. Chartier was also recognized by Hippo readers last year. “Last year I was really surprised and I have to say this year I’m equally surprised.” The shop is small and a little off the beaten path in Bow, he said. “We have a good customer base because we have good relationships with our customers,” said Chartier, who got into the mechanic business right out of high school and has been in the industry since 1987. “I have to say helping people is the number-one thing,” Chartier said. “The number of people we meet, that part of it never gets old.”

Best of Manchester: Ralph Brutus at Brutus Auto, 148 Merrimack St. in Manchester, 624-8881, www.brutusautonh.com. Brutus, who is regularly honored in the Hippo readers’ poll, was humble when he received the news this year, and gave credit to the shop’s other mechanics. “We have a good team, I’ll say that much.” “I think we’re fair, we go beyond, we make sure things are all set,” Brutus added. His father and his uncle spent lots of time working on cars. “I grew up changing tires,” he said. Brutus Auto, which opened in 2000, works on all makes and models. “There’s a lot to like about it,” he said, “especially fixing a problem that couldn’t be found before.”

Best of Nashua: Mike Larivee at Mike’s Auto Service, 107 Boston Post Road, Amherst, 673-3134. Larivee said his first response when one of his mechanics told him the news was, “See...it pays off, good quality work pays off.” Larivee said he and his mechanics, who are all graduates of a technical school, strive for honesty and consistency. His father owned a garage in Manchester, and from the time Larivee was old enough to work on cars, that’s what he was doing. “I just loved being a mechanic,” he said. When he turned 18, Larivee’s dad told him he couldn’t work in his shop any more unless he went to college. Larivee wanted to go. “[My father] taught me the right way right from the get-go,” he said. In 1986, Larivee, 27 at the time, opened his shop in Amherst. He took in two mechanics as interns and the three of them hit it off. Now at 25 years in business, they’re all still working together.

Best teacher
Best of Concord: Heidi Welch of Hillsborough-Deering High School. Heidi Welch said her job as Hillsboro-Deering High School director of music never feels like work: “I get to play all day long.” She has been teaching for many years and feels “honored and privileged,” by this award. She said several former students are studying to teach music at the University of New Hampshire. “I am so glad I get to know them during this brief four-year period,” Welch said. She enjoyed teaching younger kids but when an opening became available at Hillsboro-Deering High School in 1998, she took it, and says from the moment she entered the building she knew it was the place for her.

Best of Manchester: Sarah Brancone of Parker-Varney Elementary School in Manchester. It is becoming a tradition for Sarah Brancone. The third-grade teacher at Parker-Varney Elementary School has won Best Teacher of Manchester three years in a row. “It is very flattering,” Brancone said. It is also validation for a career choice she made in kindergarten. “I had a wonderful kindergarten teacher named Mrs. Smith,” Brancone said. “She made learning so fun. I had a lot of wonderful teachers along the way.”

Best of Nashua: Tray Sleeper of Merrimack High School. Before Sleeper went to China in 1988, he had been many things, including a carpenter and a truck driver. When he talked to the Chinese they were most excited about his work as a part-time diving coach at the University of New Hampshire. When he explained that work the Chinese would say, “Oh, you’re a teacher.” So Sleeper decided to go all the way. He had studied chemistry in college, so when he returned to the U.S. he got certified to teach science, which he now does. He also gets to teach classes in alternative energy and technology. Last year, Sleeper and Jeff Capone became the first teachers to participate in the school’s exchange program in Tanggu, China. Sleeper said it was a wonderful experience.

Best New Hampshire poet
Best: Donald Hall. It has been 70 years since Donald Hall wrote his first poem and he isn’t slowing down. “When I was 14 years old I knew I wanted to do poetry,” Hall said. “After all of these years, I haven’t changed my mind.” Hall, who was U.S Poet Laureate in 2006, said he loves to mess with language. He’ll have a new collection of poetry, The Back Chamber, coming out in September. In the meantime, Hall, who lives in Danbury, said he is also working on prose. Hall, who was born in 1928, attended Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard and Oxford. Recently, President Barack Obama presented him with the 2010 National Medal of Arts.

Runner up: T. James Edward. “I just wanted to say thanks again,” said poet T. James Edward of Epsom, about this award. Edward began writing when he was 15 as a means of expressing difficult emotions he was going through. His topics now reflect the way he looks at the world. “I also wanted to add that our language itself is what really drives me to get an evolution in my work,” Edward said. He spreads his work via Facebook and Twitter and has talked many times at New England College.

Honorable mention: Maxine Kumin. “I feel duly humbled,” wrote Kumin, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, who lives in Warner. “But even though we bought this farm in 1963 and have lived here year round since ’76, since we weren’t born here I fear we are still flatlanders.” Kumin was born and raised in Philadelphia. She was U.S. Poet Laureate in 1981. What is it that she loves so much about the written word? “I think it is the concision innate to poetry, that and the endless possibilities of metaphor,” Kumin wrote. And she has kept writing because “I guess I must think I still have something to say. As Yogi Berra said: It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Best New Hampshire author
Best: Jodi Picoult. “It is really a great honor to be the Best NH Author,” wrote Jodi Picoult from her book tour for her newest novel, Sing You Home, which was released March 1. “I’ve been writing since I was five years old — it’s not a shock to me that I became a writer...but it is a continual wonder that anyone wants to read the things I write! I grew up in NY but moved to NH 15 years ago — and I really enjoy writing stories in which New England features prominently. This award almost makes me feel like I’ve been accepted as a native daughter!” For Picoult, home is Hanover, where she lives with her husband, their children and several animals, according to her website. The 44-year-old is the author of 18 novels, four of which debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Runner up: Dan Brown. Dan Brown’s breakout novel, The Da Vinci Code, sold more than 80 million copies. According to his Facebook page, Brown is a 1982 graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and a 1986 graduate of Amherst College. His most recent work is The Lost Symbol, a sequel to The Da Vinci Code.

Honorable mention: Janet Evanovich. “Not to sound trite, but I love everything [about being a writer],” wrote Janet Evanovich via e-mail as she is on deadline for a new project. “I love getting up the morning and stumbling up to my office with my mug of coffee and the itch to re-inhabit the world I’ve created. I love the nervous flutter in my stomach when … I send the manuscript off to my editor. … I also like the book tours.” Evanovich said she was honored to win Honorable Mention. The author of more than 20 novels, including the popular Stephanie Plum series, splits her time between New Hampshire and Florida.






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