Best Clam Shack, Cape Cod
Mashpee's New Seabury is one of the Cape's toniest communities, brimming with quaint shops, picture-perfect lawns, and crushed-seashell pathways. The Raw Bar, which dispenses cheap beer beneath bare-breasted mermaid memorabilia, is the one place locals and visitors can really let their hair down. And they do—over platters of raw oysters, littlenecks, and heralded lobster rolls. The latter are technically big enough to share, but if you're like us, you'll want to savor every bite of your own. 252 Shore Dr., Mashpee, MA 2649, http://therawbar.com
Primarily a caterer, their cookies and petits fours are unrivaled. 123 Appleton St., Boston, MA
Best Columnist, Sports
He has become the most consistently engaging and entertaining sports columnist in any Boston paper.
Best Greeting Cards
Original art, hand-pressed paper. When you care enough to really send the best. 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA
Best Wedding Caterer
Mediterranean, Asian, classic American—this Union Square caterer will happily hop from cuisine to cuisine for your wedding spread, incorporating vegan and gluten-free menus with ease. Chefs Dennis Tourse and Jamie Rogers are tight with local farmers, which translates to personalized menus featuring natively sourced ingredients whenever possible. Top requests include avocado beggars' purses and fava-bean crostini with wild mushrooms. 5 Sanborn Ct., Somerville, MA 02143, http://forkliftcatering.com
Best Beach, Cape Cod
Thoreau once walked the 40 miles of the Cape's pristine eastern coast and wrote a whole book on the experience. JFK, also a fan, ensured that the shoreline and its marshes, freshwater ponds, and lighthouses were preserved for future generations. On the southern end of the protected strip sits Coast Guard Beach. With its rolling dunes and ever-shifting conditions—roaring one day, serene the next—it's a breathtaking place to stroll, lounge, picnic, or surf. Doane Road, Eastham, MA 2642,
Best Party, Planner
Rene Oranburg's firm will stage any kind of get-together you want, arranging for caterers, decorations, and entertainment. Reasonable fees, too. 110 Independence Dr., Chestnut Hill, MA http://617-469-9736
Best Critic, Film, Print
Witty, entertaining, consistent—a breath of fresh air in that paper.
Best Seafood Shack, Cape Cod
Sure, seafood is easy to come by on the Cape. But you're reading this magazine, so you’re looking for the best. Pack your cooler and sunscreen and snag a picnic table at Sesuit Harbor Café: Yes, you’ll wait in a line out the door, sit outside rain or shine, and BYOB, but once those heaping trays of lobster rolls, fried scallops and clams, and Cape Cod Bay oysters are in front of you, you’ll understand. http://sesuit-harbor-cafe.com/
Best DJ, Rock
We particularly liked his Cabbage Patch doll promotion. That was the one, you may recall, that had no dolls. Just cabbages. With adoption papers.
Best Limousine Service
Caters to corporate high rollers as well as rock stars. 484 Prospect St., Revere, MA
Best Chocolate, Politically Correct
Recycled paper, vegetable-based ink, nuts from the rain forest in Brazil. PC never tasted so good. 31 Wyman Street, P.O. Box 72, Waban, MA
Best Critic, Theater
When Friedman was at the Real Paper, he was quoted all the time. Now he's invisible, but just as good.
Best Gifts, Wrapping Paper
Even the merest trifle takes on special significance when wrapped in one of the beautiful gift papers form the MFA gift shop. 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA
A neighborhood secret, already discovered by top caterers. Get here early, or it's gone. 701 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA