2016 Editors’ Picks
These people, places and things are the bee’s knees
Best lunch-time-only hotspotHashi Asian to Go
1600 Mangrove Ave., Ste. 175, 809-1530
By night, Forcella Italian Bistro serves up fresh-made pastas and other tastes of the old country. By day, however, it transforms into Hashi Asian to Go, offering a simple menu of soups, sandwiches, bowls and salads. Don’t let the word “simple” fool you, though, as the flavor profiles of each dish are both intricate and deep. Hashi makes all its own soup stock, which is perhaps the lunchtime hotspot’s crowning achievement. The teriyaki bowl is also impressive and impeccably fresh, and the salads are created with care. The only downside here is that Hashi is open only on weekdays for lunch.
Best little house of funPageant Theatre
351 E. Sixth St., 343-0663
Last year, Miles Montalbano took over management of the Pageant. Since then, he’s implemented many exciting changes at Chico’s long-running art-house theater. The small screen still hosts the latest in adventurous indie cinema, but added to the schedule are a range of special screenings of pertinent/historical documentaries (When We Were Kings) and restored classics (Beauty and the Beast), theme nights (John Waters) and regular specialty features including the monthly Subversive Cinema Series with anarchist AK Press and semi-regular late-night shows with live bands opening for cult classics. And, perhaps best of all, the Pageant now serves beer! So, you can enjoy a Sierra Nevada or a Pabst with your film as God intended.
Best reason to unplugPocket Points
This locally created mobile app offers some great incentives for turning off your cellphone during class—discounts at local stores! Launched two years ago by Chico State grads Rob Richardson and Mitch Gardner, Pocket Points lets you rack up points for every minute your phone is turned off on campus. Currently it’s available at Chico State and Butte College (and dozens of campuses nationwide), but the pair are looking to expand to high schools and middle schools soon. And tons of local businesses are on board, from Pita Pit to The Electric Lounge to, most recently, Office Depot. Also in the works: rewards for unplugging while driving—now, that’s a safety app we can get behind.
Best ray of sunshine at City HallMark Orme
On top of Chico City Manager Mark Orme’s desk sits a yellow happy-face coffee mug. It’s the perfect decorative touch considering his sunny disposition. Orme may have critics, but even they have to admit that he’s a heck of a nice guy. And, as far as we can tell, it’s genuine. Orme appears to go out of his way for community members of all backgrounds, not just the power brokers. We’ve observed this many times, and we’re convinced he’s the real deal. Don’t forget that Orme became the city’s top administrator during a period of great financial distress. Despite the immense pressure of leading the city back into solvency, he somehow remained fairly upbeat. That’s next-level positivity.
Best place to get prickedCreative Cacti + Succulentswww.creativecacti.com
Claude Geffray has a pretty amazing green thumb and his plants of choice aren’t your average petunias or daisies. The native of Normandy, France, is a trained artist who specializes in growing cacti and succulents at his nursery in north Chico. The place is home to an impressive variety of offerings, from tiny prickly cacti to large agaves. Geffray caught the bug for propagating the plants after purchasing a cactus at a Bay Area flea market decades ago. He moved to Chico in the mid-’80s, and his booth is a fixture at the Thursday night and Saturday farmers’ markets. His wholesale nursery—Geffray’s Gardens—is also open to the public on special days and by appointment.
date nightAn evening in the “Arts District”
This fall semester, Chico State opened its new Arts & Humanities Building on the edge of downtown Chico. With its three art galleries—Jacki Headley University Art Gallery, Janet Turner Print Museum, MFA Gallery—and top-tier Zingg Recital Hall, the new building is at the center of an already bustling area, rounding out what’s been dubbed the university’s “Arts District.” The A&H Building joins Laxson Auditorium and its North State Symphony and Chico Performances programming on one side, and the Performing Arts Center and the School of the Arts music and theater productions at its multiple theaters on the other. And its all just a few steps away from downtown’s many dining and drinking options, making for a good excuse to get dressed up and hit the town.
Best glimpse into your neighbor’s soul365Chico Project
Musician and man-about-town Sesar Sanchez initially began his 365Chico Project on New Year’s Day as a way to sharpen his photography skills, and in exchange his volunteer subjects could walk away with some nice digital portraits of themselves. But from the get-go he realized his subjects also had something to say, and his format was solidified—begin with a lengthy (on average two-hour) chat, ask five questions, take the pictures, and post the answers and pics online. Sanchez’s dedication to the project is admirable, as are the results—a fine collection of the faces and personalities that make Chico special. Check it out on Facebook or at 365chico.tumblr.com.
Best place to get your game onGame Night at Woodstock’s Pizza
166 E. Second St., 893-1500
Board games are in the midst of a golden age, with adults taking to the pastime in unprecedented numbers. The social and psychological implications of this trend are intriguing—some posit it’s driven by an urge for human interaction in a disconnected technological world—but the simple answer is that games are fun. A group of game-loving local Redditors started organizing regular meetups every Monday night (at 6ish p.m.) back in June, and the friendly, informal meetings are still going strong. They are currently held at Woodstock’s Pizza, though the venue sometimes changes. The latest details can be found on the Chico Subreddit Web page (www.reddit.com/r/ChicoCA).
Best beer-meat infusionRibs at Ike’s Smoke House
207 Walnut St. (in parking lot), 924-3171
If you’re like us and you love to relax with a nice cold one while chowing down on some dry-rubbed, barbecue-sauce-slathered, smokey ribs, then Ike’s Smokehouse is the place for you. Because sometimes that craving hits midday, midweek, and firing up that smoker and tipping back a Pale Ale just isn’t gonna happen. The coolest thing about owner Isaac Anderson’s smoking process is he uses chopped up Sierra Nevada beer barrels—so you’re getting that delicious beer flavor in every bite. The pulled pork and other offerings are also awesome—try the stuffed potato Grenade!—but the ribs are out of this world.
Best show of solidarityDakota Access Pipeline Protest
“The first thing I want to do is recognize the fact that we are on occupied Mechoopda territory.” Those were the words emcee Samuel White Swan-Perkins said to a crowd of several hundred people gathered at Chico’s City Plaza Sept. 12 to show support for Native American and other protesters fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, which threatens the environment, sacred places and water of the nearby Standing Rock Reservation. The event remained Native-centered throughout, featuring speakers and singers from several tribes, some of whom had just returned from the protest’s front lines. Members of environmental group Chico 350—who organized the effort—were on hand to remind the crowd that while the most immediate danger is posed to Native land and water, the pipeline and related threats from the oil industry affect all people. The event was empowering, diverse and inclusive, and it stands out as one of the most powerful local protests in recent years.
Best burgeoning ag industryThe local wineries
There are so many new wineries cropping up around Butte County that CN&R did a whole cover story on this up-and-coming segment of the local ag scene (see “Vine to vino,” July 14). Newer outfits such as Oroville’s Purple Line Urban Winery and Nesseré Vineyard in Durham have joined local wine luminaries like LaRocca Vineyards in the craft of bringing our community delicious wines. What’s more, some of the wineries are bottling award-winners. Some of the wineries are open for tastings by appointment only, but that’s fine by us. We’re just excited we don’t have to drive to Napa, Sonoma or some other far-flung place to fill our glass.
Best cruel teaseWaiting for new breweries to open in Chico
For the love of Gambrinus, what’s a beer lover gotta do to get some new suds options in Chico? Nearly 3,000 craft breweries have opened in America in the last decade, but despite the trend, Chico has lagged. Thankfully, it looks like things are changing. British Bulldog Brewery is set to hit local taps with its English-style ales by the holidays; the locally brewed ciders of Lassen Traditional Cidery just became available; and both Secret Trail and Zythos Brewing are actively seeking homes to set up shop. C’mon, guys! We’re getting thirsty out here!
Best place to find mango lassis and cardamomH.A. Indian Grocery
641 Nord Ave., 487-7288
Chico has a handful of specialty food stores, ranging from healthy eats to ethnic delicacies. The new kid on the block offers a taste of Delhi’s spice market, plus a ton of other Indian food staples, from rose water and naan to yogurt and paneer. The cold case has drinks—such as mango lassis and saffron-flavored milk—and a host of produce and frozen foods you can only find here. If you’re not sure exactly what you need to prepare a certain dish, the owners are more than willing to offer suggestions. And better yet, they’re open late—till 10 p.m.—so when you get that after-dinner craving for cardamom-infused rice pudding, you know where to go.
Best Chico ex-pat to pine forRob Blair
Oh, how we Chicoans miss our beloved Rob Blair, the former co-host of local television stations KHSL and KNVN’s Wake Up! morning show. Alas, the perpetual winner of Chico’s Best Local Celebrity moved to Southern California a few years ago, after the new owners of the stations cut him loose. Big mistake, GOCOM Media! Chicoans are still pining for the upbeat television personality, humanitarian and all-around nice guy. But, good news, Blair’s doing well in the southland. His husband is enjoying his work as a middle-school teacher, and Blair is doing voice-over work for a company called Fuzic Media while finishing up his master’s in divinity.
Best place to relive a high-school house partyShenanigan’s
3312 Esplanade, 809-1088
As it’s located in a converted home in north Chico, entering Shenanigan’s feels more like walking into your friend’s house after the homecoming game circa junior year than into an eatery and watering hole. And, good news—your friend’s parents are away on permanent vacation, leaving their well-stocked pad for you and your pals to party. No need to raid the liquor cabinet or freezer here, as patrons will find a full bar and excellent pub-grub-heavy menu. There’s even a backyard area with horseshoe pits and a basement stocked with pool tables, dart boards and a jukebox. One thing, though—what’s up with the apostrophe? If there’s actually a dude named Shenanigan running this joint, we want to hang out with him.
Best way to eat healthy without even tryingNew Earth Market
864 East Ave., 891-9355
So, you’re on a health kick. Trying to eat wholesome foods can be quite a chore; all that time spent reading labels to avoid things like artificial preservatives, MSG and hydrogenated oils. Chico’s recently opened New Earth Market understands the struggle and does the hard work for us. With an extensive list of “banned ingredients,” you’re guaranteed to never unexpectedly take home a steak from a cow treated with growth hormones or any fish on the “red list.” Bonus points for highlighting produce and other foods sourced locally.
Best taste of the Old WorldMiller’s Bakehouse
Saturday farmers’ market, 532-6384
Dave Miller doesn’t make run-of-the-mill bread. The master baker can be found only at the Saturday farmers’ market in downtown Chico, where he usually sells out of 400 loaves of whole-grain sourdough bread made from wheat and rye in a few hours. And for good reason—his craftsmanship is apparent to his regular customers. Miller sticks to Old World methods, such as processing grain with an Austrian-crafted wooden mill, using a 70-year-old mixer and baking with a wood-fired oven. If you need a compelling reason to wake up early on Saturday mornings, make it securing a loaf of Miller’s bread.