Best of Chico: Readers’ picks

You chose Chico’s superheroes—now, they’re unveiled

Illustration by Nicholas Ivins

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Goods & Services

Antiques store

1ST PLACE: Eighth & Main Antique Center
745 Main St., 893-5534

Many local shops are brimming with antiques, but Eighth and Main Antique Center takes most of the hdirty work out of the hunt for you. Hundreds of passionate vendors collect items from around the world and spiff them up for sale, whether it be through a simple polishing or by taking the time to restain an entire furniture set. The two-story building can consume curious shoppers for hours, making this artful and aesthetically pleasing antiques warehouse a one-of-its-kind Chico staple.

2ND PLACE (tie): Park Avenue Antiques
2260 Park Ave., 893-4919

2ND PLACE (tie): Sandy Gulch Furniture Co.
1916 Oleander Ave., 345-4617

Auto repair shop

1ST PLACE: C&M Automotive
1188 E. Lassen Ave., 343-5613

C&M Automotive owners Terry and Renee Koslofsky have provided friendly service and support to motorists for more than 20 years. Experienced technicians provide honest, reliable service, repairing foreign and domestic cars and trucks. Services include brakes, radiators, car batteries and referral services. Locals rely on their cars to get around, and C&M has proven it’s a place drivers can trust.

2ND PLACE: Doctor of Motors
195 Humboldt Ave., 879-0700

3RD PLACE (tie): Affordable Automotive
2106 Park Ave., 892-1774

3RD PLACE (tie): Boradori Automotive
287 Humboldt Ave., 891-4972

Car dealership

1ST PLACE: Chuck Patterson Auto World
200 East Ave., 895-1771

Chuck Patterson Auto World, featuring Toyota, Scion and Dodge vehicles, has been satisfying car buyers for years at its busy East Avenue location. Friendly salespeople are available to guide shoppers through the buying process daily. They also offer service, parts, and body services. Serving Chico and the surrounding communities since 1967, Chuck Patterson remains family-owned and -operated. At one stop, folks can also trade, finance, service, repair or accessorize their four-wheeled rides.

2ND PLACE: Wittmeier Auto Center
2288 Forest Ave., 895-8181

3RD PLACE: Chico Nissan-Hyundai
575 Manzanita Ave., 891-1777

Eighth & Main Antique Center

Photo By Jovan Johnson

Car wash

1ST PLACE: Chico Scrubbs
1020 Skyway; 893-4885

We love our cars sparkling clean, but lots of us dread the chore of washing them ourselves. Open daily, Scrubbs car wash takes away the labor with the highest quality products they can find in their professional hand-washing service. While you wait, the deli allows customers to relax and refuel with fresh hot food, coffee and plasma TVs. Free wireless Internet allows guests to work on projects on their laptops while sitting in a massage chair watching their cars get buffed.

2ND PLACE: Eric’s Car Wash
1625 Mangrove Ave., 893-4400

3RD PLACE: California Car Wash
3104 Esplanade, 894-3017

Place for auto supplies/accessories

1ST PLACE: O’Reilly Auto Parts (formerly Kragen Auto Parts)
485 Notre Dame Blvd., 345-2782; and 1618 Mangrove Ave., 893-8525

Appealing to both professionals and the do-it-yourselfer, O’Reilly Auto Parts offers one of the biggest selections of national-brand-name, private-label and generic auto supplies. The Kragen brand was acquired in 2008 by O’Reilly Automotive Inc., and the name on the signs recently changed in Chico, but the stores still connect to one of the largest auto-parts retailers in the U.S., with 3,200 stores in 38 states. Such an availability of automotive supplies and a vast inventory online makes O’Reilly an easy favorite for mechanics and car enthusiasts alike.

2ND PLACE: Pep Boys Automotive Supercenter
1555 Mangrove Ave., 895-1336

3RD PLACE: AutoZone
136 East Ave., 892-8155; and 1843 Park Ave., 892-8053


1ST PLACE: Tri Counties Bank
Various locations

Tri Counties Bank has a loyal local following, and it’s easy to see why. Their staff is always friendly, willing to give that personal attention one craves from the often-empty experience of depositing, withdrawing or simply checking one’s balance. Plus, they’re full-service, offering online banking, home loans, money-market accounts and more.

2ND PLACE: Wells Fargo
Various locations

3RD PLACE: Rabobank
Various locations


1ST PLACE: Hotel Diamond
220 W. Fourth St., 893-3100

Long gone are the days of the abandoned historic structure known as “The Pigeon Palace” downtown. Hotel Diamond, one of Chico’s landmark buildings, is more than just a beautiful place to spend the night. It’s the home to Johnnie’s Restaurant, and its lounge often features live music with a perfectly lit atmosphere for relaxing. The hotel’s suites feature local art on the walls as well as locally made amenities. Most enviable are the rooms that overlook City Plaza—especially during a concert or art festival-filled weekend.

2ND PLACE: Oxford Suites
2035 Business Lane, 899-9090

3RD PLACE: Holiday Inn
685 Manzanita Court, 345-2491

Bed and breakfast

1ST PLACE: The Grateful Bed
1462 Arcadian Ave., 342-2464

A guest in Chico may certainly stay comfortably overnight at many places. But for more than just a taste of Chico, booking at the Grateful Bed bed and breakfast is the ticket. The quaint golden Victorian house, built in 1905 in the restful Avenues, promises “nostalgic comfort in the heart of Chico.” When was the last time someone served you a candlelight breakfast?

2ND PLACE: The Goodman House Bed & Breakfast
1362 The Esplanade, 566-0256

3RD PLACE: Cory’s Country Inn
4673 Nord Highway; 345-2955

Place to buy outdoor gear

1ST PLACE: Mountain Sports
176 E. Third St., 345-5011

Like to ski, hike, run, camp or rock climb? Right in the center of downtown, this place has all the high-quality gear you’ll need—to buy or just rent for the weekend. The employees are some of the friendliest and most helpful in town. They also have maps, books and pamphlets for exploring California. Insider’s tip: they’re one of only two places in Chico where you can buy those trendy, all-purpose shoe/foot “gloves” called Vibram FiveFingers.

2ND PLACE: Chico Sports LTD
698 Mangrove Ave., 894-1110

3RD PLACE: Big 5
1717 Mangrove Ave., 891-1545

Pullins Cyclery

Photo By Jovan Johnson

Bike shop

1ST PLACE: Pullins Cyclery
801 Main St., 342-1055

When J.V. Pullins first opened his bike shop in 1918, few could have predicted its staying power in the middle of downtown Chico. Nearly 100 years later, Pullins Cyclery is still offering the same great sales for new and used bicycles and the same great repair jobs that have been Pullins’ mantra from the beginning. Mr. Pullins would be proud!

2ND PLACE: Campus Bicycles
330 Main St., 345-2081

3RD PLACE: North Rim Adventure Sports
178 E. Second St., 345-2453

Sporting goods store

1ST PLACE: Big 5 Sporting Goods
1717 Mangrove Ave., 891-1545

Let’s say you want to take up golfing on Tuesday, replace your swimming goggles on Thursday, or take off in new running shoes on Saturday. Big 5 Sporting Goods can help, seven days a week, to support all your exercise endeavors. Everything from youth sports equipment to hunting gear to high-end sunglasses are all under the roof at Big 5.

2ND PLACE: Chico Sports LTD
698 Mangrove Ave., 894-1110

3RD PLACE: Mountain Sports
176 E. Third St., 345-5011

Book store

1ST PLACE: Lyon Books & Learning Center
121 W. Fifth St., 891-3338

Next time you’re downtown, check out this down-home, independent bookstore across the street from City Plaza. It has a super-friendly feel with a good selection of new and used books, a local author table, magazines and very cool novelty gifts (many of them locally made!). To further feed your hungry mind, they have frequent book discussion groups as well as presentations and book signings by a variety of fascinating, local and nationally known authors and poets.

2ND PLACE: Barnes & Noble Booksellers
2031 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, 894-1494

3RD PLACE: The Bookstore
118 Main St., 345-7441

Cab company

1ST PLACE: Liberty Cab

“Fast, Reliable, Dependable Cab Service” is the goal of Liberty Cab of Chico. For safe human delivery home after wine-tastings, or swings to and from the airport, Liberty Cab takes pride in friendliness and expediency. Available for dispatch around the clock, seven days a week, the company can accommodate large groups as well as needs for medical transportation. Liberty Cab also sponsors several local nonprofit children’s groups.

2ND PLACE: Yellow Cab

3RD PLACE: Chico Cab Co.


1ST PLACE: Christian & Johnson
250 Vallombrosa Ave., 891-1881

At any season, Christian & Johnson is a browser’s paradise. Customers roam the aisles, stopping to smell or admire the plants, flowers, decorations and amusing knick-knacks. On the edge of Big Chico Creek, Christian & Johnson has ties to a nursery started by Annie Bidwell’s gardener, F.G. Petersen. The current owner, Melissa Heringer, joined the team as a designer in 1998. She grew up in Chico, and proudly carries on the business’ traditions.

2ND PLACE: Flowers by Rachelle
2485 Notre Dame Blvd., 345-2661

3RD PLACE: M Creations
513 Main St., 342-6464


1ST PLACE: Little Red Hen
189 E. Eighth St., 891-9100

The nonprofit Little Red Hen uses 100 percent of its sales to help children and adults with developmental disabilities like autism, Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy. Chicoans clearly love to decorate their homes with their beautiful plants, bushes and little trees. Knowing that Little Red Hen employs developmentally disabled adults (and never pays less than minimum wage) adds to the feel-good experience of getting your greenery here.

2ND PLACE: The Plant Barn & Gift Shop
406 Entler Ave., 345-3121

3RD PLACE: Hodge’s Nursery & Gifts
9681 Midway, 894-6598

Grocery store

1ST PLACE: Trader Joe’s
801 East Ave., 343-9920

Trader Joe’s has been a Chico favorite since opening its doors six years ago. The grocery’s eclectic mix of veggies, frozen foods, organic munchies and ready-to-eat lunches is hard to pass up, especially when you know they’re high quality. Add to that an impressive wine selection—including the surprisingly delicious “Two Buck Chuck”—and yummy chocolates and you’ve got a go-to place for the whole family.

2ND PLACE: S&S Organic Produce and Natural Foods
1924 Mangrove Ave., 343-4930

3RD PLACE: WinCo Foods
2060 E. 20th St., 345-7899

Day spa

1ST PLACE: Urban Medspa
3221 Cohasset Road, 891-8772

Urban Medspa welcomes clients with lavish furnishings and an exotic spa menu. Two licensed estheticians, a massage therapist and registered nurses offer advanced treatments for the face and body. Specialized anti-aging treatments are available for those who want to feel pampered, and look their best and brightest. Staff also can design skin-care programs for each client’s skin type, offering that one-on-one experience every woman (and man) craves.

2ND PLACE: Agua Azul Oasis
40 Declaration Drive, 345-0226

676 E. First Ave., 342-3223


1ST PLACE: Barber Jon’s
532 Nord Ave., 342-7342

If you’re a dude and you feel like you’ve been getting a lady’s haircut, then get your man-can down to Barber Jon’s, a place where a man’s man gets his ears lowered. Play a free game of billiards while you wait, or peruse through the bucket full of men’s magazines. Just be prepared to get your money’s worth because all haircuts include a free hot-lather neck shave and a neck trim between visits.

2ND PLACE: Supercuts
Various locations

3RD PLACE: Wild Cuts
206 Walnut St. Ste. D, 343-6907

PCI Computers

Photo By Jovan Johnson

Local computer store

1ST PLACE: PCI Computers
225 Main St., 891-4152

PCI Computers is a modern business located in a definitively old-time location. Youthful, friendly staff greet visitors enthusiastically as they enter the historic downtown Garden Walk Mall from Main Street. In business since 2000, PCI Computers was founded by four Chico State students. The showroom displays the newest systems and product lines, with desktops, laptops and computer components. PCI’s repair center also gives locals another way to shop locally.

2ND PLACE: Computers Plus
2499 Forest Ave., 891-7587

3RD PLACE: Associated Students Bookstore
402 W. First St. (on the Chico State campus), 898-5222

Hair salon

1ST PLACE: The Hair Co.
2760 Esplanade, Ste. 150, 894-2002

Whether you want a trim, a new cut, color or hair bling, the stylists at The Hair Co. have got the skills to get the job done. And well! The spacious salon has a chic décor, promising more than just a haircut experience. Plus, you can get your nails done too to make your makeover complete.

2ND PLACE: The Poison Apple Salon
240 Main St., 899-7875

3RD PLACE: Blondie’s
2575 Ceonothus Ave., Ste. 168, 354-7774

Place to get a mani-pedi

1ST PLACE: Tammy’s Nails
1354 East Ave., 899-8912

Tammy’s Nails is the perfect place to go with a couple gal pals for a relaxing (and affordable!) mani-pedi afternoon. Tucked into the Safeway shopping center off East Avenue, Tammy’s offers state-of-the-art massage chairs and a friendly and skilled staff that can do anything from a French manicure to a full set.

2ND PLACE: Queen Nail Salon & Spa
801 East Ave. Ste. 112, 893-8900

3RD PLACE: Lily’s Nails
118 W East Ave., 898-8765

Place to get bronzed

1ST PLACE: Perfect Tan
2995 The Esplanade, 898-8000

Readers clearly keep choosing Perfect Tan as the best place to get bronzed because a trip to this salon is like taking a mini-vacation—think themed rooms to enhance the experience! Aside from the lay-down and stand-up beds, there are also Magic Tan spray machines for those who hope to avoid the UVA rays (but still get that glow!).

2ND PLACE: Tropical Zone Exotic Tanning
1354 East Ave., 893-3300

3RD PLACE: Tahiti Tans & Salon
2170 Esplanade, 893-1223


1ST PLACE: Olde Gold Estate Jewelry
225 Main St., 891-4610

Steve Catterall looks every bit the part, the friendly jeweler everyone’s known for decades downtown at Olde Gold Jewelers. Catterall has been known to rise on December mornings to bake fresh cookies, bringing them into the store to share. Located in the Garden Walk Mall on Main Street, this quaint jewel of a store offers jewelry advice, repair, consignment and cleaning. The old, friendly structure it’s in welcomes visitors to feast their eyes on the beautifully displayed bright-shinys.

2ND PLACE: Kirk’s Jewelry
246 W Third St., 891-0880

3RD PLACE: Mundy & Co. Fine Jewelers
152 E. Second St., 342-4367

Men’s clothier

1ST PLACE: Trucker
232 Broadway, 343-1073

Shopping for dudes can be a little tough and confusing in Chico but Trucker makes it an easy feat. Between the overwhelming women’s boutiques downtown or shopping with the tweens at the mall, Trucker brings it all into balance for guys. It’s stuffed to the brim with designer threads that cover head to toe along with a wall of shoes and accessories to boot. Oh yeah, there’s stuff for chicks too (probably why it also won Best Clothing Boutique!).

2ND PLACE: Men’s Wearhouse
1950 E. 20th St., 342-1769

3RD PLACE: Kohl’s Department Store
1505 Springfield Drive, 897-0920

Women’s clothier

1ST PLACE: For Elyse
228 Broadway, 893-0106

At For Elyse, shoppers can find young-at-heart, contemporary and urban looks. Men and women can find fashions—from party dresses to jeans—including shoes and accessories, both online and in the trendy shop. For Elyse showcases a long list of designers whose creations please those seeking a refreshing style.

2ND PLACE: Forever 21
1962 E. 20th St., 332-9921

3RD PLACE: Kohl’s Department Store
1505 Springfield Drive, 897-0920

Baby/kids’ clothier

1ST PLACE: Kat’s Meow
138 W. Third St., 899-8811

Kat’s Meow is the colorful Chico store that pleases youngsters, and their adoring parents and relatives, with its baby and kids’ clothing. Tiny-sized shoes, blankets, and knit and crocheted items are available for gifts to please growing families. Home décor and other whimsical items are fun to play with—for all ages.

2ND PLACE: Apple Blossom Baby
1372 Longfellow Ave., 345-1617

3RD PLACE: Eco in Chico
1465 Mangrove Ave. Ste. E, 898-8687


Photo By Jovan Johnson

Clothing boutique—Chico

1ST PLACE: Trucker
232 Broadway, 343-1073

2ND PLACE: Urban Laundry
222 Main St., 345-2444

3RD PLACE: Three Sixty Ecotique
511 Main St., 342-8752

Clothing boutique—Oroville

1ST PLACE: Evolve Clothing
1950 Bird St., 533-2626

Evolve Boutique was voted as Best Clothing Boutique of Oroville. It offers a selection of apparel, women’s wear, accessories, bridal, formalwear and tuxedoes. Flirty tops and T-shirts, tops featuring crocheted lace, frilly hair flowers, and spangly bracelets await those ready to indulge in a new bauble.

2ND PLACE: Ruby’s Boutique
1858 Montgomery St., 532-1399

3RD PLACE: Red Fly Clothing
1919 Montgomery St., 533-9307

Clothing boutique—On the Ridge

1ST PLACE: My Girlfriend’s Closet
6141 Skyway; 872-8826

Can you think of a better name for a consignment shop than My Girlfriend’s Closet? Just stepping inside this cute Skyway store, one can see instantly why Paradise residents (and likely many from down the hill) chose it as Best Clothing Boutique on the Ridge. It’s like shopping in your best friend’s closet, but only after it’s been whittled down to the cutest, trendiest and newest items.

2ND PLACE: Buttons & Bows
6200 Clark Road, 877-8151

3RD PLACE: Back at the Ranch
6194 Skyway; 877-4461

Shoe store

1ST PLACE: Heel and Sole Shoes
708 Mangrove Ave., 899-0725

A longtime Chico favorite, Heel and Sole Shoes continues to offer the best in just about everything you can put on your feet. Need a new pair of heels? Check. Running shoes? Check. Flip-flops? In spades. And it’s not just a women’s shoe store either—ladies, bring your husband, boyfriend or brother in and he’ll probably walk out with a pair or two too!

2ND PLACE: Robyn Marie’s Shoe Closet
215 Main St., 566-1825

3RD PLACE: Johnson’s Comfort Shoes
1950 E. 20th St. (Chico Mall); 342-2310 and 801 East Ave., 343-8923

Thrift store

1ST PLACE: ARC Thrift Store
2020 Park Ave., 343-3666

Chico has no shortage of thrifting treasure troves, but the ARC gives your back a break and doesn’t require as much digging as some other stores. Clothing racks are neatly organized, and shoes are spiffed up and ready to wear off the rack. That’s not to mention the eclectic selection of jewelry, books, furniture and accessories. Oh, and it’s all for a good cause! The ARC’s proceeds benefit adults and kids with developmental disabilities.

2ND PLACE: Thrifty Bargain
2432 The Esplanade, 899-3360

3RD PLACE: Salvation Army
Various Locations

Place to buy vintage threads

1ST PLACE: Three Sixty Ecotique
511 Main St., 342-8752

Three Sixty Ecotique’s fabulous vintage clothing and shoes are both stylish and in top-notch condition. This super-cool boutique also features a great selection of items by local designers such as Zeke Lunder’s rugged ZeekoBags made of recycled fire hose, recycled-leather earrings by Claire Fong (her earrings were recently spotlighted in Seventeen Magazine) and intricate crocheted dresses and skirts by mononymous designer Joyce.

2ND PLACE: ARC Thrift Store
2020 Park Ave., 343-3666

3RD PLACE: Elite Repeat Salvation Army
700 Broadway, 342-2195

Nantucket Home Furnishings


Place to buy home furnishings

1ST PLACE: Nantucket Home Furnishings
603 Broadway, 895-1038

You know those homes with interiors like something expensive out of a magazine, yet they’re comfortable and welcoming to be in? That’s the feeling one gets walking through Nantucket Home. Started in 1975 by owners Rick and Nan Tofanelli, Nantucket remains a local family businesses with style, inspiration and home-decorating expertise. At Sixth Street and Broadway, the showroom is open daily.

2ND PLACE (tie): The Address
240 Main St., 898-9000

2ND PLACE (tie): Evans Furniture
2101 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, 895-3000

Hardware store

1ST PLACE: Collier Hardware
105 Broadway, 342-0195

No surprise here: Once again, Collier Hardware wins first place for best hardware store. What’s not to love about this downtown business that, despite having been founded in 1871, stays up-to-the-moment on the best tools, paints, hardware, kitchenware, barbecues and fireplace supplies, and other cool, top-notch stuff (such as a selection of dinner bells)? Setting foot on Collier’s creaky old wooden floor sets the heart of any self-respecting, quality-loving, neo-retro traditionalist aflutter!

2ND PLACE: Lowe’s
2350 Forest Ave., 895-5130

3RD PLACE: Orchard Supply Hardware
231 W. East Ave., 332-9226

Liquor store

1ST PLACE: Mangrove Bottle Shop
1350 Mangrove Ave., 342-7575

Start with having one of the best selections of spirits, wines and imported and craft beers in Chico, then add great prices and friendly, knowledgeable clerks and you have the perfect spot to get stocked up for your party or to find that special selection you can find nowhere else. Whether it’s a specialty brew from Maryland’s Dogfish Head, one the dozens of choices of single-malt Scotches or an inexpensive wine special, Mangrove Bottle is where locals go to meet their adult-beverage needs.

2ND PLACE: Ray’s Liquor
207 Walnut St., 343-3249

3RD PLACE: Star Liquor
959 Nord Ave., 891-4842

Tattoo parlor

1ST PLACE: Eye of Jade
319 Main St., 343-5233

Whether it’s a mermaid, shamrock or an original design you want permanently affixed to your skin, Eye of Jade artists can help. Tattoos can be done in classic black with shading only, or incorporate a variety of colors. The tattoo artists at Eye of Jade—including founder Ben Lucas—take pride in their work and intricacy of design. Appointments are recommended, but drop-ins are welcome.

2ND PLACE: Red Room Tattoo
231 Nord Ave., 342-1287

3RD PLACE: Victory Tattoo
1818 Mangrove Ave., 896-1818

Pet boutique

1ST PLACE: Jill’s Elegant Dog Boutique
1722 Mangrove Ave., 891-6019

Whether you want some bling for Fifi’s collar or a zebra-print doggy bed for Fido, Jill’s Elegant Dog Boutique is the place to go. Owner Jill Van Curler is always at the top of her game, greeting each customer as he or she walks in and giving personal attention whenever possible. She often has her loveable pooches in tow, and she encourages patrons to bring their pets for collar and clothing fittings. A true dog’s paradise!

2ND PLACE: Northern Star Mills
510 Esplanade, 342-7661

3RD PLACE: Trailblazer Pet Supply
1612 Mangrove Ave., 892-1848


Illustration by NICHOLAS IVINS

Food & Drink

Local restaurant—Chico

1ST PLACE: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Taproom & Restaurant
1075 E. 20th St., 345-2739

Chico is proud of its world-famous brewery, and it’s at the Tap Room & Restaurant where they migrate to show their appreciation. While it’s a unique and special privilege to be able to enjoy every one of the brewery’s famous beers, plus a constant rotation of inventive specialty and tap-room-only selections, the wide variety of complementary food items made with locally sourced ingredients—brick-oven pizzas, specialty salads, almond-wood grilled meats—provide a complete dining experience that is hard to beat.

2ND PLACE: 5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328

3RD PLACE: Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill
100 Broadway, 342-0425

Local restaurant—Oroville

1ST PLACE: The Steak House (at Gold Country Casino)
4020 Olive Highway, 538-4560

Ready for a decadent night out? The Steak House at Gold Country Casino has got what you’re looking for. The spacious, elegant dining room offers tiered seating, and servers are attentive and gracious. If that’s not enough to get you going, the food is amazing. The steaks are mouth-wateringly good, and if red meat isn’t your thing, there are a variety of other options, from duck to halibut to vegetarian entrées.

2ND PLACE: Feather Falls Casino Brewing Co.
3 Alverda Drive, 533-8944

3RD PLACE: Tong Fong Low
2051 Robinson St., 533-1488

Local restaurant—On the Ridge

1ST PLACE: Sophia’s Thai Cuisine
7641 Skyway; 877-4296

If you love Thai food (and even if you don’t!) you must try Sophia’s. With nearly 100 items on the menu, from curries to noodle dishes, chicken to seafood to vegetarian fare, there’s surely to be something there for everyone. And don’t forget their teas! Sophia’s has been a longtime favorite on the Ridge, so much so that Sophia opened a second location in Chico several years ago.

2ND PLACE: Black Bear Diner
5791 Clark Road, 877-0877

3RD PLACE: Casa de Paradiso
5667 Clark Road, 877-4107

New restaurant (opened in the past year)

1ST PLACE: The Pour House
855 East Ave., 893-3000

After running the franchise La Salsa, owner Gary Lewis kept the location when he opened his own place, The Pour House Lounge & Restaurant. Near the Tinseltown movie theater, Pour House is open for lunch, dinner and libations from 11 a.m. to “late” daily. In addition to wine and specialty cocktails, the Pour House offers 12 beers on tap, including four made specially by regional craft brewers for the restaurant. The menu includes a creative selection of appetizers, salads, burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and dinner entrees. For only being open about three months, Lewis appears to have a success on his hands.

2ND PLACE: Sol Mexican Grill
3269 Esplanade, 342-4616

3RD PLACE: Sipho’s Restaurant & Café
1228 Dayton Road, 895-1866

Cheap eats

1ST PLACE: La Comida
954 Mangrove Ave., 345-2254

For insanely low prices, the Pavis family has been speedily serving generations of loyal locals huge portions of their singular brand of fresh Mexican fast food since 1968. That’s more than 40 years that Chicoans have been flocking to the restaurant that is seemingly busy during every open hour.

2ND PLACE: La Cocina Economica
905 Wall St., 809-0370

3RD PLACE: Aca Taco
133 Broadway, 894-0191; and 1000 W. Sacramento Ave., 343-0909

Fine dining

1ST PLACE: 5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328

At 5th Street Steakhouse, you’re guaranteed to drool as soon as you open the menu. With the most succulent, juicy steaks in town such as the mole rib eye or blue cheese-topped New York, and a dining vibe straight out of a Chicago chop house from back in the day, this place never disappoints. Libations are heavenly and they serve up a few fresh fish dishes if red meat isn’t your thing (or go with the surf ‘n’ turf and get the best of both worlds!).

2ND PLACE: Red Tavern
1250 Esplanade, 894-3463

3RD PLACE: Crush
201 Broadway, 342-7000


Photo By Jovan Johnson

Date-night dining

1ST PLACE: Crush
201 Broadway, 342-7000

Oh Crush, you’ve got that lovin’ feeling. Yes the Italian gem known as Crush is the spot to take that special someone for date night. Whether it’s a night out with the wife or the beginning stages of young love, Crush’s romantic ambiance works well with its Italian fare. From artisan pizzas to braised short ribs or calamari there’s plenty to choose from. Not to mention the outdoor patio and a killer happy hour!

2ND PLACE: 5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328

3RD PLACE: Red Tavern
1250 Esplanade, 894-3463


1ST PLACE: Upper Crust Bakery & Eatery
130 Main St., 895-3866

This bakery has a firm place in many Chicoans’ hearts … and bellies. It’s not uncommon to attend a special occasion or an office party and find that the rich, artfully frosted dessert was sourced from Upper Crust, or that the fresh bread you’re munching on was kneaded by one of its dedicated bakers. Its flavorful sandwiches, homemade soup of the day and other sinful goodies have been pulling in Chicoans for years, and that’s why it’s still taking the cake for best bakery.

2ND PLACE: Tin Roof Bakery & Café
627 Broadway, 345-1362

3RD PLACE: Mim’s Bakery
890 Humboldt Ave., 345-3331


1ST PLACE: Sin of Cortez
2290 Esplanade, 879-9200

Drive up to Sin of Cortez on any Sunday morning and you’ll see a line coming out the door. That’s because this restaurant is known for its always-fresh morning fare, from specialty omelets to fruit-filled pancakes to individually chosen coffees. The service is always friendly and if you just can’t make it before noon, do not fear—although there’s also a wonderful (and just as fresh!) lunch menu, breakfast is served all day long.

2ND PLACE: Morning Thunder Café
352 Vallombrosa Ave., 342-9717

3RD PLACE: Café Coda
265 Humboldt Ave., 566-9476

Broadway Heights California Cuisine

Photo By Jovan Johnson


1ST PLACE: Broadway Heights California Cuisine
300 Broadway, 899-8075

There are a few basic elements that make for a relaxing lunch date. Lofty ceilings, vintage-looking brick walls and art by local painters are just a few. The plates should be filled with fresh, nutritious and savory foods, and come in portions that accommodate a fluctuating mid-day appetite. Broadway Heights has all of this, and for that Chicoans have put it in the No. 1 spot for lunch for the umpteenth time.

2ND PLACE: T. Tea Bar & Fusion Café
250 Vallombrosa Ave., 895-8100

3RD PLACE: Pluto’s
201 Main St., 343-0165

Place to satisfy your sweet tooth

1ST PLACE: Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy
178 E. Seventh St., 342-7163

If ever you get a craving for something sweet, head over to Shubert’s and they’ll have you covered. Generations of Chicoans have flocked to this Seventh Street parlor for the house-made ice creams (try the Chico Mint or sinfully delicious Mocha Chip), and it’s not uncommon on a hot summer evening to see a line coming out the door. In addition, the selection of chocolates is perfect gift-giving fodder—if you can keep your hands off ’em long enough!

2ND PLACE: Mim’s Bakery
890 Humboldt Ave., 345-3331

3RD PLACE: Jon & Bon’s Yogurt Shoppe
Various locations

Local coffee house

1ST PLACE: Bidwell Perk
664 E. First Ave., 899-1500

Early weekday mornings at Bidwell Perk bring out a host of Chico characters: school teachers buzzing, hungry folks filling their sweet-tooths at the bakery counter, and die-hards who just want the java. For 15 years, centrally located near the corner of East First and Mangrove avenues, Bidwell Perk has been a neat place to meet, greet and eat. For breakfast and lunch, health-conscious fare is offered—alongside decadent dessert offerings.

2ND PLACE: The Naked Lounge
118 W. Second St., 895-0676

3RD PLACE: Cal Java Coffee Roasters
Various locations

Chain coffee house

1ST PLACE: Starbucks
Various locations

Chicoans have got a habit of knocking off that drowsy feeling, studying for that 8 a.m. final, or simply enjoying their favorite seasonal dose of flavorful caffeine at Starbucks coffee shop. Located throughout Chico, there’s a reason the shops are found everywhere—Chicoans know where to get their bright eyes and bushy tails started! Starbucks also offers noncaffeinated beverages, sandwiches and light treats.

2ND PLACE: Dutch Bros. Coffee
Various locations

3RD PLACE: Peet’s Coffee & Tea
145 Main St., 894-6716

Jack’s Family Restaurant

Photo By Jovan Johnson

Greasy spoon

1ST PLACE: Jack’s Family Restaurant
540 Main St., 343-8383

Fortunately for Chico residents, this hearty restaurant is always ready to serve. Jack’s Family Restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner all day and all night long, giving intoxicated 3 a.m.-ers a happy haven to wind down and grub at after a night on the town. The menu features eggs, bacon, steaks, burgers and more for even the most typical meal-time munchers.

2ND PLACE: The Roost Café
1144 Park Ave., 892-1281

3RD PLACE: Cozy Diner
1695 Mangrove Ave., 895-1195

Asian cuisine

1ST PLACE: Tong Fong Low
2072 E. 20th St., Ste. 100, 898-1388

It wasn’t that long ago that Oroville institution Tong Fong Low opened a second restaurant in Chico, and, boy, has it caught on with local Chinese-food fans! The place is always bustling with sit-down diners as well as folks stopping in to pick up to-go orders, but the service never suffers—it’s always speedy and friendly. From potstickers to cashew chicken to yummy seafood dishes (including some killer shrimp fried rice) and much more, this venue is a real winner.

2ND PLACE: Happy Garden
180 Cohasset Road, 893-2574

3RD PLACE: Rice Bowl
2804 Esplanade, 899-9098

Italian cuisine

1ST PLACE: Italian Cottage
2234 Esplanade, 343-7000; and 2525 Dominic Drive, 342-7771

When it comes to chowing down on the best cucina Italiana in Chico there’s one place that tops the polls time and again: Italian Cottage. With its comforting atmosphere and vast array of Italian classics from pizza and sandwiches to its famous “Valley lasagna,” it’s easy to see why the Cottage is a reader favorite. They even serve breakfast!

2ND PLACE: Sicilian Café
1020 Main St., 345-2233

3RD PLACE: Franky’s
506 Ivy St., 898-9948

International cuisine

1ST PLACE: Priya Indian Cuisine
2574 Esplanade, 899-1055

Local foodies who crave the tastes of India head to Priya Indian Cuisine. Meat lovers and vegetarians alike love the restaurant’s diverse menu, with items such as fall-off-the-bone tandoori chicken and mouth-watering eggplant curry. Get an excellent sampling of their offerings by ordering a thali dinner, which comes with one main entrée, six small sides, and a choice of three desserts. Or try the impressive lunch buffet, served every day from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

2ND PLACE: Cocodine Thai Cuisine
2485 Notre Dame Blvd., 891-1800

3RD PLACE: Thai Basil
121 Broadway, 343-6843

Mexican cuisine

1ST PLACE: Casa Ramos
216 W. East Ave., 894-0119 and 2490 Park Ave., 893-5050

For a sit-down Mexican food experience, you can do no better than the huge portions of lovingly prepared Mexican fare at Casa Ramos. The family-owned Northern California chain has two Chico locations and each features a gigantic menu filled with a dizzying selection of Mexican flavors. Order a specialty dish like the seafood Molcajete (a stew of shrimp, scallops and whitefish) or just try and finish one of the huge combination plates.

2ND PLACE: Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill
100 Broadway, 342-0425

3RD PLACE: La Hacienda
2635 Esplanade, 893-8270

Place for vegetarian cuisine

1ST PLACE: Grilla Bites
196 Cohasset Road, 343-4876

Grilla Bites is a known local favorite of vegetarians. In addition to veggie-filled sandwich melts, it’s the salad bar, with its large selection of organic and unexpected ingredients, that keeps the meat-free crowd happiest. For the omnivores among us, Grilla Bites does serve some meat products as well (dolphin-free tuna is the highlight of the tasty Thai Tuna Sandwich). Located in the Garden Villa plaza on Cohasset Road, Grilla Bites is open every day for lunch and dinner, with breakfast service on weekends.

2ND PLACE: Pluto’s Restaurant
201 Main St., 343-0165

3RD PLACE: Priya Indian Cuisine
2574 Esplanade, 899-1055

Meals on wheels

1ST PLACE: El Paisa
Eighth and Pine streets

Chicoans really seem to love their El Paisa taco truck! Year after year the familiar spot at Eighth and Pine streets gets chosen as a favorite. Maybe it’s the shrimp tacos—always a solid choice—or perhaps it’s the veggie burritos or spicy al pastor tostadas. There are so many delicious choices, we can’t pick just one. Good thing El Paisa is easy on the wallet—you can just try them all!

2ND PLACE: Cupcake Crusader

3RD PLACE: El Tapatio
East First Avenue (near In Motion Fitness)


1ST PLACE: Burger Hut
Various locations

Burger joints are to Chico as ketchup is to french fries and this place keeps raking in the victories for Best Burger in Chico. Oh wait, they won Best French Fries too! Burger Hut’s 100 percent fresh-ground USDA grade A beef and multiple locations in Chico—and beyond—attest to its success (as do years’ worth of Best of Chico plaques!).

2ND PLACE: Nobby’s
1444 Park Ave., 342-2285

3RD PLACE: Burgers & Brew
201 Broadway, 879-9100


1ST PLACE: Aca Taco
133 Broadway, 894-0191; and 1000 W. Sacramento Ave., 343-0909

Aca Taco is a longtime Chico favorite when it comes to burritos. The portions are large, the ingredients delicious and the service always friendly. Locals love Aca Taco, but it’s a particular favorite among the high school and college crowds, who frequent both the downtown and West Sacramento Avenue locations (the latter is open late for the after-bar crowd).

2ND PLACE: Chipotle
620 Mangrove Ave., 343-8707

3RD PLACE: El Patron
2494 Notre Dame Blvd., 891-8888

French fries

1ST PLACE: Burger Hut
Various locations

2ND PLACE: In ‘n’ Out
2050 Business Lane, (800) 786-1000

3RD PLACE: McDonald’s
Various locations

The Dog House

Photo By Jovan Johnson

Hot dog

1ST PLACE: The Dog House
1008 W. Sacramento Ave., 894-3641; and 1354 East Ave., 894-2242

Run on over to The Dog House if you’re in the mood for an American classic. Their array of hot dogs and hamburgers will make you feel like the top dog after a hungry day. They have two locations in town and a new seasonal location at the One-Mile Recreation Area at Sycamore Pool from May through September.

2ND PLACE: Costco
2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, 342-6494

3RD PLACE: Zot’s Hot Dogs & Deli
225 Main St., 345-2820


1ST PLACE: Celestino’s Live From New York Pizza & Deli
101 Salem St., 896-1234; and 1354 East Ave., 345-7700

Who’s craving a taste of New York? Apparently all of Chico! Celestino’s pizza shop is always a sure bet when you get a craving for a lunch-time slice or tasty 18-inch God Father pizza. Celestino’s deliciously big, thin-crust slices cost just $3 apiece, leaving you with your money and a meal in hand!

2ND PLACE: Woodstock’s Pizza
166 E. Second St., 893-1500

3RD PLACE: Farm Star Pizza
2359 Esplanade, 343-2056


1ST PLACE: Spiteri’s Deli
971 East Ave., 891-4797

Spiteri’s Deli is hopping during the lunch hour and beyond because of its consistently delicious sandwich offerings, with a wide selection of meats, cheeses and breads (try the Dutch crunch!). Speaking of meat, this place doesn’t skimp. Your sandwich will be loaded. While you’re there, try one of the delicious specialty salads, and wash it all down with a freshly brewed iced tea or a beer from their nice selection of bottled brews (a few on tap, too).

2ND PLACE: Great Harvest Bread Co.
Various locations

3RD PLACE: Kona’s Sandwiches
138 Main St., 893-4344; and 965 Nord Ave., 894-1635

Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy

Photo By Jovan Johnson

Ice Cream

1ST PLACE: Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy
178 E. Seventh St., 342-7163

If ever you get a craving for something sweet, head over to Shubert’s and they’ll have you covered. Generations of Chicoans have flocked to this Seventh Street parlor for the house-made ice creams (try the Chico Mint or sinfully delicious Mocha Chip), and it’s not uncommon on a hot summer evening to see a line coming out the door. In addition, the selection of chocolates is perfect gift-giving fodder—if you can keep your hands off ’em long enough!

2ND PLACE: Jon & Bon’s Yogurt Shoppe
Various locations

3RD PLACE: Cold Stone Creamery
146 Broadway, 891-3331


1ST PLACE: The Rawbar
346 Broadway, 897-0626

Although Chico isn’t anywhere near the ocean we still manage to have ourselves a handful of sushi joints that locals consistently go to get their raw-fish fix, and the top honors have it in the name—Rawbar. Its sleek upscale vibe and downtown location have Chicoans raving about Rawbar’s variety of specialty rolls (the Crunch Roll is to-die-for), nigiri and assortment of Japanese fare.

2ND PLACE: Japanese Blossoms
2995 The Esplanade, 891-9022

3RD PLACE: Big Tuna Sushi Bistro
1722 Mangrove Ave., 345-4571

Bacio Catering & Carry Out

Photo By Jovan Johnson


1ST PLACE: Bacio Catering & Take Out
1903 Park Ave., 345-7787

Bacio Catering also offers Bacio-to-Go gourmet take-out food from its location in south Chico. Emphasizing fresh, local ingredients, Bacio offers solutions from business lunches to classy catering for hundreds at weddings. Attention to detail and presentation are the hallmarks customers have come to expect since Bacio’s inception in 1984. An intimate indoor seating area is available for lunchers.

2ND PLACE: Happy Garden
180 Cohasset Road, 893-2574

3RD PLACE: Tong Fong Low
2051 Robinson St., 533-1488


1ST PLACE: Bacio Catering & Carry Out
1903 Park Ave., 345-7787

2ND PLACE: Special Times Catering
2500 Floral Ave., 892-2837

3RD PLACE: Italian Guy Catering
28 Bellarmine Court, 321-3456


1ST PLACE: Ann Leon, Leon Bistro
817 Main St., 899-1105

Emphasizing contemporary California cuisine, chef Ann Leon offers fun nightly specials at her upscale Leon Bistro. Leon takes the helm with more than 20 years of restaurant, casino and resort experience. She graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and she worked at the famous Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse. The back wine room is available for private parties, and “drop-off” catering is offered for off-site events. Plus, Leon offers classes, giving customers a unique opportunity to meet the master.

2ND PLACE: Craig Thomas, Red Tavern
1250 Esplanade, 894-3463

3RD PLACE: Michael Hall, 5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328

The Banshee

Photo By Jovan Johnson

Drunk munchies

1ST PLACE: The Banshee
132 W. Second St., 895-9670

It’s the end of the night, you’re seeing double and you need to soak up the booze with some drunk munchies; two words fit the bill—The Banshee. Whether it’s the epic cheesy mac ‘n’ cheese with choice of meat, steak and cheese quesadilla or a gourmet sandwich, the Banshee will make it all better after a night of boozing. They don’t skimp on portions and everything comes in around $10.

2ND PLACE: Franky’s
506 Ivy St., 898-9947

3RD PLACE: Aca Taco
133 Broadway, 894-0191; and 1000 W. Sacramento Ave., 343-0909

Champagne brunch

1ST PLACE: Nash’s 7th Avenue Omelette House
1717 Esplanade, 896-1147

You could say champagne brunch tops the list for a Chicoan’s favorite way to start—or end—their weekend and Nash’s 7th Avenue Omelette House tops the list for the best place to go to do just that. Tucked away on the north side of downtown at Seventh Avenue and The Esplanade, Nash’s offers 12 different omelettes along with traditional breakfast and a staff that will never let your bubbly go dry.

2ND PLACE: Café Coda
265 Humboldt Ave., 566-9476

3RD PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante
192 E. Third St., 894-4005

Hangover breakfast

1ST PLACE: Morning Thunder Café
352 Vallombrosa Ave., 342-9717

Whether your late-morning needs lean toward the sweet or the salty, the long lines outside Morning Thunder on Saturdays and Sundays are your clue that this is the place to cure what ails you. Great coffee, plus huge portions of wholesome, made-to-order breakfast (and lunch!) goodness. Just try and finish one of their giant platters of pancakes, or the mountain of veggies and taters that comes with the Vegetaters, or the Thunder Egg, or a huge omelette, or …

2ND PLACE: The Roost Café
1144 Park Ave., 892-1281

3RD PLACE: Café Coda
265 Humboldt Ave., 566-9476

Monks Wine Lounge & Bistro

Photo By Jovan Johnson

Small bites (apps/tapas)

1ST PLACE: Monks Wine Lounge & Bistro
128 W. Second St., 343-3408

Monks Wine Lounge & Bistro has an cozy atmosphere that tempts people to tuck in off Second Street for a treat. Owners Kevin & Keely Coy, with Kevin creating the food, please customers with their satisfying appetizers and dinners and impressive wine list. Monks has long been the go-to spot for a glass of wine, but now it’s making a name for itself with its “small plates”—try the dolmas or polenta. What a perfect way to spend an evening!

2ND PLACE: Crush
201 Broadway, 342-7000

3RD PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante
192 E. Third St., 894-4005

Outdoor patio

1ST PLACE: Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill
100 Broadway, 342-0425

After closing for extensive repairs after a fire engulfed much of the kitchen in December 2009, Tres Hombres reopened spicier than ever last year with an impressive outdoor patio. Tres Hombres still offers the same unique coastal Mexican cuisine and full bar, but now happy diners can sip their Cadillac margaritas and nosh on delicious carne asada or quesadillas while people-watching on Broadway.

2ND PLACE: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Taproom & Restaurant
1075 E. 20th St., 345-2739

3RD PLACE: Red Tavern
1250 Esplanade, 894-3463


Illustration by NICHOLAS IVINS

Nightlife & Entertainment


1ST PLACE: The Banshee
132 W. Second St., 895-9670

2ND PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718

3RD PLACE: Madison Bear Garden
316 W. Second St., 891-1639

Bar—On the Ridge

1ST PLACE: Canteena
6067 Skyway, 877-5215

The playfully spelled Canteena brought in the most votes for Best Bar on the Ridge. The casual, sports-bar atmosphere—and the burgers—drive in the working lunch crowd. The nightclub offers pub fair seven days a week at its location on Paradise’s main drag. It was formerly the home of the quaint, neighborhood joint the We Lark Lounge. Serving beer, wines and featuring live music, the spot is available for meetings and has been open since 2003.

2ND PLACE: Smokie Mountain Steakhouse
7039 Skyway, 872-3323

3RD PLACE: Barney O’Rourke’s
740 Elliott Road, 877-9973


1ST PLACE: Spirits Lounge (at Gold Country Casino)
4020 Olive Highway, 538-4560

Voters deemed the Spirits Lounge at Gold Country Casino their favorite Oroville bar. Spirits features wide-screen TVs for football and other sports fans and daily drink specials are offered. Microbrew Mondays, for example, highlight $2 pints. Five dollars finds you with a brew sampler paddle. Entertainment can be dancing to a live band or DJ, comedy, karaoke or “Country Senior Days.”

2ND PLACE: Feather Falls Casino Brewing Co.
3 Alverda Drive, 533-8944

3RD PLACE: Montgomery Street Pub
1933 Montgomery St., 533-0900

Place to grab a beer and cheer

1ST PLACE: The Graduate
344 W. Eighth St., 343-2790

You can’t beat having 50 beers on tap and nonstop sports showing on three giant projection screens and another dozen flat screens. What else do you need to say about Chico’s legendary sports bar/restaurant? How about the fact that their Grad Burgers are among the best hamburgers in town and that they have some of the most insanely affordable food specials, plus pool tables, air hockey and video games? Now that’s something to cheer about.

2ND PLACE: Bella’s Sports Pub
134 Broadway; 893-5253

3RD PLACE: Madison Bear Garden
316 W. Second St., 891-1639

Place to bust a move

1ST PLACE: LaSalles
229 Broadway, 893-1891

LaSalles, with its aged brick walls, long bar, and split levels, carries an old-fashioned feeling. Yet the vibe attracts the college crowd, as well as older folks who reminisce about LaSalles as a 1970s “fern bar” that offered food and live theater on the patio. It’s so popular you may face a cover charge after waiting in line outside, but the spacious bar brings entertaining, danceable live music to two stages.

2ND PLACE: Crazy Horse Saloon & Brewery
303 Main St., 342-7299

3RD PLACE: Madison Bear Garden
316 W. Second St., 891-1639

Happy hour

1ST PLACE: Crush
201 Broadway, 342-7000

2ND PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante
192 E. Third St., 894-4005

3RD PLACE: Riley’s
702 W. Fifth St., 343-7459

Place for a glass of wine

1ST PLACE: Monks Wine Lounge & Bistro
128 W. Second St., 343-3408

2ND PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante
192 E. Third St., 894-4005

3RD PLACE: Crush
201 Broadway, 342-7000


1ST PLACE: Lance Baker—Panama Bar & Café
177 E. Second St., 895-8817

Lance Baker, the dreamy bartender at Panama Bar & Café, tops the list this year for Best Mixologist. He won because of more than just looks and smooth-talking, though—he’s got flair! A regular at bartending competitions, Baker can do more than just pour a drink. We hear he knows a few fun magic tricks—ask him to show off the next time you order a tea at Panama’s or a martini at The Beach, his most recent stomping ground.

2ND PLACE: Jake Smith—Crazy Horse Saloon & Brewery
303 Main St., 894-5408

3RD PLACE: Sean D—5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328

33 Steaks, Booze & Jazz

Photo By Jovan Johnson


1ST PLACE: 33 Steaks, Booze & Jazz
305 Main St., 893-1903

This popular dinner-nightspot was rebelliously named to honor the repeal of Prohibition. For awhile there, the dueling piano guys held court at the raucous, rockin’ place to be for the late-night crowd. But it’s the martinis that put 33 Steaks, Booze & Jazz on the map this year. More than 40 different martinis are available—Smirnoff Vanilla Vodka, cream, chocolate syrup, raspberry liqueur with a cocoa rim is the concoction named for the sultry entertainer Josephine Baker—and if none of those sound good, a bartender will mix one to your specifications.

2ND PLACE: Crush
201 Broadway, 342-7000

3RD PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante
192 E. Third St., 894-4005


1ST PLACE: Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill
100 Broadway St., 342-0425

2ND PLACE: Casa Ramos
216 W. East Ave., 894-0119; and 2490 Park Ave., 893-5050

3RD PLACE: La Hacienda
2635 Esplanade, 893-8270

Bloody Mary

1ST PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718

Something about Duffy’s secret Bloody Mary recipe is irresistible to Chicoans, which is why it’s been the Best of Chico for at least four years running. With a track record like that, all fans of this drink must try it. Could be the Guinness, the A-1 Steak Sauce or maybe the asparagus. Drink too many, though, and you’ll be calling it a “Muddy Blarrey.” Prices range from $5.50 to $8.50 depending on the type of vodka used.

2ND PLACE: Joe’s Bar
749 W. Fifth St., 894-3612

3RD PLACE: Nash’s Restaurant
1717 Esplanade, 896-1147

Live music venue

1ST PLACE: Sierra Nevada Big Room
1075 E. 20th St., 345-2739

This 350-seat auditorium inside the jewel of Chico, the Sierra Nevada Brewery, is one class act. It regularly sells out because of the incredible, nationally known bands, amazing acoustics and great view from anywhere in the house. Its intimate, classy setting has been the stage for many live TV concerts. All ages welcome, with food sold before each show, and of course their world-famous beer, in addition to nonalcoholic drinks.

2ND PLACE: LaSalles
229 Broadway, 893-1891

3RD PLACE: Café Coda
265 Humboldt Ave., 566-9476

Local music act

1ST PLACE: Kyle Williams
There are plenty of musical choices in Chico—something to please fans of every style. Then there are those handful of artists who don’t necessarily adhere to one particular sound, but are just plain talented, appealing to anyone who likes to hear someone with great skill perform with passion. Singer/songwriter Kyle Williams fills the bill. He has a huge voice, and he sings every original tune and every carefully chosen cover with energy and soulfulness. And Chico likes that sound.

2ND PLACE: Hot Flash



1ST PLACE: DJ Mack Morris
If you’ve ever gone out dancing in Chico, you’ve probably shaken your booty to the sounds of DJ Mack Morris (aka Mark Morris), a local boy done good. The Pleasant Valley High and Chico State alum can be heard regularly on Thursday nights at LaSalles as well as Riley’s and Gold Country Casino. But even if nightclubs aren’t your thing, you’ve likely heard Morris, who also owns Elite Sound, which has provided tunes for Chicoans’ weddings for years. Check out his newest mix at

2ND PLACE: DJ Jigga Julee


Karaoke night

1ST PLACE: LaSalles
229 Broadway, 893-1891

2ND PLACE: Madison Bear Garden
316 W. Second St., 891-1639

3RD PLACE: The Maltese Bar & Tap Room
1600 Park Ave., 343-4915

Local artist

1ST PLACE: Jake Early
Who would want to buy a piece of art depicting water towers? People who notice the distinctive detail in a scene from a town they love. Artist Jake Early has found a way to tap into that, re-creating definitive images from Chico and other towns, with his original hand-printed serigraphs. Now splitting his time between Chico and Santa Barbara, the native Californian graduated from the graphic design program at Chico State, and spent time at the School of Fine Arts in Seville, Spain. Chico Paper Co. is the only place in Chico to buy his stuff. His clients around the world include locals Sierra Nevada Brewery.

2ND PLACE: Janet Lombardi Blixt

3RD PLACE: Sea Monster (Christine Fulton)

Place to see art

1ST PLACE: RayRay Gallery
530 Broadway,

It’s nice to see art anywhere. And Chico has an astounding number of cafes, restaurants, shops and galleries in which to do so. What makes RayRay stand out is its commitment to trying something new and making the experience of enjoying art as fun and interactive as possible. Why just have a show featuring death-themed art, when you can also invite local singers into the space to sing murder ballads as they did with the Dead’s Town show? Every show’s reception is a party, and every show is something new. It’s a smart way to run a gallery.

2ND PLACE: 1078 Gallery
820 Broadway, 343-1973

3RD PLACE: Avenue 9 Gallery
180 E. Ninth Ave., 879-1821

Place to buy art

1ST PLACE: Chico Paper Co.
345 Broadway, 891-0900

The unofficial home-away-from-home-of-sorts of acclaimed printmaker Jake Early (and his artwork, of course), Chico Paper Co. carries the work of numerous, highly accomplished local and regional artists such as sculptor Matt Auvinen, photographers Geoff Fricker and Bill Di Grazia, and painters Cynthia Schildhauer and Claudia Steel. Chico Paper also offers custom framing and an amazing selection of handmade papers from around the world.

2ND PLACE: Art Etc.
122 W. Third St., 895-1161

3RD PLACE: Avenue 9 Gallery
180 E. Ninth Ave., 879-1821

Theater company

1ST PLACE: Blue Room Theatre
139 W. First St.; 895-3749

For a community theater, the Blue Room has it all. It’s centrally located downtown in the historic Masonic building above Collier Hardware. It’s community-driven, with an open door to all local performers and producers to show their stuff and pitch their ideas. And it produces a wide range of challenging and fun shows—from works by modern playwrights like Christopher Shinn and Neil LaBute to rock musicals, irreverent late-night shows and regular improv, sketch-comedy and standup features—energetically performed by Chico’s best and brightest players.

2ND PLACE: Chico Cabaret
2201 Pillsbury Road, 895-0245

3RD PLACE: Chico Theater Company
166 W. Eaton Road, 894-3282


1ST PLACE: Gold Country Casino
4020 Olive Highway, Oroville; 538-4560

Gold Country Casino in Oroville won voters’ hearts, among several flashy choices, for Best Casino. You’ll notice Gold Country’s Spirits Lounge won Best Bar in the fair town of Oroville. Another feature that captures the hearts of the big spender is the multitiered steakhouse, with a beautiful panoramic view of the North Valley that includes Table Mountain. Anyone can join the fun “Where the stars play,” as their slogan romantically suggests.

2ND PLACE: Feather Falls Casino
3 Alverda Drive, Oroville; 533-3885

3RD PLACE: Rolling Hills Casino
2655 Barham Ave., Corning; 528-3500


Illustration by NICHOLAS IVINS

Health / Wellness

Local health-care provider

1ST PLACE: Enloe Medical Center
1531 Esplanade, 332-7300

Founded in 1913 by Dr. N.T. Enloe, Enloe Medical Center is becoming a centenarian in serving the North Valley’s health-care needs. Rapid expansion around the Esplanade neighborhood in recent years is making way for the future. Serving 450,000 residents in six counties, Enloe, a not-for-profit organization, is also one of the area’s top employers. It’s nice to live in Chico and know you can trust the hospital that serves you.

2ND PLACE: Dannielle Harwood
1645 Esplanade, Ste. 4, 343-1200

3RD PLACE: Chico Immediate Care Medical Center Inc.
376 Vallombrosa Ave., 891-1676

Alternative health-care provider

1ST PLACE: Chico Community Acupuncture
1057 Village Lane, 345-5300

Seeking to provide effective, affordable, accessible health care, Chico Community Acupuncture stole the show for Best Alternative Health-care Provider. With a $10 paperwork fee on the first visit, gentle treatments are offered for $15-$35, on an honorary sliding scale. Back pain, sciatica, headaches, depression, overcoming addictions, colds and flus are among the maladies that can be treated. What a break for ill people without fat wallets!

2ND PLACE: Dr. James Nagel
70 Declaration Drive, Suite 102; 893-0105

3RD PLACE: Molly Olson Massage & Natural Healing
2619 Forest Ave. Ste. 130, 327-8530

Dental office

1ST PLACE: Nelsen Family Dentistry
1307 Esplanade, 898-8511

Family is the name of the game at Nelsen Family Dentistry, founded in 2000 in Chico by Drs. John and Melissa Nelsen. Together with Dr. Thomas Farris, the Nelsen staff provides friendly dental care for all ages at their practice on The Esplanade. Both the Nelsens and Thomas have children they enjoy raising in Chico. How cute is it that the Nelsens met on their first day of dental school, and graduated together in 1999?

2ND PLACE: William Moon
227 W. Sixth St., 342-3525

3RD PLACE: Kremer Dental Care
3 Glenbrook Court, 892-1234


1ST PLACE: Patrick Tedford
643 W. East Ave., 342-0502

Dr. Patrick Tedford has 37 years’ experience in general practice medicine, specializing in pediatrics—infant, child and adolescent care. Decades ago, when Enloe Medical Center hosted the fundraising vaudeville show, The Enloe Follies, Dr. Tedford kicked up his heels performing bouncy dance routines. He’s known for his kindness, sense of humor and affability.

2ND PLACE: Robert Stanley
1427 Magnolia Ave., 896-1446

3RD PLACE : John Asarian
10 Governors Lane, 343-8522

General practitioner

1ST PLACE: Dannielle Harwood
1645 Esplanade, Ste. 4, 343-1200

Dannielle Harwood runs a unique practice in Chico, Studio MD, which is member-based, meaning patients pay a small monthly fee to get regular access to Dr. Harwood via email and longer visits than traditional doctors’ offices. Harwood focuses on women’s health, but also cares for families. She thinks it’s important to create a bond with her patients, and clearly those patients appreciate it!

2ND PLACE: Christine and Michael Schooling
1645 Esplanade, Ste. 1, 896-0386

3RD PLACE (tied): Stephen Peterson
185 E. Seventh Ave., 342-7564

3RD PLACE (tied): Jennifer Sanchez
1560 Humboldt Road,Ste. 2, 893-0105


1ST PLACE (tie): Fragoso Chiropractic Sports and Family Wellness Center
2062 Talbert Drive, 891-9010

1ST PLACE (tie): Preference Chiropractic
1635 Magnolia Ave., 895-0224

We tense up when we drive, we hunch over our computers all day … no wonder people appreciate their favorite chiroproactors. This year, the winner is a tie. Fragoso Chiropractic Sports and Family Wellness Center, headed by Dr. John Fragoso, has chiropractic treatments for all ages. Fragoso is a specialist with athletes and practices ironman performance care. At Preference Chiropractic, three chiropractors with 30 years’ combined experience offer services from their quaint office on Magnolia, a homey blue house behind Enloe Medical Center in the Avenues.

2ND PLACE: Joyce Family Chiropractic
9 Frontier Circle, 899-8500

3RD PLACE: Matt McCowan
2060 Talbert Drive, 345-5335

Massage therapist

1ST PLACE: Babette Maiss
150 Amber Grove Drive, Suite 152; 321-5668

For the third year, Babette Maiss has won this feel-good category. Maiss is caring, friendly and committed to her clients. With lots of advanced training, Maiss specializes in prenatal massage, and offers lymphatic massage for post-cancer patients. She gives deep-tissue sports massages, working with many athletes, and neuromuscular therapy. Maiss’ Chico studio is at 1150 Amber Grove Drive, Suite 152.

2ND PLACE (tie): Valerie St. George
341 Broadway, 345-1745

2ND PLACE (tie): Tory Zellick (In Touch Bodyworks)
2995 The Esplanade, 892-1807

Eye-care specialist

1ST PLACE: Chico Eye Center
605 W. East Ave., 895-1727

Chico Eye Center was founded in 1978, and has expanded to a Paradise office as well. Five eye doctors offer routine eye exams, prescribe glasses and contacts, diagnose diseases of the eye, prescribe needed medications, and perform eye surgery when needed. Botox and Juvederm are among cosmetic services offered for improving the appearance of the skin around the eyes. Eye myth from their website: “Reading in dim light will hurt your eyes.” Truth: It may fatigue the eyes, but does not cause damage. Good to know!

2ND PLACE: Family Eye Care
2565 Ceanothus Ave. Ste. 155, 899-3939

3RD PLACE: North Valley Eye Care
114 Mission Ranch Blvd. Ste. 50, 891-1900


1ST PLACE: In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave., 343-5678

It’s easy to see why this expansive fitness complex is perennially the winner with health-minded Chicoans. Every possible way to work out is available to its members: giant rooms filled with treadmills and elliptical machines, free weights and resistance machines; assorted outdoor aquatics, rehabilitation and splash pools; a basketball gym and a yoga studio (In Motion is also taking home awards for Best Place to Shoot Hoops and Best Yoga Studio); and countless group fitness classes, from spinning and interval training to pilates and zumba.

2ND PLACE: Chico Sports Club
260 Cohasset Road, 345-9427

3RD PLACE (tie): Chico State WREC
On the Chico State campus

Golf course

1ST PLACE: Bidwell Park Golf Course
3199 Golf Course Road, 891-8417

Golfers have been heading to Chico’s beautiful Bidwell Park Golf Course since 1929. It’s considered one of Northern California’s original municipal golf courses, and clearly it’s a Chico favorite. Golfers enjoy the great outdoors at the 18 holes of Upper Bidwell Park. Try not to hit the docile deer, which are sometimes unafraid of being close with humans. The course itself has been described as a “fair but demanding par 72.”

2ND PLACE: Canyon Oaks Country Club
999 Yosemite Drive, 343-2582

3RD PLACE: Table Mountain Golf Course
2700 Oro Dam Blvd., 533-3922

Court to shoot hoops

1ST PLACE: In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave., 343-5678

2ND PLACE: Chico Sports Club
260 Cohasset Road, 345-9427

3RD PLACE: Chico State WREC
On the Chico State campus

Place to take a dip

1ST PLACE: Sycamore Pool
We’re not sure there’s anything quite as invigorating as taking a nice, long bike ride—or walk, or run—through Lower Bidwell Park and then stripping down to your swimsuit and cooling off in Sycamore Pool. Clearly readers agree! Now that the snack bar has reopened, the summer hotspot at One-Mile Recreation Area is the perfect place to relax, people watch and take a dip in the creek.

2ND PLACE: Upper Park

3RD PLACE: In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave., 343-5678

Place for kids to play

1ST PLACE: Caper Acres
Many a youngster has played to his or her heart’s content in the fenced-in wonderland known as Caper Acres in Lower Bidwell Park. Parents can let youngsters run amongst the playground toys, including a visit to Humpty Dumpty in the sandbox. Kids can also play outdoors on the swings, climb into a treehouse, and slide down its slides into the soft sand. Four years ago, a new toddler-oriented play area, the “Nico Project,” was constructed. Closed Mondays, Caper Acres is open from 9 a.m. to sunset Tuesdays through Sundays.

2ND PLACE: Bidwell Park

3RD PLACE: DeGarmo Park

Yoga studio

1ST PLACE: In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave., 343-5678

2ND PLACE: Blue Lotus Yoga & Wellness
973 East Ave., 895-9642

3RD PLACE: Chico Sports Club
260 Cohasset Road, 345-9427

Azad’s Martial Arts

CNR file photo

Martial arts studio

1ST PLACE: Azad’s Martial Arts
313 Walnut St., 896-0777

Generations of children and adults have gone to Azad’s Martial Arts Center to learn the benefits and discipline of martial arts. Since 1985, Master Farshad Azad also has led the community with a tradition of giving back. This Thanksgiving will mark his 20th annual Basket Brigade, a grassroots effort that provides holiday dinner baskets for hundreds of local families in need. Azad also hosted the recent Parade of Lights (Oct. 8), in its 22nd year. In addition to running his local school on Walnut Street, Azad teaches a variety of subjects in workshops around the world, including self-defense for women, and for people with disabilities.

2ND PLACE: Haley’s Martial Arts
260 Cohasset Road, 895-3114

3RD PLACE: Stand Alone
845 Cherry St., 893-8392

Pet doctor

1ST PLACE: Acacia Veterinary Hospital
479 East Ave., 345-1338

For four years now, Chicoans have professed their love of the pet doctors at Acacia Veterinary Hospital. With their ultra-clean, friendly reception area and animal-loving techs and vets, it’s easy to see why Acacia is such a favorite. What sets them apart might be the low-cost vaccine clinics held once a month, or the online Pet Portal, which appeals to tech-savvy pet owners who like to stay up-to-date on their pets’ health.

2ND PLACE: Evers Veterinary Clinic
1150 El Monte Ave., 343-0713

3RD PLACE: Mangrove Veterinary Hospital
1900 Mangrove Ave., 891-4818

Sporting event

1ST PLACE: Chico Outlaws
Chico Outlaws is Chico’s hometown baseball team, part of the North American Baseball League, the largest professional independent baseball league in the world. Games offer a chance for families to build memories on warm afternoons at Nettleton Stadium by the Chico State campus. Theme nights, often with free merchandise giveaways, punctuate the season’s fun. Fireworks add to the celebrations for special games, and that most American holiday, the Fourth of July.

2ND PLACE: Almond Bowl

3RD PLACE: Silver Dollar Speedway


Illustration by NICHOLAS IVINS


Public servant

1ST PLACE: Ann Schwab
Best of Chico voters tagged Chico Mayor Ann Schwab Best Public Servant this year. The “sustainability mayor” is chairwoman of the city’s Sustainability Task Force, when not working at Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE) as a program manager. She and her husband, Bud Schwab, own Campus Bicycles. Ann moved to Chico in 1975 and she’s been a long-term president of the healthy, two-wheeled folk who comprise Chico Velo Cycling Club, also volunteering as a Bidwell Park Watch member, and for Northstate Public Radio. What a Chico story.

2ND PLACE (tie): Scott Gruendl, city councilman

2ND PLACE (tie): Jane Dolan, former county supervisor

Local celebrity

1ST PLACE: Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers quarterback

Aaron Rodgers is undoubtedly the biggest sports celebrity ever in the history of Chico. Last year he quarterbacked his Green Bay Packers to sports’ most coveted title, the NFL Super Bowl championship. He was also the most valuable player for that game. Before all that he was an outstanding quarterback here at both Pleasant Valley High and Butte College. If you’re lucky you may catch him around town at a charity event or a pub, where he’s always got a big smile for everyone.

2ND PLACE: Rob Blair

3RD PLACE: Gary Nolan
former pro-baseball player

Youth organization

1ST PLACE: Boys & Girls Club of Chico
601 Wall St., 899-0335

The Boys & Girls Club of Chico, founded in 1995, is a non-profit providing youth development, activities and programs for youngsters 6-18. The organization is part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the North Valley, which has nine sites that offer after-school and other programs to some 2,000 youth. With the help of 70 staffers and more than 300 volunteers, help with homework and supplementary classes are offered for just $10 per year per child. Scholarships are available for families unable to pay.

2ND PLACE: Chico Area Recreation and Park District, 895-4711

3RD PLACE: Youth for Change
647 Flume St., 342-3100

Place to pray/meditate

1ST PLACE: Bidwell Park
Climb a hill, settle down next to a stream, or turn down an ivy-laden path, and you’re likely to find a calming, private getaway in Bidwell Park. The smells of the early morning and the still during sunset can be mesmerizing. The park’s colors and sounds fluctuate with the seasons, from rushing water and chirping birds to the crunching of leaves beneath your feet. No matter where you live in Chico, it’s easy to feel like Bidwell is your own back yard, a place where you are free to kick off your shoes, drink in the moment and let your mind breathe.

2ND PLACE: Bidwell Presbyterian
208 W. First St., 343-1484

3RD PLACE: St. John’s Episcopal Church
2431 Floral Ave., 894-1971

Green innovator

1ST PLACE: Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Sure, Ken Grossman is known by beer enthusiasts the world over for his excellent beers and ales. But here in Chico, he’s also known for his comittment to the environment, as evidenced by his operation’s many sustainable initiatives, such as the large solar array at the brewery, the restaurant’s commitment to using locally sourced foods, among many other initiatives.

2ND PLACE: Andy Kellar, ChicoBag

3RD PLACE: Kleen Kantean

Place for green gear

1ST PLACE: offers a huge selection of sustainability-focused merchandise that runs the gamut from Klean Kanteen stainless-steel water bottles, to compost crocks, to water-saving showerheads, to bird feeders and bat houses, to an array of eco-friendly personal-care items and nontoxic household-cleaning products, to a mini-greenhouse and cool recycled-glass glassware. You get the idea. Plus, a “Made in the USA” section. Go, Greenfeet!

2ND PLACE: Trader Joe’s
801 East Ave., 343-9920

3RD PLACE (tie): Eco in Chico
1465 Mangrove Ave., 898-8687

3RD PLACE (tie): S&S Produce & Natural Foods
1924 Mangrove Ave., 343-4930

Charitable cause—Chico

1ST PLACE: Butte Humane Society
2579 Fair St., 343-7917

The Butte Humane Society holds a special place in many Chicoans’ hearts, whether they got a beloved pet there, volunteered with the dogs or cats, or just plain love animals. Since opening the spay/neuter clinic at its new cat facility, BHS has performed more than 3,000 surgeries, thereby helping to solve the problem of shelter overcrowding before it occurs. And thanks to an upcoming partnership with the city of Chico, headway is being made on refurbishing the lackluster Fair Street facility. No wonder Chicoans voted BHS Best Charitable Cause.

2ND PLACE: Torres Community Shelter
101 Silver Dollar Way, 891-9048

3RD PLACE: Jesus Center
1297 Park Ave., 345-2640

Community event

1ST PLACE: A Taste of Chico
The 26th annual Taste of Chico pulled the patriotic and hungry together downtown on Sept. 11 this year. Thousands descended to walk the streets, food and drink coupons clutched in hand. Bands of all kinds and sizes performed on numerous stages. Artisans proudly displayed their wares in the warm September sun. More than 125 businesses and organizations participated and Chico Noon Exchange Club members gave miniature American flags to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

2ND PLACE: Thursday Night Market

3RD PLACE: Saturday Chico Certified Farmers’ Market

Place to spend your last buck

1ST PLACE: Farmers’ markets
A ripe, locally grown, organic peach? A big fat plum? A juicy bell pepper? The great thing is that you could spend your last dollar at the bustling Saturday market on any one of these yummy pieces of produce and still have change! It’s a sign of these increasingly food-, health- and money-conscious times that readers chose the farmers’ market as the place to spend their last buck, instead of a watering-hole happy hour.

2ND PLACE: The Dollar Tree
801 East Ave., 345-5763

3RD PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718

Naked Lounge

Photo By Jovan Johnson

Place to eavesdrop

1ST PLACE: Naked Lounge
118 W. Second St., (530) 895-0676

The great acoustics here make eavesdropping on others really hard not to do. Naked Lounge is an extremely comfortable hangout for sipping excellent teas, coffees or nibbling on pastries while chatting with friends or playing the many board games they have. You can sit in a variety of comfy chairs, benches and couches, with big picture windows to watch the downtown passersby. Several rooms with changing local art on the walls complete this conversation-inducing atmosphere.

2ND PLACE: Starbucks
Various locations

3RD PLACE: Downtown Chico

Place for outdoor nookie

1ST PLACE: Bidwell Park

2ND PLACE: “My back yard”

3RD PLACE: Humboldt Road

Farmers’ market vendor

1ST PLACE: Sweet Cottage
Seems that everybody loves Robin Rowe, aka the Pie Lady, and her cute Sweet Cottage booth-on-wheels, not to mention all the yummy, homemade goodies she and her husband, Alvin, sell from it. In addition to pies, pies and more pies—apple, strawberry-rhubarb, peach, blueberry-peach, marionberry, chocolate fudge, pumpkin and more—the Pie Lady also offers cookies, quiches, jams and teas.

2ND PLACE: Chris’ Egg Farm

3RD PLACE (tie): Chico Chai

3RD PLACE (tie): GRUB Cooperative

Place to pick up the CN&R

1ST PLACE: Chico State
Probably chosen because of the 15,000 or so students who attend Chico State and get their weekly fix of the CN&R on campus. There are dozens of spots to pick up the News & Review on campus, including Bell Memorial Union, the entryways to most major classroom buildings and the dorms.

2ND PLACE: In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave., 343-5678

3RD PLACE: S&S Produce
1924 Mangrove Ave., 343-4930

CN&R art box

1ST PLACE: Sea Monster (aka Christine Fulton)
Chico News & Review, 353 E. Second St.

The whimsically decorated art box located right outside the Chico News & Review office has literally stopped traffic. No joke. Is that because it was created by the noble hand of Christine Fulton—aka Sea Monster—or because of the borderline naughtiness? We'll never know. Either way, Chicoans clearly love it—and we can't blame 'em one bit.

2ND PLACE: Doug Rathbun
Downtown Chico Transit Station

3RD PLACE: Nick Burman
Heel and Sole