Best on the Ridge
Best place for breakfast
When teachers, churchgoers, firefighters and the town manager all frequent the same eatery, the grub must be good. Indeed, you won’t find a better way to wake up than breakfast and coffee at the Comeback. The Political Breakfast—a Belgian waffle and bacon (or eggs, if you ask)—is delicious and filling. Even better are the blueberry crêpes with strawberry filling, whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate, available most Saturdays and Sundays as a special. Brianna, one of the weekend servers, has a loyal following; if her tables are full, count on Stacy to treat you right. 6053 Clark Road, Paradise, 877-9466.
Best place for lunch
Funny name, cool place. The restaurant at the Paradise Pines Golf Course in Magalia serves up an array of hamburgers, sandwiches and salads. The portobello mushroom burger is popular, as is the strawberry balsamic salad. Sit inside if it’s rainy or cold; otherwise, slide onto a picnic bench and enjoy the view. 13917 S. Park Drive, Magalia, 873-8049.
Best place for a nice dinner
It’s only fitting that Best of Paradise would include this Best of Chico ‘06 winner, selected as the best reason for an evening drive up the Skyway. What we said last year still holds true. “The food is exceptional, gourmet American fare. The specials are so tempting, you might never order off the menu. Music acts … add sonic bounce to the lounge.” Just look for the A-frame building with porthole windows, and get ready for a dinner as distinct as the architecture. 6929 Skyway, 872-1800.
Best place for a casual dinner
The ambiance is casual, but order the king crab dinner and you’ll think you’re in a fancy chowder house (especially when you see the bill). Massive crab legs, with dill butter and cocktail sauce for dipping, a baked potato and veggies—after sourdough bread and creamy clam chowder—will leave you contentedly stuffed and at peace with forking over $24.95. If you’re not that rich, the combo of fried scallops, shrimp, fish and chips will set you back $11.95, and it’s really tasty, too. 6945 Skyway, 872-2373.
Best ethnic restaurant
Don’t confuse this with Happy Garden, a Chico favorite with a branch in Paradise. Continue another six miles up the Skyway, past the first signs of commerce in Magalia, and you’ll come upon Happy Day. Trust us, it’s worth the drive: The Chinese cuisine is consistently excellent, always fresh and flavorful. Singling out one dish would do the others a disservice; just start with the wor wonton soup and go wherever your tastebuds take you. 14455 Skyway, Magalia, 873-4719.
Best treasure trove
Books of Paradise
We’re heartbroken to find this eclectic collection may have to be liquidated. The store’s home for the past seven-plus years, on the Skyway in Lower Paradise, is set for demolition in December, to make way for an office building. Paul and Tonja Shelley soldier on, though, buying and selling books as they look for a new location. Their selection is mammoth—hardbacks and paperbacks, large print and audiobooks, big genres and niches. (Supernatural erotic fiction? They’ve got shelves of it. Biographies? Cases of ’em.) Prices range from reasonable to “wow, that’s cheap!” Visit the Shelleys while you can. And if you have a storefront for rent … 6424 Skyway, 877-9332.
Best local gem
Don the Jeweler
Don Peck is a character. He’s been in the jewelry business 40 years, the past nine in Paradise, and man, does he have some stories for you! He also has expertise that’s hard to match. His shop, in the back of the James Square strip mall, is a combination jewelry store and local art gallery. Don has been refurbishing pocket watches and estate jewelry; his case also holds some special new pieces, such as a pink spinel pendant with diamonds and white gold. 5913 Clark Road, 872-5141.
Best place to browse
Fir Street Gallery
Candles, oil lamps, art glass, wine—these are just a few of the things you’ll find at Fir Street Gallery & Gifts and its conjoined sister, Creative Glass Carvings. The store(s) occupy a refurbished building on the corner of Skyway and, of course, Fir Street; it resembles a log-cabin lodge. If you need to buy someone a gift but can’t figure out what to get them, you’re bound to get a burst of inspiration, if not the gift itself, in one of the aisles here. 6256 Skyway, 872-8889, www.firstreetgallery.com.
Chico’s downtown has been ranked one of the top three in California. Oroville’s downtown has potential. Paradise’s downtown … wait, there is no downtown in Paradise. The town is spread out, and we love the concept of a civic center that doesn’t revolve around a big-box store. The new Community Park, on Pearson Road and Black Olive Drive, is a nice starting point. Town Hall will move nearby in a few years, and more shops and eateries should follow. Skyway, Fir, Black Olive, Pearson—seems like a nice town square to us.