B’s the buzz

New restaurant a lively, hip addition to downtown

Grilled adobo shrimp tacos and a beer at B Street.

Grilled adobo shrimp tacos and a beer at B Street.

photo by howard hardee

B Street Public House
117 Broadway
Hours: Mon.-Tues., 4 p.m-midnight; Wed.-Fri., 11 a.m.-midnight; Sat.-Sun., 9 a.m.-midnight.

There was a San Francisco Giants game on the big projector screen behind the bar at B Street Public House as my girlfriend, Hannah, and I were eating during a recent visit. It happened to be Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals—the game in which the Giants’ Travis Ishikawa hit that baller pennant-winning home run. It was a special moment (strangers hugged each other) at one of downtown Chico’s newest eateries.

So, around the eighth inning, when I was presented with the grilled adobo shrimp tacos ($12) I’d ordered, I marveled at how loaded they were. (I mean, what pitcher would want to face Posey, Sandoval and Pence in order? So unfair.) Seriously, though, the tasty shrimp were laid out in abundance on a bed of shredded cabbage, avocado, chives and cilantro with cucumber, radish, jalapeno and lime on the side. The “adobo” description means the shrimp was marinated in a Spanish-inspired seasoning, which went down perfectly with a pint of the huge Alpha Centauri imperial IPA from Hop Valley Brewing Co.

Hannah ordered a grilled-chicken Caesar salad ($11) and the Made Mary marionberry cider from 2 Towns Ciderhouse, both of which I sampled. The salad’s dressing was delicate—not the type that burns the taste of garlic and anchovies onto your tongue for days—and the cider was like an extra-fruity, lightly carbonated wine. We concluded that both our meals and drinks were top-notch.

Those who don’t frequent downtown at night—and, therefore, haven’t seen B Street Public House’s sign lit up—might walk down Broadway without noticing the place. The sign is just a plain “B,” and the rest of the façade, made up of wood paneling and three opaque windows, is nondescript.

Once you pass that threshold, though, things get real cool. Much like The Banshee, its sister restaurant around the corner, B Street is essentially a bar in a long hallway, but with its modern décor, dim lighting, glossy wooden bar top and low seating along one wall, this hallway is snazzy. B Street is not a tank-top and flip-flops-type establishment, and some ultra-casual Chico people looking for beer and beer alone might be uncomfortable with that (though it probably won’t stop them). There also are elements locals will find familiar. For instance, the white-and-yellow sign that once hung outside the Towne Lounge, everybody’s favorite defunct dive bar, is displayed high on a brick wall that partially encloses the back patio. How Chico is that?

B Street had a soft opening on St. Patrick’s Day, and has since undergone a name-change (it used to be B Street Oyster Co., but apparently it’s difficult to procure fresh oysters here in the North Valley on a consistent basis). The owner, Will Brady, is a successful local restaurateur, having already established The Banshee as a popular Second Street pub.

Despite the name change, B Street still has “from the sea” options, mainly oysters ($2.50-$3 each), and on this visit, the ever-changing menu featured “bar bites,” such as the “snob-proof Texas queso” (with chorizo, avocado and tortilla chips) for $9; entrees including grilled barbecue steak tips with potato wedges, grilled corn and salad ($15); and finally about a half-dozen taco and quesadilla options ($9-$12).

As for drinks, I know from a midsummer night spent on the back patio that their selection of artisan cocktails and craft beers is impressive. For the beers, there’s a set tap list that includes standouts such as the much-loved Green Flash West Coast IPA, as well as a chalkboard featuring a regularly rotating selection of a dozen or so varieties from some of the finer breweries in the country.

B Street also does brunch on Sundays, serving up blueberry pancakes, breakfast tacos and egg sandwiches, and word has it they’ll soon start opening for breakfast every day at 7 a.m.

However, it should be noted that, with all the niceties comes a price tag likely beyond what college students will be willing to spend. A light dinner for two, along with two drinks apiece, added up to more than $50. But the scene at B Street is a wonderful change of pace for downtown Chico, and totally worth it.