Down by the river
Longstanding Chico eatery provides a quick escape just west of town
Scotty’s Landing12609 River Rd.
Chico, CA 95973
Claiming to be “Chico’s only bar with a view,” Scotty’s Landing is a destination more for the quaint atmosphere than for the menu. But for pub grub, the food is good.
Located on the bank of Pine Creek Slough that feeds into the Sacramento River, Scotty’s is a short ride along the orchards and farms of West Sacramento Avenue west of town. It serves as a familiar bar to the local farmers and fishermen, and as a launching point for boats and tubing youths.
There are no pretensions of elegance here—the bar has a gritty realness you might expect from a boat landing on the outskirts of town. The small indoor dining area has just a couple of tables and a row of bar stools. Decorations include a wind-chime made of beer cans, and the TV seems always tuned to a hunting show. The beers on tap are the basic Budweiser and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale varieties.
My friend and I arrived at Scotty’s a bit on the late side for the kitchen, which closes at 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
I ordered the River Burger Basket, a hefty burger with fries ($6.11; with cheese an additional 45 cents) and a corndog ($3.40). My buddy ordered the Yacht Club, a toasted sandwich that comes with turkey, ham, bacon, lettuce, tomato and a choice of cheese ($8.95). A glass of beer will set you back $2.70, and a pitcher costs $8.50 to $10.60.
We took our pitcher of beer out to the patio and relaxed in the cool, shady twilight. What makes Scotty’s Landing special is the spacious patio. Swampy and serene, the river exudes a lazy comfort while you sit at one of the many tables on the patio above, slowly finishing a pitcher of beer. Hummingbirds flutter past a mural of Spuds MacKenzie and country hit radio plays over the monotone of bullfrogs. The patio has a familiar clubhouse feel—an ideal environment for a leisurely lunch or casual dinner.
Our food arrived. My burger was thick, served on a big sesame seed bun with plenty of fresh lettuce. The rye bread on my pal’s sandwich was overly toasted, but we both marveled at the thick slab of bacon between the turkey and ham. My fries were crisp and lightly dusted with seasoning salt. And the corndog was exactly like the kind you get at the county fair, the standard I hold for all corndogs. Everything is served on paper plates and with no utensils, and it was delicious and inexpensive.
Lacking in our Scotty’s Landing experience was patience from our server, who made it very clear that she was closing up only minutes after pouring us a second pitcher of beer.
“I guess we have to chug it down?” I half-heartedly joked.
“Yeah, exactly,” she replied.
Hmm. Not quite up to restaurant reviewer’s standards for good service, as customers should never be treated as a nuisance. But point taken, don’t come to Scotty’s later than the advertised time of closing.
On Friday nights after 6 p.m., Scotty’s features a prime rib dinner, slow roasted on rotisserie and served with salad, soup or beans ($14.99-$22-99). Things get rowdy for the weekly karaoke nights, and Scotty’s hosts occasional live shows throughout the summer. The patio and banquet hall also are available for rental.
Scotty’s Landing is a Chico icon. The place has been standing for more than 50 years and has remained in the Scott family throughout that time. It is a unique place for a quick getaway from the bustle of Chico. Just don’t come late.