Chico definitely has a reputation for both its nightlife and its music, but to get the most out of what this active town offers, don’t stick to just one hangout. Each bar, café, theater, hall and promoter has something different planned, so open up a little and go out a lot!
Offering easy-listening folk and jazz music on weekends (during spring/summer) in an attractive, relaxed setting where professionals and serious students socialize or study, away from downtown. 664 E. First Ave., 899-1500.
Tucked in around the corner from the Pageant Theatre, this little funky, family-owned café combines Chico-casual with Euro-artiness—perfect for a neighborhood coffee stop and arts hot spot. Rotating exhibits by local artists adorn the walls, and live acoustic, country, jazz and other weirdness take over the cozy café five nights a week. 365 E. Sixth St., 892-0356.
Has Beans Coffee & Tea
A small coffee shop and bakery that often doubles as a hangout for downtown artists. On most nights you can catch an open-mic, a spoken-word session, a poetry slam, local acoustic fare or even a touring musician or two. The place has everything you need in a café: a couple of computers with Internet access, a monthly rotation of art exhibits, and, of course, a well-used chessboard. And they make one killer cup of hot chocolate. 501 Main St., 894-3033.
Moxie’s Café and Gallery
One of the bigger cafés in town, Moxie’s features weekly poetry slams and open mics, plus occasional live music. The walls are always festooned with paintings and other artwork from local artists, either for sale or simply there for your viewing pleasure. 128 Broadway, 345-0601.
The Naked Lounge
The trendy place to chill. Either stretch out on its funky, comfortable couches inside or relax out front with the kids smoking at the sidewalk tables. It is located downtown and offers a quick escape from the Chico State campus. The Naked Lounge is a hip joint that attracts a diverse crowd and offers a variety of music. 118 W. Second St., 895-0676.
Teaz Me Tea Bar
Chico’s only all-tea bar features live acoustic music every Saturday evening, plus Wednesday Trivia Night and assorted family night activities. 250 Vallombrosa Ave., #220, 895-8100.
Bars & Restaurants
33 Steaks, Booze & Jazz
The only venue in Chico created to showcase live jazz. In a relaxed dinner club setting, the best local jazz combos mix it up every night of the week. And there’s no cover! 305 Main St., 893-1903.
Crazy Horse Saloon
This large bar specializes in country music. There’s occasional live music and even a mechanical bull to ride (after you sign some legal paperwork). Dancing every night of the week. 303 Main St. (upstairs), 342-7299.
Reminiscent of the great, grungy dives in San Francisco, Duffy’s features old jukebox tunes and an odd medley of wall decorations, including long-forgotten movie posters, strange Oriental paintings and at least one depiction of the “Last Supper.” Live bands usually attract audiences of all styles and ages over 21. There’s DJ dancing every Wednesday night, and local favorites the Pub Scouts play Celtic music for the popular Friday afternoon happy hour. 337 Main, 343-7718.
A small hole in the wall in the heart of Chico’s party district. Wood chips on the floor provide atmosphere, and a jukebox provides the soundtrack. Joe’s usually attracts the overflow from other downtown bars. There are small seating areas both in and outside the bar. 749 W. 5th St., 894-3612.
LaSalles features two stages, one next to the dance floor in the main area of the bar and one on the outside patio under the trees. This is a decidedly college-focused club, with dance music coming from the main stage via cover bands, touring rock bands and local metal favorites such as Red with Envy, which plays there regularly. Also featured are regular D.J. dance nights and happy hour jams on the patio every Thursday. 229 Broadway, 893-1891.
Last Call Lounge
If you’re tired of the college scene, head out toward the airport and stop at this bar hiding in the Walgreens shopping center. Live music on Fridays, open mics on Saturdays and karaoke twice a week. 876 East Ave., 895-3213.
Madison Bear Garden
A Chico classic with outrageous decor, the Bear is popular with families by day and college students by night. There’s disco dancing upstairs and downstairs, plus karaoke and the famous trike races. Bear Burgers and a full grill complement the bar. 316 W. Second St., 891-1639.
This watering hole has the look of a classic neighborhood bar, with its stainless steel and wood décor. When live acoustic musicians and DJs aren’t performing, satellite music for eclectic tastes takes over. The bar dedicates itself to the high-end martini, scotch-and-cigar crowd and has a patio and pub cuisine with a barbecue out back. There’s also bar gaming in the form of a pool table and a shuffle board. 1600 Park Ave., 343-4915.
Monk’s Wine Lounge and Bistro
Bringing a touch of sophistication downtown, Monk’s offers an extensive wine list and small dishes including, of course, cheese plates. The food menu changes frequently, and the wine list is updated occasionally as well. There are also bottled imported beers and Sierra Nevada and Guinness on tap. Plus, live music every Wednesday. 128 2nd St., 343-3408.
Lost on Main
Smack in the middle of a strip of downtown bars, Lost on Main (formerly Mr. Lucky) features a wide variety of live music to party to—from rock to funk to whatever—on its big stage several nights a week. 319 Main, 893-0930.
A restaurant/bar on The Esplanade that attracts a consistent crowd of regulars on the weekends and features live mellow jazz or blues every Friday. 1717 The Esplanade, 896-1147.
Normal Street Bar
The quintessential college bar, with all the drink specials and packed-in partiers you’d expect, along with a jukebox chock-full of punk and metal cranked to 11. 221 Normal, 342-3542.
By the railroad tracks near the Chico State campus. The Oasis hosts both students and neighborhood regulars. There are daily drink specials, pub grub, shuffleboard, pool, Ping-Pong and the occasional live rock show. 1007 West First St., 343-4305.
Located outside of the downtown core, Off Limits has local and touring original rock, punk, rap, metal and electronica most every night of the week. Pub grub-type snacks are available on the weekends. 1414 Park, 342-5202.
On the Rocks Lounge
This is the club inside the Holiday Inn. It draws an older crowd than the downtown bars and is next door to a restaurant. There’s a live D.J. Fridays and Saturdays, karaoke, salsa dancing and a monthly open blues jam. 685 Manzanita Court, 345-2491.
A bar with a nice dance floor far from downtown, Quackers is full of regulars who are mostly above college-age. There’s a live D.J. Friday through Sunday, karaoke on Thursdays, and there’s always sports on the TV. 968 East Ave, 895-3825.
One of Chico’s most popular college student bars—with an emphasis on the Greek crowd. Thursday through Saturday nights the place is overly packed, with a line out the door. Riley’s is known for its “power hour” every Thursday night, from 9 to 10, when drinks start at a quarter and progressively increase by a quarter every 15 minutes. The bar also serves as a restaurant during the day. 5th and Ivy, 343-7459.
Stormy’s Off-Broadway Bar and Grill
Small, dark and mellow, populated primarily by locals, Stormy’s attracts hippie/jam/folk bands that play Tuesdays through Saturdays. It will soon be under new owners who will be changing things up in the restaurant, but keeping the live music. 132 W. 2nd St., 891-5065.
Other performance venues
Chico State venues
The campus offers several places to catch a band, or even a symphony, to liven up your evening. The Bell Memorial Union Auditorium frequently hosts touring bands, as well as comedy acts and other events, thanks to the student-run A.S. Presents, which also takes to the Rose Garden and Free Speech area for free outdoor punk, rock, reggae and hip-hop shows. Laxson Auditorium hosts the excellent North State Symphony and other community events, as well as world-class musical and theatrical acts from around the globe, thanks to the most prestigious promoter in town, Chico Performances. And two venues in the Performing Arts Center, the Ruth Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall and the Harlen Adams Theatre, feature the best music, theater and dance generated by the School of the Arts. Get tickets for most university events at the University Box Office, 898-6333. www.csuchico.edu/upe/boxoffice.html.
Concerts in the Park
Occurring regularly during the spring and summer evenings when warmer weather brings people outside and into downtown. Friday-night fare, presented by the Downtown Chico Business Association, is generally for families, while Tuesday-night performances put on by local impresario DNA and his Downtown Music Revolution offer louder rock, punk, jam and reggae concerts for the young and young-at-heart. For now, shows will be taking place in Children’s Park, located at the intersection of the Esplanade and W. First Street in downtown Chico. Once the Downtown Plaza Park remodeling is complete, shows will happen under the new, fancy half-shell amphitheatre in the middle of downtown Chico.
Crux Arts Collective
This warehouse space on the outskirts of town is mainly an artist workspace/gallery, but as of late the fun and funky Cruxsters have filled the need for all-ages live music shows in the wake of Fulcrum Record’s closure. Usually a couple of live shows happen per week, featuring indie, punk, folk, experimental and just plain rock for those who don’t like their music to hide in the background. 110 Commerce Ct., 892-2354. www.cruxarts.com.
Scotty’s Boat Landing
Where river rats go to drink a cold one and munch on something from the grill. The deck overlooks the Sacramento River, and live rock, reggae and blues bands occasionally perform there. River Road, 893-2020.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
The world-famous brewery is also a pretty famous concert venue. Watch for live blues and folk-rock in the Taproom and Restaurant, and see an eclectic mix of world-renowned musical talent, from Tommy Emmanuel to Southern Culture on the Skids, two to three times a month in the state-of-the-art, 350-seat Big Room upstairs. Many Big Room shows are filmed and appear on the PBS Sierra Center Stage series. 1075 E. 20th St., 345-2739. www.sierranevadabrewery.com.
The Chico theater scene is vibrant and extends beyond the university, with several companies bringing different styles to the stage. The newly formed Alliance of Chico-area Theatres is a testament to the wide variety of quality choices for theater in this area. Check the Calendar section of the Chico News & Review, and keep an eye out for posters advertising productions and running dates.
Birdcage Theatre (Oroville)
Community-run productions of the classics in an intimate setting. 1740 Bird St., Oroville, 533-BIRD (2473).
Blue Room Theatre
This veteran outfit brings community theater to a professional level with a selection of well-produced cutting-edge and classical dramas and comedies featuring talented local actors. Scripts range from the locally written to the award-winning. 139 W. First St. (upstairs), 895-3749. www.blueroomtheatre.com.
Butte College Department of Performing Arts
The community college has been presenting one drama or musical each semester since the 1970s, ranging from classical to contemporary productions. The actors also take to the classroom with the annual Shakespeare in the Schools touring production. 895-2994.
Chico Cabaret Theatre
Chico Cabaret is located in the Almond Orchard shopping center and focuses on lively musicals, comedies and adult dramas. Tables are set, dinner-theater style, and live music often accompanies productions. The Cabaret’s companion organization is Theatre on the Inside Out, which invites young people and families to participate in theatrical events. While providing entertainment, the theater strives to increase tolerance in the community and provide a sense of belonging. 2201 Pillsbury Road, in the Almond Orchard Center, 895-0245. www.chicocabaret.com.
Chico Theater Company
The Chico Theater Company was started by locals Marc Edson and Brian Holderman with the goal of showcasing Broadway musicals. Housed in the former home of the Eaton Road Opera House, CTC plans eight shows a year, with premieres on Wednesdays and shows Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For fun, theatergoers are asked to dress up and get into the red-carpet mood on premiere night. 166 Eaton Road, 894-2CTC. www.chicotheatercompany.com.
CSU, Chico Department of Theater Arts
Throughout the academic year, the department presents plays in two spaces (the Harlen Adams Theatre and the intimate Wismer Theatre) inside the Performing Arts Center on campus. It also produces an annual musical production in Laxson Auditorium every spring. Call University Public Events at 898-5791 or University Box Office at 898-6333 for listings.
Ensemble Theatre of Chico
ETC spends most of the year hibernating, emerging every summer for its annual Shakespeare in the Park festival. Two or three productions are put on outdoors in the Cedar Grove area of Bidwell Park, with one selection from the canon of Shakespeare classics.
Theatre on the Ridge (Paradise)
The oldest community theater in the area, TOTR puts on an eclectic schedule of plays from contemporary to classic. 3735 Neal Rd., Paradise, 877-5760. www.totr.tierranet.com.
Chico is big enough now that most of the blockbuster feature films quickly make it to screens here, and the locally owned Pageant Theatre fills the void for art film lovers. The News & Review has a detailed listing of all showings each week, as well as a selection of film reviews.
Presenting art-house films in a casual atmosphere. Get there early for the couches in the front row, and don’t miss out on Cheapskate Mondays: all seats just $2.50. 351 East Sixth St., 343-0663. www.pageantchico.com.
Chico’s last big theater, with 14 screens showing first-run films presented by Cinemark. 801 East Ave. (North Valley Plaza), 879-9612. www.cinemark.com.
Angie’s Poker Club
Chico’s only card room offers live-action poker in a friendly atmosphere with professional dealers. Open seven days a week. 1431 Park Ave., 892-2282.