Indulge your cravings

Henri gives in to temptation and goes DownLo

Ron Dare takes on one of The DownLo’s giant burgers.

Ron Dare takes on one of The DownLo’s giant burgers.

Photo By meredith j. graham

The DownLo
319 Main St. (downstairs from Lost on Main)
892-2473, Kitchen hours: Thurs.-Sun., 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; Mon.-Wed., 2 p.m.-11:30 p.m.
Meal for one: $8-$15

The DownLo

319 Main St.
Chico, CA 95928

(530) 892-2473

Forgive me, Dr. Epinards, for I have sinned. I have sampled sweet temptations. I have drunk from the forbidden fountain. I have courted disorder. I have been DownLo.

And I was doing so well, too, keeping to my New Year’s resolution to research health clubs, to think about losing some weight, and to consider drinking less. I even shopped online for a treadmill, as you suggested, but as of yet have been unable to find one whose cupholder will accommodate a wine glass.

It started innocently enough, Colette proposing a walk a month or so ago, one fine day between those late spring storms. Miss Marilyn and Mr. Theo could use some exercise, she said. So subtle.

We were walking downtown when we spotted the sign, advertising lunch and dinner.

“Down low?” I said. “Really?

“Don’t even go there,” she said.

“What do you take me for?” I asked, shocked.

“It’s not about what I take you for.”

Very funny.

Reluctant to tie up Mr. Theo and Miss Marilyn to the stair railing, we headed home, returning the next day for lunch.

The DownLo is in a large basement underneath Lost on Main. Walking in, we were taken aback by its cavernous size—and that it looked empty except for two women playing pool. We pulled up barstools.

The bar itself horseshoes out into the middle of the dark room, its walls lined with televisions and dart boards. A deer head, antlers decorated with Christmasy lights, hangs from a post. There are about as many pool tables as dining tables (10 or so), and chalk boards near the bar advertise drink, appetizer and dessert specials.

After a few minutes one of the women set her pool pole down, walked behind the bar, over to us, and greeted us warmly. She handed us each one of the single-sheet menus, poured us each a glass of ice water, and said, “I’ll be right back.”

We looked over the menu, which features “Munchies” (fries, onion rings, Tater Tots, chips and salsa) on one side and “Belt Looseners” (burgers, reubens and chicken sandwiches, tacos, quesadillas, etc.) on the other.

“Look,” Colette said, pointing to the bottom item on the Munchies side. “Deep-fried Twinkie. Gross.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Might be good.”

The bartendress returned a couple of minutes later. “Can I get you anything to drink?”

“It’s 2 o’clock somewhere,” I said. “How ’bout a bloody Mary?”

For lunch Colette ordered the portabella melt ($8) then looked at me. “You’re going to do it, aren’t you?”

I took a breath and nodded. “And I’ll have the Disorderly Event. And another bloody.”

Colette shook her head. “You might be sorry.”

Sorry? Hardly. It was one of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted—and definitely the biggest and most innovative—a third of a pound of ground beef on a bed of pastrami, with a fried egg, two strips of bacon, melted mozzarella, tomato and lettuce ($12). Hugely satisfying, but I wasn’t done. I’d seen the little sign and had to try it, the deep-fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ($2, or two for $3), with a panko coating and drizzled with chocolate and strawberry puree. Delicious, but, you’ll be pleased to hear, Doctor, that I couldn’t finish it. Well both of them anyway. Too sweet even for moi.

As we climbed up the stairs to the street, Colette said, “I’m surprised you didn’t order the Twinkie, too.”

“I’m saving it,” I said.

We returned a couple of days later, and I had the taco plate ($6 for three, on single corn tortillas stuffed with chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, shredded cheese and topped with a perfectly picante salsa, with extra salsa as well as more tomatoes, onions, sour cream, and lime slices, on the side). Colette had the spring salad ($5), with spinach, greens, cucumbers, crumbled bleu cheese, tomatoes and red onions. Both meals were quite good.

Turns out, our bartendress, Jackie Karol, is a professional pool player and offers instruction and organizes tournaments at the DownLo (call 303-916-4083 for details). Colette says she’s thinking of signing up. Henri doesn’t do sports, so if she does, I’ll just watch from the bar. Most likely with another bloody—and that deep-fried Twinkie.