Nightlife & The Arts

When the sun goes down, the wild ones go out

Chico Art Center

Chico Art Center

Art space

1st PLACE: Chico Art Center

450 Orange St., Ste. 6, 895-8726

It’s safe to say the Chico Art Center is rooted in the community. For over 60 years, the nonprofit has hosted countless art shows, classes and special events like the Open Studios Art Tour—all with local artists and promotion of visual arts in mind. CAC has moved over the years, but now resides inside the historic train depot, lending a bit of local history to the ambiance of the gallery.

2nd PLACE: Museum of Northern California Art

900 Esplanade, 487-7272

3rd PLACE: Ninth Avenue Gallery & Studio

180 E. Ninth Ave., Ste. 1, 879-1821


1st PLACE: Argus Bar + Patio

212 W. Second St., 570-2672

For being relatively new to town, Argus has quickly risen in the ranks of the local bar scene. This is the second year now that the high-end cocktail bar (where you can also order a PBR tallboy) has claimed the top spot in this category. And, since it added a regular schedule of bands on the super chill patio, it’s starting to make a name for itself as a live music venue as well. Watch out, Chico—Argus is here.

2nd PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

3rd PLACE: The Banshee

134 W. Second St., 895-9670

Bloody Mary

1st PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

2nd PLACE: Mom’s Restaurant

209 Salem St., 893-3447

3rd PLACE: B Street Public House

117 Broadway, 899-8203

Casino - Regional (Butte/Glenn/Tehama)

1st PLACE: Gold Country Casino

4020 Olive Highway, Oroville, 538-4560

What can we say about Gold Country Casino? That it’s got all the slot machines one could desire, plus friendly and professional card-table dealers? For those who don’t go for the gambling, the casino also offers top-notch dining as well as big-name entertainment. And, new this year: the full-service Berry Creek Rancheria RV Park, a perfect stop-off spot from which to begin any North State adventure.

2nd PLACE: Feather Falls Casino

3 Alverda Drive, Oroville, 533-3885

3rd PLACE: Rolling Hills Casino

2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning, 528-3500

Happy hour

1st PLACE: Crush

201 Broadway, Ste. 200, 342-7000

Happy hour is a tradition in Chico, where bars and restaurants offer discounts on drinks and apps for the after-work crowd. But for years now, Crush has, ahem, crushed it when it comes to its happy hour menu (offered from 3:30-6:30 p.m. daily and 10-midnight on weekends, too!). Just glance at the long list of gourmet appetizers, pizzas and specialty cocktails to see why.

2nd PLACE: The Pour House

855 East Ave., Ste. 270, 893-3000

3rd PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante

192 E. Third St., 894-4005

Karaoke night

1st PLACE: Madison Bear Garden

316 W. Second St., 891-1639

Karaoke at Madison Bear Garden is no joke. Nicknamed Bear-e-oke, this Monday night tradition is where legends are made. With a songbook that includes everything from oldies to the latest jams, and singers ranging from Lady Gaga wannabes to those taking the mic on a drunken dare, it’s always a night to remember at the Bear.

2nd PLACE: Maltese Bar & Tap Room

1600 Park Ave., 343-4915

3rd PLACE: Studio Inn Lounge

2582 Esplanade, 343-0662

Local comedian

Argus Bar + Patio

1st PLACE: John Edwin

Until recently, local comedian John Edwin was the regular host of the Tuesday night comedy open mic at the End Zone. One of the Facebook pages he manages—I Love Jesus But I Cuss a Lot—gives a clue as to his irreverent approach to comedy. Clearly, Chicoans enjoy his jokes!

2nd PLACE: Hank Duke (Nick Stiles)

3rd PLACE: TJ Hudson

Local music act

1st PLACE: Hot Flash

Hot Flash has been inciting booty-shaking around Chico for the past decade and, as the group’s members—fronted by soulful crooner Holly Taylor (who also plays drums)—prove time and again, their joy of music is contagious. Over the years, Hot Flash has graced just about every stage in Chico (and beyond), providing the ambiance for Friday Night Concerts and New Year’s Eve bashes alike. No wonder they’ve been voted the best.

2nd PLACE: Blackout Betty

3rd PLACE: Defcats

Local visual artist

1st PLACE: Janet Lombardi Blixt

The art of Janet Lombardi Blixt is almost synonymous with Chico. That’s because much of her work embodies what it is to be Chico. Primarily working “en plain air” with oils, pastels, watercolors and acrylics, Lombardi Blixt has been able to translate her love of art, which blossomed at the tender age of 7, into a lifestyle. With her Chico Art School, she shares her passion with aspiring artists young and old, and in her gallery, she displays her own work alongside that of those she teaches.

2nd PLACE: Caitlin Schwerin

3rd PLACE: Christine “Sea Monster” Fulton


1st PLACE: Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill

100 Broadway, 342-0425

If you’re craving a margarita in this town, look no further than Tres Hombres, which celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this year. Sidle up to the bar and peruse the margarita menu (yes, it’s a thing) and order yourself a margarita on the rocks or blended, in a glass or in a pitcher. Salud!

2nd PLACE: La Hacienda

2635 Esplanade, 893-8270

3rd PLACE: Casa Ramos

216 W. East Ave., 894-0119; and 2490 Fair St., 893-5050


1st PLACE: Scott Barwick, Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

Longtime local musician Scott Barwick is known for his creativity when it comes to slinging drinks. Just ask him about the True Blood, a cocktail he concocted that was recently added to a Portland bar menu. If you’ve been to Duffy’s and noticed that bar’s drink menu—yeah, that’s because of Barwick. One co-worker says, “He’s very much into mixology and just a creative person in general,” adding that “he should have earned Best Boss Ever.” Right on.

2nd PLACE: Wendy Reid, Studio Inn Lounge

2582 Esplanade, 343-0662

3rd PLACE: Vince Villegas, Christian Michaels Ristorante

192 E. Third St., 894-4005

Open mic

1st PLACE: The Maltese

1600 Park Ave., 343-4915

When amateur musicians and poets want to go rock out to an open-minded, welcoming crowd, they know where to go: The Maltese! The venue, known for its hip, genre-bending atmosphere, opens up the stage on Wednesday nights to anyone with a penchant for picking up that mic. Rock on!

2nd PLACE: The DownLo

319 Main St., 892-2473

3rd PLACE: Studio Inn Lounge

2582 Esplanade, 343-0662

Place to be seen

1st PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

Duffy’s Tavern is that one bar in town that, at one time or another, is a regular hangout for, well, everyone. Whether you go for the Friday Irish Music Happy Hour with the Pub Scouts—a Chico tradition that must be experienced—or the DJ dancing, the pool table in the back or the Bloody Marys (Duffy’s is regularly recognized for making the best in town)—you’re in good company. That’s because Duffy’s is also the go-to spot for local politicians, lawyers and just about anybody who might want to do a little schmoozing outside the office.

2nd PLACE: Crush

201 Broadway, Ste. 200, 342-7000

3rd PLACE: Parkside Tap House

115 W. Third St., 636-4239

Place to buy art

1st PLACE: Chico Paper Co.

345 Broadway, 891-0900

Bella’s Sports Pub

Downtown Chico’s longstanding favorite art shop retains that honor because, well, it’s such a nice place to shop for art. The exclusive seller of artist Jake Early’s iconic prints with an in-house frame shop, Chico Paper Co. is well-known for stocking a wide range of pieces from local artists as well as those from far-off places, ensuring a well-rounded collection.

2nd PLACE: Art Etc.

122 W. Third St., 895-1161

3rd PLACE: Chico Art Center

450 Orange St., Ste. 6, 895-8726

Place to dance

1st PLACE: The Beach

191 E. Second St., 898-9898

Chico’s only full-on dance club, The Beach comes alive downtown on weekends, featuring a rotating cast of well-known local DJs spinning all the latest hip-hop, EDM and top-40 hits. For those who want a little more room to get down, there’s a VIP area on the second floor, complete with its own bar.

2nd PLACE: Crazy Horse Saloon

303 Main St., 342-7299

3rd PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

Place to drink a glass of wine

1st PLACE: Wine Time

26 Lost Dutchman Drive, 899-9250

With the word “wine” in its name, it should come as no surprise that Wine Time is a regular winner in this category. But Wine Time’s menu is true to its name, featuring a wide range of vintages, from wineries in Chico’s backyard to those as far as Chile and Australia. Bonus: Each small plate is listed with a recommended wine pairing.

2nd PLACE: Unwined Kitchen & Bar

980 Mangrove Ave., 809-2634

3rd PLACE: Crush

201 Broadway, Ste. 200, 342-7000

Sports bar

1st PLACE: Bella’s Sports Pub

134 Broadway, 893-5253

What Bella’s lacks in space it makes up for in fun. With televisions placed strategically around the downtown bar, you’re sure to be able to catch whichever game you’re cheering at the moment. Plus, the menu is full of pub favorites, from pitchers of beer to Bella’s infamous wings. Go team!

2nd PLACE: The End Zone

250 Cohasset Road, Ste. 10, 899-7070

3rd PLACE: The Pour House

855 East Ave., Ste. 270, 893-3000

Theater company

1st PLACE: Blue Room Theatre

139 W. First St., 895-3749

In Chico’s thriving arts scene, one thing is a constant: The Blue Room Theatre, where Chicoans know they can count on top-notch performances that push the envelope on creativity. Add to that the Blue Room Young Company, which gets local kids involved in the theater, and you’ve got a winner (literally).

2nd PLACE: Chico Theater Company

166 E. Eaton Road, Ste. F, 894-3282

3rd PLACE: California Regional Theatre

(800) 722-4522

Venue for live music

1st PLACE: Sierra Nevada Big Room

1075 E. 20th St., 892-4647

Few music venues pack quite the punch that the Sierra Nevada Big Room does in Chico. With top-rated acoustics, dinner available before the show (and SN brews on tap throughout), attendees at the Big Room’s concerts truly feel like they’re part of the action.

2nd PLACE: The Tackle Box Bar & Grill

379 E. Park Ave., 345-7499

3rd PLACE: Argus Bar + Patio

212 W. Second St., 570-2672

Watering hole for townies

1st PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

2nd PLACE: The Handle Bar

2070 E. 20th St., Ste. 160, 894-2337

3rd PLACE: Studio Inn Lounge

2582 Esplanade, 343-0662