Readers’ picks 2010

For those who rock—we salute you

The Grateful Bed

The Grateful Bed

photo by meredith j. cooper

Goods & Services

Antiques store

1ST PLACE: Eighth & Main Antique Center
745 Main St., 893-5534

Even as the staff rebuilt and remodeled its huge downtown building in the wake of the June 26, 2009, fire that destroyed more than a dozen of the individual dealers’ booths inside, Eighth & Main remained open for business. And this past weekend, they officially rose from the ashes with a grand re-opening event, once again becoming one of the largest dealers of antiques, furnishings and collectibles in Northern California.

2ND PLACE: Sandy Gulch Furniture Co.
1916 Oleander Ave., 345-4617

3RD PLACE (tie): Park Avenue Antiques
2260 Park Ave., 893-4919

3RD PLACE (tie): Country Squyres’ Antiques
164 E. Third St., 342-6764

Auto repair shop

1ST PLACE: Boradori Automotive
287 Humboldt Ave., 891-4972

Boradori Automotive has been around for more than 60 years here in Chico, so today a third generation of skilled technicians helps a third generation of loyal customers. The skilled technicians are AAA approved, and pride themselves on solving electrical problems that no one else can figure out.

2ND PLACE: Affordable Automotive
2106 Park Ave., 892-1774

3RD PLACE (tie): C & M Automotive
1188 E. Lassen Ave., 343-5613

3RD PLACE (tie): Guido’s Auto Precision
135 W. Eighth Ave., 891-8313

Car dealership

1ST PLACE: Chuck Patterson Auto World
200 East Ave., 895-1771

The fact that Chuck Patterson refers to its dealership as an “Auto World” should clue you in on the size of the place. This world of automobiles is equipped with every Toyota, Dodge and Scion under the sun, not to mention a full collision center. Not ready to brave this new world? You can take a gander at new cars, used cars, vans, trucks and SUVs in whichever color you desire—stress free—on Chuck Patterson’s sleek website before you head down.

2ND PLACE: Wittmeier Auto Center
2288 Forest Ave., 895-8181

3RD PLACE: Chico Volkswagen
902 Main St., 891-6275

Car wash

1ST PLACE: Chico Scrubbs
1020 Skyway; 893-4885

Scrubbs is proof that even if you drive a 1987 Ford pickup, you too can shine; inside and out. Your ride will be lovingly hand-scrubbed, buffed, waxed and vacuumed, while you sit in a massage chair, enjoying a fresh muffin and hot coffee, feigning royalty. Scrubbs is family-owned and -operated, and open all seven days.

2ND PLACE: Eric’s Car Wash
1625 Mangrove Ave., 893-4400

3RD PLACE: Thornton’s Chevron & Food Mart
360 East Ave., 345-9200

Place for auto supplies/accessories

1ST PLACE: Kragen Auto Parts
485 Notre Dame Blvd., 345-2782; and 1618 Mangrove Ave., 893-8525

Pullins Cyclery

Photo By dustin hyman

Appealing to both professionals and the do-it-yourselfer, Kragen Auto Parts offers one of the biggest selections of national-brand-name, private-label and generic auto supplies. The Kragen brand was acquired in 2008 by O’Reilly Automotive Inc., meaning Kragen connects to one of the largest auto-parts retailers in the U.S., with 3,200 stores in 38 states. Such an availability of automotive supplies and a vast inventory online makes Kragen Auto Parts an easy favorite for mechanics and car enthusiasts alike.

2ND PLACE: Pep Boys Automotive Supercenter
1555 Mangrove Ave., 895-1336

3RD PLACE: AutoZone
136 East Ave., 892-8155; and 1843 Park Ave., 892-8053


1ST PLACE: Tri Counties Bank
Various locations

The “go local” movement hasn’t just concentrated on food and retail goods, especially in Chico. Locals are extremely loyal to Tri Counties Bank, which again comes in first place for Best Bank. Customers know they will get the personal attention that their finances demand. Online banking? Check. Home loans? Check. Money market accounts? Oh, yeah. This full-service bank has the convenience of many locations in Chico and the surrounding areas to boot.

2ND PLACE: Wells Fargo
Various locations

3RD PLACE: Bank of America
Various locations


1ST PLACE: Hotel Diamond
220 W. Fourth St., 893-3100

Hotel Diamond certainly has transformed downtown in the vicinity of Fourth and Broadway. The stately building has added character and that historic feel to the region. Indeed, it’s a beautiful structure. But this hotel is not just for gazing upon. It’s also a great place to get some pampering. Much like the exterior of the hotel, the rooms within are elegant and tastefully decorated. They have beds fit for a king. Add to that the elegant restaurant and lounge in Johnnie’s, and it’s the perfect place for a romantic weekend to get away from it all.

2ND PLACE: Oxford Suites
2035 Business Lane, 899-9090

3RD PLACE: Holiday Inn
685 Manzanita Court, 345-2491

Bed and breakfast

1ST PLACE: The Grateful Bed
1462 Arcadian Ave., 342-2464

Its clever name and Victorian architecture are two reasons to notice The Grateful Bed on a corner in the Enloe Medical Center neighborhood, but its charming touches are what put this B&B on the map this year. The mansion, built in 1905, was restored 12 years ago, but its nostalgic feel has been maintained by innkeepers Rick and Carol Turner. Guests rave about the Turners’ attention to detail, including breakfasts that feature freshly picked herbs from the garden, seasonal fruits and freshly brewed teas. The Grateful Bed was recently recognized as being the first hotel in the Chico area to get a green certification, so you can feel good about staying there knowing they’re ultra-energy efficient.

2ND PLACE: The Goodman House Bed & Breakfast
1362 The Esplanade, 566-0256

3RD PLACE: Cory’s Country Inn
4673 Nord Highway; 345-2955

Place to buy outdoor gear

1ST PLACE: Mountain Sports
176 E. Third St., 345-5011

Sports do not always require cleats, sticks and balls. Mountain Sports caters more to the outdoorsman/woman, as well as those who tend to like their sports a little more extreme. The staff is made up of those who live it, and can answer all of your questions like, “Do I need crampons and an ice axe if I want to tackle Mount Shasta’s summit?” (Yes, you do). Mountain Sports also will rent the gear to you. They have a large selection of climbing, hiking and camping gear in addition to guides and maps of the area for those who might not fall into the extreme camp.

2ND PLACE: Chico Sports LTD
698 Mangrove Ave., 894-1110

3RD PLACE: Big 5
1717 Mangrove Ave., 891-1545

Bike shop

1ST PLACE: Pullins Cyclery
801 Main St., 342-1055

Established by J.V. Pullins the same year World War I came to an end, Pullins Cyclery is yet another fixture in Chico. Steve O’Bryan and his wife have run the shop for 25 years, with O’Bryan learning the tricks of the trade from Pullins himself while working there through high school. The shop has plenty of bicycles for sale—from street cruisers to mountain bikes—and O’Bryan and his crew repair thousands of bikes every year. A locally owned and operated bike shop that treats its customers like gold? Sounds like a perennial Best Of winner.

2ND PLACE: North Rim Adventure Sports
178 E. Second St., 345-2453

For Elyse

Photo By Meredith j. cooper

3RD PLACE: Campus Bicycles
330 Main St., 345-2081

Sporting goods store

1ST PLACE: Big 5 Sporting Goods
1717 Mangrove Ave., 891-1545

OK, so you want to take up tennis. Count on Big 5 to hook you up with a racket, sweatbands, some sweet new kicks, and of course some cans o’ balls—just like you counted on them last year when you wanted to be an archer. You may want to stop by, too, when your son or daughter gets an itch to join a soccer league—they’ll outfit the whole team from head to foot.

2ND PLACE: Chico Sports LTD
698 Mangrove Ave., 894-1110

3RD PLACE: Mountain Sports
176 E. Third St., 345-5011

Book store

1ST PLACE: Barnes & Noble Booksellers
2031 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, 894-1494

There’s almost no better way to lose an afternoon than to disappear into one of Barnes & Noble’s overstuffed chairs with a frothy Starbucks beverage and a stack of books and magazines. The store also hosts frequent fundraisers for local nonprofits, book signings and reading groups.

2ND PLACE: Lyon Books & Learning Center
121 W. Fifth St., 891-3338

3RD PLACE: Bookstore
118 Main St., 345-7441

Cab company

1ST PLACE: Liberty Cab

There’s something to be said about a local cab company in a small town. They can be depended on for a lot more than just a late-night ride home. Liberty offers services that you might not expect from a cab company—large-group hauls, medication drop-offs, or a ride all the way to the Sacramento Airport. If you’re just grabbing a ride around town, you’ll find their vehicles clean and serviced. You can book ahead by phone or online or rely on their GPS dispatching to get to you on the spot.

2ND PLACE: Dave’s Taxi

3RD PLACE: Yellow Cab

Computer store

1ST PLACE: Best Buy
2005 Forest Ave., 566-1012

In the market for a new iPad or desktop computer? Well, Chicoans swear by big-box Best Buy. Probably because the selection is huge, prices are competitive, and the warranties are so thorough you can practically run your laptop over with your car and exchange it for a new one.

2ND PLACE: PCI Computers
225 Main St., 891-4152

3RD PLACE: Associated Students Bookstore
402 W. First St. (on the Chico State campus), 898-5222

Electronics store

1ST PLACE: Best Buy
2005 Forest Ave., 566-1012

2ND PLACE: Radio Shack
Various locations

3RD PLACE: Sounds by Dave
1256 The Esplanade, 891-5800

The Music Connection

photo by josh graham


1ST PLACE: Christian & Johnson
250 Vallombrosa Ave., 891-1881

Throughout its long history in Chico, Christian & Johnson has been more than a business; it’s been an institution. Located next to the T. Tea Bar restaurant and Creekside Cellars wine and cheese shop, it offers a wide array of unique and seasonal flowers in simple bunches or imaginative arrangements. A large selection of greeting cards and gift items also can be perused in this popular shop or its online store (

2ND PLACE: Flowers by Rachelle
2485 Notre Dame Blvd., 345-2661

3RD PLACE: M Creations
513 Main St., 342-6464


1ST PLACE: Mendon’s
5424 Foster Road, Paradise; 877-7341

It’s hard to imagine any place other than the mighty Mendon’s to be deemed Best Nursery on the Paradise Ridge. What makes this place even more special is that it’s so mighty it consistently gets votes for Best of Chico as well. It’s just that good. Still led by the now-80-ish Jerry Mendon, the exquisitely laid-out six-acre bounty of botany boasts one of the state’s biggest spread of flowers, shrubs, trees and the like north of Sacramento. As satisfying as a school field trip, a visit to Mendon’s offers enchanting pathways, buildings, nooks and crannies from which to peruse anything that spouts from the dirt. Two years after the closing of the on-site Winding Fine gift shop, Mendon’s expects to soon open an eclectic second-hand store.

2ND PLACE: The Plant Barn & Gift Shop
406 Entler Ave., 345-3121

3RD PLACE: Little Red Hen
189 E. Eighth St., 891-9100

Grocery store

1ST PLACE: Trader Joe’s
801 East Ave., 343-9920

Since the local store opened in 2005, Trader Joe’s has been a hit with Chicoans. Providing “innovative, hard-to-find, great-tasting foods,” the unique chain of supermarkets offers customers raffle tickets for bringing in reusable bags, decks out its employees in vibrant-colored Hawaiian shirts, and gives locals a wide selection of worldly goods.

2ND PLACE (tie): S&S Organic Produce and Natural Foods
1924 Mangrove Ave., (530) 343-4930

2ND PLACE (tie): Safeway
720 Mangrove Ave., 895-6300

Place to buy specialty foods

1ST PLACE: Trader Joe’s
801 East Ave., 343-9920

2ND PLACE: S&S Organic Produce and Natural Foods
1924 Mangrove Ave., 343-4930

3RD PLACE: Chico Natural Foods
818 Main St., 891-1713

Day spa

366 Rio Lindo Ave., 342-3223

Face is one of those places that doesn’t look like much from the road, but once you head inside, boy are you in for a treat. Customers are greeted in the lobby by a sweet smell and a full inventory of body-care products, alongside cute items that would make perfect bridesmaid gifts or Christmas presents. Massages are done by Dale and are, simply put, heavenly. The rest of the staff is exceptionally friendly and service is personalized. Go in for a spa mani-pedi, a wax or haircut—they do it all, and you’ll leave smiling, guaranteed.

2ND PLACE: Agua Azul Oasis
40 Declaration Drive, 345-0226

3RD PLACE: Urban Med Spa
3221 Cohasset Road, 891-8772

Hair salon/barbershop

1ST PLACE: The Poison Apple Salon
240 Main St., 899-7875

The Poison Apple is the Chico favorite for hair care four years running. Recently relocated downtown, the Poison Apple occupies a chic, modern salon accented with a zebra-print throw rug and fashionable lighting. The “Apple Girls” are dedicated to the wellbeing of clients’ body, mind and soul, so you can go in for a top-notch hair cut and stick around to take advantage of a full-on day spa.

2ND PLACE: Satori Color & Hair Design
627 Broadway, (530) 342-2828

5th Street Steakhouse

Photo By Meredith j. cooper

3RD PLACE: Dimensions Salon
810 Broadway, 894-2515

Nail salon

1ST PLACE: Tammy’s Nails
1354 East Ave., 899-8912

Tammy’s Nails is the place to go for great-looking nails, especially if you’re on a budget. They offer state-of-the-art massage chairs, pedicures, manicures and acrylic sets, and their staff is always friendly and professional. Pedicures and acrylics are just $23 and basic manicures are $10, making pampering yourself that much more relaxing.

2ND PLACE: Lily’s Nails
118 W East Ave., 898-8765

3RD PLACE: Dimensions Salon
810 Broadway, 894-2515

Tanning salon

1ST PLACE: Perfect Tan
2995 The Esplanade, 898-8000

Perfect Tan takes the gold again this year for best place to get your bronze on. With its posh and homey interior, high-pressure lay-down and stand-up beds, and themed rooms (including Las Vegas or the rainforest), a trip to this salon can feel like you’ve escaped to somewhere exotic. If you’re less inclined to soak your skin in UVA rays, there are Magic Tan machines to spritz you for an all-over glow.

2ND PLACE: Tropical Zone Exotic Tanning
1354 East Ave., 893-3300

3RD PLACE: Tropi-Tana Sun Tanning Salon
1722 Mangrove Ave., 894-5030


1ST PLACE: Kirk’s Jewelry
246 W Third St., 891-0880

When Chicoans want a truly unique piece of jewelry, they know where to turn: Kirk’s Jewelry. Owned and operated by Kirk Bengstrom since 1973, the local favorite is the place to go for handcrafted pieces. Kirk’s specializes in custom-made jewelry and it’ll even take your treasured heirloom rings or necklaces and turn them into a new design of your choice.

2ND PLACE: Olde Gold Estate Jewelry
225 Main St., 891-4610

3RD PLACE: Mundy & Co. Fine Jewelers
152 E. Second St., 342-4367

Men’s clothier

1ST PLACE: Trucker
232 Broadway, 343-1073

It can be hard for a guy to find the right threads. It’s no fun wandering into most boutiques downtown, only to find a tiny rack of men’s stuff hidden behind a wall of purses. Nor is it very confidence-building to troll the mall and feel 14 again. That’s where Trucker comes in. OK, it has some chick stuff, too, but you’ll find a ton of urban apparel for men, including racks and racks of graphic tees and some of the sweetest footwear outside of the Bay Area.

2ND PLACE: Kohl’s Department Store
1505 Springfield Drive, 897-0920

3RD PLACE: JC Penney
1932 E. 20th St., 899-8160

Women’s clothier

1ST PLACE: For Elyse
228 Broadway, 893-0106

For Elyse is a fun store for a college girl on a budget with plans for the weekend. They offer a lot of party dresses and current trends for a reasonable price, as well as designer jeans and loads of accessories. There are even some nice things for the male persuasion! For Elyse is a local business done good, and to prove it, they just expanded, having opened a store in Redding.

2ND PLACE: Kohl’s Department Store
1505 Springfield Drive, 897-0920

3RD PLACE: Forever 21
1962 E. 20th St., 332-9921

Panighetti’s Eatery

Photo By matt siracusa

Baby/kids’ clothier

1ST PLACE: Kat’s Meow
138 W. Third St., 899-8811

The Kat’s Meow is a treasure chest stuffed full of whim, joy and pure cuteness for dressing your small child. Even if you don’t have a kid, you’ll want to think of an excuse to buy something here (co-worker’s sister-in-law having a baby?—that’ll do). There are tiny sweet onesies for newborns, matching outfits for sibling, toys, and practical stuff, too—great for baby-shower gifts. They carry up to size 8 for boys and 14 for girls.

2ND PLACE: Silver Sandbox
222 W. Third St., 892-2229

3RD PLACE: Apple Blossom Baby
1372 Longfellow Ave., 345-1617

Clothing boutique—Chico

1ST PLACE: For Elyse
228 Broadway, 893-0106

2ND PLACE: 5th Street Clothing Co.
328 Broadway, 345-5754

3RD PLACE: Trucker
232 Broadway, 343-1073

Clothing boutique—Oroville

1ST PLACE: Ruby’s Boutique
1858 Montgomery St., 532-1399

Ruby’s Boutique in Oroville, which opened an additional location in Chico about a year ago, is the perfect place for a girly-girl to find the latest brands and accessories to create everyday, stylish ensembles. The store is owned by the same company that owns Red Fly Clothing, the trendy store across the street that caters to menswear, which makes the stores an easy stop for young women and men to keep up with the latest looks.

2ND PLACE: Red Fly Clothing
1919 Montgomery St., 533-9307

3RD PLACE: What to Wear
2010 Bird St., 534-9574

Clothing boutique— On the Ridge

1ST PLACE: Buttons & Bows
6200 Clark Road, 877-8151

A clothing store on the Ridge that caters to baby boomers, Buttons & Bows is celebrating its second year as Best Clothing Boutique on the Ridge. Owners Linda and Ralph Hein keep the styles fresh, from jeans to handbags to dresses to jewelry. Comfortable and chic looks abound at Buttons & Bows, and a loyal clientele keep the more than 40-year-old business booming.

2ND PLACE: Back at the Ranch
6194 Skyway; 877-4461

3RD PLACE : My Girlfriend’s Closet
6141 Skyway; 872-8826

Shoe store

1ST PLACE: Heel and Sole Shoes
708 Mangrove Ave., 899-0725

Whether it’s sneakers, flip-flops, peep-toes or heels you’re seeking, look no further than Heel and Sole Shoes. The racks seem never-ending, with a vast selection of well-known brands of footwear, from Reef to Steve Madden. But Heel and Sole isn’t just for the ladies with a shoe fetish—there’s plenty here for guys, too.

2ND PLACE: Robyn Marie’s Shoe Closet
215 Main St., 566-1825

3RD PLACE: Johnson’s Comfort Shoes
1950 E. 20th St. (Chico Mall); 342-2310 and 801 East Ave., 343-8923

Upper Crust Bakery & Eatery

Photo by Meredith j. cooper

Thrift store

1ST PLACE: ARC Thrift Store
2020 Park Ave., 343-3666

With an ever-changing montage of clothes, furniture, books, collectibles, antiques, kitchen wares and electronic equipment all donated by community members and local businesses, there is always something new to buy at the south-Chico bargain behemoth, known as The ARC. More than a money-saving venue, The ARC Store offers paid work experience to many clients of The ARC of Butte County, a program to help disabled adults in both Chico and Oroville.

2ND PLACE: Salvation Army
Various Locations

3RD PLACE: Thrifty Bargain
2432 The Esplanade, 899-3360

Place to buy home furnishings

1ST PLACE: Nantucket Home Furnishings
127 W. Third St., 895-1038

The furniture business is not exactly booming these days, but beloved local business Nantucket Home Furnishings is showing no sign of skipping town anytime soon. With its beautiful new showroom at Sixth and Broadway, furniture shopping has rarely been so fun. Modern sofas and love seats share the large space with finely crafted wood tables and desks, and a big selection of accent décor make it a perfect stop for all of your home decoration needs.

2ND PLACE: The Address
240 Main St., 898-9000

3RD PLACE: Cost Plus World Market
2101 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, 893-9858

Hardware store

1ST PLACE: Collier Hardware
105 Broadway, 342-0195

When Collier Hardware first opened its doors in downtown Chico, Ulysses S. Grant was the president of the United States. And when you walk into the 139-year-old Chico institution and the old wooden floor bends and creaks beneath your feet, it almost feels like you’re back in there with the founders in 1871. Of course, even though axes and nails are much the same as they were so many years ago, Collier has remained relevent by adding a wide variety of items for the home to its impressive array of tools, pipes, paint, nuts and bolts. Most notably, Collier features an exhuastive selection of items for the kitchen—from chef’s knives and Le Creuset cookware to a colorful array of KitchenAid mixers.

2ND PLACE: Lowe’s
2350 Forest Ave., 895-5130

3RD PLACE: Orchard Supply Hardware
231 W. East Ave., 332-9226

Place to buy music supplies

1ST PLACE: The Music Connection
973 East Ave., 898-0110

Over the past few years owner Sally Long MacMillan has really taken the Music Connection to an entirely different level … like, if her store was a rock group, they’d be playing stadiums right now. The Music Connection has it all—sheet music, band instruments for school, CDs from local bands and a nice selection of noise-making equipment. The staff is made up of heavily bearded, heavily tattooed local musicians who, though they may look intimidating, are quite knowledgeable and truly polite—so polite, in fact, that they won’t unplug your amp when you cut loose on the intro to “Stairway to Heaven.”

2ND PLACE: Herreid Music
824 Oroville Ave., 894-7777

3RD PLACE: Houser’s Music
1944 Bird St., Oroville, 533-9336

Real estate agent

1ST PLACE: Matt Hansen—Keller Williams
1196 E. Lassen Ave., 809-3700

Matt Hansen is unique in the real-estate world. A dynamic Chico State grad, Hansen has many satisfied, life-time clients because of his approach. His background in both construction and marketing help facilitate an informed and smooth transaction, and even after escrow closes he’s sure to stick around and make sure everything continues to go smoothly. His clients describe him as courteous, professional, extremely knowledgeable, and tenacious.

2ND PLACE: Brandi Laffins—Century 21 Jeffries Lydon
1101 El Monte Road, 345-6618

3RD PLACE: Laura Burghardt—W.M. Campbell
120 Amber Grove Drive, 864-6632

Tattoo parlor

1ST PLACE: Victory Tattoo
1818 Mangrove Ave., 896-1818

A recent study by Northwestern University shows that nearly one in four American adults between the ages of 18 and 50 has at least one tattoo. It’s even higher for adults between 18 and 29, which explains why there are so many gosh-darned tattoo parlors in Chico. Victory Tattoo—run by Kip Delaney and his wife, Amber—stands out from the crowd. Kip has been inking for more than 15 years, and opened the shop back in 2001. Amber takes care of the piercings at Victory. The Delaneys’ goal of creating a safe and relaxing environment for those looking to add a little pizzazz to their epidermis has made them a fixture in Chico.

2ND PLACE: Eye of Jade
744 Wall St., 343-5233

3RD PLACE: Red Room Tattoo
231 Nord Ave., 342-1287

Priya Indian Cuisine

Photo By Mazi Noble

Local pet shop

1ST PLACE: Chico Pet Works
2201 Pillsbury Road, 345-0934

For all those Chicoans with furry—or scaly—friends, Chico Pet Works is the place to go for new toys, cat trees, doggie toothbrushes or even a live meal for your pet snake. But this is more than just a shop—it’s also a full-service grooming center. Groomer Melissa Duggins will brush Fluffy’s teeth, trim his fur, wash him and even cut his nails. Sounds like a pet spa to us! If you prefer, you can reserve one of the large sinks and wash him yourself.

2ND PLACE: Northern Star Mills
510 Esplanade, 342-7661

3RD PLACE: Trailblazer Pet Supply
1612 Mangrove Ave., 892-1848


1ST PLACE: Acacia Veterinary Hospital
479 East Ave., 345-1338

It can be almost as difficult to find a good doc for our pets as it is for ourselves. Look no further, Acacia Veterinary Hospital has proven for three straight years that it is Chico’s favorite place to go for routine checkups, ear infections and surgeries alike. The staff is exceedingly friendly and, as they should be, clearly share a love of animals with the owners who walk through their doors. Acacia’s online Pet Portal makes it easy to keep track of vaccinations and medications to ensure your furry friend is at optimal health.

2ND PLACE: Mangrove Veterinary Hospital
1900 Mangrove Ave., 891-4818

3RD PLACE: Evers Veterinary Clinic
1150 El Monte Ave., 343-0713

Food & Drink

Local restaurant—Chico

1ST PLACE: 5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328

Mouth-watering filet mignon. Juicy New York strip. Mole-crusted ribeye. We’re getting hungry just thinking about it. Chicoans are loyal to 5th Street, which serves up USDA prime cuts of beef, fresh seafood and delicious wines. The restaurant, which opened a second location—dubbed the Sutter Street Steakhouse—in Folsom earlier this year, celebrated 10 years last month. Happy birthday, 5th Street!

2ND PLACE: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Taproom & Restaurant
1075 E. 20th St., 345-2739

3RD PLACE: The Rawbar
346 Broadway, 897-0626

Local restaurant—Oroville

1ST PLACE: Tong Fong Low
2051 Robinson St., 533-1488

Once again, popular, time-honored Tong Fong Low—which features a largely Cantonese menu with a little Szechuan fare thrown in for good (spicy) measure—has taken top honors for best restaurant in Oroville. Around since 1912, family-friendly, affordable and tasty Tong Fong Low also has a location in Chico.

2ND PLACE: The Steakhouse (at Gold Country Casino)
4020 Olive Highway, 538-4560

3RD PLACE: Papacito’s
1751 Oro Dam Blvd. E # 14, 532-9344

Local restaurant—On the Ridge

1ST PLACE: Sophia’s Thai Cuisine
7641 Skyway; 877-4296

With a plethora of diners and Mexican restaurants dominating the Paradise Ridge, Sophia’s Thai Cuisine is a welcome oasis of exotic cooking. Once inside it’s easy to see why this little eatery is über-popular. The menu is gigantic, with 83 items that include a variety of tasty noodle, curry, stir-fried and vegetarian entrées. Prices are user-friendly, with most dinner entrées hovering around $7.95. The décor is pleasing and the no-nonsense staff is friendly, efficient, and happy to prepare any dish from mild to extra spicy. Paradise residents are lucky that Sophia’s moved from Davis to Paradise, and added a Chico location as well.

2ND PLACE: Black Bear Diner
5791 Clark Road, 877-0877

3RD PLACE: Casa de Paradiso
5667 Clark Road, 877-4107

El Paisa


New restaurant (opened in the past year)

1ST PLACE: Panighetti’s Eatery br>2760 The Esplanade, 809-1640

When the craving for Italian food strikes, Chicoans have a new place to satisfy it. Panighetti’s Eatery, opened in December by the Panighetti family, serves up lip-smackingly delicious plates of spaghetti, fettuccini and lasagna alongside brick-oven pizzas and garlic bread. The ambiance is sophisticated while staying comfortable, and outdoor seating is perfect for the fall weather.

2ND PLACE: Burgers & Brew
201 Broadway, 879-9100

3RD PLACE: Mom’s Restaurant
209 Salem St., 893-3447

Cheap eats

1ST PLACE: La Comida
954 Mangrove Ave., 345-2254

Around dinner hour, the line starts to form at La Comida, sometimes spilling out of the restaurant and down the entryway ramp. To say this place is popular is an understatement. It’s so popular, in fact, that this year it’s taking home Best of Chico honors in the Cheap Eats category for the ninth straight year. Folks know they can come to La Comida and get a basic Mexican meal that is dependably consistent, substantial and, most important, inexpensive. Plus the chips and salsa are free.

2ND PLACE: La Cocina Economica
905 Wall St., 809-0370

3RD PLACE: Aca Taco
133 Broadway, 894-0191; and 1000 W. Sacramento Ave., 343-0909

Fine dining

1ST PLACE: 5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328

2ND PLACE: Red Tavern
1250 The Esplanade, 894-3463

3RD PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante
192 E. Third St., 894-4005


1ST PLACE: Upper Crust Bakery & Eatery
130 Main St., 895-3866

The Upper Crust came in first as Best Bakery by a landslide this year. Not only does this Chico institution’s famous bakery fare dominate the local food landscape, but the Upper Crust is also a great place to go for lunch, as its busy dining area and outdoor seating will attest to at noontime. Individual quiches, delicious sandwiches, freshly made soups and breads and a wide array of deli-style salads—not to mention the selection of vegan items—are the scrumptious magnets that continue to attract Upper Crust patrons day after day, year after year.

2ND PLACE: Tin Roof Bakery & Café
627 Broadway, 345-1362

3RD PLACE: Mim’s Bakery
890 Humboldt Ave., 345-3331


1ST PLACE: Sin of Cortez
2290 The Esplanade, 879-9200

It’s easy to find a local eatery in Chico to scarf down a yummy, hot breakfast, but Sin of Cortez’s menu is unique enough to pull hundreds (vegetarians and meat-eaters alike) inside the door for breakfast and lunch each week. Chef Isabel Cruz’s menu is loaded with plates that feature fresh vegetables, healthful ingredients (such as egg whites and black beans), and homemade salsa and bread. That’s not to mention the high-quality coffee and specialty drinks whipped up behind the counter by the good-looking baristas, always with a smile.

2ND PLACE: Morning Thunder Café
352 Vallombrosa Ave., 342-9717

3RD PLACE: Café Coda
265 Humboldt Ave., 566-9476


1ST PLACE: Broadway Heights California Cuisine
300 Broadway, 899-8075

Chicoans cast their votes year after year for this quintessential downtown lunch spot. Mid-day at centrally located Broadway Heights, patrons will find clientele from a wide cross-section of the community. Professors and administrators from the university sit alongside students, families and other locals, as well as out-of-towners who figure out that the second floor of the Phoenix building is the lunchtime hotspot.

2ND PLACE: T. Tea Bar & Fusion Café
250 Vallombrosa Ave., 895-8100

The Dog House

Photo by Mark Lore

3RD PLACE: Pluto’s
201 Main St., 343-0165


1ST PLACE: Upper Crust Bakery & Eatery
130 Main St., 895-3866

2ND PLACE: Jon & Bon’s Yogurt Shoppe
Various locations

3RD PLACE: Mim’s Bakery
890 Humboldt Ave., 345-3331

Local coffee house

1ST PLACE: Bidwell Perk
664 E. First Ave., 899-1500

A bustling hangout for both local politicians and students, Bidwell Perk is both spacious and cozy. They’ve got the basics down, but the Perk also offers signature drinks like the Godiva Mocha and the Orange Drop Cappucinno. Of course, one mustn’t imbibe coffee without a bite to eat, and here you can choose from a number of sweet baked goods and even a few savory small plates. The good folks at Bidwell Perk also know that free Wi-Fi always pairs well with a good cup of Joe.

2ND PLACE: The Naked Lounge
118 W. Second St., 895-0676

3RD PLACE: Cal Java Coffee Roasters
Various locations

Chain coffee house

1ST PLACE: Starbucks
Various locations

Frappuccinos, lattes, mochas—you name it and Starbucks does it well. With a variety of flavors to choose from and the baristas’ ability to put together just about any combination thereof, Starbucks is the go-to place for made-to-order specialty coffees. Their yummy breakfast sandwiches just add to the allure.

2ND PLACE: Peet’s Coffee & Tea
145 Main St., 894-6716

3RD PLACE: Dutch Bros. Coffee
480 E. Park Ave., 345-2393 Cohasset Road, 345-3378

Asian cuisine

1ST PLACE: Happy Garden
180 Cohasset Road, 893-2574

Does it get any better than Happy Garden? Not in Chico, say our readers, who have voted the authentic Chinese restaurant Best Asian Cuisine for eight years now. Whether you’re craving the egg rolls, walnut prawns or mushroom chicken, you’re sure to be satisfied at Happy Garden. The staff is always friendly and attentive, and the dining room gives patrons a little taste of China in the décor as well as the dishes.

2ND PLACE: Cocodine Thai Cuisine
2485 Notre Dame Blvd., 891-1800

3RD PLACE: Rice Bowl
2804 The Esplanade, 899-9098

Italian cuisine

1ST PLACE: Italian Cottage
2234 The Esplanade, 343-7000; and 2525 Dominic Drive, 342-7771

Nothing quite beats Italian Cottage for delicious, fresh Italian food in Chico. The restaurant is a great place to bring the family, with sawdust on the floor and menu items for the little ones to enjoy. Delicious pasta, sandwiches, pizza and meat entrées mean everyone will find what they want. Italian Cottage has also gotten a reputation for its champagne brunch on Sundays. Is there anything they can’t do well?

2ND PLACE: Sicilian Café
1020 Main St., 345-2233

3RD PLACE: Franky’s
506 Ivy St., 898-9948

Celestino’s Live From New York Pizza & Deli


International cuisine

1ST PLACE: Priya Indian Cuisine
2574 The Esplanade, 899-1055

Chicoans who haven’t been to Priya Indian Cuisine are missing out on an opportunity to savor authentic, high-quality Indian food, the type of cuisine one would expect to find in more culturally diverse regions, such as the Bay Area. Priya has a large and varied menu, with plenty of non-meat options, making the eatery a favorite among local vegetarians.

2ND PLACE: Cocodine Thai Cuisine
2485 Notre Dame Blvd., 891-1800

3RD PLACE: Chada Thai
117 W. Second St., 342-7121

Mexican cuisine

1ST PLACE: Casa Ramos
216 W. East Ave., 894-0119 and 2490 Park Ave., 893-5050

If it’s Mexican food you crave—fajitas, quesadillas, tostadas—Casa Ramos has it covered. Covered in delicious salsas and sauces, that is. This restaurant is a great place for families and groups of friends alike. With a vast menu with meat and seafood options as well as a bunch of vegetarian dishes, it’s no wonder Casa Ramos continues to be Chicoans’ favorite for delicious Mexican cuisine.

2ND PLACE: La Hacienda
2635 The Esplanade, 893-8270

3RD PLACE: La Cocina Economica
905 Wall St., 809-0370

Place for vegetarian cuisine

1ST PLACE: Grilla Bites
196 Cohasset Road, 343-4876

Grilla Bites is Chico’s go-to place for delicious vegetarian and vegan fare. Though it does offer a selection of organic meats, Grilla Bites’ food focus is decidedly on the veggies. From an amazingly large and well-stocked salad bar, to vegetarian delights such as a Portabello mushroom burger and the Zen Bowl—Eastern and Western vegetables heaped over brown rice or soba noodles and topped with coconut curry or peanut sauce—Grilla Bites makes veggies taste divine. Their selection of fresh juices is also top-notch.

2ND PLACE: Pluto’s Restaurant
201 Main St., 343-0165

3RD PLACE: Chada Thai
117 W. Second St., 342-7121


1ST PLACE: Cozy Diner
1695 Mangrove Ave., 895-1195

Whether you’re feeding a family of eight or are nursing a hangover, Cozy Diner will faithfully serve up a greasy plate of exactly what you’re looking for. This is standard diner fare, just the way it should be. Even the atmosphere, with photos of classic cars on the walls and a selection of pies in a case, feels like a throwback, a comforting slice of Americana.

2ND PLACE: Jack’s Family Restaurant
540 Main St., 343-8383

3RD PLACE: Morning Thunder Café
352 Vallombrosa Ave., 342-9717

Taco truck

1ST PLACE: El Paisa
Eighth and Pine streets

For five years now, Chicoans have declared El Paisa their favorite taco truck, and it’s hard to argue with them. The freshly made tacos, burritos and quesadillas are consistently delicious. The homemade salsas add flavor and kick to the selection of carne asada, pork, chicken, veggie and—best of all—shrimp entrées. Share a picnic table with other likeminded diners, or take your meal to a nearby park for a picnic.

2ND PLACE: Tacos el Pinolero
275 E. Park Ave. (near Chico Collision Center) and 3300 The Esplanade

3RD PLACE: Gordo Burrito
East 20th Street and Park Avenue


1ST PLACE: Burger Hut
Various locations

Despite the fact that this local favorite has grown into a California franchise, Chicoans still love their sustainably raised beef burgers and fresh fixings offered at Burger Hut’s burger bar. With three locations, a variety of burgers (including those for veggie lovers), tasty fries and shakes, it’s easy to understand why locals keep coming back for more.

Spiteri’s Deli


2ND PLACE: Nobby’s
1444 Park Ave., 342-2285

3RD PLACE: Big Chico Burger
1550 East Ave., 891-6100

French fries

1ST PLACE: Burger Hut
Various locations

2ND PLACE: In ‘n’ Out
2050 Business Lane, (800) 786-1000

3RD PLACE: Nobby’s
1444 Park Ave., 342-2285

Hot dog

1ST PLACE: The Dog House
1008 W. Sacramento Ave., 894-3641; and 1354 East Ave., 894-2242

For years, the Dog House has faithfully provided juicy, perfectly cooked dogs from their colorful hut on West Sac. Now, they have brought their grilling skills to the east side of Chico with a new restaurant in the East Avenue Safeway shopping center. It’s not just dogs, here, either—the Dog House serves all sorts of burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches, with such appealing flavor surprises as Italian with Muenster and Spicy Teriyaki Pinapple.

2ND PLACE: Costco
2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, 342-6494

3RD PLACE: Zot’s Hot Dogs & Deli
225 Main St., 345-2820


1ST PLACE: Celestino’s Live From New York Pizza & Deli
101 Salem St., 896-1234; and 1354 East Ave., 345-7700

No matter how you pronounce the name, Celestino’s is pizza-by-the-slice heaven. The restaurant’s modest two locations offer an extensive menu that features not only their signature, specialty pizzas with high-quality ingredients (such as artichoke hearts, ricotta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes), but also stuffed calzones, saucy plates of pasta and classic Italian subs. Just avoid the Salem Street location during the high school lunch hour (12-1 p.m.), and you’re in for the perfect quick bite or hearty meal.

2ND PLACE: Woodstock’s Pizza
166 E. Second St., 893-1500

3RD PLACE: Round Table Pizza
Various locations


1ST PLACE: Spiteri’s Deli
971 East Ave., 891-4797

The secret is out: Spiteri’s Deli is no longer that little place in the corner that only the locals know about. Nope, as evidenced by the line leading out the doorway during the lunch hour, this deli tucked away in an old strip mall on the north side of town is a Chico favorite, especially for sandwiches. Head in there for a large selection of meats and breads, as well as dozens of delicious side salads, pastas (try the Fiesta Lasagne), along with other deli treats, and order a beer on tap while you’re at it.

2ND PLACE: Broadway Heights California Cuisine
300 Broadway, 899-8075

3RD PLACE: Kona’s Sandwiches
138 Main St., 893-4344; and 965 Nord Ave., 894-1635


1ST PLACE: The Rawbar
346 Broadway, 897-0626

Ah, The Rawbar. This hip sushi bar serves up a lot more than sashimi, nigiri and rolls. In fact, with a menu that includes a variety of delicious salads and small plates such as mouth-watering ginger duck confit egg rolls and barbecued baby back ribs (yum!), even the raw-fish-phobic can enjoy this downtown restaurant (there’s a kids menu, too!). Of course, raw-fish lovers will love the high-quality fresh fish, which the sushi chefs turn into some amazing artistic creations.

2ND PLACE: Japanese Blossoms
2995 The Esplanade, 891-9022

3RD PLACE: Big Tuna Sushi Bistro
1722 Mangrove Ave., 345-4571

Ice Cream

The Banshee

Photo By Kyle Delmar

1ST PLACE: Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy
178 E. Seventh St., 342-7163

It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 degrees or 50 outside—Chicoans love their Shubert’s. The ice cream and candies are clearly made with love, and flavors like Chico Mint were obviously created with local palates in mind. Family-owned and –operated for more than 70 years, Shubert’s is a mainstay and tradition that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon—at least we hope not!

2ND PLACE: Jon & Bon’s Yogurt Shoppe
Various locations

3RD PLACE: Cold Stone Creamery
146 Broadway, 891-3331


1ST PLACE: Happy Garden
180 Cohasset Road, 893-2574

2ND PLACE: La Hacienda

3RD PLACE: Hula’s Chinese Bar-B-Q
2540 The Esplanade, 342-8564; and 1937 E. 20th St., 342-6304


1ST PLACE: Woodstock’s Pizza
166 E. Second St., 893-1500

When it comes to getting good pizza, salads and sandwiches delivered to your door, Woodstock’s does it best. The wildbread is delicious and the Asian chicken salad is a good option for eating healthfully, but what keeps Chicoans calling for more Woodstock’s is the pizza. Old standbys are offered alongside more exotic choices like the Firebird (hint: it’s spicy!) and the Pesto Primavera. Just 35-45 minutes to your door.

2ND PLACE: Mountain Mike’s Pizza
1722 Mangrove Ave.; 893-1923; and 1105 W. Fifth St., 899-9115

3RD PLACE: Round Table Pizza
Various locations

Nightlife & Entertainment


1ST PLACE: The Banshee
132 W. Second St., 895-9670

The Banshee has usurped Duffy’s long-time reign of this category, a sign that after only a few years of being here, it has earned the respect of a knowledgeable local drinking population. The Banshee hits all the right notes with a low-key but classy vibe, where a mix of all types can enjoy a long list of brews on tap and super friendly service. It could be, though, that the real secret of their popularity is something a little less expected: apparently, the pub’s fish tacos are some of the best in town.

2ND PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718

3RD PLACE: Madison Bear Garden
316 W. Second St., 891-1639

Bar—On the Ridge

1ST PLACE: Canteena
6067 Skyway, 877-5215

Canteena is clearly the Ridge favorite for Best Bar, winning now three years in a row. You can bet the place will be packed on any game night—or day—with sports fans flocking for the good food, affordable drinks and, of course, the dozen TVs lining the walls.

2ND PLACE: Barney O’Rourke’s
740 Elliott Road, 877-9973

3RD PLACE: Casa de Paradiso
5667 Clark Road, 877-4107


1ST PLACE: Spirits Lounge (at Gold Country Casino)
4020 Olive Highway, 538-4560

The Spirits Lounge at Gold Country Casino is a great place to go for a casual night out or a special occasion. With a variety of entertainment to suit all types of crowds—including wide-screen TVs broadcasting sports games, a big dance floor, free live music, bar games, a comedy night and a full-blown casino just steps outside the door—you’re likely enjoy this mini-Vegas any night of the week.

Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill

Photo By kyle delmar

2ND PLACE: Montgomery Street Pub
1933 Montgomery St., 533-0900

3RD PLACE: Copa de Oro
1445 Myers St., 534-7812

Sports bar

1ST PLACE: Bella’s Sports Pub
134 Broadway; 893-5253

It’s a long-standing ritual. Men. Beer. Food. The Game. Also important? A den of sorts for them to huddle in, shouting at the screen. Enter: Bella’s Sports Bar. Here, men (and a few women) can have their fun watching any sport they please and chowing down on burgers and buffalo wings. The staff is friendly, the beers cold, and the games prominent at Bella’s.

2ND PLACE: The Graduate
344 W. Eighth St., 343-2790

3RD PLACE: The End Zone
250 Cohasset Road, 345-7330

Place to dance

1ST PLACE: LaSalles
229 Broadway, 893-1891

With a free weekly happy hour on the patio, live bands on the inside stage and dance floors that aren’t too big (but aren’t too small) to feel comfortable getting crazy, LaSalles takes the title again for best place to boogie. And don’t forget the infamous ’80s night, where admission is free if you show up sporting your outdated acid-washed jeans and fluorescent-colored leg warmers.

2ND PLACE: Madison Bear Garden
316 W. Second St., 891-1639

3RD PLACE: Crazy Horse Saloon & Brewery
303 Main St., 342-7299

Happy hour

1ST PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante
192 E. Third St., 894-4005

There’s nothing nicer than sitting in a swanky bar, noshing on a delicious crab cake, seared ahi or a kobe mini burger while sipping on an apple martini all for a fraction of the cost. Christian Michaels offers what CN&R readers consistently name the Best Happy Hour in town. Every night from 4-6, join the rest of Chico for an after-work cocktail in the elegant lounge. You’ll be glad you did.

2ND PLACE: Crush
201 Broadway, 342-7000

3RD PLACE: Riley’s
702 W. Fifth St., 343-7459

Place for a glass of wine

1ST PLACE: Monks Wine Lounge & Bistro
128 W. Second St., 343-3408

With more than 300 bottles in stock, it’s hard to imagine anywhere other than Monks running away with Best Place for a Glass of Wine. But Monks is much more than just a wine bar. The staff definitely knows what makes a good chardonnay or cabernet, and they’re always happy to recommend a complementary appetizer or entrée. The upscale décor and occasional live music make Monks the destination for a fun, elegant evening out.

2ND PLACE: Christian Michael’s Ristorante
192 E. Third St., 894-4005

3RD PLACE: Crush
201 Broadway, 342-7000


1ST PLACE: Blake Anderson—5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328

How many bartenders in Chico have also worked in Scotland, Greece and Australia? Blake Anderson is certainly more than just a pretty face. He’s traveled extensively and keeps Chicoans bar-happy. Two years ago, he held the title for Best Bartender while working at the Black Crowe. He’s since moved on to fine-dining fave 5th Street Steakhouse, where he once again proves he’s the best. He’s definitely got a quirky side, too. We’re actually not sure if most of the votes were for Anderson himself or for his Ken doll that he keeps behind the bar with him and has nicknamed “The Blake.”

2ND PLACE: Lance Baker—Panama Bar & Café
177 E. Second St., 895-8817

3RD PLACE: Mike Pascal—The Banshee
132 W. Second St., 895-9670

Avenue 9 Gallery



1ST PLACE: 33 Steaks, Booze & Jazz
305 Main St., 893-1903

Don’t agonize over which of the more than 30 martinis you want off of 33’s impressive and lengthy martini menu—they’re all good. From classics such as the Mojito to clever concoctions like the Orange Julius (“what you got when you were a kid, but with booze”), you’re likely to find a new martini of choice that you can’t get elsewhere—or, at least, rediscover an old favorite.

2ND PLACE: 5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328

3RD PLACE: Crush
201 Broadway, 342-7000


1ST PLACE: Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill
100 Broadway St., 342-0425

Doesn’t it feel like Tres Hombres was closed for far too long? Despite the fact that it’s been shuttered while work crews labored to reinvent the inside after a major fire last year, Chico’s Best Margarita is still downtown on the corner of Second and Broadway. We missed that vast selection of tequilas, the delicious taco bar and the always-fun atmosphere of Tres Hombres. The ever-popular, hip Mexican joint reopened last week, to our delight, and the brand-spanking-new patio is due to open today.

2ND PLACE: Casa Ramos
216 W. East Ave., 894-0119; and 2490 Park Ave., 893-5050

3RD PLACE: La Hacienda
2635 The Esplanade, 893-8270

Bloody Mary

1ST PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718

A Bloody Mary’s simple base (tomato juice and vodka) is easily muddied by over-exuberance with possible extras—Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, bouillon, horseradish, cayenne, lemon, pepper, salt. Somehow, amid all the possible flavors, Duffy’s Tavern has got the spicy-salty-boozy mix down pat. They’ll even garnish it with green beans and olives. Yum.

2ND PLACE: Joe’s Bar
749 W. Fifth St., 894-3612

3RD PLACE: Nash’s Restaurant
1717 The Esplanade, 896-1147

Live music venue

1ST PLACE: Sierra Nevada Big Room
1075 E. 20th St., 345-2739

What’s not to like about a classy joint full of mahogany and brass, state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, a big dance floor and plenty of the best beers and ales in the world? Musicians love to play the Big Room because it’s designed with them in mind. That’s what draws the likes of such luminaries as blues queen “Long Tall” Marcia Ball, roots rocker Jackie Greene and seminal blues rocker Dave Alvin. Bob Littell, who does the booking for the Big Room, has an eye for great up-and-coming acts, too, like Trombone Shorty, who appeared this week, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, performing Oct. 4.

2ND PLACE: LaSalles
229 Broadway, 893-1891

3RD PLACE: Senator Theatre
517 Main St., 898-1497

Local music act

It’s doubtful there’s any surprise that MaMuse is here. While some artists might benefit from having a dedicated fan base to their particular niche, MaMuse’s ever-growing base ranges across a broad spectrum of local music fans drawn to the impressive duo’s soulful and emotional expression. MaMuse has put out two CDs, most recently the vibrant Strange and Wonderful, which was described in a CN&R review as “offering plenty of lively and lilting melodic expressions, back-and-forth harmonic vocals over spritely plucked mandolin, rhythmic double bass and brush-stroked snare drums.” Hear the band live Thursday, Oct. 14, at Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium when they open for Brazillian guitarist/percussionist/vocalist Badi Assad.

2ND PLACE: Hot Flash

3RD PLACE: Surrogate

Local artist

1ST PLACE: Janet Lombardi Blixt
For three years now, Chicoans have expressed their love for Janet Lombardi Blixt as Best Local Artist. Take a peek at some of her work, and you’ll instantly see why: It’s quintessentially Chico. She works primarily in oils, pastels and acrylics and some of her most popular works are landmarks in Chico—Duffy’s, the Senator Theatre, Big Al’s. Her equally beautiful landscapes also capture the essence of this town, depicting the almond orchards, Bidwell Park and the creeks. Look for her during the upcoming Artoberfest celebrations.

2ND PLACE: Dylan Tellesen

3RD PLACE: Jake Early

Babette Maiss

PHOTO courtesy of babette maiss

Place to see art

1ST PLACE: Avenue 9 Gallery
180 E. Ninth Ave., 879-1821

Chicoans are creatures of habit, and sometimes, venues that aren’t within a couple blocks of the downtown core have a hard sell on their hands. But for the Avenue 9 Gallery, arts lovers are willing to travel a whole 10 blocks from downtown to experience the warm glow of the community-centered gallery/dealer. Founders Dolores Mitchell and Maria Phillips work with the in-house artists’ guild to plan and host exhibitions of local and visiting artists, usually conducting lively workshops and/or demos in conjunction with shows. Next up at the gallery: Open Studios show (Oct. 1-10) and The Zen of Michelle Miller: Photos from Here and There (Oct. 15-30).

2ND PLACE: Chico Paper Co.
345 Broadway, 891-0900

3RD PLACE: 1078 Gallery
820 Broadway, 343-1973

Place to buy art

1ST PLACE: Chico Paper Co.
345 Broadway, 891-0900

Nestled on the corner of Fourth and Broadway is Chico Paper Co. Just walk by and you’ll be able to get a glimpse of what’s inside through the storefront’s large windows. Chico Paper Co. carries the works of some 50 artists including Lisa Rosenstreich, Cassandra Barney and, of course, printmaker Jake Early. Not to mention they carry loads of supplies for professional/aspiring/freak artists alike. Once that piece of art finally beckons you to take it home, the good folks at Chico Paper Co. can lovingly frame it for you, too.

2ND PLACE: Art Etc.
122 W. Third St., 895-1161

3RD PLACE: Avenue 9 Gallery
180 E. Ninth Ave., 879-1821

Theater company

1ST PLACE: Blue Room Theatre
139 W. First St.; 895-3749

Let’s just come right out and say it—the Blue Room has become a Chico institution. For more than 15 years the theater has played home to productions—both world-renowned and locally produced—that consistently push the envelope. Hell, the Blue Room once hosted rock shows (featuring bands that also hung out on the fringe). Members have come and gone over the past decade and a half, but the Blue Room’s mission to push creative boundaries has never wavered. Look for the return of Grand Guignol in October, and be sure to see what the Blue Room does next year with Sid and Nancy: Love Kills.

2ND PLACE: Chico Cabaret
2201 Pillsbury Road, 895-0245

3RD PLACE: Chico Theater Company
166 W. Eaton Road, 894-3282


1ST PLACE: Gold Country Casino
4020 Olive Highway, Oroville; 538-4560

Gold Country is more Disneyland than casino. Towering like a giant fun-beacon in the town of Oroville, Gold Country Casino features game rooms with the usual suspects—slots, poker, roulette and bingo—not to mention an 87-room luxury hotel, a bowling alley and a five-star steakhouse. If that’s not enough to make you want to take up permanent residence, the casino also has a showroom with a steady lineup of comedians and traveling musicians.

2ND PLACE: Feather Falls Casino
3 Alverda Drive, Oroville; 533-3885

3RD PLACE: Rolling Hills Casino
2655 Barham Ave., Corning; 528-3500

Health / Wellness

Local health-care provider

1ST PLACE: Jennifer Sanchez
70 Declaration Drive, Suite 102; 893-0105

Jen Sanchez is a family nurse practitioner and works for Dr. James Nagel’s Quality of Life Institute, which has won over Chico in the health-care categories this year. Sanchez treats family-practice patients and specializes in women’s health, annual exams and primary care, and works alongside Dr. Nagel to balance patients’ hormones. The North State local, who is receiving this award for the first time, has clearly made an impression on her patients this year. Nice job!

2ND PLACE: Enloe Medical Center
1531 The Esplanade, 332-7300

3RD PLACE: Chico Immediate Care Medical Center Inc.
376 Vallombrosa Ave., 891-1676

Alternative health-care provider

1ST PLACE: Dr. James Nagel
70 Declaration Dr., Suite 102; 893-0105

Dr. James Nagel is a forward-thinking doctor who tries to combine the best aspects of traditional Eastern medicine and modern Western health science. His focus on the patient and preventative therapy rather than pharmaceutical quick-fixes has earned him fans since he began practicing in Chico more than 12 years ago. This year his patients spoke up in force, voting Dr. Nagel as Best Alternative Health-care Provider and Best General Practitioner. His office, Quality of Life Institute, took Best Doctor’s Office, and Jen Sanchez (above), Best Local Health-care Provider, is a family nurse practitioner in that office. Did you get all that?

2ND PLACE: Specific Chiropractic Center
1380 Longfellow Ave., 893-1446

3RD PLACE: Chico Holistic Healthcare
582 Rio Lindo Ave., 892-1930

Doctor’s office

1ST PLACE: Quality of Life Medicine
70 Declaration Drive, 566-9700

In Motion Fitness

Photo By connie cassidy

We already mentioned Dr. James Nagel and his excellent care, but there may be another reason why patients recommend him: his office is a treat to the senses. Luxuriously furnished with excellent service, the office also offers health and wellness classes, a spa to help with those ubiquitous signs of aging, and an apothecary carrying supplements and vitamins.

2ND PLACE: Mangrove Medical Center
1040 Mangrove Ave., 345-0064

3RD PLACE: Mission Ranch Primary Care
114 Mission Ranch Blvd., 894-0500

Dental office

1ST PLACE: Nelsen Family Dentistry
1307 The Esplanade, 898-8511

Nelsen Family Dentistry goes the extra mile to make their patients feel well-taken-care-of, and that includes keeping pearly whites, well, pearly white, and paying attention to overall health. With an extensive list of high-tech equipment—including iPods, DVD goggles, digital X-rays and a special machine that can make a crown in one appointment—this place makes going to the dentist far more entertaining than the usual experience of staring at framed photos of cartoon teeth. The beverage and coffee bar intended to relax patients while they wait tops off the experience.

2ND PLACE: Kremer Dental Care
3 Glenbrook Court, 892-1234

3RD PLACE: Barbro Lauri-Beckett
1430 East Ave., 893-8913


1ST PLACE: Patrick Tedford
643 W. East Ave., 342-0502

For more than three decades, Chicoans have trusted Dr. Patrick Tedford with their children’s health. He’s won Best Pediatrician for two years running, so he must be doing something right! A graduate of UCLA, the good doctor specializes in everything that can make the young’uns sniffle, cough and run a fever.

2ND PLACE: Robert Stanley
1427 Magnolia Ave., 896-1446

3RD PLACE (tie): John Asarian
10 Governors Lane, 343-8522

3RD PLACE (tie): Paul Wassermann
1430 The Esplanade #5, 891-0553

General practitioner

1ST PLACE: Dr. James Nagel
70 Declaration Dr., Suite 102; 893-0105

2ND PLACE: Dannielle Harwood
1645 The Esplanade, Suite 4, 343-1200

3RD PLACE: Stephen Peterson
185 E. Seventh Ave., 342-7564


1ST PLACE: John Fragoso
2062 Talbert Drive, 891-9010

Dr. John Fragoso takes first place again this year for his work at his sports and family-wellness center, where he combines traditional and modern chiropractic techniques to meet your family’s needs. Through his use of ART (Active Response Techniques) and his focus on helping others live active, healthy lifestyles, he’s been able to help people of all ages work through the root causes of their ailments to become pain-free for the long term. On top of that, he actively supports local training groups and triathlons in the community and walks the walk by keeping his own body in shape through strength training.

2ND PLACE: Karen Escott
389 Connors Court, 345-4204

3RD PLACE: Matt McCowan
2060 Talbert Dr., 345-5335

Massage therapist

1ST PLACE: Babette Maiss
150 Amber Grove Drive, Suite 152; 321-5668

Babette Maiss’ mantra on her Facebook page is: “Consistent massage maintains a happy and healthy body!” Given the fact she’s won Best Massage Therapist two years in a row, it’s clear she keeps a roster of regular clients. She offers a variety of massage styles in a clean, comforting environment in north Chico. She also gives away one free hour-long massage monthly to a lucky client. Now that’s what we call service!

2ND PLACE (tie): Lorna Hillman (Urban Medspa)
3221 Cohasset Road, 891-8772

2ND PLACE (tie): Teri Skaug (Chico Holistic Healthcare)
582 Rio Lindo Ave., 892-1930

2ND PLACE (tie): Tory Zellick (In Touch Bodyworks)
2995 The Esplanade, 892-1807

Rob Blair

Photo courtesy of KHSL

Eye-care specialist

1ST PLACE: Chico Eye Center
605 W. East Ave., 895-1727; and 6585 Clark Road, Paradise, 872-3519

The Chico Eye Center offers services from basic exams and vision correction to multiple forms of surgery, including cosmetic and treatments for eye disease. It also staffs an optical department that houses a full-service, in-house optical shop stocked with all major designer eyewear brands. The shop’s staff can have the specks of your choice custom-made and ready for pickup in a snap (within 24 hours in Chico and 48 hours in Paradise), and if they don’t have what you want, they’ll work with manufacturers to find it for you.

2ND PLACE: Bonnie Seely
2056 Talbert Drive, 893-1695

3RD PLACE: Jerry Laskey
680 Rio Lindo Ave., 343-5541

Medical-marijuana collective

1ST PLACE: Doctor’s Orders Co-op Inc.
4950 Cohasset Road # 10, 891-1420

These guys are pros. With a successful co-op in Sacramento, director Ralph Bailey opened D.O.C. in Chico as well. Friendly and knowledgeable staff help members find just the strain of medicinal marijuana to help their particular ailments. Add to that veteran discounts and daily specials and these guys clearly have what it takes to keep their members happy and healthy.

2ND PLACE: North Valley Holistic Health
2961 Highway 32, 891-4372

3RD PLACE (tie): Cascade Wellness Center
15430 Highway 99 North, 230-2121

3RD PLACE (tie): Scripts Only Service
3150 Highway 32

Place to work out

1ST PLACE: In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave., 343-5678

In Motion Fitness has cornered the market on Best Place to Work Out for seemingly ever. This year it also boasts awards for Best Place to Play Basketball, Best Place to Swim and Best Yoga Studio. We can’t say we’re surprised. Since the renovation last year, the club is nicer than ever. The pool area is exquisite, the cardio and weight machines are top-notch, and the specialty rooms—particularly the butterfly yoga studio—are comfortable and inviting.

2ND PLACE: Chico Sports Club
260 Cohasset Road, 345-9427

3RD PLACE (tie): NorCal Strength & Conditioning
629 Entler Ave., 605-2766

3RD PLACE (tie): Chico State WREC
On the Chico State campus

Golf course

1ST PLACE: Bidwell Park Golf Course
3199 Golf Course Road, 891-8417

Located in the heart of Upper Park, Bidwell Park Golf Course is the place to go for a moderately priced 18 holes in Chico. And did we mention it’s in Bidwell Park? So clearly the scenery is beautiful—the front nine occupy prime park space while the back nine reach into the foothills. Golfers tout this municipal course as being challenging for beginners and veterans of the sport alike.

2ND PLACE: Canyon Oaks Country Club
999 Yosemite Drive, 343-2582

3RD PLACE: Tuscan Ridge Golf Club
3100 Skyway, 624-7006



Place to play basketball

1ST PLACE: In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave., 343-5678

2ND PLACE: Chico Sports Club
260 Cohasset Road, 345-9427

3RD PLACE: Chico State WREC
On the Chico State campus

Place to swim

1ST PLACE: In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave., 343-5678

2ND PLACE: One-Mile Recreation Area

3RD PLACE: Upper Park

Place for kids to play

1ST PLACE: Caper Acres
Kids love Caper Acres. So do adults, who can romp alongside the little ones as they climb on the mosaic sea-monster that encircles the colorful, central spongy area full of things for kids to climb on, or just sit on a bench in the shade and read a book. Other sections of this popular kids’ park near the One-Mile Recreation Area in beautiful Lower Bidwell Park feature storybook-themed structures such as Humpty Dumpty perched on a wall and a giant wedge of Swiss cheese with holes to slide through, as well as swings and tunnels to venture into.

2ND PLACE: In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave., 343-5678

3RD PLACE: Wildwood Park
Yoga studio

1ST PLACE: In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave., 343-5678

2ND PLACE: Blue Lotus Yoga & Wellness
973 East Ave., 895-9642

3RD PLACE: Ziva Yoga Essentials
231 Main St., 342-9482

Martial arts studio

1ST PLACE: Haley’s Martial Arts
260 Cohasset Road, 895-3114

Kyoshi Pat Haley is the OG Karate Kid, establishing the martial arts studio that bears his name 25 years ago. Haley specializes in the art of Shorin Ryu, a style of karate developed in Okinawa, Japan, hundreds of years ago. In fact, Haley still travels to the island nation once a year to train with 91-year-old famed instructor Sh?gor? Nakazato. Haley’s Martial Arts offers family discounts and student rates, and classes are taught morning, noon and night, and even on weekends; the family-friendly center also holds occasional barbecues and potlucks. Stick with Haley and you’ll be a black belt in no time.

2ND PLACE: Stand Alone
845 Cherry St., 893-8392

3RD PLACE: Azad’s Martial Arts
313 Walnut St., 896-0777

Sporting event

1ST PLACE: Chico Outlaws
The Chico Outlaws are hot, red hot. For five years, the independent Golden Baseball League has worked to establish a solid franchise. And this year, the work has certainly paid off. Media sensation Eri Yoshida, the petite Japanese knuckle-ball “princess,” has re-energized the fans and inspired countless young women. But the team’s overall solid lineup under the direction of field manager Garry Templeton is what’s taken them all the way to sweep the league championship. Go Outlaws!

2ND PLACE: Almond Bowl

3RD PLACE: Wildflower Century


Public servant

1ST PLACE: Jane Dolan
Jane Dolan has served her 2nd District well over her 30-plus years as county supervisor. She’s been known to fight for the Chico neighborhoods she represents, in particular championing the Greenline and the Chapmantown area. “I really and truly have a passion for community service,” she told the CN&R in July. That’s clear to locals, even if she wasn’t re-elected to the Board of Supervisors in June. It’s safe to say her knowledgeable background and voice of reason on the board will be missed come January, but we’re confident we haven’t seen the last of Dolan.

2ND PLACE (tie): Tom Nickell, city councilman

2ND PLACE (tie): Larry Wahl, city councilman

Farmers’ Markets

Photo By Jason Cassidy

Local media personality

1ST PLACE: Rob Blair

Everybody loves Rob Blair. Seriously. He is the man. Chico’s chipper morning weatherman and co-host of Wake Up! might just be undefeatable in this category. And why wouldn’t he be? He’s witty, charming and a truly gifted TV personality. Oh, then there’s that contagious smile.

2ND PLACE: Megan McDonald

3RD PLACE: Kelli Saam

Radio station

The Zephyr has been Chico’s community radio station for 20 years, and for those two decades this Chico pillar has lived up to its mission to “enlighten, entertain, inform and educate our listeners in support of community.” The all-volunteer roster of programmers provides by far the most eclectic schedule of music in town—from Preston Powers’ “Blues Bayou” on Mondays to Jeff Howse’s popular and informed “Random Pick” on Thursdays, and every Celtic, reggae, Cajun, jazz, Hmong and bluegrass show in between. Here’s hoping for another 20 years on the air.



Youth organization

1ST PLACE: Boys & Girls Club of Chico
601 Wall St., 899-0335

The Boys & Girls Club of Chico has been dealt quite a few blows lately, losing the majority of its funding from the Chico Unified School District. But that hasn’t phased the hard-working staff and volunteers who show up day in and day out to help the children of Chico who need it most. The organization recently underwent a management change and is now headed by Rashell Brobst. She’s the perfect woman for the job, with a kind and energetic spirit meant for giving.

2ND PLACE: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butte County

3RD PLACE: Youth for Change
647 Flume St., 342-3100

Place to pray/meditate

1ST PLACE: Bidwell Park

2ND PLACE: Bidwell Presbyterian
208 W. First St., 343-1484

3RD PLACE (tie): Our Divine Savior Catholic Church
566 E. Lassen Ave., 343-4248

3RD PLACE (tie): At home

Leader in sustainability

1ST PLACE: Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. owner and founder
Sure, Ken Grossman is known by beer-enthusiasts the world over for his excellent beers and ales. But here in Chico, he’s also known for his comittment to the environment, as evidenced by his operation’s many sustainable initiatives, such as the large solar array at the brewery.

2ND PLACE: Mark Stemen at Chico State

3RD PLACE: Robyn DiFalco at AS Recycling

Green institution/organization

1ST PLACE: Chico State
No surprise here, since Chico State has been doing so much to promote a healthier, greener lifestyle for its students, faculty and staff, and, by extension, the whole community. Witness A.S. Recycling’s newly expanded composting program in conjunction with local recycler and waste collector Recology, featuring post-consumer composting bins and compostable plates in the university’s Marketplace Café—a move designed to aid Chico State’s goal of zero-waste by 2015. Add to that CSUC’s well-known, energy-saving Green Campus Program and annual This Way to Sustainability conference, and it’s easy to see why Chico State made Best Green Institution/Organization.

2ND PLACE: Butte College

Green business

1ST PLACE: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
1075 E 20th St., 345-2739

Of all the businesses in Chico that have made sustainability a priority, none has been as vigilant as Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. It has incorporated energy-saving and waste-diverting methods in just about everything it does. Just look at the large solar array and hydrogen fuel cells that generate almost all the brewery’s power on-site. For transportation, Sierra Nevada is dedicated to diverting used vegetable oil to be used as biodiesel and it was the first company in the country to buy a hybrid electric route truck from Peterbilt just last year. A recent campaign donated a portion of all proceeds from every six-pack of Pale Ale and seasonal brews to help keep local and national waterways clean.

2ND PLACE (tie): ChicoBag

2ND PLACE (tie): Greenfeet

Charitable cause—Chico

1ST PLACE: Jesus Center
1297 Park Ave., 345-2640

For three decades, the Jesus Center has been the no-cost, community dining hall for Chico’s homeless and hungry, which these days includes an increasing number of individuals and families recently knocked into joblessness and poverty by a limping, lackluster economy. Cheery executive director Bill Such invites those in need of a meal to come eat breakfast and dinner any day of the week, from 7:30-8:30 a.m., and 3:30-4:30 p.m.

2ND PLACE: Butte Humane Society
2579 Fair St., 343-7917

3RD PLACE: The ARC of Butte County
2030 Park Ave., 891-5865

Charitable cause—Oroville

1ST PLACE: The ARC of Butte County
2745 Oroville Dam Blvd., 532-1272

For over 50 years, the Arc of Butte County has been serving the needs of developmentally disabled adults and children by providing jobs and services such as its Independent Living Skills program and Rainbow of Kids Club. Based in Chico, it established a center and used-goods store in Oroville several years ago, which CN&R readers have obviously grown very fond of.

2ND PLACE: Oroville Rescue Mission
4250 Lincoln Blvd., 533-9120

2075 Baldwin Ave., 530-534-5713

Charitable cause—On the Ridge

1ST PLACE: Top Cats

Tamara Lynch is determined to make the world a better place and she does it herself, one cat at a time. As top dog of Top Cats, Lynch is single-handedly making a dent in the feral cat population on the ridge by capturing and snipping the cute but ultra-prolific feline friends. Unfortunately, business is booming. “People move and leave their cats behind,” Lynch wrote in an e-mail. “If they aren’t altered, they produce kittens. If a cat doesn’t have human contact at an early age, they will grow up to be feral. We use foster parents to socialize young kittens that are born to feral mothers.” Despite a network of folks who help the grass-roots effort, program funding is sparse. A fall bowling tournament fundraiser will help the cause.

2ND PLACE: Youth for Change
2185 Baldwin Ave., 538-8002

3RD PLACE: Paradise Chocolate Fest

Community event

1ST PLACE: Farmers’ markets
What’s not to love about farmers’ markets? They allow shoppers not only to pick up the freshest (and ripest!) fruits and veggies, but also to meet and greet the amazing people who grow them with passion, love and plenty of hard work. With more markets than ever around Chico, as well as in Paradise and Oroville, there’s almost no excuse not to support the local food movement.

2ND PLACE: A Taste of Chico

3RD PLACE: Friday Night Concerts in the Park

Place to spend your last buck

1ST PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718

2ND PLACE: 99 Cents Only
2560 Notre Dame Blvd., 566-0223

3RD PLACE: Farmers' markets

Place to pick up the CN&R

1ST PLACE: In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave., 343-5678

2ND PLACE: Chico State

3RD PLACE: Gold Country Casino
4020 Olive Highway, 538-4560