Readers’ Picks: Nightlife & the Arts

Wine Time

Wine Time


1ST PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

It seems appropriate that Duffy’s Tavern gets named Best Bar (again) as it celebrates 25 years in business. The place caters to a wide variety of patrons as evidenced by the self-description on its Facebook page: “We don’t care if you’re wearing drag, flip-flops, or both—Duffy’s is your pal.” Indeed, hipsters, sports fans, attorneys as well as their clients mingle comfortably in the downtown tavern with the jukebox playing Iggi Pop while the big-screen TVs feature the (depending on the season) big game. The bartenders are upbeat, responsive, friendly and easy on the eyes, too.

2ND PLACE: The Banshee

134 W. Second St., 895-9670

3RD PLACE: Argus Bar + Patio

212 W. Second St.

Bar—On the Ridge

1ST PLACE: Canteena

6067 Skyway, 877-5215

Again and again, Ridge residents rally behind their favorite bar, Canteena, and this year is no different. Is it the big-screen TVs always showing the big game—whether it be football, baseball or even UFC fighting? Is it the yummy pub grub (the nachos are to-die-for!) or the cold brews? Maybe it’s a combination of all three, plus live music, karaoke and friendly bartenders to boot.

2ND PLACE: King’s Tavern

5771 Clark Road, 877-7100

3RD PLACE: Barney O’Rourke’s

740 Elliott Road, 877-9973


1ST PLACE: Spirits Lounge (at Gold Country Casino)

4020 Olive Highway, 538-4560

Spirits Lounge, located at Gold Country Casino, has been named Oroville’s best bar for several years running. The watering hole is hopping with music by live bands or DJs from Thursday through Saturday, including regular country music and ’80s retro nights. There are big-screen TVs, stiff cocktails and, since it’s in a casino, Spirits Lounge offers one thing most other local bars can’t—video poker.

2ND PLACE: Feather Falls Casino Brewing Co.

3 Alverda Drive, 533-8944

3RD PLACE: Keg Room

3035 Oro Dam Blvd., Ste. E, 534-1394

Karaoke night

1ST PLACE: Madison Bear Garden

316 W. Second St., 891-1639

Of all the wacky Japanese exports that America has glommed onto (Godzilla, Hello Kitty, sushi, etc.), karaoke is among the wackiest. With its festive atmosphere and never-ending supply of beer, the Bear remains locals’ preferred place to sing their sloppy drunk hearts out. Word of warning: You probably will hear at least one, um, interesting rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”

2ND PLACE: The Maltese Bar & Tap Room

1600 Park Ave., 343-4915

3RD PLACE: Studio Inn Cocktail Lounge

2528 Esplanade, 343-0662

Happy hour

1ST PLACE: Crush

201 Broadway, 342-7000

See also Best Date-Night Dining

2ND PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante

192 E. Third St., 894-4005

3RD PLACE: Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill

100 Broadway, 342-0425

Bloody Mary

1ST PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

See also Best Bar

2ND PLACE: Joe’s Bar

749 W. Fifth St., 894-3612

3RD PLACE: Mom’s

209 Salem St., 893-3447


1ST PLACE: Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill


100 Broadway, 342-0425

See also Best Patio

2ND PLACE: La Hacienda

2635 Esplanade, 893-8270

3RD PLACE: Casa Ramos

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


1ST PLACE: Crush

201 Broadway, 342-7000

See also Best Date-Night Dining

2ND PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante

192 E. Third St., 894-4005

3RD PLACE: Argus Bar + Patio

212 W. Second St.


1ST PLACE: Jason Corona, Crush

201 Broadway, 342-7000

From 5:30 to closing, Wednesdays through Saturdays at Crush, you can order a Corona from Mr. Corona—Jason Corona, that is. But most people go to chat it up with the popular bartender for his famous specialty drinks, such as the Sexy Alligator Martini he created for a recent martini competition. The drink won the most votes in the People’s Choice category. Corona is also known for his strong customer rapport and personality.

2ND PLACE: Wendy Reid, Studio Inn Cocktail Lounge

2582 Esplanade, 343-0662

3RD PLACE: Travis Baker, Argus Bar + Patio

212 W. Second St.

Place to dance

1ST PLACE: Crazy Horse Saloon & Brewery

303 Main St., 894-5408

When Chicoans want to get out and dance, they turn to the Crazy Horse. That’s because of the huge dance floor and rockin’ tunes—sometimes country, sometimes pop. And, let’s face it, a few drinks and some beautiful dancers don’t hurt either.

2ND PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

3RD PLACE: LaSalles

229 Broadway, 893-1891

Place to drink a glass of wine

1ST PLACE: Wine Time

26 Lost Dutchman Drive, 899-9250

See also Best Small Bites

2ND PLACE: Monks Wine Lounge & Bistro

128 W. Second St., 343-3408

3RD PLACE: Crush

201 Broadway, Ste. 200, 342-7000

Sports bar

1ST PLACE: Bella’s Sports Pub

134 Broadway, 893-5253

Bella’s Sports Pub occupies a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, tiny storefront on Broadway, so if you’re looking for it on game days trust your ears before your eyes: just stop and listen for the raucous cheering, and it will lead you to the doorway. Inside is a deep bar filled with everything to lure and trap sports fans—big-screen TVs, cheap and plentiful beer, and delicious pub grub, including some of the best chicken wings in town.

2ND PLACE: The Graduate

344 W. Eighth St., 343-2790

3RD PLACE: The End Zone

250 Cohasset Road, 345-7330

Watering hole for townies

1ST PLACE: The Handle Bar

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

How do you get locals to trek to the outskirts of town for their communal fix? Offer an eclectic rotating tap of world-class craft beers, a hearty menu of German-inspired pub grub, and a relaxed atmosphere that makes everyone feel at home.

2ND PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

The Handle Bar

337 Main St., 343-7718

3RD PLACE: Winchester Goose

800 Broadway, 715-0099

Place to see art

1ST PLACE: 1078 Gallery

820 Broadway, 343-1973

For 33 years, the 1078 Gallery has been the epicenter of artistic expression in Chico, always showcasing contemporary, experimental local and visiting artists working in all media—visual, performance, literature, film and music.

2ND PLACE: Avenue 9 Gallery

180 E. Ninth Ave., 879-1821

3RD PLACE: Chico Paper Company

345 Broadway, 891-0900

Local visual artist

1ST PLACE: Janet Lombardi Blixt

See also Best Instructor/Professor

2ND PLACE: Christine Fulton

3RD PLACE: Dolores Mitchell

Place to buy art

1ST PLACE: Chico Paper Company

345 Broadway, 891-0900

There is nowhere in Chico that features more art by local artists than Chico Paper Company. It is a downtown institution. Of course, the flagship artist is Jake Early, the printmaker whose varied serigraph series include loving tributes to iconic local features like Monkey Face and the copper-coated brewing tanks at Sierra Nevada, but there are dozens more local artists on offer as well as custom framing services.

2ND PLACE: Avenue 9

180 E. Ninth Ave., 879-1821

3RD PLACE: Art Etc.

122 W. Third St., 895-1161


1ST PLACE: Gold Country Casino & Hotel

4020 Olive Highway, Oroville; 538-4560

Gold Country Casino and Hotel is located just minutes outside of Oroville, but feels like it’s miles away. It’s a little slice of Vegas without the hassle, not just because of the slot machines and other games of chance, but because of an excellent multitiered steakhouse with a panoramic view of the valley and the foothills, one of Oroville’s most popular bars (The Spirits Lounge), an 87-room hotel and world-class entertainment.

2ND PLACE: Feather Falls Casino

3 Alverda Drive, Oroville; 533-3885

3RD PLACE: Rolling Hills Casino

2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning; 528-3500

Theater company

1ST PLACE: Blue Room Theatre

139 W. First St., 895-3749

It is a testament to the mission of the Blue Room—to present cutting-edge, sometimes irreverent theater by local and contemporary playwrights—that, despite turnover and a sometimes erratic schedule, they are still the destination for original theater.

2ND PLACE: Chico Theater Company

166 E. Eaton Road, 894-3282

3RD PLACE: California Regional Theater


Venue for live tunes

1ST PLACE: Sierra Nevada Big Room

1075 E. 20th St., 893-3520

It’s kind of hard to beat a beautiful room with perfect acoustics that features the world-class beers of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., plus a continuous roster of world-class folk, Americana, rock, blues and funk acts on stage.

2ND PLACE: LaSalles

229 Broadway, 893-1891

3RD PLACE: 1078 Gallery

820 Broadway, 343-1973

Local music act

1ST PLACE: Mossy Creek

There are probably very few bands in Chico with as devoted a fanbase as local bluegrass unit Mossy Creek. Despite only playing a handful of shows a year, the crew of musical ringers continues to capture the top spot for Best Local Music Act.

2ND PLACE: Kyle Williams