Readers’ picks: Nightlife & The Arts

Recognizing Chico’s most entertaining people and places

Martini (Crush)

Martini (Crush)

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Recognizing Chico's most entertaining people and places

Bar (Chico)

1ST PLACE: The Banshee

134 W. Second St., 895-9670

Stepping through The Banshee's doors in downtown Chico is like taking a trip into another world. Its classy, old English-style furnishings make visitors feel as if they've walked into a big-city joint. Cozy tables await guests in back, or sit by the front to make new friends. While food can be a tasteless afterthought in some pubs, the fare at The Banshee is prepared and served with care—which explains why this downtown hotspot also won the category of Best Drunk Munchies.

2ND PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

3RD PLACE: Argus Bar + Patio

212 W. Second St., 520-8223

Bar (Oroville)

1ST PLACE: Spirits Lounge

Gold Country Casino, 4020 Olive Highway, 538-4560

Spirits Lounge offers a comfortable break from the lights and sounds of Gold Country's busy casino. With regular live music, ranging from bands to DJs, and a monthly lineup of drink specials, a night at the Lounge is never a dull affair. So, sit back with a local beer or a signature cocktail and have fun!

2ND PLACE: Feather Falls Casino Brewing Co.

3 Alverda Dr., 533-3885

3RD PLACE (tie): Miner’s Alley Brewing Co.

2053 Montgomery St., 693-4388

3RD PLACE (tie): Sweetwater Saloon

1849 Sixth St., 533-5242

Bar (Ridge)

1ST PLACE: Canteena

6067 Skyway, 877-5215

For several years running, the Canteena on Paradise's main drag has scored the most votes for best watering hole on the Ridge. The Canteena offers food, live music, big-screen TVs and friendly vibes in a sports-bar atmosphere, keeping those up the Hill entertained since 2003.

2ND PLACE: King’s Tavern

5771 Clark Road, 877-7100

3RD PLACE (tie): The Wine Room & Pub

6256 Skyway, 872-8889

3RD PLACE (tie): Lynn’s Optimo

9225 Skyway, 872-1788


1ST PLACE: Liz von Aspern

Christian Michaels Ristorante, 192 E. Third St., 894-4005

There's no shortage of friendly bartenders in this booze-loving college town. So, to be named the best—and the Best Mixologist at that, as the art of mixology takes much more than the ability to pour a beer—is a particular honor. One happy returning customer noted: “Liz von Aspern has a great personality, and does everything in her ability to make the customers happy. She has a million-dollar smile, and is a very genuine person.” We'll drink to that!

2ND PLACE: Scott Barwick

Two Twenty Restaurant, 220 W. Fourth St., 895-1515; and Argus Bar + Patio, 212 W. Second St., 520-8233

3RD PLACE: Jason Corona

Crush Italian Cuisine & Lounge, 201 Broadway, 342-7000

Happy hour

1ST PLACE: Crush Italian Cuisine and Lounge

201 Broadway, 342-7000

2ND PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante

192 E. Third St., 894-4005

3RD PLACE: The Pour House

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

Sports bar

1ST PLACE: Bella’s Sports Pub

134 Broadway, 893-5253

During football season, baseball season, basketball season, hockey season—heck, any sports season—this is the place to be, assuming you can squeeze in. Bella's Sports Pub is that narrow (but cozy!) bar on Broadway that gets raucous on game days and always draws people from all corners of Chico. Their wings are absolutely top-notch, and sports fans are otherwise satiated with the big-screen TVs and cheap and plentiful beer.

2ND PLACE: The Graduate

344 W. Eighth St., 343-2790

3RD PLACE: The End Zone

250 Cohasset Road, 899-7070

Watering hole for townies

1ST PLACE: The Handle Bar

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

The Banshee

Photo by Paula Schultz

When Carolyn and Brian Kanabrocki opened The Handle Bar in Chico, they aimed to create an unpretentious, comfortable atmosphere and offer quality microbrews in the early days of the craft beer revolution. They've succeeded at both in spades, and this is the second consecutive year their bar on the south side of town has been named the top townie bar.

2ND PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

3RD PLACE: Studio Inn Lounge

2582 Esplanade, 343-0662

Venue for live tunes

1ST PLACE: Sierra Nevada Big Room

1075 E. 20th St., 893-3520

Perfect acoustics, a big dance floor and the world-class brews of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. flowing all night long make the beautiful Big Room the best place in Chico to catch an eclectic mix of touring and local folk, Americana, rock, blues and funk acts.

2ND PLACE: Lost on Main

319 Main St., 892-2445

3RD PLACE: The Tackle Box Bar & Grill

379 E. Park Ave., 345-7499

Local music act

1ST PLACE: Defcats

Classic rock from the '60s to the '90s is what you get at a Defcats show. Members Aaron Lyon, Ron Relf, Shawn Bentley, Tom O'Conner and Mick Nantel come together to celebrate dance tunes at nightclubs and casinos around the area, as well as community events like the recent Omega Nu Barn Dance. And they're booked to rock the Halloween party at the Chico Elks Lodge Oct. 30.


3RD PLACE: Kyle Williams

Local comedian

1ST PLACE: Chris Bobertz

Chris Bobertz has been described as “the strong silent type … with an air of mystery.” He is often seen performing comedy at venues around town, peeking out from the hood of his sweatshirt. His soft-spoken demeanor and truthful subject matter connect with audiences in a pure way. “Whether it's his kids, his stay-at-home fathering, his passion for the workplace or his elusive wife, Chris' stories will leave you in stitches,” says one friend.

2ND PLACE: Annie Fischer

3RD PLACE (tie): Kyle Bowen

3RD PLACE (tie): Melissa J

3RD PLACE (tie): Steve Swim

Karaoke night

1ST PLACE: Madison Bear Garden

316 W. Second St., 891-1639

Walk out on the back patio of the Mad Bear on a Monday and just try to resist going up to the mic to belt out a rendition of your favorite Katy Perry song. That's right, Monday night is Bear-e-oke night, and that's where you'll find all of Chico's lead-singer wannabes—and hopefuls. Even if you don't sing, it's always fun to see all the crooners and entertainers try their hand on the stage.

2ND PLACE: Maltese Bar & Tap Room

1600 Park Ave., 343-4915

3RD PLACE: Studio Inn Lounge

2582 Esplanade, 343-0662

Open mic

1ST PLACE: Has Beans Coffee & Tea Co.

501 Main St., 894-3033

For many years, this downtown coffee shop has hosted weekly musical open mic nights, where anyone's invited to take the stage and share their talents. There is a handful of regulars, but you can also discover new local talent. The shows are 7-10 p.m. Thursdays, and musicians sign up the day of at the shop. Bring your own instrument, or use the guitar and drum set the house makes available.

2ND PLACE: The Maltese Open Mic Comedy

1600 Park Ave., 343-4915

3RD PLACE: Studio Inn Comedy Night

2582 Esplanade, 343-0662

Place to dance

1ST PLACE: Crazy Horse Saloon

303 Main St., 342-7299

When it comes to boot-scootin', Chicoans need not go any farther than the Crazy Horse Saloon. The cowboy-themed bar attracts a wide range of people, from college kids to older country fans. And with a huge dance floor smack in the middle of the bar, it's no wonder it's locals' favorite for cutting loose.

2ND PLACE: The Beach

191 E. Second St., 898-9898

3RD PLACE (tie): Lost on Main

319 Main St., 892-2445

Has Beans

photo by brittany waterstradt

3RD PLACE (tie): Madison Bear Garden

316 W. Second St., 891-1639

Bloody Mary

1ST PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

Each bartender at Duffy's has his or her own little twist on the Bloody Mary. Some pour in a little Guinness, some a nip of Pale Ale, along with the horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and staples of vodka and tomato juice, salt and pepper. But let's not forget the other delicious accoutrements—green beans and olives. This is a top-notch Bloody Mary and Chicoans know it!

2ND PLACE: Nash’s 7th Avenue Omelette House

1717 Esplanade, 896-1147

3RD PLACE: Joe’s Bar

749 W. Fifth St., 894-3612


1ST PLACE: Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill

100 Broadway, 342-0425

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: Crush Italian Cuisine and Lounge

201 Broadway, 342-7000

2ND PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante

192 E. Third St., 894-4005

3RD PLACE: 5th Street Steakhouse

345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328

Place for a glass of wine

1ST PLACE: Wine Time

26 Lost Dutchman Dr., 899-9250

2ND PLACE: Monks Wine Lounge

128 W. Second St., 343-3408

3RD PLACE: Crush Italian Cuisine and Lounge

201 Broadway, 342-7000

Place to see art

1ST PLACE: 1078 Gallery

820 Broadway, 343-1973

The 1078 is an integral piece of Chico's identity as a place for artists, and it's been that way for 34 years. The gallery hosts a rotating mix of showcases for contemporary and experimental artists working in all media—visual, performance, literature, film and music.

2ND PLACE (tie): Chico Paper Co.

345 Broadway, 891-0900

2ND PLACE (tie): Chico Art Center

450 Orange St., 895-8726

Visual artist

1ST PLACE: Janet Lombardi Blixt

For several years now, Janet Lombardi Blixt has been recognized as Chico's Best Visual Artist. That might be because she makes some beautiful paintings, many of them of local landmarks, but also because she takes pride in sharing her skills with other aspiring artists in town through her Chico Art School.

2ND PLACE: Caitlin Schwerin

3RD PLACE: Christine Fulton

Theater company

1ST PLACE: Blue Room Theatre

139 W. First St., 895-3749

The Blue Room Theatre is something of an institution here in Chico, despite going through many changes over the years. One thing that hasn't changed is its dedication to offering a strong mix of classic and contemporary plays, some even written locally, and all performed by an excellent cast of local actors. Let's not forget its Young Company, either, which works with young aspiring actors to hone their craft.

2ND PLACE: Chico Theater Company

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

3RD PLACE: California Regional Theatre

(800) 722-4522


1ST PLACE: Gold Country Casino

4020 Olive Highway, Oroville, 538-4560

2ND PLACE: Feather Falls Casino

3 Alverda Dr., Oroville, 533-3885

3RD PLACE: Rolling Hills Casino

2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning, 528-3500