Readers’ picks: Nightlife & The Arts

Chicoans love it when the sun goes down

Bella’s Sports Pub

Bella’s Sports Pub


1ST PLACE: Argus Bar + Patio

212 W. Second St., 570-2672

With its top-notch menu of creative cocktails, comfortable atmosphere and one of Chico’s best patio spaces, Argus has become the go-to spot for a casual but classy bar experience. Whether you’re looking for a craft cocktail or just a tall can of Rainier, Argus’ friendly staff will make you feel at home. Add in live music and a food menu from nearby restaurant Ali Baba and Argus covers all the bases of what a great neighborhood bar should be.

2ND PLACE: The Banshee

134 W. Second St., 895-9670

3RD PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

Watering hole for townies

1ST PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

You know that place where everybody knows your name? Yeah, if you’re in Chico, it could be your neighborhood bar, but it’s also probably Duffy’s. It’s practically impossible to walk into the longtime downtown dive bar and not run into an old pal, a co-worker or even your lawyer. So, sit back with the Best Bloody Mary in town and enjoy life as a local.

2ND PLACE: The Handle Bar

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

3RD PLACE: Studio Inn Lounge

2582 Esplanade, 343-0662

Sports bar

1ST PLACE: Bella’s Sports Pub

134 Broadway, 893-5253

Regardless of your team or your sport, Bella’s is the perfect spot to catch a game with a cold drink or a basket of spicy wings any time of day or night. With die-hards hanging on the outcome of every play and bartenders waiting to help fuel the celebration of victory or drown the agony of defeat, Bella’s is the kind of sports bar where even casual fans can get caught up in the moment.

2ND PLACE: The End Zone

250 Cohasset Road, 899-7070

3RD PLACE: The Pour House

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

Venue for live music

1ST PLACE: Sierra Nevada Big Room

1075 E. 20th St., 893-3520

It’s hard to go wrong with live music at a renowned craft brewery. What makes the Big Room such a draw, however, is that not only is the music—generally Americana or roots—top-notch, but the venue is intimate enough to feel like the audience is really part of the show. Throw in a dinner beforehand and the evening is complete.

2ND PLACE: The Tackle Box Bar & Grill

379 E. Park Ave., 345-7499

3RD PLACE: Lost on Main

319 Main St., 892-2445

Place to dance

1ST PLACE: The Beach

191 E. Second St., 898-9898

With a rotating cast of local and out-of-town DJs spinning everything from hip-hop to electro house, The Beach is the place to be for Chicoans seeking that club atmosphere. Open only on weekends, The Beach offers a variety of dance floors, from the often crowded main room to the VIP lounge upstairs. Bonus: It opens onto the patio at Panama’s—or to the University Bar—if you’re seeking a change of tempo.

2ND PLACE: Crazy Horse Saloon

303 Main St., 342-7299

3RD PLACE: Madison Bear Garden

316 W. Second St., 891-1639

Happy hour

1ST PLACE: Crush Italian Cuisine & Lounge

201 Broadway, 342-7000

Nowhere takes happy hour more seriously than Crush. With specials every afternoon and late-night happy hour Thursday-Saturday, Crush offers ample opportunity to get a great deal on hand-crafted cocktails and an impressive selection of food options. From afternoon appetizers on the patio to late-night drinks and pizza in the lounge, Crush continues its reign as Chico’s Best Happy Hour.

2ND PLACE: The Pour House

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

Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill

3RD PLACE: Christian Michaels Ristorante

192 E. Third St., 894-4005

Bloody Mary

1ST PLACE: Duffy’s Tavern

337 Main St., 343-7718

2ND PLACE: Joe’s Bar

749 W. Fifth St., 894-3612

3RD PLACE: Mom’s Restaurant

209 Salem St., 893-3447


1ST PLACE: Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill

100 Broadway, 342-0425

With an entire menu of margaritas, it’s no wonder Tres Hombres continues to rule this category. The list runs the gamut from the simple house variety shaken or blended to the Cadillac (with El Jimador Reposado tequila) to the fruit-flavored, and can be ordered by the glass or by the pitcher, so the whole table is ready to fiesta.

2ND PLACE: La Hacienda

2635 Esplanade, 893-8270

3RD PLACE: Casa Ramos

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

Place to drink a glass of wine

1ST PLACE: Wine Time

26 Lost Dutchman Drive, 899-9250

Wine Time truly lives up to its name. Patrons can choose from an extensive wine list, which includes plenty of options from local wineries, or from a selection of flights. Chef Lisa Sereda also makes it easy to pair your small plate with the perfect glass. Salut!

2ND PLACE: Unwined at 980

980 Mangrove Ave., 809-2634

3RD PLACE: Crush Italian Cuisine & Lounge

201 Broadway, 342-7000


1ST PLACE: Jason Corona

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

Jason Corona is no stranger to this category, as the longtime Chico bartender has been impressing Chico’s bar-hopping populace for years now. Regulars at Crush, where he’s the bar manager, swear by Corona’s personable attitude and know-how when it comes to making specialty drinks.

2ND PLACE: Codey Ulsh

The Beach, 191 E. Second St.

3RD PLACE: Scott Barwick

Formerly of Two Twenty Restaurant, 220 W. Fourth St., 895-1515

Casino—Regional (Butte/Glenn/Tehama)

1ST PLACE: Gold Country Casino

4020 Olive Highway, Oroville, 538-4560

When it comes to full-service entertainment, casinos are king. And here in the North State, Gold Country claims the crown once again for Best Casino. The impressive establishment, just south of Chico in Oroville, features slot machines and table games but doesn’t stop there. Big-name bands, comedians and DJs perform in the event center and Spirits Lounge, and a meal at the Steak House can’t be beat.

2ND PLACE: Feather Falls Casino

3 Alverda Drive, Oroville, 533-3885

3RD PLACE: Rolling Hills Casino

2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning, 528-3500

Karaoke night

1ST PLACE: Madison Bear Garden

316 W. Second St., 891-1639

Karaoke night at the Madison Bear Garden—known fittingly as Bear-e-oke—has become a Monday-night institution, not just for its awesome location on the Bear’s expansive patio, but for the wide range of participants, from karaoke ringers to first-timers operating on pure liquid courage. Whether you’re a singer or just a spectator, it’s guaranteed to be a great time.

2ND PLACE: Maltese Bar & Taproom

1600 Park Ave., 343-4915

3RD PLACE: Studio Inn Lounge

2582 Esplanade, 343-0662

The Blue Room Theatre

Photo by Joe Hilsee

Theater company

1ST PLACE: Blue Room Theatre

139 W. First St., 895-3749

Year in and year out, the Blue Room Theatre offers an impressive range of productions, from well-known classics to works from local playwrights, and everything in between. With consistently top-notch local casts, directors, musicians and staff, and community outreach that includes the Blue Room Young Company and the Blue Room Guild, the Blue Room continues to be Chico’s foremost theater hub.

2ND PLACE: Chico Theater Company

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

3RD PLACE: California Regional Theatre

(800) 722-4522

Local comedian

1ST PLACE: Chris Bobertz

As suggested by the tagline on his Facebook page, “Will travel, will tell jokes for food,” Chris Bobertz is a local comedian willing to put in the miles, and the work, to get the laughs. Wearing a hoodie—typically hood-up—and a disarming smile, Bobertz’s self-effacing jokes based on his experiences as a father and otherwise average guy are above-average hilarious, and have made him a perennial favorite at comedy shows in Chico and beyond.

2ND PLACE: T.J. Hudson

3RD PLACE: Steve Swim

Local music act

1ST PLACE: Defcats

For the second year in a row, the Defcats have been named Chico’s Best Local Music Act. The Defcats cover everyone from the Doobie Brothers to the Stray Cats and have played venues large and small. The six-piece composed of veteran musicians strives to get people’s feet tapping and voices singing along—and clearly it’s working.

2ND PLACE: Smokey the Groove

3RD PLACE: Spy Picnic

Local visual artist

1ST PLACE: Christine Mac Shane

An accomplished artist for more than two decades, Christine Mac Shane has made a name for herself as a television host. She’s also left her mark on Butte County, often through murals. She now offers classes and art parties at her Studio 561 in Chico, which attracts novices and experienced painters alike. “Her heart is the right place, and she helps folks feel free to be themselves,” one student says. “She encourages and empowers you to stretch and develop.”

2ND PLACE: Janet Lombardi Blixt

3RD PLACE: Caitlin Schwerin

Open mic

1ST PLACE: Has Beans Coffee & Tea Co.

501 Main St., 894-3033

Many a local musician and poet has cut his or her teeth at an open mic at Has Beans in downtown Chico. The weekly events attract regulars, of course, but also fresh talent ready to try out something new. The positive, supportive environment keeps this longtime institution going strong.

2ND PLACE: Maltese Bar & Tap Room

1600 Park Ave., 343-4915

3RD PLACE: Studio Inn Lounge

2582 Esplanade, 343-0662

Place to buy art

1ST PLACE: Chico Paper Co.

345 Broadway, 891-0900

There is no shortage of galleries and shops in Chico where art aficionados can find the perfect piece to fit in their home. Time and time again, however, Chicoans look to Chico Paper Co. as their go-to spot for all things art. The downtown store houses the works of many artists, including those of the very popular Jake Early, and it also offers framing services.

2ND PLACE: Art Etc.

122 W. Third St., 895-1161

3RD PLACE: 1078 Gallery

820 Broadway, 343-1973

Place to see art

1ST PLACE: 1078 Gallery

820 Broadway, 343-1973

Since 1981, the 1078 Gallery has been providing Chico art lovers the opportunity to see contemporary and experimental artwork of local, national and international origins. Open to all forms of art, from fine arts, to performance, film and musical arts, the nonprofit, volunteer-run 1078 Gallery is not just an integral part of Chico’s thriving art community, but also a direct conduit to the greater art world.

2ND PLACE: Chico Paper Co.

345 Broadway, 891-0900

3RD PLACE: The Studio 561

561 E. Lindo Ave., 370-1285