Readers’ picks

Best of Chico 2009

Illustration by Ben Simonsen

Goods & Services

Antiques store

Eighth & Main Antique Center
745 Main St.; 893-5534

From the outside, Eighth and Main Antique Center looks like it’s seen better days: boarded up windows and thick soot stains on the walls. Although the June 26 fire caused heat damage to the entire shop and destroyed at least 12 dealers’ booths, the staff at Eighth and Main are determined to rise from the ashes and prosper again. While they clean up and restore their space, the store has temporarily moved to the back building, where they offer the most exquisite collection of antiques, furnishings, fine art and vintage clothing.

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

3RD PLACE: Jeannie’s
8670 Skyway, Paradise; 877-6650

Auto repair shop

Guido’s Auto Precision
135 W. Eighth Ave.; 891-8313

It ain’t easy finding a good, reliable mechanic. After all, when you’ve plopped down 20 grand (or more) on a car, you have to expect the best, right? So when it comes to specialty import car service, Guido’s Auto Precision is where Chicoans park their BMWs, Saabs and Volvos when they need a tune-up. Guido, who was trained at Ferrari and Lamborghini factories in his home country of Italy, has run his Chico shop since 1982. With such longevity and experience under his belt, no wonder his shop is a Chico favorite.

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

3RD PLACE: C & M Automotive
1188 E. Lassen Ave.; 343-5613


Tri Counties Bank
Various locations

At Tri Counties, locals can rely on personal attention to their financial needs. The bank, which started with just one branch but now has many in Chico and the surrounding areas, is full-service, offering services customers will find at any national bank. In short, Tri Counties is the local equivalent to big banking.

2ND PLACE: Butte Community Bank
Various locations

3RD PLACE: Bank of America
Various locations

Bed and breakfast

Cory’s Country Inn

Photo By matt siracusa

Cory’s Country Inn
4673 Nord Highway; 345-2955

It should come as no surprise that Cory’s Country Inn gets the award for best B&B in Chico. In a class of its own, Cory’s Country Inn—run by chef and art aficionado Cory Davis—offers a comfortable, peaceful, rural stay in one of three lovely “art-gallery” rooms. A sumptuous, made-to-order breakfast, prepared and served by Cory, awaits in the cozy dining room, painted with a garden mural (by Salvatore Casa) that echoes the beauty of the “secret garden” outside.

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

3RD PLACE: The Grateful Bed
1462 Arcadian Ave.; 342-2464

Pullins Cyclery

Photo By Jason Cassidy

Bike shop

Pullins Cyclery
801 Main St.; 342-1055

Steve O’Bryan and his wife have owned Pullins Cyclery for 25 years, but the business itself has been opened for approximately 90. O’Bryan worked at the bike shop in high school under the original owner, Pullin, until he retired. Well known for their repairs, O’Bryan estimated that the shop made about 1,000 repairs between the months of May and July of this year alone. He recalls coming home after work during that period with broken nails and filthy fingers. His children would tease him about it, but he would turn to them and say “dude, that’s money.”

2ND PLACE: Campus Bicycles
330 Main St., 345-2081

698 Mangrove Ave; 894-1110

Book store

Barnes & Noble Booksellers
2031 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway; 894-1494

Barnes & Noble may not be a local book store, but it certainly is the biggest in Chico. With aisles and aisles of books ranging from fiction to self-help to travel and reference, B&N knows what it’s doing. Having a Starbucks inside just adds to the ambiance—it’s not uncommon to see a handful of people sipping their lattes, thumbing through the latest Dan Brown novel. Occassionally, too, the store will hold fundraisers for local nonprofits as well as book signings.

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

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

Car dealership

Chuck Patterson Auto World
200 East Ave.; 895-1771

Chuck Patterson Auto World is a monolith on East Avenue—and a pretty one at that. With another location on the Esplanade, the dealership has enough room to stock just about every version and color of the Toyota, Dodge or Scion vehicle you’re interested in. Bonus: the store also contains a full-service repair shop.

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

3RD PLACE: Courtesy Motors Auto Center
2520 Cohasset Road; 893-1300

Computer store

Best Buy
2005 Forest Ave.; 566-1012

This big-box store with the unmissable, blue-and-bright-yellow logo is a hub for folks looking for a new plasma-screen TV, laptop, cell phone or the latest DVD. And with such a large selection of desktop and laptop computers that come with unbeatable warranties, it’s no wonder that Best Buy was voted Best Computer Store.

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

3RD PLACE: Computers Plus
2499 Forest Ave; 891-7587

Day spa

Agua Azul Oasis
40 Declaration Drive, 345-0226

Enter the oasis that is Aqua Azul. This is purely a place to pamper yourself from head to toe. Located in the Philadelphia Square, the full-service Mediterranean-style day spa offers microdermabrasion, laser hair removal, massage, hydrotherapy, makeup consultation, and hair and nail services. They even have bridal packages, couples massages and other package deals.

366 Rio Lindo Ave.; 342-3223

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

Electronics store

Best Buy
2005 Forest Ave.; 566-1012

2ND PLACE: Sounds by Dave
1256 Esplanade; 891-5800

3RD PLACE: Radio Shack
Various locations


Christian & Johnson
250 Vallombrosa Ave.; 891-1881

We love our Christian & Johnson here in Chico. Right next door to T-Bar, Christian & Johnson offers a wide array of unique and seasonal flowers in simple bunches or imaginative arrangements. A large selection of greeting cards and gift items can be perused in this popular shop or in their online store (

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

3RD PLACE: Chico Florist
1600 Mangrove Ave.; (530) 345-1855

Grocery store

Trader Joe’s
801 East Ave.; 343-9920

Trader Joe’s isn’t your average supermarket. Perhaps that’s why Chicoans love it so much. From its sustainable practices (bringing your own reusable shopping bag will earn you a raffle ticket) to its wide selection of worldly goods, what’s not to like? It gives shoppers the ability to be adventurous and pick up some foreign foods you wouldn’t even know existed except they’re in the frozen-foods section at TJ’s. And the “Two-Buck Chuck” wine ain’t bad either.

2ND PLACE: Safeway
Various locations

3RD PLACE: S&S Produce
1924 Mangrove Ave; (530) 343-4930

Hair salon/barbershop

The Poison Apple Salon
240 Main St.; 899-7875

Since 2006, The Poison Apple has been one of the destinations for hair, nails and other personal body-care options. Recently relocated to downtown Chico, The Poison Apple will now have more space to provide its always-satisfying services. While spa services make this a full-on day spa, Chicoans chose it for their No. 1 spot for redoing their ’do. Go in for a haircut and you might come out with a mani-pedi to match.

2ND PLACE: Salon Chic-O
509 Main St.; 893-2442

3RD PLACE: Dimensions Salon
810 Broadway St.; 894-2515

Hardware store

Collier Hardware
105 Broadway; 342-0195

When you walk into the 138-year-old Collier Hardware, the old wooden floor bends and creaks as you make your way down skinny isles filled with axe handles, buckets of carriage bolts and swamp-cooler pads. In addition to well-stocked shelves of traditional hardware supplies, Collier features a wide selection of items for the home, including fireplaces, barbecue supplies and kitchen gadgets, from KitchenAid mixers to Wusthof knives. The helpful staff is always on the floor, guiding you to the right section for your needs. And they’ll even wrap your purchases.

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

3RD PLACE: Ace Hardware—Paradise
5720 Clark Road; 877-4442

Hotel Diamond

Photo By matt siracusa


Hotel Diamond
220 W. Fourth St.; 893-3100

Hotel Diamand is a true gem in the center of Chico. The antique furniture complements the elegant façade. Guests can’t help but notice the lavish rooms, etched glass and distinctive woodworking that make it a great option for visitors or locals simply looking for an in-town getaway. The fine-dining Johnnie’s Restaurant, which resides inside the hotel, also took home honors in its own right.

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

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


Kirk’s Jewelry
246 W 3rd St.; 891-0880

Kirk’s Jewelry first opened its doors on Third and Salem streets in 1973. The store is currently owned and operated by Kirk Bengston, who was introduced to lost wax casting by his father. Over the last 43 years, his hobby has grown into one of his greatest passions. Kirk decided to open the store after graduating from Chico State with a degree in business and art. Kirk’s also offers in-house manufacturing and repair of your most cherished jewelry. The business is dedicated to helping you find the four C’s when shopping for diamonds; clarity, color, cut and carat weight.

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

3RD PLACE: Clifford’s Jewelry
734 Mangrove Ave.; 343-6031

Local builder

Wayland Construction Inc.
131 Meyers St.; 342-5210

Brett Wayland has been in business since May 1992. Wayland Construction specializes in custom homes, remodeling, and recently began several commercial projects. Depending on the sizes, the company builds approximately one to three houses every two years. Wayland is currently working on a restaurant called Sutter Street, an affiliate to 5th Street Steakhouse, located in Folsom. Wayland believes what makes his business different from the others is the service, communication and quality that Wayland Construction offers.

2ND PLACE: Holt Construction
11128 Midway; 899-1011

3RD PLACE: Ferreira Construction
11829 Butte Cree Island Rd.; 345-3195

Local pet shop

Chico Pet Works
2201 Pillsbury Road; 345-0934

Chico Pet Works is the perfect one-stop shop for your precious pup if it needs a good grooming and some new chew toys. Make an appointment with one of Chico Pet Works’ groomers or have a bonding experience with your best friend and bathe him yourself at one of the self-service wash stations for only $15.50. They provide the towels, shampoo and water. On your way out, don’t forget to browse the wide selection of fish, bird and reptile supplies, too! With winter coming up, hand-made sweaters come in handy for the little ones, too.

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

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

Men’s clothier

Men’s Wearhouse
1960 E. 20th St.; 343-2685

Need a suit? Men’s Wearhouse has got you covered. The store, which relocated into the Chico Mall from the outskirts, offers guys everything from casual clothing to tuxedos, and it seems there’s always a good sale going on. The store is well-stocked with sweaters, shirts, suits and accessories, such as ties and belts. So while she’s browsing around Victoria’s Secret, he can pick up a little something special here instead.

2ND PLACE: Trucker
232 Broadway; 343-1073

3RD PLACE: Kohl’s Department Store
1505 Springfield Dr.; 897-0920

Women’s clothier


LuLu’s, which is now exclusively online, has been a longtime Chico favorite. The physical store, which just changed hands and is now The Fashion Lounge, offers much the same style of clothing—but nothing quite beats the unique, trendy and pocketbook-friendly styles of LuLu’s. Log onto to get everything you loved in the old store—delivered to your door!

2ND PLACE: Kohl’s Department Store
1505 Springfield Dr.; 897-0920

3RD PLACE (tie): Chico’s
1960 E 20th St.; 896-0200

3RD PLACE (tie): For Elyse
228 Broadway; 893-0106

Baby/kids’ clothier

Silver Sandbox
1311 Mangrove Ave.; 892-2229

There are frills, fire trucks, little birdies and peace signs for any style—and everything is so darn soft! Silver Sandbox carries a large selection of organic clothing, as well as onesies and headbands locally made by Chico Bambino. Bonus: If you register your baby shower with them, they will tally the total spent and give you 10 percent in additional store credit … enough, maybe, for a bottle warmer!

2ND PLACE: Kat’s Meow
138 W. Third St.; 899-8811

365 East Ave.; 893-3454

Clothing boutique—Chico


2ND PLACE: Artifax
247 Main St.; 343-7577

3RD PLACE: For Elyse
228 Broadway; 893-0106

Clothing boutique—Oroville

Evolve Boutique
1950 Bird St.; 533-2626

Oroville often gets underrated when it comes to shopping. But Evolve Boutique is just one reason to wander downtown Oroville in search of the perfect trendy outfit—for guys or gals. The locally owned and operated Evolve has a host of low-cost, trendy wears but also also boasts designer handbags and accessories as well as a tuxedo rental service and a modest selection of ladies’ formal wear.

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

3RD PLACE: Ruby’s Boutique
1858 Montgomery St.; 532-1399

Buttons & Bows

CN&R file photo

Clothing boutique—On the Ridge

Buttons & Bows
6200 Clark Road; 877-8151

Open nearly 40 years, Buttons & Bows boutique in Paradise has moved twice, but shows no signs of leaving. Owners Linda and Ralph Hein aim to provide clothing that not only fits the trends but also changes over time. Their target market is baby boomers—not the teeny-boppers of Chico—and clearly their business plan has done them well.

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

3RD PLACE (tie): Madison’s Avenue
7967 Skyway; 877-5288

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

Nail salon

Tammy’s Nails
1354 East Ave.; 899-8912

Ready to treat yourself? Need to relax? Tammy’s Nails is the place to go—especially if you’re on a budget. There are many talented and professional artists waiting to pamper you—enjoy a pedicure in one of their many state-of-the-art massage chairs, or revive your hands with a manicure or acrylic set. Pedicures and acrylics are only $23, and basic manicures start at $10.

2ND PLACE: The Poison Apple
131 Meyers St.; 899-7875

3RD PLACE: Lily’s Nails
118 W East Ave; 898-8765


Little Red Hen
189 E. Eighth St.; 891-9100

This little red nursery on the edge of town is a nonprofit whose funds go to aid disabled children. But philanthropy aside, Little Red Hen has quite a collection of indoor and outdoor plants, small trees, bushes and shrubs. The nursery also employs disabled people, who gain self-confidence and independence through their work experience.

2ND PLACE: Mendon’s
5424 Foster Road, Paradise; 877-7341

3RD PLACE: The Plant Barn & Gift Shop
406 Entler Ave.; 345-3121

Mountain Sports

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Place to buy outdoor gear

Mountain Sports
76 E. Third St.; 345-5011

Whatever your sport of choice may be, from hiking to camping to mountain climbing, the staff at Mountain Sports know just how to guide your purchasing choices. Part of the friendly staff members’ intense knowledge comes from the fact that they participate in the sports themselves. So step on in and get ready for your next adventure.

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

3RD PLACE: Gates Resale
1152 Park Ave; 342-2309

Place to buy home furnishings

Nantucket Home Furnishings
127 W. Third St.; 895-1038

Starting as a modest quilt store more than 35 years ago, Nantucket Home has certainly made a big name for itself in Chico. Now located at the beautifully renovated showroom at Sixth and Broadway, the shop offers a colorful and exotic variety of upholstery and home accessories from all over the world to help you create a welcoming and cozy atmosphere.

2ND PLACE: Ashley Home Furnishings
2101 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway; 345-2616

3RD PLACE: The Address
240 Main St.; 898-9000

Place for auto supplies/accessories

Kragen Auto Parts
485 Notre Dame Blvd.; 345-2782
1618 Mangrove Ave.; 893-8525

Car nuts go wild at places filled with do-it-yourself accessories and gadgets. And Kragen is a veritable playpen for guys (and gals) just like that. The huge stores offer a vast selection of national-brand-name, private-label and generic auto supplies. Founded in 1947, Kragen stores carry about 17,500 parts on average. This level of inventory, plus the company’s network of strategically located depots and vendors, help keep customers rolling on in.

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

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

The Music Connection

Photo By josh graham

Place to buy music supplies

The Music Connection
973 East Ave.; 898-0110

The surest sign of a good music store is that the employees there actually play music—like, for real, not just when they’re giving lessons, but on stage in bands in front of paying fans. By that measure, The Music Connection wins for its collection of rocker dudes from several Chico bands prowling the varied selection of drum sets, amps and guitars. Owner Sally Long MacMillan has also stocked her shop with a huge selection of sheet music and band instruments for school, plus a nice selection of CDs featuring music by local bands. Of course, private lessons are also offered on-site by those very same scruffy musicians.

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

3RD PLACE: Best Buy
2005 Forest Ave.; 566-1012

Place to buy specialty foods

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

Real estate agent

Laura Burghardt—W.M. Campbell
120 Amber Grove Dr.; 864-6632

Buying or selling your home can be intimidating, but Laura Burghardt of W.M. Campbell has proven she can help relieve your fears with her kindess and top-notch communication skills. Burghardt has been a Chico resident since 1981 and has a true love for the town—she even refers to herself as “ChicoLaura” on her Web site. All in all, Burghardt’s ability to be personable with her clients ensures a wonderful agent-client relationship.

2ND PLACE: Becky Prater—W.M. Campbell
120 Amber Grove Dr.; 520-0308

3RD PLACE: Brewster Beattie—Keller Williams
1196 E. Lassen Ave.; 530-809-3702

Real estate office

Coldwell Banker Du Four Realty
1350 E. Lassen Ave.; 895-1545

In today’s economy, buying or selling a home has most people feeling stressed to say the least. But if Chico residents want real-estate agents with the dedication and determination to get through these rough times, Coldwell Banker Du Four Realty can help. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell commercial or residental properties, locally owned and operated Coldwell Banker Du Four Realty has many award-winning agents to get the job done.

2ND PLACE: W.M. Campbell Realty
120 Amber Grove Dr.; 342-9848

3RD PLACE: Century 21 Jeffries Lydon
1101 El Monte Road; 345-6618

Shoe store

Heel and Sole Shoes
708 Mangrove Ave.; 899-0725

Shoe lovers need go no further than Heel and Sole for the perfect pair of flip-flops, hiking boots, flats or stilettos. Every nook and cranny of this 8,000-square-foot store—it’s almost like a maze with more and more to find!—is filled with every imaginable style of footwear. While most of the shoes are for women, the store also carries a variety of sandals and sneakers/boots for men as well.

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-
801 East Ave.; 343-8923

Sporting goods store

Chico Sports LTD
698 Mangrove Ave.; 894-1110

A sportsman’s mecca, the locally owned Sports LTD offers a huge selection of everything from athletic shoes to bicycles to snowboards at its spacious store. Just don’t go in expecting to see racks of bats, racquets and balls; this place caters to the active, outdoorsy type—it even has a climbing wall free for all visitors. And with the massive Bidwell Park mural on the wall, you’ll almost feel like you are outdoors even when you’re inside.

2ND PLACE: Big 5 Sporting Goods
1717 Mangrove Ave.; 891-1545

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

Tattoo parlor

Victory Tattoo
1818 Mangrove Ave.; 896-1818

Kip Delaney opened Victory Tattoo in 2001 with the goal of providing a friendly, creative and sterile environment. The parlor is staffed by Kip, his wife, Amber Delaney, as well as Derek Parsons and Zac Acker. Mostly notorious for its tattoo art, Victory Tattoo also specializes in piercings. Kip says he has been obsessed with art ever since he could see colors and his interest in tattooing first developed in junior high. Amber takes great pride in the staff, and strives to provide customers the best possible service.

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

3RD PLACE: Sacred Art
319 Main St.; 892-8282

Tanning salon

Perfect Tan
2995 Esplanade; 898-8000

Ever feel yourself losing that tan you worked on all summer? Well, Perfect Tan has the cure for you. A trip or two to Perfect Tan can make all the difference, with options ranging from tanning beds to spray tans (which avoid the UV rays but won’t save you from a sunburn outside!). The friendly staff will no doubt lead you to the right decision for you and get you that glow you want year-round.

2ND PLACE: Tropi-Tana Sun Tanning Salon
1722 Mangrove Ave.; 894-5030

3RD PLACE: Euro Bronze
2485 Notre Dame Blvd.; 342-2990

Thrift store

Arc Thrift Store
2020 Park Ave.; 343-3666

Chico is a great thrift store town, and the favorite (for several years running now) is the south-Chico behemoth known simply as The Arc. In an ongoing circle of recycling, people and businesses of Chico drop off their used clothing, kitchen wares, books, records, electronic equipment and furniture, only to return and pick up more bargains to replace their donated goods. Of course, Arc is a lot more than your typical thrift store; the money from your purchases goes to the Arc of Butte County, the local program that serves the disabled in our community.

2ND PLACE: Salvation Army
Various Locations

3RD PLACE: Thrifty Bargain
2432 Esplanade; 899-3360


Acacia Veterinary Hospital
479 East Ave.; 345-1338

Pet owners are pretty particular when it comes to where they bring their fluffy friends for checkups and routine vaccinations. Acacia Veterinary Hospital, which has been around since 1970 and has won best vet two years running, is a full-service facility featuring an in-house laboratory, pharmacy and surgery center, plus grooming and boarding services for cats and dogs. And it’s hard to beat the low-cost vaccination clinics the first Saturday of the month—they’re kind to the pets and their owners.

2ND PLACE: Chico Animal Hospital
3015 Esplanade; 342-0518

3RD PLACE: Mangrove Veterinary Hospital
1900 Mangrove Ave.; 891-4818

Food & Drink

Local restaurant—Chico

5th Street Steak House
345 W. Fifth St.; 891-6328

Who doesn’t love a good, juicy steak? OK, vegetarians, you’re exempt. But for the rest of us meat lovers, it doesn’t get much better than 5th Street Steak House, where the filet mignon comes out nice and pink, accompanied by any variety of a la carte side dishes. And don’t forget the wine—this is a date place extraordinaire, the true definition of wining and dining.

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

3RD PLACE: Japanese Blossoms
2995 Esplanade; 891-9022

Local restaurant—Oroville

Tong Fong Low

Photo By josh graham

Tong Fong Low
2051 Robinson St.; 533-1488

In existence in Oroville since 1912, Tong Fong Low gets the gold medal from CN&R readers this year. Featuring a largely Cantonese menu, with some Szechuan dishes added to spice things up, this Oroville institution—which just opened a location in Chico—offers affordable fare in a comfortable, family-friendly setting. Word has it that their egg foo young is to die for.

2ND PLACE: Papacito’s
1751 Oro Dam Blvd E # 14; 532-9344

3RD PLACE: Western Pacific Brewing & Dining
2191 High St; (530) 534-9101

Local restaurant—On the Ridge

Black Bear Diner
5791 Clark Road; 877-0877

Patrons at Black Bear Diner know that their hearty American food will arrive in great quantities—enough to take home for a beary good lunch the next day. Kids love this place (because it’s so chock-full of bears!) and so do their parents. Yum!

2ND PLACE: Sophia’s Thai Cuisine
7641 Skyway; 877-4296

3RD PLACE: Smokie Mountain Steak & Smoke House
7039 Skyway; 872-3323

New restaurant (opened in the past year)

Big Tuna Sushi Bistro
1722 Mangrove Ave.; 345-4571

Big Tuna Sushi Bistro easily deserves the title of Best New Restaurant in Chico. The cozy Japanese eatery—tucked in one corner of the Mangrove Square shopping center, near FedEx Kinko’s—offers super-fresh sushi and other delicious Japanese fare at sensible prices. Sit at the sushi bar and watch whiz-kid sushi chef Tsuyoshi Kamogawa whip up one of his famous rolls. You’ll definitely say, “Hai!”

2ND PLACE: Ojiya Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar
2477 Forest Ave., 899-1199

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

Cheap eats

La Comida
954 Mangrove Ave.; 345-2254

La Comida is the go-to spot for families, students and all kinds of folks looking for tasty Mexican fare on the cheap. The restaurant is so popular, in fact, that this year it’s taking home Best of Chico honors in the Cheap Eats category for the eighth straight year. Maybe it’s the friendly fast service and the free chips and salsa that put La Comida at the top in this category. Either way, this Chico favorite is a force to be reckoned with.

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

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

Fine dining

5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St.; 891-6328

2ND PLACE: Red Tavern
1250 Esplanade; 894-3463

3RD PLACE: Christian Michael’s Ristorante
192 E. Third St.; 894-4005


Upper Crust Bakery & Eatery
130 Main St.; 895-3866

The Upper Crust is one of those ubiquitous downtown eateries. Everyone downtown goes there, either for breakfast (the ham and cheese croissants are to-die-for), lunch (try the grilled cheese with tomato soup) or, most importantly, dessert. Cookies, fruit tarts, Russian teacakes and even wedding cakes practically melt in your mouth. And with a location in the heart of downtown on Main Street, it’s hard not to pop in for a delicacy or two. You’ll probably even run into your neighbor there, too.

2ND PLACE: Tin Roof Bakery & Café
627 Broadway St.; 345-1362

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


Upper Crust Bakery & Eatery
130 Main St.; 895-3866

2ND PLACE: Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy
178 E. Seventh St.; 342-7163

3RD PLACE: Jon & Bon’s Yogurt Shoppe
Various locations


Sin of Cortez
2290 Esplanade; 879-9200

There are a couple of breakfast spots in town that Chicoans are eager to share with out-of-town guests, and Sin of Cortez has for many years been one of them. This little place is hoppin’ on the weekends, often with hungry patrons reading newspaper on comfy couches while waiting for a table. The restaurant’s comfortable and stylish atmosphere includes a long counter, where curious diners can watch their barista whipping up a specialty coffee drink. The menu offers eclectic breakfast fare using lots of local produce—including myriad vegetarian options—presented artfully every time. Most important? It’s delicious.

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

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


Broadway Heights California Cuisine
300 Broadway; 899-8075

There are so many reasons to go to Broadway Heights for lunch (or dinner) and one of the main reasons is location. Found upstairs in the historic Phoenix building in downtown Chico, the restaurant is a short walk from the university and City Plaza. Inside, diners will find a hip atmosphere with many window seats. Other fun spots are the tables for two next to the balcony, giving a bird’s-eye view to the goings-on downstairs. While the ambiance is a big selling point, the menu, which comprises savory California cuisine, is by far the best feature. A wide variety of sandwiches on freshly made focaccia bread, specialty pizza and calzones, and crisp salads, such as the mouth-watering Prosciutto Caesar, are among some of the popular offerings.

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

3RD PLACE: Grilla Bites
196 Cohasset Road; 343-4876

Local coffee house

Bidwell Perk
664 E. First Ave.; 899-1500

Long a Chico institution, Bidwell Perk offers delicious baked goods and top-notch coffees and teas in an atmosphere conducive to studying or having a chat with your friends. Sit inside at one of numerous window-side tables or on the comfortable couch seating at the rear of the café, or relax outside on the breezy, covered patio.

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

3RD PLACE: Has Beans Internet Café and Galleria
501 Main St.; 894-3033
1080 Humboldt Ave.; 332-9645 (Has Beans Creekside)

Chain coffee house

Various locations

Who doesn’t love a nice pumpkin-spice latte right about now, when the weather is changing and fall is in the air? Sure, it’s a chain, but obviously they’re doing something right with locations all over the world. Cheers to that!

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

The Raw Bar

Photo By Meredith J. cooper


The Rawbar
346 Broadway; 897-0626

In the past three or four years, sushi has become the biggest, baddest thing in Chico. With sushi bars popping up all over the place, though, locals stay true to this hip downtown Japanese joint. The restaurant adheres to the highest standards when it comes to the quality of its fish, and its creative specials and artistic presentation only add to the appeal. In addition to a long list of sashimi, rolls and nigiri, the menu includes more traditional entrées. And every so often there are sushi classes, too, so you can learn from the masters. Who can beat that?

2ND PLACE: Japanese Blossoms
2995 Esplanade; 891-9022

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

Asian cuisine

Happy Garden
180 Cohasset Road; 893-2574

Whether it’s chicken chow mein or walnut prawns you’re craving, you’ll find it at Happy Garden. The authentic Chinese cuisine is hard to beat, especially in Chico, where the restaurant has taken home top honors now seven years running. The friendly staff is constantly attentive, the décor comfortable and inviting, and with an array of quality menu items, it’s no wonder Chicoans keep coming back for more.

2ND PLACE: Rice Bowl
2804 Esplanade; 899-9098

3RD PLACE: Cocodine Thai Cuisine
2485 Notre Dame Blvd.; 891-1800

International cuisine

Priya Indian Cuisine
2574 Esplanade; 899-1055

When Priya Indian Cuisine opened up in Chico a few years back, it was among the choices for Best New Restaurant. Apparently that appeal has stuck—and grown—and the delicious, authentic food, inviting atmosphere and good service have paid off, earning it Best International Cuisine two years running. At lunch, take advantage of Priya’s abundant and varied buffet, which will run you just less than $10. In the evening, thali plates, many of them vegetarian, offer a little of everything—soup, vegetable curry, lentils, and an entrée, all served with rice and freshly baked naan. The spices will clean out your system and leave you satisfied.

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

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

Italian cuisine

Italian Cottage
2234 Esplanade; 343-7000
2525 Dominic Drive; 342-7771

Italian Cottage is a great spot for a family meal (kids love the sawdust on the floor), a first date or just about any other occasion. The restaurant has a huge number of menu offerings to satisfy your craving for Italian: tasty sandwiches, pizza, and a ton of options for pasta lovers. If you’re having salad, try the special blue cheese dressing. Italian Cottage is doing its part to conserve water, so unless you’re thirsty and request a glass, you likely won’t get one. In addition to great lunches and dinners, the restaurant serves up a spectacular breakfast. Go there for champagne brunch (the cottage potatoes are a must-have) on Sunday.

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

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

Mexican cuisine

Casa Ramos
216 W. East Ave.; 894-0119
2490 Park Ave.; 893-5050

Casa Ramos is a fun family restaurant. It’s a great place to celebrate or mortify an unsuspecting loved one or friend who has a birthday (think sombrero and a rubber chicken). The popular Mexican restaurant serves up hefty portions of delicious and authentic eats. Regular diners can attest to its huge menu filled with all sorts of traditional Mexican favorites, such as fajitas, quesadillas, chimichangas, specialty tostadas, as well as some veggie options and American dishes. Try one of the amazing margaritas. ¡Que delicioso!

2ND PLACE: Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill
100 Broadway; 342-0425

3RD PLACE: La Hacienda
2635 Esplanade; 893-8270

Place for vegetarian cuisine

Grilla Bites
196 Cohasset Road; 343-4876

Grilla Bites is the perfect place for a guiltless lunch. With a healthful vegetarian menu—though it serves meat, too—from organic salads and sandwiches to wraps, soups and fresh juices, this restaurant has gained quite a reputation around Chico.

2ND PLACE (tie): Chada Thai
117 W. Second St.; 342-7121

2ND PLACE (tie): Priya Indian Cuisine
2574 Esplanade; 899-1055


Jack’s Family Restaurant
540 Main St., 343-8383

Who hasn’t been to Jack’s, either for a Sunday morning breakfast with the family or a late-night gorge after a long evening out on the town? And, if you haven’t yet for some reason, you’re missing out on all that satiating, classic-American food. Open 24 hours a day, Jack’s Family Restaurant is simply the quintessential diner—just about everybody in town pops in at some point.

2ND PLACE: Cozy Diner
1695 Mangrove Ave.; 895-1195

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

Taco truck

El Paisa
Eighth and Pine streets

It’s safe to say that El Paisa rules. This is the fourth year in a row that this popular taco truck has won this category. Like many “Best of” winners, El Paisa boasts a clientele that draws from all walks of life—you might find yourself in line with your hairdresser, your doctor or your neighbor’s teenage son. It’s cheap and delicious—El Paisa’s shrimp tacos are the stuff of thumbs-up food gossip—and a great place to network.

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

3RD PLACE: Tapatio
First Avenue and Longfellow

Burger Hut

Photo By Brittni zacher


Burger Hut
Various locations

Chicoans love Burger Hut. With three well-placed locations, and a menu that includes an array of burgers (including vegetarian), ‘dogs and sandwiches, this local-restaurant-turned-California-franchise is an undeniable go-to spot. Load your sustainably raised beef burger with produce from Burger Hut’s “Fresh Fixin’s Bar,” add a side of their yummy chili fries and a real ice cream shake and you’re good to go!

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

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

French fries

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

2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway; 342-6494

Sometimes the best reason to go to Costco isn’t the great deals on bulk-loads of cereal or paper towels, but rather the ever-so-tasty, all-beef hot dogs served at the café. For just $1.50 for a kosher or polish dog and drink, as they say, the price is right. And they’re delicious to boot.

2ND PLACE: Zot’s Hot Dogs & Deli
225 Main St.; 345-2820

3RD PLACE: The Dog House
1008 W. Sacramento Ave.; 894-3641
1354 East Ave.; 894-2242



Celestino’s Live From New York Pizza & Deli
101 Salem St.; 896-1234
1354 East Ave.; 345-7700

There is hardly a more Chico-esque pizzeria than Celestino’s, with its trademark thin-crust Godfather slices, large, open eatery and a comfortable patio, too. Its location catty-corner to Chico State’s campus makes it easy to say it’s a fave among students and locals alike. And the East Avenue location means good thin-crust—or salad—is never more than a few minutes away.

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

3RD PLACE: Round Table Pizza
Various locations


Spiteri’s Deli
971 East Ave.; 891-4797

Tucked away from the main drag, this north-Chico delicatessen is clearly no secret to all the diners who voted for it—once again—for making the best sandwich in town. A large selection of meats and breads—and sandwich-making expertise—make Spiteri’s sandwiches undeniably delicious. Add their sensible prices, fast service, fresh salads and a wide selection of drinks, and you see why the line is out the door every lunch hour.

2ND PLACE: Mr. Pickles Sandwich Shop
215 W. First St; 892-1329
1354 East Ave Ste. K; 342.8555

3RD PLACE: Great Harvest Bread Co.
Various locations

Ice Cream

Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy
178 E. Seventh St.; 342-7163

Shubert’s is old school and getting a treat there is a Chico tradition. This beloved classic ice cream parlor has been located in the heart of downtown for more than 70 years. Young and old alike head here year-round for house-made luscious ice cream, candy and other sweets. Shubert’s got some national exposure last year when it was featured on Good Morning America in the television show’s Best Scoop contest. Stop in and see what all the fuss is about. You’re guaranteed to go back.

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

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


Hula’s Chinese Bar-B-Q
2540 Esplanade; 342-8564
1937 E. 20th St.; 342-6304

To many in Chico, Hula’s is more than a restaurant. This Mongolian barbecue is almost a rite of passage. And it’s easy to tell the newbie clientele from the seasoned customers. The latter will overflow a bowl with delicious options—dozens of them—ranging from the thinly sliced cuts of chicken, lamb, beef and pork, to the veggie selections, such as broccoli, bell peppers and mushrooms. Don’t forget about those gigantic savory noodles and the variety of sauces. Who can resist taking such a feast home?

2ND PLACE: Happy Garden
180 Cohasset Road; 893-2574

3RD PLACE: In ‘n’ Out
2050 Business Lane; (800) 786-1000


Mountain Mike’s Pizza
1722 Mangrove Ave; 893-1923
1105 W. Fifth St.; 899-9115

Mouth-watering fresh-from-the-oven pizza overflowing with toppings is what Mountain Mike’s serves up to hungry Chicoans. In addition to a large variety of toppings, the pizzeria whips up delish side orders: hot wings, chicken bites, mozzarella sticks and jalapeño poppers. Garlic bread and sticks, too! Check for coupons online at Two locations on ensure quick delivery all throughout town.

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

3RD PLACE: Celestino’s
101 Salem St.; 896-1234
1354 East Ave.; 345-7700

Nightlife & Entertainment


Duffy’s Tavern

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718

This month marks Duffy’s Tavern’s 20th year (almost legal!), and it’s still the place to meet your neighbors downtown. Swing open the green doors of this former Chinese restaurant/lounge on any given night—or day—and no matter your social circle, chances are you’ll find a couple of your friends inside this quintessential neighborhood tavern. Friday’s happy-hour Celtic music sessions with the dependable Pub Scouts are lively, the Bloody Marys are legendary, and the daily $2 PBRs make this pub the go-to downtown watering hole.

2ND PLACE: The Banshee
132 W. Second St.; 895-9670

3RD PLACE: LaSalles
229 Broadway; 893-1891


6067 Skyway; 877-5215

There may not be many bars to choose from on the Ridge, but Canteena has made it clear that it’s the local favorite, earning top honors two years in a row. In business since 2003, Canteena is unabashedly a sports bar. The walls are plastered with memorabilia, and nearly a dozen televisions make for easy game-watching no matter where you sit. If you’re after more than just a pint, a grill tucked into the back corner offers plenty of munchies, from tacos, nachos, burgers and chicken wings.

2ND PLACE: Lynn’s Optimo
9225 Skyway; 872-1788

3RD PLACE: Smokie Mountain Steak & Smoke House
7039 Skyway; 872-3323


Montgomery Street Pub
1933 Montgomery St.; 533-0900

As the slogan says, the Montgomery Street Pub is “the only place to be” for Oroville’s party people. And there’s good reason because there’s so much more than drinking to do! Of course, there are a host of drink specials, but for those who come for entertainment, there’s karaoke, DJs, dancing on weekends and free pool all the time. Try to find a reason not to go!

2ND PLACE: Copa de Oro
1445 Myers St.; 534-7812

3RD PLACE: Western Pacific Brewing Co.
2191 High St.; 534-9101

Sports bar

The End Zone
250 Cohasset Road; 345-7330

The End Zone is off the beaten path a bit, at least for the downtown pub-crawlers, but that only adds to the sports bar’s charm. With large projection screens showing any and every game going on at that moment, The End Zone is by far Chico’s quintessential sports bar. It doesn’t hurt either that it does its part to support the local community. This year it partnered with the Chico Outlaws baseball team to provide food and beer, so baseball fans got a taste of the yummy burgers, fries and variety of brews on tap.

2ND PLACE: Bella’s Sports Pub
134 Broadway; 893-5253

3RD PLACE: The Graduate
344 W. Eighth St.; 343-2790

Blue Room Theatre

Photo By matt siracusa

Performing arts company

Blue Room Theatre
139 W. First St.; 895-3749

For black-box theater in Chico, the Blue Room is still the top venue. In its 15-year history, the place has gone through numerous changes in leadership, company members and philosophy. Despite the changes, the theater above the hardware store has always maintained the most consistently varied and challenging schedule of new theater works and original, locally created productions. This year’s fare has included everything from Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s Lieutenant of Inishmore to original late-night productions featuring zombies and/or penguins.

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

3RD PLACE: Chico Theater Co.
166 W. Eaton Road; 894-3282

La Salles

Photo By Brittni zacher

Place to dance

229 Broadway; 893-1891

If you feel like shaking your rump a little, head on down to LaSalles, where the beer and Jaeger shots keep flowing and the music is seemingly nonstop. With two stages—one indoors and one on the outside patio, it’s hard to pass over this longstanding establishment as the best place to boogie. Music ranges, too, from hip-hop to jam bands to plain old rock. And don’t forget ‘80s night—it’s practically a local tradition.

2ND PLACE: Crazy Horse Saloon & Brewery
303 Main St.; 342-7299

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

Live music venue

Sierra Nevada Big Room
1075 E. 20th St.; 345-2739

Maybe the city should just give in and make the brewery the official headquarters for the city of Chico. In addition to having a great restaurant, being leaders in advancing sustainable practices and producing some of the best beers in the world, the Big Room at Sierra Nevada hosts frequently sold-out performances by some of the best touring musicians going. From Australian guitar wiz Tommy Emmanuel, to roots-rocker Jackie Greene, to hell raisers Southern Culture on the Skids, if it grooves, bops, wails or stomps, the Big Room’s stage and dance floor will be open. So, maybe we should get that next Planning Commission meeting set up in the pub followed by a couple hours on the dance floor with the Subdudes? It just feels right.

2ND PLACE: LaSalles
229 Broadway; 893-1891

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


Steve Jamieson—Johnnie’s
220 W. Fourth St.; 895-1515

Steve Jamieson, or “Stevo” as he’s known at the bar, has worked at Johnnie’s since it opened four years ago, and still loves it. He’s an ebullient guy, passionate about customer service. He even writes customer names on his hand so that he can remember them and make them feel special. He is especially proud of his mojitos (His Mojitotini won top prize at a local mix-off between bartenders) and claims that people come from all over to try them. Maybe you should join the crowds.

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

3RD PLACE: Troy Mischel—Crush
201 Broadway; 342-7000

Local music act

Mossy Creek

Chico loves its traditional American music, and the bluegrass of Mossy Creek has been popular enough to garner the group several CAMMIES nominations and even a couple of awards in the country/bluegrass category. The seven-piece all-star crew features the daughter/father team of Erin and Pat Haley on vocals and banjo/guitar, respectively; plus Dean Mott on guitar/Dobro; Christine Hogan on fiddle; Matt Christensen on stand-up bass; Bob Littell on harp; and Kim Gimbal of Spark ‘n’ Cinder on mandolin.

2ND PLACE: Hot Flash

3RD PLACE: Pub Scouts

Local artist

Janet Lombardi Blixt

Her “en plein air” style often captures local beauty—both architectural and scenic. Janet Lombardi Blixt started the Chico Plein Air Painters, a group of artists who paint together in their favorite studio—the outdoors. Blixt began painting at 7 years old, and earned her bachelor’s in art at Chico State. Her paintings are “impressionist yet representational” in her words, and spilling over with the California light she seems to trap onto the canvas. Her pieces have been shown at Avenue 9 Gallery, Art Etc., Sally Dimas Art Gallery and Chico Art Center.

2ND PLACE: Caitlin Schwerin

3RD PLACE: Jake Early

Place to buy art

Chico Paper Co.
345 Broadway; 891-0900

This downtown staple supplies the local community with local art—and what a beautiful thing that is. Chico Paper Co.—the exclusive dealer of Jake Early screen prints—is also home to the exquisite work of 50 other artists. The staff will surely help you choose some, or answer your questions about the various prints and original pieces they carry. Need a frame? They’ve got that covered, too.

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

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

Place to see art

Chico Paper Co.
345 Broadway; 891-0900

2ND PLACE: 1078 Gallery
820 Broadway; 343-1973

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

Happy Hour

Christian Michael’s Ristorante
192 E. Third St.; 894-4005

It’s a sublime mix of classy and frugal, in one of Chico’s best-known fine-dining establishments. The smooth jazz, tasty appetizers and friendly service will help you (and your wallet) unwind after work. Happy hour happens every night from 4-6 at Christian Michael’s, where lawyers rub elbows with college students to sip specialty martinis, fine wines and chomp on delicious hors d’oeuvres. The elegant lounge and good company make this Chico’s favorite place to unwind after work.

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

3RD PLACE: Johnnie’s Restaurant
220 W. Fourth St.; 895-1515

Place for a glass of wine

Monks Wine Lounge & Bistro
128 W. Second St.; 343-3408

Their sommelier will help you select one of the 300 bottles in stock, and then help you pair it with tapas, cheeses or a full entrée. With themed nights, occasional live music, and a back patio, Monks also makes a good place for a party. And if wine and cheese aren’t your thing, they also serve craft beers, including Belgian imports.

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

3RD PLACE: Johnnie’s Restaurant
220 W. Fourth St.; 895-1515


Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill
100 Broadway St., 342-0425

They claim to have “the best-tasting Marg’s in town,” and Chicoans agree. Choose from more 60 tequilas, and the bartender will hand-shake it exactly how you want it, whether girly-fruity-pink or classic lime. Soak it all up a bit with the delicious tacos made before your eyes at the Taco Bar.

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

3RD PLACE: La Hacienda
2635 Esplanade; 893-8270

33 Steaks, Booze & Jazz

photo by Meredith J. Cooper


33 Steaks, Booze & Jazz
305 Main St.; 893-1903

Become James Bond (one part Vodka, one part Gin with blonde Lillet—shaken, not stirred) or, perhaps later in the evening, the Incredible Hulk (Hennessey and Hipnotiq). Enjoy that suave and urban feeling among the minimalist décor at 33 Steaks, Booze & Jazz, which expanded its space quite generously about a year ago or go more casual by watching a game on the big screen—or the screamingly popular dueling pianos on Thursdays at 9 p.m.

2ND PLACE: Johnnie’s Restaurant
220 W. Fourth St.; 895-1515

3RD PLACE: Christian Michael’s Ristorante
192 E. Third St.; 894-4005

Bloody Mary

Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718

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

3RD PLACE: Original Nash’s Restaurant
1717 Esplanade; 896-1147


Gold Country Casino
4020 Olive Highway, Oroville; (800) 334-9400

Gold Country Casino is celebrating its 13th anniversary this month—through Sept. 25 to be exact. And it now has one more thing to celebrate. The casino, which is run by the Berry Creek Rancheria, hosts a spacious hotel, game rooms with slot machines aplenty, poker, bingo, roulette and bingo. But there are also a host of other entertainment options such as a showroom that features world-class singers and comedians, a bowling alley and five-star steak house.

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

Enloe Medical Center
1531 Esplanade; 332-7300

As most everybody knows, Enloe has had some growing pains over the years. Fines have been levied, leadership has changed hands multiple times, the place has been sued. But that doesn’t keep it from being Chico’s premiere provider of health care, with a full-service emergency room and myriad other services, including cancer and rehabilitation centers, stroke and heart programs to name a few. The hospital’s new CEO, Mike Wiltermood, has inspired confidence in the community, and for that he should be commended along with his health-care facility.

2ND PLACE: Chico Immediate Care Medical Center Inc.
376 Vallombrosa Ave.; 891-1676

3RD PLACE: Argyll Medical Group
100 Independence Circle; 899-0295

Alternative health-care provider

Specific Chiropractic Center
1380 Longfellow Ave.; 893-1446

The Specific Chiropractic network of clinics specializes in upper cervical chiropractic care, and care at the Chico office is administered by Shane Smith. After completing his undergraduate studies via Chico State’s exercise physiology program, Smith graduated, with honors, from Life Chiropractics College West in Hayward.

2ND PLACE: Chico Naturopathic Medicine
669 Palmetto Ave.; 332-9355

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


Patrick Tedford
643 East Ave.;342-0502

If children are our future, then pediatricians must be the ones making our future healthy. They are the doctors trusted with our most treasured possessions, and have skills ranging from giving vaccinations to dealing with serious health problems. Dr. Tedford has been trusted in the Chico community for more than 35 years.

2ND PLACE: Robert Stanley
116 Henshaw Ave.; 896-1446

3RD PLACE: James Wood
227 Cohasset Road; 332-6000

General practitioner

Randall Williams
1040 Mangrove Ave.; 345-0064

Dr. Williams has been one of the most trusted and respected physicians at the Mangrove Medical Group since 1990. A family man himself, Williams specializes as a family practitioner. Williams graduated from Loma Linda University School of Medicine in 1986.

2ND PLACE: Corky Rey
114 Mission Ranch Blvd.; 894-0500

3RD PLACE: Rhonda Carlson
670 Rio Lindo Ave.; 899-3575

Cosmetic surgeon

Daniel Thomas
619 W. East Ave.; 891-4391

Dr. Thomas provides all kinds of surgeries for those who would like a confidence-boost or to—ahem—“freshen up.” He also performs reconstructive procedures for those recovering from cancer, burns and accidents. His office includes SkinForm Medical Spa, for less-invasive procedures such as Botox and laser resurfacing.

2ND PLACE: Kevin Myers
251 Cohasset Road; 345-5900

3RD PLACE: Donald Richey
251 Cohasset Road; 342-3686


John Fragoso
2062 Talbert Drive; 891-9010

John Fragaso tries to balance traditional methods with current techniques, including ART (Active Release Techniques), a patented soft-tissue technique used on professional athletes but useful for all. He can also be seen at local athletic events, participating or cheering the athletes on.

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

3RD PLACE: Gary Weddell
1140 Mangrove Ave.; 345-3043

Massage therapist

Babette Maiss
150 Amber Grove Drive; 321-5668

At a small north Chico office that she shares with an accupuncturist, Babette Maiss provides theraputic medical massage—from Swedish to advanced deep-tissue—in a modest, peaceful setting.

2ND PLACE: Tory Zellick
2995 Esplanade; 892-1807

3RD PLACE (tie): Lorna Hillman
3221 Cohaset Road; 891-8772

3RD PLACE (tie): Valerie St. George
341 Broadway; 345-1745


Chico Eye Center
605 W. East Ave.; (530) 895-1727
6585 Clark Road, Paradise; 872-3519

Since 1978, the Chico Eye Center has been one of the most trusted optometry clinics in Butte County. It specializes in laser vision correction, cataract surgery, glaucoma, general eye care and eyeglass dispensing. The center is staffed by Doctors Pablo Arregui, Benjamin Gilbert, Heidi Houlahan, Tom Seely and a newly hired Dr. Sean Liston. The Chico Eye Center averages approximately16,000 visitations per year. Its optical shop offers the largest eyewear collection in the North Valley. The center’s mission is to provide the highest standard of medical and surgical eye care with compassion and understanding.

2ND PLACE: Glenn Johnston
676 E. First Ave.; 343-1511

3RD PLACE (tie): Amy Spanfelner
119 Yellowstone Drive; 891-1146

3RD PLACE (tie): Douglas R. Myers
119 Yellowstone Drive; 891-1146

Doctor’s office

Argyll Medical Group
100 Independence Circle; 899-0295

Named for the home county in the Scottish Highlands of its founder Dr. Roy Bishop, Argyll Medical Group has been providing primary medical care from its offices in the Philadelphia Square in north Chico since 2001. Dr. Bishop’s seven-physician team is rounded out by doctors Aldebra Schroll, Jeannette Kong-Sibal, Louise Krone, Jack Meyer, Kirk C. Casey and Physician Assistant Stuart Mishelof.

2ND PLACE: Mission Ranch Primary Care
114 Mission Ranch Blvd.; 894-0500

3RD PLACE: Mangrove Medical Center
1040 Mangrove Ave.; 345-0064

Dental office

Nelsen Family Dentistry
1307 Esplanade; 898-8511

Nelsen provides a full line of dental services, with a focus on whole-patient care, investment in new technologies (they can make a crown in one appointment!) and patient comfort. This means DVD goggles, iPods, and a complimentary beverage—much better than just a rack of expired magazines.

2ND PLACE (tie): Barbro Lauri-Beckett
1430 East Ave.; 893-8913

2ND PLACE (tie): Bill Moon/Gentle Dentistry
227 West Sixth St.; 342-3525

Place to work out

In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave.; 343-5678

It’s hard to compete with this full-service health club, what with its recent renovation, four pools and indoor, regulation-size basketball court. The club, which took top honors once again in a number of categories, offers all manner of classes, from pilates and yoga to capoiera and karate. Personal trainers and a large child-care area just add to the already long list of reasons Chicoans love this gym.

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

3RD PLACE: Fit One Athletic Club
1026 Skyway; 898-8348

Golf course

Bidwell Park Golf Course
3199 Golf Course Road; 891-8417

Unless you’re willing to drive or pay hefty club fees, Bidwell Park Golf Course is the place to go for a typically cheap 18-hole game. Rumor has it even a few celebrities have stopped by while on tour in Chico to give their irons some use. Set in beautiful Upper Park, the course has a pro shop, snack bar and putting green, and is open every day except Christmas.

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

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

Sports field

Community Park
East 20th Street

From the Martin Luther King Jr. monument at its entrance, Community Park spreads out like small city occupied on weekends by hundreds of Chicoans buzzing around acres of playing fields, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a basketball/volleyball field house and picnic areas. With wonderful accents such as the decorative ancestor gates on one side and Meechoopda tribal-design murals on the other, Community Park is where Chico goes to play.

2ND PLACE: DeGarmo Park
Esplanade at Leora Court

3RD PLACE: Hooker Oak Recreation Area
1928 Manzanita Ave.

Place to play basketball

In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave.; 343-5678

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

3RD PLACE: Chico State University

Motion Fitness

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Place to swim

In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave.; 343-5678

2ND PLACE: One-Mile Recreation Area

3RD PLACE: Upper Park

Place for kids to play

Caper Acres

Caper Acres, nestled in the beautiful Lower Bidwell Park, is the best place in Chico for kids to let loose and let their imaginations soar. The park features storybook-themed structures such as Humpty Dumpty perched on a wall, a giant wedge of Swiss cheese for kids to slide through and a two-story crooked house. Not just anyone can mosey into this fantasy land, though—all adults must be accompanied by a child under the age of 13.

2ND PLACE: Bidwell Park

3RD PLACE: In Motion Fitness
1293 E. First Ave.; 343-5678

Yoga studio

Blue Lotus Yoga & Wellness
973 East Ave.; 895-9642

The mission at Blue Lotus Yoga & Wellness is “to provide a safe, nurturing, noncompetitive environment to promote balance of mind, body, and spirit through yoga and individualized wellness offerings,” and the experienced staff has made good on its promise to its wide-ranging clientele, from beginners and experienced practitioners, to expecting moms, athletes, the elderly, and anyone curious about movement or meditation. Private classes are available, and morning and evening classes are held seven days a week at Blue Lotus’ tranquil studio. Drop-ins are welcome, and the first week of classes is free for new students.

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

3RD PLACE: Chico Sports Club
260 Cohasset Road; 345-9427

Martial arts studio

Haley’s Martial Arts
260 Cohasset Road; 895-3114

Established in 1985, Haley’s Martial Arts offers classes in Shorin Ryu Karate, Kobudo, Aikido, and Judo. The art of Shorin Ryu was first developed on the island of Okinawa. Owner Kyoshi Pat Haley travels to Naha, Okinawa, at least once a year to train with his instructor Shugro Nakazato in order to maintain his technique in Shorin Ryu. Haley’s offers youth and adult karate promotions, tournament training, barbecues and potlucks. The center also offers handbooks to students, which includes history, belt requirements, terminology and more. Haley’s Martial arts is located at 260 Cohasset Road, number 150.

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

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

Sporting event

Chico Outlaws

With the start of the independent Golden Baseball League in 2005, the Chico Outlaws filled the void left when the Chico Heat folded after the 2002 season. Despite a so-so record for the 2009 season, catching the local pro team’s home games at the beautiful Nettleton Stadium remained a favorite summer pastime for Chicoans—especially on recession-proof Tuesdays, featuring $1 hot dogs! Go Outlaws!

2ND PLACE: Almond Bowl

3RD PLACE: Chico State basketball


Public servant

Jane Dolan

Jane Dolan has been a county supervisor for more than 30 years. That’s given her a depth of knowledge and sense of history no other local public official possesses. She’s known as a fierce advocate for the people in her 2nd District, especially the residents of Chapmantown, and as a protector of the Greenline limiting urban development into the orchard lands on Chico’s west side. She and her husband, state Democratic Party honcho Bob Mulholland, have long been considered the First Couple among local progressives.

2ND PLACE: Tom Nickell, city councilman

3RD PLACE: Ann Schwab, mayor

Local media personality

Rob Blair

Third time’s a charm, as they say. For the charming Rob Blair, however, this is the third time in a row that Chico and Chicoans have shown their appreciation for him by choosing him as their favority media personality. The upbeat, boyishly good-looking Wake Up! weatherman has snagged readers’ hearts, it seems.

2ND PLACE: Megan McDonald

3RD PLACE: Kelli Saam

Radio station


Other stations may have more listeners, but no station’s listeners are more loyal and supportive than KZFR’s. That’s because it’s truly a community radio station, staffed, programmed and deejayed almost entirely by volunteers. With its eclectic mix of programs—reggae, jazz, blues, classical and talk shows, as well as shows for kids and teenagers—the station expresses the diversity and abundance of the area it serves. And because it’s listener supported, it carries no commercials. If you haven’t tuned into KZFR 90.1 FM yet, give it a listen. You’ll be glad you did.

2ND PLACE: Bob 92.7


Youth organization

Boys & Girls Club of Chico
601 Wall St.; 899-0335

Where else are kids welcome all day long and engaged in healthful activities for an annual cost that is nearly free? The Boys and Girls Club is a phenomenon, a community-supported agency that funnels money from the more prominent and financially comfortable members of our community to parents, many of them single parents, struggling to make ends meet and provide their children with a supportive club environment. This support is vital for the club to continue to inspire and enable all young people to reach their full potential as caring, productive and responsible citizens.

2ND PLACE: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butte County

545 Vallombrosa Ave.; 895-4711

Place to pray/meditate

Bidwell Park

2ND PLACE:Bidwell Presbyterian
208 W 1st St.; 343-1484

3RD PLACE: Sky Creek Dharma Center
120 Three Oaks Court; 893-8088

Leader in sustainability

Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. owner and founder

It’s by now widely known that Ken Grossman not only brews some of the best beers and ales in the world, but is also a leader among brewers—indeed, among manufacturers generally—in creating a sustainable production facility. His ultimate goal? To make Sierra Nevada completely self-sustainable.

2ND PLACE (tie): GRUB (Growing Resourcefully Uniting Bellies)

2ND PLACE (tie): Mark Stemen at Chico State


Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Green institution/organization


Black plums, ready to burst—all the delicious result of GRUB (Growing Resourcefully Uniting Bellies), a nonprofit educating the community about the importance of locally grown, sustainable agriculture. GRUB operates a CSA, allowing subscribers to receive overflowing boxes of fresh grub monthly. They also work with local children, educating the importance of eating well. Check out their farmers’ market stand, or invite them to come pick the top of your over-abundant fruit tree—why waste what we’ve got locally?

2ND PLACE: Chico State

3RD PLACE: Butte College

Green business

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
1075 E 20th St.; 345-2739

With its four large hydrogen fuel cells, its huge array of solar panels, and its numerous recycling systems, this huge production facility is almost fully sustainable—and has become a leader among green businesses not only in Chico, but nationally.

2ND PLACE: Greenfeet

3RD PLACE: ChicoBag

Charitable cause—Chico

Jesus Center
1297 Park Ave.; 345-2640

The Jesus Center has been feeding the homeless and hungry for nearly 30 years. It is, for all intents and purposes, the community dining hall for literally hundreds of people. And these days it’s not just the homeless who are eating at the center: With unemployment higher than it’s been in decades, more and more people who simply can’t afford groceries are seeking out the center. Executive director Bill Such invites the needy 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

The Arc of Butte County
2745 Oroville Dam Blvd.; 532-1272

Since its inception more than 50 years ago, the Arc of Butte County has been serving developmentally disabled adults by providing them jobs and services. Based in Chico, it established a center and used-goods store in Oroville a few years ago, and readers there apparently have taken it to heart.

2075 Baldwin Ave.; 530-534-5713

3RD PLACE (tie): Oroville YMCA
1684 Robinson St.; 533-9622

3RD PLACE (tie): Father’s House Church
2883 Fort Wayne St.; (530) 534-4140

Charitable cause—On the Ridge

Top Cats

A sad fact of a depressed economy is that our feline friends often can’t find homes. Without homes, they multiply themselves quickly. Top Cats, run by Tamara Lynch, helps to find them the homes they need. The folks at Top Cats also manage feral colonies by trapping, neutering, and returning these cats to the wild—preventing many more homeless kitties.

2ND PLACE: Paradise Rotary

3RD PLACE: Boys & Girls Club of the Paradise Ridge
6241 Skyway; 872-3662

Community event

Farmers’ markets

Farmers’ markets have become so popular and successful that they’ve proliferated in recent years. At least four are held in Chico each week during the summer months—not only the original (year-round) Saturday market at Second and Wall streets, but also at North Valley Plaza on Wednesdays, Enloe Medical Center on Tuesdays, and in Chapmantown on Fridays. There are also weekly farmers’ markets in Paradise and Oroville. Butte County residents are learning that they are the best source for the freshest locally grown fruits and vegetables.

2ND PLACE: Thursday Night Market

3RD PLACE: A Taste of Chico