Readers’ Picks

Your votes for 2007

Goods and Services

Antiques Store
1st PLACE: Eighth & Main Antique Center
745 Main St., 893-5534

You never know what kind of knickknacks, doodads and unique pieces you’ll find at this downtown establishment. Whether you’re searching for that special something for that special someone or just browsing, the store’s array of odd and interesting items will allow you to browse the day away. Don’t forget to check out the outback annex, crammed with furniture, classic Coke machines and other nostalgic treasures.

2ND PLACE: ARC Trading Co.
1900 Park Ave., 891-0679

3RD PLACE: Sandy Gulch Furniture Co.
1916 Oleander Ave., 345-4617

Auto Repair Shop
1ST PLACE: Guido’s Auto Precision
135 W. Eighth Ave., 891-8313

Good mechanics, like good lawyers, are hard to come by. But 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. Since 1982, Guido and his crew have proven themselves superior auto technicians, boasting 75 years of combined factory-trained and certified experience. Italian born, ASE certified, as well as trained at Ferrari and Lamborghini factories in Italy, Guido has made Chico his home, earning the trust of many local professionals who testify to years of loyalty to this European automobile service shop.

2ND PLACE: Gary Younie Truck & Auto Repair Inc.
3871 Benatar Way, 895-3407

3RD PLACE: Affordable Automotive
2106 Park Ave., 892-1774

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

Do-it-yourself mechanics go hog wild at Kragen, where they can pick from 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.

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

136 East Ave., 892-8155
1843 Park Ave., 892-8053

1ST PLACE: Tri Counties Bank
Various Locations

Tri Counties has many branches in Chico, offering products and services customers will find at national banks. With two sites housed inside area supermarkets and a conveniently located ATM on the Chico State campus, students and locals have no trouble finding funds with this bank.

2ND PLACE: Washington Mutual
Various Locations

3RD PLACE: Wells Fargo
Various Locations

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

Whether you’re looking for a romantic evening or just need a room while visiting Chico, the Grateful Bed offers it all: quality beds, soft linens, private baths and, of course, a candlelight breakfast. Nestled in the quiet Avenues of Chico, the Grateful Bed is conveniently close to Chico State University, Enloe Hospital, Bidwell Mansion and quaint downtown shops and restaurants.

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

3RD PLACE: Johnson’s Country Inn
3935 Morehead Ave., 345-7829

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

Pullins Cyclery in the heart of downtown is a Chico mainstay, having served the community since J.V. Pullins opened up shop there in 1918. Steve O’Bryan, owner of the bicycle shop, has kept the tradition alive for the past 23 years, keeping up with the advancements in the cycling world. In addition to selling a wide range of bicycles, the business is known for its top-notch service department.

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

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

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

Books, coffee and comfy sofas all in one place? Despite its massive size, Barnes & Noble hosts a cozy atmosphere in which even the biggest bookworms delight. It probably helps that the chain is known for its selection. So, peruse the racks, grab a mocha and get to reading.

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

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

The Grateful Bed

CN&R file photo

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

This long-time Chico car dealership operates a full-service repair shop in addition to selling Toyota and Dodge lines of cars, trucks and SUVs. Want a new Highlander? They’ve got ’em. Looking for something with a lot of power? Check out those Hemi engines. After a remodel of its main facility in the coming months, the business will be selling Scion cars, too.

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

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

Computer/Electronics Store
1ST PLACE: Best Buy
2005 Forest Ave., 566-1012

Ah, how the neon blue-and-yellow lights of this big-box beckon us. True to its name, this store offers great deals on all the new gizmos and gadgets every geek needs for a proper tech arsenal. Wander the maze-like aisles of Best Buy and you’ll come across the latest in audio and video equipment, along with a wide variety of computers, software and accessories. If you’re feeling in the mood, sit back in front of a high-definition TV on one of the store’s leather couches. Having trouble with your home computer? The Geek Squad’s there to help.

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

3RD PLACE: Circuit City
2041 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, 892-1010

Day Spa
1ST PLACE: Agua Azul Oasis
40 Declaration Drive, 345-0226

A newcomer to the Chico spa scene, Agua Azul Oasis opened its doors in Philadelphia Square in June as a full-service Mediterranean-style day spa. The business offers microdermabrasion, laser hair removal, massage, hydrotherapy, makeup consultation, and hair and nail services. Additional services include separate “Men’s Quarters” with a range of specialty services just for him, as well as bridal party packages, a couple’s retreat package, bachelorette party packages, and an array of “Mediterranean tours” for business or pleasure. Blossoming from its roots as Chico Skin and Body Care, and boasting service to about 1,000 clients in the first six weeks of business, Agua Azul is Chico’s first choice for spa services.

366 Rio Lindo Ave., 342-3223

3RD PLACE: The Poison Apple
131 Meyers St., 899-7875

Gift Store
1ST PLACE: Bird in Hand
320 Broadway, 893-0545

Kids can spend hours in this downtown shop. Bird in Hand is known for its fun, educational toys. But the store also has an extensive variety of items for the big kids, too. Adults will find a wide selection of cards, candles, collectables and unique clothing. As the home of the National Yo-Yo Museum and a 250-pound yo-yo, the store also attracts a lot of out-of-towners.

2ND PLACE: Zucchini & Vine
204 Main St., 345-3551

3RD PLACE: Christian & Johnson Co.
250 Vallombrosa Ave., 891-1881

Grocery Store
2060 E. 20th St., 342-1599

WinCo’s prices are definitely hard to beat, as CN&R readers can attest. Regular customers know the tricks to maneuvering unscathed through the store, such as avoiding shopping on Saturdays—typically the busiest day of the week. With the convenience of 24-hour shopping, night owls can enjoy a peaceful trip, save for a few forklifts and efficient shelf-stocking employees.

2ND PLACE: Safeway
Various Locations

3RD PLACE: Trader Joe’s
801 East Ave., 343-9920

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

This downtown treasure has been serving the Chico community since 1871. These days, in addition to traditional hardware on well-stocked shelves, you’ll find interesting gift items for the home and garden. A friendly, helpful staff will guide you to the right section for your needs, and they’ll even do a bang-up job of gift wrapping your purchases.

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

3RD PLACE: The Home Depot
2850 Notre Dame Blvd., 342-0477

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

Located in the heart of downtown, Hotel Diamond is a gem. The historic building’s antique furniture, etched glass and distinctive woodworking make this hotel “the hotel” of Chico. Open to guests just a few years ago after a long, extensive renovation, the beautifully restored building represents the best of the city’s distinct past, lively present and bright future.

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

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

Kids’ Clothier
1ST PLACE: For Kids Only (FKO)
365 East Ave., 893-3454

Moms and dads who’ve been through the back-to-school shopping madness know all about FKO. For more than 20 years, the business has offered a wide variety of hip school duds, including shoes, for little and big kids, infants to juniors. Those familiar with the store know there’s also a selection of menswear, too.

Farmers Market

Photo By Brittni Zacher

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

3RD PLACE: Mervyn’s
801 East Ave., 343-8800

Men’s Clothier
1ST PLACE: Men’s Wearhouse
1960 E. 20th St., 343-2685

Newly relocated inside of the Chico Mall (with an entrance on the outside, too), Men’s Wearhouse offers guys everything from casual clothing to tuxedos. The store is well-stocked with sweaters, shirts, suits and accessories, such as ties and belts. Like spokesman George Zimmer guarantees, you’re going to like the way you look.

2ND PLACE: Trucker
232 Broadway, 343 1073

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

3RD PLACE: Old Navy (tie)
2023 Forest Ave., 892-0203

Music/Record Store
1ST PLACE: Melody Records
341 Main St., 895-8196

In the Best of Chico Top 3 more than once in years past, this year Melody Records tops the list for best record store (partly because it is an actual record store!). Melody’s selection of top-quality used vinyl, CDs and tapes (they’ve got great music posters, too), and its funky, friendly atmosphere, make for Chico’s best audio-perusing and -buying experience. Flip through records displayed in wooden crates and pretend you’re back in the days before Web companies like iTunes made cyber-music-purchasing the norm. You can also cruise through the back of the store and wander into adjoining Ital Imports to round out the full ‘60s-style throwback experience.

2ND PLACE: The Underground
325 Main St., 342-3500

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

Place to Buy Flowers
1ST PLACE: Farmers Markets
Downtown Chico

Buying flowers at Chico’s Farmers Markets is practically a Chico tradition. Saturday’s market at Second and Flume streets is a great way to start the weekend, whether you’re buying a big, colorful bouquet for your sweetie or just treating yourself. But don’t fret if for some reason you can’t make it down there. The Thursday Night Market, which goes on downtown in the early evening (for at least a little while longer), offers plenty of gorgeous arrangements, along with musical acts, other performers and many crafts and produce vendors.

2ND PLACE: Christian & Johnson Co.
250 Vallombrosa Ave., 891-1881

3RD PLACE: San Francisco Flowers
116 Broadway, 895-3116

1ST PLACE: Little Red Hen
189 E. Eighth St., 891-9100

With a wide variety of indoor and outdoor plants, this nonprofit nursery on the periphery of town will help keep your life in bloom. Little Red Hen gets cuter and more inviting every year, with its small barn-red buildings and well-tended pathways leading past and around tiered display tables and groves of small potted trees, bushes and shrubs. Don’t forget that profits go to aid disabled children, and the nursery employs disabled people, one of its stated goals being to help build self-confidence and independence in its employees.

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

3RD PLACE: Hodges Nursery & Tree Farm
9681 Midway, Durham, 894-6598

Pet Store
1ST PLACE: Petco
2005 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, 899-1422

Need a fancy sleeping cushion for your Shih Tzu puppy? How about 20 pounds of litter for that litter of kittens? A bag of parakeet seed? You’ll find them all here, along with aisles and aisles of food and about a zillion toys ranging from simple, catnip-stuffed mice to rawhide bones big enough to use for a baseball bat. The jam-packed store also carries all manner of pet houses, cages and cat towers. And if you’re looking for a new pet, check here for cat and dog adoption offers as well as lots of fish, reptiles, hermit crabs and birds.

2ND PLACE: Pet Works
2201 Pillsbury Road, 345-0934

3RD PLACE: Northern Star Mills
510 Esplanade, 342-7661

Place to Buy Home Furnishings
1ST PLACE: Ashley Home Furnishings
2101 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, 345-2616

Ashley’s huge showroom has become the go-to place for furniture in Chico for the past couple of years. The store’s giant inventory of furniture, from bedrooms to dining rooms, along with a wide array of home-interior goodies, keep this big-box jumping with customers.

2ND PLACE: Linens ‘N Things
2019 Forest Ave., 879-1771

3RD PLACE: Esplanade Furniture
1750 Esplanade, 891-4778

Place to Buy Music Supplies
1ST PLACE: The Music Connection
973 East Ave., 898-0110

Just 30 years old (and newly wed), Sally Long MacMillan has turned The Music Connection into the place to go in Chico for instruments from electric guitars to band instruments, sheet music and music accessories since she took over as owner four years ago after having worked at the store since she was 18. A fierce advocate of music education, MacMillan has plenty of affordable, quality instruments available for sale and rent, for both the budding and the seasoned musician. A large availability of sheet music and songbooks, and private lessons offered on-site by some of Chico’s best musicians, round out The Music Connection’s excellent offerings. Oh, and don’t forget to chat up the friendly MacMillan about her other job—calling the go-kart races out at Cycleland Speedway.

Little Red Hen

CN&R file photo

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

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

Place to Buy Outdoor Gear
1ST PLACE: Mountain Sports
176 E. Third St., 345-5011

Whether you’re a novice or a pro at outdoors adventures, Mountain Sports can outfit you with the most advanced equipment for your excursions. Employees of this downtown store include some serious adventurers, who can give you the lowdown on an inventory that includes all the basics, plus a wide variety of specialty items and gadgets. When they aren’t helping you find the right camping, hiking, backpacking, skiing or climbing equipment, they’re out using those same products.

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

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

Place to Buy Specialty Foods
1ST PLACE: Trader Joe’s
801 East Ave., 343-9920

You can find sushi-grade fish in the aisles of this Chico grocer. And have you tried those miniature chocolate-chip cookies or the oh-so-yummy ginger snaps? How about those healthy, ready-to-go salads? TJ’s offers all kinds of organic produce and other goodies, such as plantain chips and microwavable packets of jasmine basmati or brown rice. Ah, the two-buck Chuck ain’t so shabby, either (at least that’s what we’ve heard …).

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

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

Place to Get Video Games
1ST PLACE: GameStop
Chico Mall, 899-0492

855 East Ave., 899-9679

Whether you’re a gaming expert or just a novice, GameStop has something to offer everyone, from Super Mario Bros. to the upcoming Halo 3. GameStop’s staff is knowledgeable and very committed to the gaming industry, and is readily available to demonstrate the latest in the gaming world. Feeling playful? Visit one of Chico’s two GameStop locations.

2ND PLACE: Blockbuster 855 East Ave., 899-9679

Whether you’re a gaming expert or just a novice, GameStop has something to offer everyone, from Super Mario Bros. to the upcoming Halo 3. GameStop’s staff is knowledgeable and very committed to the gaming industry, and is readily available to demonstrate the latest in the gaming world. Feeling playful? Visit one of Chico’s two GameStop locations.

2ND PLACE: Blockbuster Various locations

3RD PLACE: All the Best Video Various locations

Place to Rent a Movie
1ST PLACE: Blockbuster Video 980 Mangrove Ave., 342-0837

241 W. East Ave., 892-8162

Action? Adventure? Drama? Comedy? Blockbuster’s large and diverse selection has it all, so it may be hard to decide on just one. Maybe you’ve been dying to see the newest Zach Braff movie, or perhaps you want to reminisce with a classic Chris Farley flick. Whatever your taste, Chico’s two Blockbuster locations will surely have what you need—including the popcorn and Milk Duds.

2ND PLACE: All the Best Video Various locations

3RD PLACE: Hollywood Video Various locations

Real Estate Office
1ST PLACE: Century 21 Jeffries Lydon (tie) 1101 El Monte Road, 345-6618

1ST PLACE: Coldwell Banker/DuFour Realty (tie) 1350 Lassen Ave., 895-1545

With more than 50 agents serving the Chico area, Century 21 Jeffries Lydon can provide services for any customer’s buying, leasing and selling needs. Also boasting a large staff (more than 40 agents) is Coldwell Banker/Dufour Realty. Founded by Tom and Ingrid DuFour, the company has been serving the community for 35 years, finding its customers the perfect home, investment or commercial property.

3RD PLACE: Remax of Chico Various locations

1ST PLACE: The Poison Apple 131 Meyers St., 899-7875

Since 2006, The Poison Apple has provided salon hair-care services, as well as a day spa, to Chico customers. Clientele rave about Kim Klein and her staff, saying that they are good, dependable hairdressers—"the best in town.” This loyal following of customers voted them No. 1 salon in a town replete with hair salons and spas, so they must be doing something right.

2ND PLACE: Dimensions Salon 810 Broadway, 894-2515

3RD PLACE: Blondie’s for Hair 175 Cohasset Road, 345-7774

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

When it comes to your feet, Heel and Sole Shoes can’t be beat! With a collection of hip shoes and accessories spanning more than 8,000 square feet, this store is any shoe-lover’s dream come true. Since its grand opening in 2002, Heel and Sole has flourished—offering brand-name shoes such as Dr. Martens, Rocket Dog, Teva, Chinese Laundry and Converse—all at reasonable prices. Heel and Sole has all the newest styles to keep your tootsies warm this winter, too.

LuLu’s Fashion Lounge

CN&R file photo

2ND PLACE: GiGi Shoe Parlor 112 W. Second St., 345-1512

3RD PLACE: Robyn Marie’s Shoe Closet 215 Main St., 566-1825

Sporting Goods Store
1ST PLACE: Chico Sports LTD 698 Mangrove Ave., 894-1110

This locally owned store offers a pretty amazing inventory at its spacious location just east of downtown. Seriously, the place is enormous! And with the massive Bidwell Park mural on the wall, you almost feel like you are outdoors. This store doesn’t cater to ball sports, but if you lead an active life, Sports LTD has many things that are up your alley, such as a full-service bike shop and a climbing wall that’s free and open to the public. Woohoo!

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

3RD PLACE: Play It Again Sports 2065 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, 345-7427

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

ARC is a lot more than your typical thrift store. The money from your purchases goes to a local program that serves the disabled in our community, so you’re actually helping others while getting a great deal. Socially conscious shopping on a tight budget—genius! Shopping at ARC is a win-win. The shop has a large selection, with tons of clothes, shoes and accessories, along with everything from golf clubs to old records.

2ND PLACE: Thrifty Bargain 2432 Esplanade, 899-3360

3RD PLACE: The Shop (American Cancer Society) 752 Mangrove Ave., 343-6178

Women’s Clothier
1ST PLACE: LuLu’s Fashion Lounge 212 Main St., 343-3545

LuLu’s is a college gal’s paradise, complete with sexy little frocks and fit-for-campus attire. A variety of belts, bags and other trendy accessories, including funky heels and cool purses, keep Chico girls (and women!)—looking hot. Trust the readers, this downtown shop hasn’t been voted Best of Chico over and over for nothing. Looking to buy a gift for that special lady in your life? Don’t worry, the “Lulu’s girls” are very helpful, giving small-town service to go with the store’s big-city fashion.

2ND PLACE: For Elyse 228 Broadway, 893-0106

3RD PLACE: Artifax 247 Main St., 343-7577

Food and Drinks

Chain Restaurant
1ST PLACE: Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill 2030 Business Lane, 343-6888

It’s hard to tell whether the restaurant’s flair or its menu variety keeps Chicoans coming back year after year. But whatever it is, Applebee’s is doing something right. The place is jumping just about every night. Customer favorites include gooey mozzarella sticks, the crispy chicken fingers platter and fish and chips. Desserts to die for? Try the chocolate raspberry layer cake or the blue-ribbon brownie, which has baked-in nuts and is drizzled with hot fudge. Yum, yum.

2ND PLACE: Outback Steakhouse 1990 E. 20th St., 899-8112

3RD PLACE: Olive Garden Italian Restaurant 2020 Business Lane, 898-8075

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

Never defeated in the category of Cheap Eats, this restaurant takes Best of Chico honors again this year—the restaurant’s six win in a row. The reason is simple: La Comida offers tasty meals, plus free chips and salsa, for very reasonable prices. Customers of all ages and all walks of life flock to the eatery for its ridiculously cheap Mexican-food favorites. This one really is a Chico tradition. If you’ve never been there, you’re probably not a Chicoan.

2ND PLACE: Kona’s Deli 138 Main St., 893-4344

965 Nord Ave., 894-1635

3RD PLACE: Aca Taco 133 Broadway, 894-0191

1000 W. Sacramento Ave., 343-0909

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

This restaurant is called a steakhouse for a reason, and it’s proven time and time again the be “the” steakhouse of Chico. This is the ideal setting for dinner with visiting parents, convivial friends or a date you want to be remembered by, as well as a great place to retire to after a big business meeting. The salads are cool, refreshing and light, but don’t forget the steak—it’s to-die-for. You might hear some live jazz as you’re savoring the flavors of your meal, and you will certainly come away with the feeling that you have been well and properly served.

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

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

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

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

The Naked Lounge

Photo By Andrew Boost

3RD PLACE: Broadway Heights California Cuisine 300 Broadway, 899-8075

New Restaurant
1ST PLACE: Chili’s Grill and Bar 1908 E. 20th St., 345-1687

Chili’s Grill and Bar has added a healthy southwestern twist to the food fare near the Chico mall. The restaurant snagged the Best New Restaurant category amid some stiff competition. Featuring a Guiltless Grill menu, with salmon, a black bean burger and chicken dishes, as well as the more traditional fire-grilled rib-eye steak and classic sirloin, Chili’s has already made an impact on local diners. Also commendable is the Presidente margarita, a great way to wash down the baby-back ribs and burgers. It’s all served up by a very friendly staff.

2ND PLACE: Scrambles Grill Bakery Coffee House 880 East Ave., 892-8963

3RD PLACE: Priya Indian Cuisine 2574 Esplanade, 899-1055

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

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

3RD PLACE: Red Tavern (tie) 1250 Esplanade, 894-3463

3RD PLACE: Christian Michael’s Ristorante (tie) 192 E. Third St., 894-4005

Chain Coffee House
1ST PLACE: Starbucks Coffee Multiple locations

We’ve lost count of how many Starbucks there are in Chico. This corner, that corner, the ones inside supermarkets—keeping up with the coffee maker’s growth here is headache-inducing, so we’ve just accepted the ubiquity of the company. There are more than 11,000 Starbucks locations worldwide, making it the world’s largest multinational coffee shop chain. And we won’t complain, either. How can you resist the scrumtralescent Chai Crème Frappuccino, or any of the other delicious blendy creations? Add a tasty scone or brownie for an irresistible combination.

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

3RD PLACE: Dutch Bros. Coffee 480 E. Park Ave., 345-5288

Local Coffee House
1ST PLACE: The Naked Lounge 118 W. Second St., 895-0676

The future of coffee arrived in Chico in the summer of 2001, when The Naked Lounge opened its doors, revealing a mecca for coffee lovers and connoisseurs. The lounge, or “NaLo” as regulars affectionately call it, provides a dark oasis in which to enjoy what the shop claims are “Grand Cru,” single-origin beans—rated in the top 2 percent of all the world’s coffees. The quality doesn’t stop there, either—the team here seems downright obsessed with perfecting a cup o’ Joe. Supposedly, employees undergo 100 hours of training, ensuring that you, the customer, get the “best coffee possible, damn the cost.”

2ND PLACE: Bidwell Perk 664 E. First Ave., 899-1500

3RD PLACE: Cal Java Coffee Roasters Various Locations

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

Ah, the Sin. Here, rosemary abounds and families join bedraggled college students for one of the best breakfasts to be had … anywhere. Sin of Cortez is well worth the jaunt down The Esplanade and the long weekend waits. The coffee alone might be enough to sing its praises, but really, the food tops all. Presented beautifully every time, menu items have a Bohemian feel, what with the abundance of tofu, black beans and the aforementioned rosemary. The restaurant somehow manages to avoid pretentiousness. Maybe that’s because there’s something for everyone—large, fluffy pancakes for kids, fruit, yogurt and granola for dieting soccer moms, brown rice and tofu for health nuts and hippies, and the popular Eggs Lulu for those hungover college kids.

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

3RD PLACE: Scrambles Grill Bakery Coffee House 880 East Ave., 892-8963

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

Recommended by the Chico State University visitors guides, and by the hungry voters for Best of Chico, Broadway Heights has soared into new levels of popularity as Best Lunch Place. From its inception many years ago as Jasco’s, to its current incarnation of commendable bistro lunch fare, the restaurant is a sure bet for a fabulous meal. Billed as casual California cuisine, the menu is bursting with savory roasted eggplant or stacked turkey avocado sandwiches, a variety of delicious calzones, crisp salads and gourmet pizzas. The eatery also serves elegant dinners, and some nice views of the downtown Chico scene—ask for a window seat, order a nice glass of wine, and enjoy.

2ND PLACE: Scrambles Grill Bakery Coffee House 880 East Ave., 892-8963

3RD PLACE: Grilla Bites (tie) 119 W. Second St., 894-2691

196 Cohasset Road, 343-4876

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

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

7188 Skyway, Paradise, 877-4168

With an array of quality menu items, a comfortable atmosphere and one of the friendliest, fastest staffs in town, Happy Garden makes its customers, well, happy. The restaurant used to be one of Chico’s best-kept secrets. But all of that has changed over the years, due in no small part to word-of-mouth. This year, the business is picking up its six-straight first-place finish in our poll. The secret is definitely out on this two-town phenomenon. Happy Garden may be the best, but high prices are not part of the package. Most items run between $5 and $10.

Burger Hut

Photo By Brittni Zacher

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

3RD PLACE: Hula’s Chinese Bar-B-Q 2540 Esplanade, 342-8564

1937 E. 20th St., 342-6304

Italian Food
1ST PLACE: Italian Cottage Restaurant 2234 Esplanade, 343-7000

2525 Dominic Drive (off the Skyway), 342-7771

Famous for the sawdust on the floor, Italian Cottage is the perfect place for a family affair. Its two locations serve up tasty sandwiches, pasta and pizza, along with everything else Italian. If you’re having salad, try the special blue cheese dressing. The restaurant’s lively atmosphere makes it a fun spot for a date. Although, if it’s a first date, you might want to avoid the roasted garlic appetizer with crumbled blue cheese, fresh basil and toastettes. Those not afraid of the stinky onion should go for it! Mmmm.

2ND PLACE: Franky’s 506 Ivy St., 898-9948

3RD PLACE: Sicilian Café 1020 Main St., 345-2233

Mexican Food
1ST PLACE: Casa Ramos 216 W East Ave., 894-0119

2490 Park Ave., 893-5050

With its rubber-chicken and sombrero birthday wishes, Casa Ramos is a fun place to celebrate. The popular eatery boasts huge portions of delicious, greasy Mexican fare, so it’s a great place to eat, too. ¡Que delicioso! Casa Ramos regulars can attest to its huge menu filled with all sorts of Mexican favorites as well as some American food. The restaurant also delivers for a $6 fee if you’re so inclined, so eat up, muchachos.

2ND PLACE: Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill 100 Broadway St., 342-0425

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

Taco Truck
1ST PLACE: El Paisa Eighth and Pine streets

Roach coaches? No way! Taco trucks are a staple in Chico, and there are plenty to choose from. Where else can you get authentic, fresh-made Mexican eats, a whole belly’s worth, for about three bucks? While serious debate has raged over which taco truck reigns supreme, El Paisa continues to get big props, winning this category two years running.

2ND PLACE: Tacos Tonaya 409 Nord Ave. at Nord Market, 519-2118

3RD PLACE: Tacos El Pinelero East Park Ave. (near Chico Collision Center)

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

Sushi in Chico may have once upon a time sounded like a joke, but that’s far from the case these days. Even the most seasoned sushi lovers admit Rawbar puts many Bay Area establishments to shame. Relying on repeat business, 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 of the downtown eatery. In addition to a long list of sashimi, rolls and nigiri, the menu includes more traditional entrees.

2ND PLACE: Gen Kai Restaurant 2201 Pillsbury Road, 345-7226

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

Vegetarian Food
1ST PLACE: Grilla Bites 119 W. Second St., 894-2691

196 Cohasset Road, 343-4876

This restaurant is known for its selection of organic sandwiches, served on signature grilled breads, as well as soups and healthy wraps. But diners can also feast upon meals of their own creation with Grilla Bites’ salad bar, featuring dozens of varieties of the freshest produce purchased from local farmers. Operating a sustainable business is part of the motto of this Chico-borne chain, which has also opened restaurants in Oregon.

2ND PLACE: Scrambles Grill Bakery Coffee House 880 East Ave., 892-8963

3RD PLACE: House of Nature’s Own 117 Broadway, 520-5135

1ST PLACE: Burger Hut Various Locations

Loved by families and picky eaters, Burger Hut’s condiment bar allows customers to customize their burgers and sandwiches. Jalapeños, two types of pickles, tomatoes, onions and all of the rest of the toppings make it easy for folks to jazz up their choice of meat on a bun. Don’t forget to get a basket of fries and some special sauce.

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

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

1ST PLACE: Jack’s Family Restaurant 540 Main St., 343-8383

Jack’s is the go-to place for a cross section of the Chico community, but especially the late-night crowd looking to fill their bellies with yummy, greasy American food after a long night of fun. The restaurant is open 24 hours a day, making it a popular stop for graveyard-shift workers, high-schoolers leaving prom or football games and downtowners heading home from the bars. You never know who or what you’re going to see at Jack’s, which is part of its charm.

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


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

1ST PLACE: Aca Taco 133 Broadway, 894-0191

1000 W. Sacramento Ave, 343-0909

Aca Taco whips up tasty Mexican cuisine in no time, a bonus for the hungry late-night crowd. The restaurant’s West Sacramento location is probably best known for being open until the wee hours of the night (except for Sunday—for religious reasons). Come hungry when you order one of the many varieties of Acapulco-style burritos at this establishment. Even the chico (meaning small, not the city) takes two hands to hold it.

2ND PLACE: Chipotle Mexican Grill 620 Mangrove Ave., 343-8707

3RD PLACE: Tacos de Acapulco (tie) Various Locations

3RD PLACE: El Patron Taqueria (tie) 1354 East Ave., 343-9779

2454 Notre Dame Blvd., 891-8888

Hot Dog
1ST PLACE: Zot’s Hot Dogs & Deli 225 Main St., 345-2820

Tucked into the back of Main Street’s Garden Walk Mall, Zot’s weighs in as Best of Chico in the hot dog category, with its delicious steamed weiners, salad and sandwich bar (adorn your Zot’s sandwich with the many fresh ingredients offered at the salad bar), and homemade chili and soups. No surprise that the cozy, husband-and-wife-run restaurant is a lunchtime hotspot: Ask for the “A” Special—a foot-long dog, bag of chips and a drink—which, at $3.99, is hugely popular with students and downtown employees. The creative Burrito Dog—a hot dog with chili, cheese, onion and tomato, wrapped in a flour tortilla—is also a big hit.

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

3RD PLACE: The Dog House 1008 W. Sacramento Ave., 894-3641

1ST PLACE: Celestino’s 101 Salem St., 896-1234

1354 East Ave., 345-7700

A staple of the student community, located just steps from Chico State’s campus, Celestino’s serves up a variety of thin-crust pizzas (by the slice or a whole pie), and other authentic Italian eats. If pizza isn’t your thing, the restaurant offers several specialty salads loaded with produce such as artichoke hearts and olives, as well sandwiches. Those in the north part of town will enjoy the restaurant’s East Avenue location.

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

3RD PLACE: Round Table Pizza (tie) Various Locations

3RD PLACE: Mountain Mike’s Pizza (tie) 1722 Mangrove Ave., 893-1923

1105 W. Fifth St., 899-9115

1ST PLACE: Kona’s Deli 138 Main St., 893-4344

965 Nord Ave., 894-1635

Locals know to take a late lunch when they head down to Kona’s, one of the most popular high-school and college eateries. This place offers the cheapest sub in Chico—especially when you split a 12-inch with a friend. See if you can correctly guess the answer to the question of the day as the friendly staff dresses your sandwich, which can be loaded up with a lot of free extras such as peppers and pickles.

2ND PLACE: Spiteri’s Delicatessen 971 East Ave., 891-4797

3RD PLACE: Broadway Heights California Cuisine 300 Broadway, 899-8075

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

Upper Crust just keeps on winning, and for good reason—its work is superb. The wedding cakes are stunning, masterfully decorated and lusciously rich. Those of us who aren’t getting married, though, might still feel the call of German chocolate cake, éclairs, glossy fruit tarts, crumbly Russian teacakes, or cool, creamy cheesecake. The lunches are amazing as well, but if you really want to indulge, go for the personal carrot cake. Hey, it has veggies in it, right?

2ND PLACE: Great Harvest Bread Co. Various Locations

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

Dessert Place
1ST PLACE: Jon & Bon’s Yogurt Shoppe Various Locations

Jon & Bon’s is a Chico mainstay, especially during the summer. The dessert shop’s many flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt and different toppings make for endless combinations of delicious treats that keep a steady stream of regulars cool during those sweltering hot days. On any given afternoon, the creamery will be filled with families, teens and everyone in between.

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

3RD PLACE: Upper Crust Bakery & Café 130 Main St., 895-3866

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

Serving up mouthwatering treats for more than 65 years, this downtown parlor has delighted three generations of Chicoans. It doesn’t get much better than sitting on the bench out in front of the business while licking a cold scoop of sweet, creamy ice cream. If you’re anywhere near downtown, the shop is worth a quick stop.


CN&R file photo

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

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

Place for Smoothies
1ST PLACE: Jamba Juice Various Locations

Sweet Jamba, how you lure us with your refreshing, fruity concoctions. Mmmmm, the Orange-A-Peel. Yum, the Strawberry Nirvana. With dozens of options for cool, tasty smoothies, juices, sherberts and vitamin and energy supplements, Jamba Juice is a great option for breakfast, lunch or a simple snack.

2ND PLACE: Scrambles Grill Bakery Coffee House 880 East Ave., 892-8963

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

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

Well, the very yummy pizza at Woodstock’s has been named Best of Chico a number of times since the downtown pizzeria first opened its doors in 1983. So it makes sense that this year, Woodstock’s is being honored for Best Delivery. After all, with a quick delivery time (about 35-45 minutes), who wouldn’t want to just kick back at home and wait for a topping-loaded Mediterranean Masterpiece or All Meat Orgy to be brought right to the door? Salads, sammies, chicken wings and sodas, too. (Gotta go into the building if you want a Sierra Nevada or Dos Equis with your slice, though—but that way you can work in a game of pool with your pizza and beer.)

2ND PLACE: The Pita Pit 240 Broadway, 899-2847

3RD PLACE: Round Table Pizza Various Locations

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

7188 Skyway, Paradise, 877-4168

2ND PLACE: Hula’s Chinese Bar-B-Q 2540 Esplanade, 342-8564

1937 E. 20th St., 342-6304

3RD PLACE: Egg Roll King 659 Palmetto Ave, 893-1838

Nightlife and Entertainment

Art Gallery
1ST PLACE: 1078 Gallery 820 Broadway, 343-1973

Now settled into its bigger-and-better location, the 1078 continues to feature monthly shows of contemporary and avant garde art from local and visiting artists. The 26-year-old gallery’s foray into the music scene has also been successful over the past year, with consistent focus on the same underground aesthetic as the art.

2ND PLACE: Avenue 9 Gallery 180 E. Ninth Ave., 879-1821

3RD PLACE: Crux Artist Collective 1421 Park Ave., 566-0176

Local Music Act
1ST PLACE: Hooliganz Who would have thunk? A hip-hop group has taken Best Local Act in a town that doesn’t bring much to the table in said musical style. Hooliganz’s setup is pretty simple: DJ Marvel mixes turntables over prerecorded music/beats (supplied by collaborator Irthwirm), and MC J-Pigg and MC i2K take turns rapping over the top. J-Pigg is known for his smooth hooks and effortless delivery, while i2K’s rapid-fire delivery brought home first prize in three of Club 96.7’s MC battles at LaSalles. The group has a dedicated following.

2ND PLACE: Three Fingers Whiskey

3RD PLACE: Pub Scouts

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

Duffy’s manages to attract every subculture and microcosm that has ever held congress in a drinking establishment, from millionaire businessmen to starving artists to backward-hat-wearing frat boys to skinny girl-pants-wearing hipster dudes. Open the green doors on any given night—or day—and you’ll find it all in this quintessential neighborhood tavern. Friday’s happy hour Irish music sessions are legendary, the bloody Marys are divine, and the daily $2 PBRs make this pub the go-to downtown watering hole.

2ND PLACE: LaSalles 229 Broadway, 893-1891

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

3RD PLACE: Madison Bear Garden (tie) 316 W. Second St., 343-2591

1ST PLACE: Corey Walker—LaSalles 229 Broadway, 893-1891

The consensus is that Corey Walker is the best bartender in town. Besides being known as a really hard worker, the petite, lonnnng-haired blonde is also notable for her infectious, ever-present smile, and the fact that she’s “super, super nice,” as one admirer emphatically put it. Practically every guy you talk to seems to think that she’s the cutest bartender in town. Lucky for LaSalles, and Chico, and all the guys that get to go ga-ga over Walker as she serves ’em up all night long at the club’s busy bar.

Monks Wine Lounge & Bistro

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

2ND PLACE: Lisa Cooke—33 Steaks, Booze & Jazz 305 Main St., 893-1903

3RD PLACE: Chris Carter—Duffy’s Tavern 337 Main St., 343-7718

1ST PLACE: Tony Cox KALF 95.7 FM/ Crazy Horse Saloon & Brewery

A Little Rock, Ark., native, Tony Cox moved to Chico a little over a decade ago, and he now has the city’s country music scene covered, both on KALF 95.7 FM weekdays from 2 to 7 p.m. and at the Crazy Horse for “Wild, Wild Wednesday.” Way to git ‘er done, cowboy. This Southern boy’s done good ’round here.

2ND PLACE: Mack Morris LaSalles, Riley’s, Lost On Main

3RD PLACE: Mark Arnone (tie) KALF 95.7 FM, KFM 93.9

3RD PLACE: Oz (tie) Z-Rock 106.7 FM

Performing Arts Company
1ST PLACE: Chico Cabaret 2201 Pillsbury Road, 895-0245

The Cabaret has brought some great theater to Chico. It is run by Phil and Sue Ruttenburg, and has a steady group of very talented players. The Cabaret is best known for its rollicking productions of Rocky Horror Live, which has been brought back year after year due to undying popularity.

2ND PLACE: Chico Theater Co. 166 W. Eaton Road, 894-3282

3RD PLACE: The Blue Room Theatre 139 W. First St., 895-3749

Place for a Cold Beer
1ST PLACE: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Taproom & Restaurant 1075 E. 20th St., 345-2739

CN&R readers agree: If you want the best, go to the source. Sierra Nevada’s brewery offers some of the finest beers made in this country, and serves them in one of the most gorgeous settings ever to see a condensation ring wiped up by a friendly waitperson. Not only can brewery visitors sip on Sierra Nevada’s staple brews, they can also sample varieties not sold in stores.

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

3RD PLACE: Madison Bear Garden 316 W. Second St., 343-2591

Place for a Glass of Wine
1ST PLACE: Monks Wine Lounge & Bistro 128 W. Second St., 343-3408

Downtowners are familiar with the allure of Monks as the perfect place to start or end your evening. Of course, it wouldn’t be unusual for a patron to spend the entire night there, sampling wine and cheese. The extensive wine list includes more than 100 selections, including more than 50 by the glass. Monks also serves sumptuous desserts and a selection of craft beer.

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

3RD PLACE: 33 Steaks, Booze & Jazz 305 Main St., 893-1903

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

2ND PLACE: Riley’s 702 W. Fifth St., 343-7459

3RD PLACE: La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill & Bar 855 East Ave., 891-9595

Place for Live Music
1ST PLACE: LaSalles 229 Broadway, 893-1891

LaSalles has become a favorite of many touring bands as well as local acts across genres who enjoy the sound of the venue and its mellow atmosphere. The dance floor is large, but small enough to keep shows feeling intimate. And the long bar allows for a barstool view of the performers. Early-bird pitcher specials don’t hurt, either.

2ND PLACE: 33 Steaks, Booze & Jazz 305 Main St., 893-1903

3RD PLACE: Sierra Nevada Big Room 1075 E. 20th St., 345-2739

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

Drinks are served up quickly at this downtown establishment, and the margaritas are definitely the specialty. They range from traditional to blended fruity varieties, such as strawberry and melon, and are a great way to cool down after a long day. You’ll find a large selection of premium tequilas—but if you do decide on a shot or two, you’d also be wise to partake of an item or two from the handy, quick and delicious taco bar.

Upper Bidwell Park

CN&R file photo

2ND PLACE: Casa Ramos 216 W East Ave., 894-0119

2490 Park Ave., 893-5050

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

Place to Dance
1ST PLACE: LaSalles 229 Broadway, 893-1891

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

3RD PLACE: Lost On Main 319 Main St., 892-2445

Place to See a Play
1ST PLACE: The Blue Room Theatre 139 W. First St., 895-3749

The Blue Room offers some serious plays in an intimate atmosphere, and never fails to impress. It is the perfect place for a date, as the subject matter is often more adult in nature or theme and the theater is located near several good restaurants downtown. Sitting in the front row is risking getting spat on—that’s how intimate this place is—but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The theater is going through some changes but continues to draw a talented pool of actors, directors and crew.

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

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

Place to See a Movie
1ST PLACE: Tinseltown 801 East Ave., 879-9612

Movie-goers have chosen the Cinemark theater as their pick for watching the latest flicks. Tinseltown has 14 big screens on which to view beloved movie stars. Munch on the popcorn and down some soda while your ears throb with Dolby digital surround sound that practically rocks the floor.

2ND PLACE: Pageant Theatre 351 E. Sixth St., 343-0663

Sports Bar
1ST PLACE: The Graduate 344 W. Eighth St., 343-2790

The Graduate is a sports fan’s dream come true for a great game-day experience. Tucked into the south-campus neighborhood, the business draws students as well as families. Most often called The Grad, the sports bar is packed with more than a dozen televisions, four well-lit pool tables, a full bar and a selection of 50 beers on tap. The establishment also serves burgers, sandwiches, salads, a variety of finger food and daily specials.

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

Bike Path
1ST PLACE: Upper Bidwell Park

Rugged trails abound throughout the park. If an easy trail is what you desire, stick to the paved entrance road.

2ND PLACE: Lower Bidwell Park

3RD PLACE: Chico Airport path

1ST PLACE: Bidwell Park

Once the votes were tallied, there was no doubt CN&R readers are crazy about Bidwell Park. Not only did they vote it Best Hike, but the other two top vote-getters are specific trails or hikes within Chico’s 3,650-acre municipal park.

2ND PLACE: Monkey Face rock

3RD PLACE: North Rim trail

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

Deer are a common site at this 18-hole public course at the bottom of the foothills. Set in Big Chico Creek Canyon at the beginning of Upper Bidwell Park, the course offers a combination of beautiful scenery, reasonable green fees and challenging design. It 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

Hooker Oak Recreation Area

Photo By Brittni Zacher

3RD PLACE: Butte Creek Country Club 175 Estates Drive, 343-7979

Place for Billiards
1ST PLACE: Dino’s Billiards & Grill 319 Main St., 895-3466

Regulars refer to this downtown, downstairs watering hole and billiards club as Dino’s. Owner Ken Ridino, after whom the establishment is named, put countless hours, not to mention dollars, turning the bar/pool hall into a clean, top-of the-line club for sharks and novices alike. The tables are superior to anything around, and the staff is helpful and friendly.

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

3RD PLACE: Oasis Bar & Grill 1007 W. First St., 343-4305

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

Chicoans love In Motion Fitness and they proved it again this year, giving the fitness center top honors in three recreation categories, including Best Place to Work Out. In addition to free weights and cardio equipment, the gym offers pilates and yoga lessons. The club also has a full aquatics center with four pools and an indoor, regulation-size basketball court. Once tired after a good workout, simply sit back, relax and check out the fitness center’s butterfly atrium.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3RD PLACE: Emma Wilson Elementary School (tie) 1530 W. Eighth Ave.

3RD PLACE: Fit One Athletic Club (tie) 1026 Skyway, 898-8348

Place to Play Softball
1ST PLACE: Hooker Oak Recreation Area 1928 Manzanita Ave.

Hooker Oak is a nice family spot, with a playground, barbecues, a basketball court, horseshoe pits and of course the creek, but mild recreation is not what it’s most used for. Just follow the “pings” of aluminum bats in the summertime, and you’ll find the three-field complex where Chico Area Recreation District’s adult softball and baseball leagues and American Legion teams have games running constantly. When no games are scheduled, the fields are available for public play.

2ND PLACE: Community Park (East 20th Street)

3RD PLACE: Sycamore Field at One Mile Area Lower Bidwell Park

Sporting Event
1ST PLACE: Chico Outlaws

Few people can deny the charm of munching on a hot dog, sipping a cold beverage and cheering for the home team on a warm summer night. 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. It didn’t take long to get the fans back to Nettleton Stadium, a beautiful ballpark located on the Chico State campus. A championship season sure helps—congrats, Outlaws!

2ND PLACE: Chico Rooks

3RD PLACE: Chico State basketball


Charitable Cause

1ST PLACE: The ARC of Butte County
Through extensive programs and fundraising outlets, ARC has improved life in Butte County for countless families affected by developmental disabilities since 1953. By shopping at one of ARC’s business programs, which include a thrift store, antique store and trading company, community members support myriad services that aim to support the developmentally disabled and give them the tools needed for independence, socialization and confidence.

2ND PLACE: American Cancer Society 754 Mangrove Ave., 342-4567

Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

CN&R file photo

3RD PLACE: Boys & Girls Club of Chico 601 Wall St., 899-0335

Community Event
1ST PLACE: Farmers Markets

There’s just something about an open-air market that makes people happy. Whether you’re into Thursday nights through the heart of downtown or Saturday mornings on the edge of it, Chico’s market events bring people together. If you haven’t sampled the sights, smells, sounds and flavors, you must be a newcomer in need of initiation.

2ND PLACE: Taste of Chico

3RD PLACE: Friday Night Concerts in the Park

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

2ND PLACE: Greenfeet

3RD PLACE: Grilla Bites 119 W. Second St., 894-2691

196 Cohasset Road, 343-4876

Green Institution/Organization
1ST PLACE: Chico State University

Chico’s beloved university is taking top honors in our first-ever category of Green Institution/Organization. In the realm of sustainability, the efforts on campus, both by the administration and the students, are practically innumerable. The university is working to introduce aspects of sustainability throughout the entire curriculum, from anthropology to zoology, environmentally friendly structures are being built, and student ideas, including the annual This Way to Sustainability conference, have changed the culture of the campus and, in many aspects, the community.

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

3RD PLACE: Butte Environmental Council 116 W. Second St., 891-6424

Leader in Sustainability
1ST PLACE: Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. owner and founder

Ken Grossman has put Chico on the map for more reasons than his amazingly popular Sierra Nevada beer. The local businessman’s efforts to green his brewing operation, including the fuel cells, extensive recycling program and, most recently, a solar array, have earned the facility international recognition for its sustainable business practices.

2ND PLACE: Scott McNall, Chico State Institute for Sustainable Development executive director

3RD PLACE: Andy Holcombe, Chico mayor

Local Media Personality

He’s baaaaack! After more than two years away from Chico, Blair returned in March to reclaim his rightful place as Wake Up! weatherman. Viewers obviously missed him, because they promptly put him back atop the category he won the last time he was here, in 2004. We understand why: He’s like a good latte, perking people up without being excessively caffeinated or sickeningly sweet. The Weather Center is yours, Mr. Blair—use it well!


3RD PLACE: Tony Cox, KALF 95.7 FM

Public Art
1ST PLACE: Our Hands

It’s official: CN&R readers really do like the hands. Chico Municipal Center Public Art is paid for in the form of grants derived from taxes and developer fees and such, so naturally it’s controversial. The fingers are not as exquisitely proportioned as the original scale model submitted to the city and displayed to the public at the Chico Museum, but the intention was good, and the hands have seemed to grow on the public over the years—this is the project’s second win in as many years.

2ND PLACE: Downtown murals


Public Servant
1ST PLACE: Jane Dolan, county supervisor (tie)

1ST PLACE: Andy Holcombe, Chico mayor (tie)

We did a recount to make sure the tally was correct, and sure enough, the mayor of Chico and the chairwoman of the Butte County Board of Supervisors finished in a dead heat. They have a lot in common—Holcombe is an advocate for the homeless and service workers, and Dolan has long been a champion for Chapmantown and the Greenline. For a glimpse of both at their best, check out a DVD of the Dec. 19, 2006, City Council meeting (available at City Hall) and watch the fireworks …

3RD PLACE: Scott Gruendl, city councilman

Radio Station

CN&R readers love country music—surprised? We were a little when KZFR got displaced by KALF. The station’s motto is “today’s best country,” and its lineup boasts the Moo Crew morning show on weekdays, followed by the ever-popular Tony Cox. Special shows include Retro Country USA, Grand Ole Opry Weekend and Billboard’s Top Country Songs.



Thing about Chico
1ST PLACE: Bidwell Park

You probably guessed correctly on this category. What would Chico be without Bidwell Park? Not nearly as great, that’s for certain. The huge park is Chico’s most beautiful asset and a treasure for all nature-lovers. Thanks to Annie Bidwell’s donation of land that helped create the park, many generations in the 100-plus years since have enjoyed exploring its environment.

2ND PLACE: The people

3RD PLACE: The trees