Surprise, kids!

Chico Children’s Museum a welcome addition to downtown; plus, discovering a meat paradise in Oroville

I had an opportunity last week to stop by the recently opened Chico Children’s Museum downtown and get a tour of the facility. I must say, though I don’t have any kids of my own, it was still a really fun place to be.

It was a Thursday morning and the place was buzzing with activity. The museum is split into several different areas—one is a faux cafe where kids can get behind the counter and take orders; one is a vet’s office, where they can take X-rays and treat the animals’ ailments; another is a garden that needs tending.

In addition to those main areas, there’s a sensory room designed with autistic kids in mind and a space for smaller kids to romp around. Plans are in place, too, to create an upstairs space-themed room that links to the large tree house with a slide to bring kids back to the ground floor, according to Executive Director Leslie Amani, who showed me around.

I can still remember when The Underground slung records in that space on Main Street, between Third and Fourth, and I admit I questioned the vision for a museum in that area at first—but I’m pleased to have been proven wrong. Check it out Wednesday-Sunday for now—the museum is still in its soft-opening phase. Go to for more info.

They’ve got the meats I was traveling through Oroville gathering photos and updates for the CN&R’s upcoming issue of Discover Butte County recently when I came upon my own new discovery: Foothill Meat Co. What a great find! Employee Drew walked me through the place, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary, and told me they’re best known for their marinated tri-tips and handmade sausages.

I picked up a package of the chicken cordon bleu sausages on Drew’s recommendation and they made a seriously delicious dirty rice dinner this past weekend. I also tried the smoked pork belly, which was a nice accompaniment to my homemade ramen. A third purchase was more exotic and is awaiting my attention in the freezer: frog legs. (They also sell alligator as well as ground venison and elk.)

Last but not least was the “pork candy”: smoked bacon dipped in chocolate. Wow. The bacon is intensely smoky, so I actually preferred the white chocolate to the milk, but both made for a completely surprising—yet yummy—treat. Check this place out for yourself at 3311 Foothill Blvd.

Back in business I interviewed Anton and Chrystal Axelsson, the sweet and obviously hard-working couple behind the Old Barn Kitchen, a couple months ago (see “Second home,” 15 Minutes, Dec. 20, 2018) and I’m happy to announce that while they work on their Paradise space, they opened this week at 301 Main St. in Chico. I can’t wait to try their specialty Benedicts!

Speaking of reopening, the CN&R’s sales team recently launched a new feature called Rebuilding the Ridge, which provides a list of businesses that have reopened since the Camp Fire. Find it in the print version each week.