Best of Chico 2021: Food & Drinks

A bounty of sustenance and flavor from our resilient culinary and beverage establishments

Drunken Dumpilng

New Eatery (opened in last year)

FIRST Place: Drunken Dumpling
1414 Park Ave., 774-2173
Fans of the popular food truck were very stoked that Drunken Dumpling went brick-and-mortar last year. With a hip, fun space and greatly expanded hours, the slow-food restaurant can now offer excellent dumplings, baos and noodle bowls to even more people craving its Asian-fusion flavors.
SECOND Place: Stoble Coffee Roasters
418 Broadway, 513-5547
THIRD Place: Deja Vu Breakfast Company
3221 Esplanade, 287-5660

Bakery

FIRST Place: Upper Crust Bakery & Cafe
130 Main St., 895-3866
Over the years, locals have grown to trust The Crust for all their bakery needs. But the downtown icon is more than wedding cakes and pastries. The deli case is stuffed with sandwiches and a wide variety of salads, and the vegetarian chili even has Guy Fieri’s stamp of approval.
SECOND Place: Tin Roof Bakery
637 Broadway, Ste. 170, 892-2893
THIRD Place: Lovely Layers Cakery
131 Meyers St., 828-9931

Barbecue

FIRST Place: Smokin’ Mo’s BBQ
131 Broadway, 891-6677
At Smokin’ Mo’s, the secret is in the sauces—four distinct signature flavors that can be slathered on just about anything on the menu, from the mouth-watering pork ribs to shredded pork, beef or chicken sandwiches to the crave-worthy tri-tip salad.
SECOND Place: Kinder’s BBQ
1369 East Ave., 342-3354
THIRD Place: Bootleg BBQ & Catering
1184 East Ave., 521-3284

Breakfast

FIRST Place: Cafe Coda
265 Humboldt Ave., (530) 566-9476
While some restaurateurs rushed to open under constantly changing COVID restrictions, Cafe Coda owner Eric Danielli opted to stay closed, partly due to concerns for customer and employee safety. Long-time fans endured the wait and are once again enjoying their favorite Mexican/American/farm-fresh fusion breakfasts, as well as an added outdoor patio.
SECOND Place: Sin of Cortez
2290 Esplanade, 879-9200
THIRD Place: Mom’s Restaurant
209 Salem St., 893-3447

Brunch

FIRST Place: Nash’s Restaurant
1717 Esplanade, 896-1147
Nash’s omelet house always serves up a mean breakfast, but on the weekends it takes things a step further with bottomless bubbly alongside its huge morning menu, featuring everything from Benedicts and scrambles to chilaquiles and chicken-and-waffles.
SECOND Place: Cafe Coda
265 Humboldt Ave., 566-9476
THIRD Place: Mom’s Restaurant
209 Salem St., 893-3447

Burger

FIRST Place: Nobby’s
1444 Park Ave., 342-2285
Even if it weren’t for the salty, fried, crunchy-yet-chewy cheese skirt that’s bound to come up any time Nobby’s is mentioned, the no-frills Park Avenue eatery serves up old-school, made-to-order, mouthwatering burgers. And, OMG, the cheese skirt really is some next-level hamburger magic.
SECOND Place: Burgers and Brew
301 Broadway, 879-9100
THIRD Place: Burger Hut
Two locations: 3211 Cohasset Road, 342-4555; 2451 Forest Ave., 891-1430

Burrito

FIRST Place: Aca Taco
Two locations: 133 Broadway, 894-0191; 1000 W. Sacramento Ave., Ste. D, 343-0909
Burritos qualify as a food staple in Chico, so winning this category is no small feat. Aca Taco holds onto its title for the seventh straight year because the ingredients are top notch and the burritos are huge!
SECOND Place: Gordo Burrito
1295 E. 8th St., 809-1211
THIRD Place: La Cocina Economica
905 Wall St., 809-0370

Gnarly Deli

Asian Cuisine

FIRST Place: Drunken Dumpling
1414 Park Ave., 774-2173
See New Restaurant.
SECOND Place: Happy Garden Restaurant
1880 Cohasset Road, 893-2574
THIRD Place: Cocodine Thai Cuisine
2845 Notre Dame Blvd., Ste. 250, 891-1800

Caterer

FIRST Place: Bacio Catering, Takeout & Eatery
1903 Park Ave., 345-7787
In Chico, special events and Bacio Catering go hand in hand. Owner Erika Montañez’s business has woven itself into the fabric of the community with creative, fresh-made menus for all of life’s important occasions: weddings, birthdays, memorials and community events.
SECOND Place: Butte Creek BBQ Co.
14 W. Eaton Road, Ste. 160, 990-0023
THIRD Place: Roots Catering
590 Capay Ave., 891-4500

Cheap Eats

FIRST Place: La Comida
954 Mangrove Ave.
For more than 50 years, this institution of institutions has served gut-busting plates of Mexican food to generations of Chico families at very affordable prices.
SECOND Place: Aca Taco
Two locations: 133 Broadway, 894-0191; 1000 W. Sacramento Ave., Ste. D, 343-0909
THIRD Place: La Cocina Economica
905 Wall St., 809-0370

Chef

FIRST Place: Ann Leon (Almendra Winery & Distillery)
925 Midway, Durham, 343-6893
Chef Ann Leon made a name for herself locally with her former restaurant, Leon Bistro, where she won over Chico with Mediterranean-influenced dishes and frequent cooking classes. Since closing her place, she’s created menus at Burban Kitchen in Meriam Park and, as of November, at the popular Almendra Winery & Distillery.
SECOND Place: James Taylor (Sicilian Cafe)
1020 Main St., 345-2233
THIRD Place: Lisa Sereda (Wine Time)
26 Lost Dutchman Drive, 899-9250

Craft Beer Selection

FIRST Place: The Commons Social Empourium
2412 Park Ave., 774-2999
A huge selection of beers on taps that are all self serve? Can that possibly be beat? The stylish patio, live music and house-made pizzas don’t hurt, either.
SECOND Place: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
1075 E. 20th St., 893-3520
THIRD Place: Secret Trail Brewing Co.
132 Meyers St., Ste. 120, 487-8151

Delivery

FIRST Place: Entree Express
chicoentreeexpess.com
One of the few comforts amid the sheltering-during-pandemic times: Our favorite foods (and drinks) from local restaurants were brought fresh to our doors by Entree Express drivers who deserve a salute—and fat tips—for returning to the frontlines over and over.
SECOND Place: Door Dash
doordash.com
THIRD Place: Ginger’s Restaurant
2201 Pillsbury Road, Ste. 100, 345-8862

Diner

FIRST Place: Cozy Diner
1695 Mangrove Ave., 895-1195
Whether it’s breakfast at suppertime or a broasted chicken at lunch, Cozy Diner serves down-home comfort food 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
SECOND Place: Morning Thunder Cafe
352 Vallombrosa Ave., 342-9717
THIRD Place: The Roost Cafe
1144 Park Ave., 892-1281

Midnite Munchies

Fine Dining

FIRST Place: 5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328
For fine—but not stuffy—dining in a fun atmosphere, 5th Street is Chico’s favorite restaurant for special occasions. Enjoy perfectly cooked slabs of rib-eye and maybe a well-executed cocktail … or three.
SECOND Place: Red Tavern
1250 Esplanade, 894-3463
THIRD Place: Crush Italian Cuisine & Lounge
201 Broadway, Ste. 200, 342-7000

Food Server (name and location)

FIRST Place: Christina Souza – Kalico Kitchen
2396 Esplanade, 343-3968
People love Christina Souza for her friendliness and kindness. She goes out of her way for all of her diners, but she’s particularly fond of the little ones—she’s often spied doing extra favors to make children feel special.
SECOND Place: Doliver Adkins – Sierra Nevada Brewing Co./The Rawbar
1075 E. 20th St., 893-3520; 346 Broadway, 897-0626
THIRD Place: Pablo Trenado – Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill/Parkside Tap House
100 Broadway, 342-0425; 115 W. Third St., 636-4239

Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt

FIRST Place: Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy
178 E. Seventh St., 342-7163
Ice cream in Chico is almost synonymous with the name Shubert’s. There’s nothing quite as refreshing on a hot summer day as a cold scoop of Chico Mint enjoyed on one of the benches in front of the shop that’s been in business since 1938.
SECOND Place: Jon & Bon’s Yogurt Shoppe
Multiple locations
THIRD Place: La Flor De Michoacán Paletería y Nevería
Multiple locations

International Cuisine

FIRST Place: Priya Indian Cuisine
2574 Esplanade, 899-1055
To say that Priya is a cornerstone of the local food scene is an understatement. The impressive menu features both north and south Indian dishes, and the exceedingly popular lunch buffet is just plain irresistible.
SECOND Place: Cocodine Thai Cuisine
2845 Notre Dame Blvd., Ste. 250, 891-1800
THIRD Place: Drunken Dumpling
1414 Park Ave., 774-2173

Italian Cuisine

FIRST Place: Sicilian Cafe
1020 Main St., 345-2233
It is hard to believe that this south Chico staple has been in business for 37 years! Though the local favorites—Calamari Originale, Chicken Americana—will always be on the menu, chef/owner James Taylor keeps things fresh with regular specials to be enjoyed in the intimate dining room or on the creekside patio.
SECOND Place: Italian Cottage
2234 Esplanade, 343-7000
THIRD Place: Crush Italian Cuisine & Lounge
201 Broadway, Ste. 200, 342-7000

Local Brewery – Regional

FIRST Place: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
1075 E. 20th St., 893-3520
If your beers are considered among the finest on the entire planet, it’s safe to say that your brewery will be looked upon favorably, if not reverently, in your home town. Chicoans adore Sierra Nevada and its community-minded approach to creating great beer.
SECOND Place: Secret Trail Brewing Co.
132 Meyers St., Ste. 120, 487-8151
THIRD Place: Farmers Brewing Co.
880 County Road WW, Princeton, 982-2016

Union Patio Bar & Grill

Local Coffee House

FIRST Place: Stoble Coffee Roasters
418 Broadway, 513-5547
Check out the new kids on the block! Stoble has made a name for itself quickly, serving up fine house-roasted coffee and wonderful baked goodies (courtesy of Camina Bakery) in a gorgeous, expansive space that includes a rooftop patio.
SECOND Place: Naked Lounge
118 W. Second St., 965-5908
THIRD Place: Daycamp Coffee
1925 Market Place, Ste. 150, 636-4283

Local Restaurant – Chico

FIRST Place: 5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328
See Fine Dining.
SECOND Place: Drunken Dumpling
1414 Park Ave., 774-2173
THIRD Place: Grana Wood Fired Foods
198 E. Second St., 809-2304

Local Restaurant – Oroville

FIRST Place: Union Patio Bar & Grill
2053 Montgomery St., Oroville, 693-4388
The Union is killing it! This spot in historic downtown Oroville, featuring one of the most beautiful patios in Butte County, serves up decadent elevated pub fare, cocktails and a wide variety of live music.
SECOND Place: Tong Fong Low
2051 Robinson St., Oroville, 533-1488
THIRD Place: Feather Falls Brewing Co.
3 Alverda Drive, Oroville, 534-4050

Local Winery – Regional

FIRST Place: Almendra Winery and Distillery
925 Midway, Durham, 343-6893
The folks behind Bertagna Son Kissed Vineyards—Berton and Carol Bertagna—have created a beautiful destination winery in Durham with their Almendra venture. In addition to their portfolio of wines, they also feature a wide selection of spirits, distilled in vintage equipment on-site.
SECOND Place: New Clairvaux Vineyard
26240 7th St., Vina, 839-2200
THIRD Place: Gale Vineyards
9345 Stanford Lane, Durham, 891-1264

Locally Produced Food – Regional

FIRST Place: GRUB CSA Farm
11630 Dairy Road, 680-4543
The same pesticide-free, ecologically farmed produce available to GRUB’s community supported agriculture subscribers can also be found at local farmers’ markets. Best of all, the veggies and fruits—harvested at the peak of flavor and sold directly to customers—taste amazing.
SECOND Place: Live Life Juice Co.
220 Broadway, 566-3346
THIRD Place: Chico Chai
1919 Park Ave., 897-0822

Lunch

FIRST Place: Tea Bar & Fusion Cafe
Two locations: 250 Vallombrosa Ave., 895-8100; 555 Flying V St., Ste. 1, 809-1545
Both Tea Bar locations are regularly packed for lunch by locals who want hearty, healthful meals, which their menu of wraps and bowls provides. Oh, and there’s tea! Lots of teas—in sparkling, steamed, iced and frosted forms.
SECOND Place: Broadway Heights
300 Broadway, 899-8075
THIRD Place: OM Foods
142 Broadway, 965-5263

Mexican Cuisine

FIRST Place: Sol Mexican Grill
3269 Esplanade, 342-4616
Come to Sol for the So Cal burrito, with carne asada and french fries. Then go home and nap. Then wake up and dive into the other half of the monster that was as big as your forearm! The north Chico restaurant has a full menu of freshly made Mexican favorites—none skimping on the ingredients.
SECOND Place: La Hacienda
2635 Esplanade, 893-8270
THIRD Place: El Guayacan Mexican Restaurant
2201 Pillsbury Road, Ste. 124, 893-3777

Munchies

FIRST Place: Midnite Munchies
1008 W. Sacramento St., 514-3345
Midnite Munchies has been delivering fresh-baked treats to Chico doorsteps into the late hours since 2010, operating largely via word-of-mouth. The secret has been out since 2019, when the business established a kiosk in the Nord Safeway center, which is open late slinging sweets ranging from cheesecake to milkshakes.
SECOND Place: Insomnia Cookies
305 Main St., 364-5220
THIRD Place: Crumbl Cookies
855 East Ave., Ste. 220, 230-9361

Patio

★FIRST Place and Living Legend (five-year winning streak): The Pour House
855 East Ave., Ste. 270, 893-3000
Doesn’t The Pour House win for the TV alone? It’s as big as a billboard! When a big game is on, the outdoor bar is open and the sun goes down, the big, lively patio is the place to be.
SECOND Place: La Salles
229 Broadway, 487-7207
THIRD Place: Parkside Tap House
115 W. Third St., 636-4239

Pho

FIRST Place: Pho C&C
3211 Cohasset Road, Ste. 110, 892-1415.
Pho—the Vietnamese noodle soup of broth, meat, vegetables and herbs—is a thing of beauty. The gorgeous, fresh ingredients at Pho C&C are especially fetching, and aromatic, and tasty, and a great complement to the rest of the straightforward menu of grilled meats and egg rolls.
SECOND Place: Vietnam Bistro
788 East Ave., 433-7108
THIRD Place: Everyday Vietnamese Cuisine
951 Nord Ave. (recently closed)

Japanese Blossoms

Pizza

FIRST Place: Celestino’s New York Pizza
101 Salem St., 896-1234; 1354 East Ave., Ste. 5, 345-7700
Celestino’s New York Pizza’s original location in downtown Chico opened in 1997, and the restaurant’s thin crust, Big Apple-style pies have been a local favorite ever since. Popular pizzas—sold by the slice or whole pie—include the meaty Tom Jones, the vegetarian Godfather and Celestino’s jalapeno-adorned take on a classic Hawaiian, Oscar’s Spicy Luau.
SECOND Place: Farm Star Pizza
2359 Esplanade, 343-2056
THIRD Place: Woodstock’s Pizza
240 Main St., 893-1500

Sandwich

FIRST Place: Spiteri’s Deli
971 East Ave., 891-4797
Spiteri’s might be kind of a “hidden gem,” tucked into an out-of-the-way strip mall on the north side of Highway 99, but the longstanding local icon is anything but a secret. Huge, traditional sandwiches served with a wide selection of deli sides have made this shop a Chico fave for many years.
SECOND Place: Fast Eddie’s Sandwich Shop
1175 East Ave., 342-8558
THIRD Place: Kona’s
965 Nord Ave., 894-1635; 138 Main St., 893-4344

Street Food

FIRST Place: Gnarly Deli
Locations vary (facebook.com/gnarlydeli)
First rule of Gnarly Deli: No french fries. (Carting around a fryer in a food truck is not fun.) Second rule of Gnarly Deli: Hot dogs are sammiches. Third rule? There are no more rules for the local fave with the endlessly creative menu of bread plus a bunch of good stuff, e.g., the Ooo Mommy Dog (with nori and teriyaki sauce); or the Liz Lemon, with pastrami, turkey breast, coleslaw, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese and potato chips on sourdough.
SECOND Place: Gordo Burrito
Eighth & Pine streets
THIRD Place: Tacos El Pinolero
Esplanade & Tonea Way

Sushi

FIRST Place: Japanese Blossoms
2995 Esplanade, Ste. 104, 891-9022
Creating sushi is an art that takes years to master, and Japanese Blossoms has made a name for itself in Chico with his fun, creative menu. The art at his acclaimed restaurant ranges from simple sashimi (fish only) to nigiri (fish on rice) and, maybe most impressive, specialty rolls.
SECOND Place: Big Tuna Sushi Bistro
1722 Mangrove Ave., Ste. 18, 345-4571
THIRD Place: The Rawbar
346 Broadway, 897-0626

Taco

FIRST Place: Aca Taco
Two locations: 133 Broadway, 894-0191; 1000 W. Sacramento Ave., Ste. D, 343-0909
See Burrito.
SECOND Place: Gordo Burrito
1295 E. 8th St., 809-1211
THIRD Place: Aztlan
Two locations: 1645 Park Ave., 487-7062; 2599 Esplanade, 965-5984

Takeout/Curbside

FIRST Place: Bacio Catering, Takeout & Eatery
1903 Park Ave., 345-7787
See Caterer.
SECOND Place: Ginger’s Restaurant
2201 Pillsbury Road, Ste. 100, 345-8862
THIRD Place: La Hacienda
2635 Esplanade, 893-8270

Vegetarian Cuisine

FIRST Place: OM Foods
142 Broadway, 965-5263
OM Foods specializes in fresh, organic and GMO-free foods, with a menu that is largely meat-free. Regulars swear by the Slawchos—vegan “nachos” with corn chips, brown rice, pinto beans, cabbage slaw, avocado, cashew cheese, cilantro sauce, chipotle sauce, salsa, cilantro, green onion and lime wedge.
SECOND Place: Live Life Juice Co.
220 Broadway, 566-3346
THIRD Place: Pizza Riot
206 Walnut St., Ste. A, 712-164

More Best of Chico 2021:
Best of Chico 2021: The Comeback
Best of Chico 2021: Readers’ Choice winners: Goods & Services
Best of Chico 2021: Readers’ Choice winners: Nightlife & The Arts
Best of Chico 2021: Readers’ Choice winners: Health & Wellness
Best of Chico 2021: Readers’ Choice winners: Community
Best of Chico 2021: Critics’ Choice winners

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