Best of Chico 2022: Food & Drinks

Concession stands—all you can eat!

New Clairvaux Vineyard

Asian Cuisine

FIRST Place: Ginger’s Restaurant
2201 Pillsbury Road, Ste. 100, 345-8862
Huge portions of Chinese restaurant standards, served by an attentive staff, make Ginger’s a local go-to spot. Fast and friendly service during the pandemic has made the restaurant a popular choice for to-go orders as well (see Best Takeout/Curbside and Best Delivery).
SECOND Place: Cocodine Thai Cuisine
2845 Notre Dame Blvd., Ste. 250, 891-1800
THIRD Place: Happy Garden Restaurant
1880 Cohasset Road, 893-2574

Bakery

FIRST Place: Upper Crust Bakery & Cafe
130 Main St., 895-3866
Upper Crust has been a downtown Chico staple for decades, but these days it might be best known for … vegetarian chili? The word “cafe” is in the name, after all, and Guy Fieri himself gave the dish a stamp of approval on his Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show. The downtown icon has a full menu of savory lunchtime faves in addition to its wedding cakes and case full of pastries.
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
1184 East Ave., 521-3284

Breakfast

FIRST Place: Cafe Coda
265 Humboldt Ave., (530) 566-9476
Chilaquiles? Pork belly Benedict? Yes, please! Cafe Coda’s inventive menu filled with Mexican/American/farm-fresh fusion breakfasts draws the crowds to the outskirts of downtown. Now open seven days a week and featuring a beautiful outdoor patio.
SECOND Place: Morning Thunder Cafe
352 Vallombrosa Ave., 342-9717
THIRD Place: Mom’s Restaurant
209 Salem St., 893-3447

Brunch

FIRST Place: Nash’s Restaurant
1717 Esplanade, 896-1147
Nash’s 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 to chicken-and-waffles.
SECOND Place: Mom’s Restaurant
209 Salem St., 893-3447
THIRD Place: Cafe Coda
265 Humboldt Ave., 566-9476

Burger

FIRST Place: Burgers and Brew
301 Broadway, 879-9100
One of Burgers and Brew’s big burgers not only delivers a fine half-pound slab of Niman Ranch beef; there’s also the bun, which soaks up savory juices by the time it reaches the table. It’s two meals in one. Add a side of fries—regular, curly or sweet potato—and it’s three meals. That’s before selecting one of the craft-beer choices from the seemingly endless line of taps … or, for the designated driver, hard-to-find Abita root beer.
SECOND Place: Nobby’s
1444 Park Ave., 342-2285
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
In Chico, you can get a real fight arguing over who makes the best burrito. There are as many opinions as there are food trucks, taquerias and sit-down Mexican restaurants. Aca Taco could make a stand against all comers, however, as its oversized burritos hold onto the title for the eighth straight year.
SECOND Place: Gordo Burrito
1295 E. 8th St., 809-1211
THIRD Place: Tacos Mary
429 Ivy St., 892-8176

Caterer

FIRST Place: Bacio Catering
1903 Park Ave., 345-7787
For anyone who’s attended a local wedding or work party, odds are Bacio was probably there. Owner Erika Montanez’s business is the go-to catering company in town, feeding Chico revelers with creative, fresh-made and beautifully presented spreads.
SECOND Place: Butte Creek BBQ
14 W. Eaton Road, Ste. 160, 990-0023
THIRD Place: Special Times Catering
2500 Floral Ave., Ste. 10, 865-4866

Cheap Eats

FIRST Place: La Comida
954 Mangrove Ave., 345-2254
The lines out the door don’t lie. 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: In-N-Out Burger
2050 Business Lane, (800) 786-1000

Chef

FIRST Place: Ann Leon (Canyon Oaks Country Club)
999 Yosemite Drive, 343-2582
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. Leon now creates feasts at Canyon Oaks Country Club, where she’s been the executive chef since December.
SECOND Place: James Taylor (Sicilian Cafe)
1020 Main St., 345-2233
THIRD Place: Jason Colabove (Crush)
201 Broadway, Ste. 200, 342-7000

Sicilian Cafe

Craft Beer Selection

FIRST Place: The Chico Taproom
2201 Pillsbury Road, Ste. 114, 774-2943
The Chico Taproom has become the hub of an Almond Orchard scene that includes fellow Best of winners Ginger’s (Best Asian Cuisine) and El Guayacan Mexican Restaurant (Best Mexican Cuisine), both of which can be enjoyed at the beer bar that allows outside food to go along with its 40 taps of craft beer focused on West Coast breweries.
SECOND Place: The Commons Social Empourium
2412 Park Ave., 774-2999
THIRD Place: Secret Trail Brewing Co.
132 Meyers St., Ste. 120, 487-8151

Delivery

FIRST Place: Ginger’s Restaurant
2201 Pillsbury Road, Ste. 100, 345-8862
See Best Asian Cuisine.
SECOND Place: Entree Express
chicoentreeexpess.com
THIRD Place: Door Dash
doordash.com

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 an extensive menu of 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

Fine Dining

FIRST Place: 5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328
The answer to the “I feel like a steak” craving in Chico is 5th Street Steakhouse. The perennial fine dining champ is a local icon (see also, Best Local Restaurant), a favorite destination for special-occasion splurges and regular-occasion beef hankerings.
SECOND Place: Red Tavern
1250 Esplanade, 894-3463
THIRD Place: Crush
201 Broadway, Ste. 200, 342-7000

Food Server

FIRST Place: Myah Firch – Mom’s Restaurant
Though she left the restaurant this summer, Myah Firch made a big impression on her customers and Mom’s, which marked her six years at the downtown brunch spot with a glowing farewell on its Facebook page.
SECOND Place: Josh Smith – The Rawbar
THIRD Place: Amanda Blankenship – Deja Vu Breakfast Company

Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt

FIRST Place: Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy
178 E. Seventh St., 342-7163
Nothing paints a nostalgic picture of Chico like a summer-evening hangout on the benches in front of Shubert’s, the ice cream and candy shop that’s been in business since 1938.
SECOND Place: Jon & Bon’s Yogurt Shoppe
Multiple locations
THIRD Place: La Flor de Michoacan Paletería y Nevería
Multiple locations

La Comida

International Cuisine

FIRST Place: Priya Indian Cuisine
2574 Esplanade, 899-1055
To say that Priya is a staple 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
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
Part of what makes the Sicilian Cafe’s food so perfect is consistency. Chef James Taylor has been at the stove in South Chico for 38 years! Soon, though, the local favorites—Calamari Originale, Chicken Americana—will be created in a bigger downtown location (with a full bar!) when the restaurant makes a big move in the coming months.
SECOND Place: Crush
201 Broadway, Ste. 200, 342-7000
THIRD Place: Italian Cottage
2234 Esplanade, 343-7000

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 your brewery will be looked upon favorably, if not reverently, on your home turf. 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.
1950 Market Place, 982-2016

Local Coffee House

FIRST Place: Stoble Coffee
418 Broadway, 513-5547
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: Daycamp Coffee
1925 Market Place, Ste. 150, 636-4283
THIRD Place: Bidwell Perk
664 W. First Ave., 899-1500

Local Restaurant – Chico

FIRST Place: 5th Street Steakhouse
345 W. Fifth St., 891-6328
See Best Fine Dining.
SECOND Place: Ginger’s Restaurant
2201 Pillsbury Road, Ste. 100, 345-8862
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 still killing it! This spot in historic downtown Oroville, featuring one of the most beautiful patios in the 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: Ethan’s Eatery
2275 Myers St., Oroville, 854-4348

Local Winery – Regional

FIRST Place: New Clairvaux Vineyard
26240 7th St., Vina, 839-2200
The winery/vineyard within the Vina monastery celebrated the recent harvest with the annual Blessing of the Grapes ceremony in July, and New Clairvaux also is celebrating the success of its wines. Between its own portfolio and the collection of its sister line, Aimée Wines, a dozen varieties have received a score of 90 or more in competitions. A box with the whole dozen is now available for purchase.
SECOND Place: Almendra Winery & Distillery
925 Midway, Durham, 343-6893
THIRD Place: LaRocca Vineyards
12360 Doe Mill Road, Forest Ranch, 899-9463

Live Life Juice Co.

Locally Produced Food – Regional

FIRST Place: Live Life Juice Co.
220 Broadway, 566-3346; 2279 Springfield Drive, Ste. 150, 809-2635
Freshly squeezed, 100 percent organic, in-season fruit and vegetable juices: the recipe for success in Chico. Live Life is available at local farmers’ markets, online and at two local shops—including a new location at Meriam Park.
SECOND Place: GRUB CSA Farm
11630 Dairy Road, 680-4543
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 Chico locations of Tea Bar (also in Sacramento and Redding) are regularly packed for lunch by folks who want hearty, healthful meals, which the menu of wraps and bowls provides. Oh, and there’s tea! Lots of teas!
SECOND Place: Broadway Heights
300 Broadway, 899-8075
THIRD Place: Spiteri’s Deli
971 East Ave., 891-4797

Mexican Cuisine

FIRST Place: El Guayacan Mexican Restaurant
2201 Pillsbury Road, Ste. 124, 893-3777
El Guayacan is the place for sit-down Mexican food in North Chico. Nestled in the heart of the Almond Orchard shopping center, its relaxed vibe and big plates of nearly every classic dish available have online reviewers raving: “We have tried about everything on the menu and it is all delicious! Our go to: chicken enchiladas with beans and rice. You cannot go wrong!”
SECOND Place: La Hacienda
2635 Esplanade, 893-8270
THIRD Place: Aca Taco
Two locations: 133 Broadway, 894-0191; 1000 W. Sacramento Ave., Ste. D, 343-0909

Deja Vu Breakfast Company

Munchies

FIRST Place: Midnite Munchies
234 W. Third St.,
Midnite Munchies started in 2010 as a late-night snack-delivery service, moved into the kiosk in the Nord Safeway center in 2019 and as of this past May is slinging its cookies, cheesecakes and other treats from a new spot in downtown Chico.
midnite-munchies.com
SECOND Place: Crumbl Cookies

855 East Ave., Ste. 220, 230-9361
THIRD Place: Insomnia Cookies
305 Main St., 364-5220

New Eatery (opened in last year)

FIRST Place: Deja Vu Breakfast Company
3221 Esplanade, 287-5660
Opening a new restaurant is a challenge during the best of times, but opening during a pandemic would seem impossible. Owner Christian Griffith and his Deja Vu Breakfast Company have seemed to defy the odds, capturing Chico’s imagination and packing its dining room with breakfast/brunch-lovers taken with their creative take—everything from cookies-and-cream pancakes to chorizo-and-cheese waffles.
SECOND Place: Om on the Range
301 Main St., 487-8150
THIRD Place: Gnarly Deli
243 S. Second St., 433-4415

Patio

FIRST Place: The Pour House
855 East Ave., Ste. 270, 893-3000
With its Jumbotron-sized TV and outdoor bar, the lively Pour House patio is the place to be when a big game is on.
SECOND Place: La Salles
229 Broadway, 487-7207
THIRD Place: Red Tavern
1250 Esplanade, 894-3463

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, aromatic and tasty, a great complement to the rest of the simple menu of grilled meats and egg rolls.
SECOND Place: Vietnam Bistro
788 East Ave., 433-7108
THIRD Place: The Banshee
134 W. Second St.

Pizza

FIRST Place: Celestino’s
New York Pizza
101 Salem St., 896-1234; and 1354 East Ave., Ste. 5, 345-7700
Celestino’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: Woodstock’s Pizza
240 Main St., 893-1500
THIRD Place: Farm Star Pizza
2359 Esplanade, 343-2056

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 has been around for 44 years. Huge, traditional sandwiches served with a wide selection of deli sides have made this shop a Chico institution.
SECOND Place: Fast Eddie’s Sandwich Shop
1175 East Ave., 342-8558
THIRD Place: The Redwood Sandwich Co.
1354 East Ave., Ste. U, 965-5293

Street Food

FIRST Place: Tacos El Pinolero
Two locations: 275 E. Park Ave.; Esplanade & Tonea Way
With trucks on the north and south ends of town, El Pinolero is always near. The menu is diverse; standout fare includes the perfectly prepared carnitas tacos topped with onions and cilantro. What makes the little pork nuggets even tastier is the sauce, a red concoction that has just the right amount of spice.
SECOND Place: Gordo Burrito
Eighth & Pine streets
THIRD Place: Gnarly Deli
Locations vary (facebook.com/gnarlydeli)

Sushi

FIRST Place: Big Tuna Sushi Bistro
1722 Mangrove Ave., Ste. 18, 345-4571
Yes, Big Tuna is a sushi joint, and the award here is for Best Sushi, but feast on this: the Japanese taco, with a choice of crab mix, spicy tuna, avocado or tofu in a tempura eggplant shell with sriracha, spicy mayo and cheese. Of course, Big Tuna has all the nigiri, rolls and sashimi anyone could want, with chefs who love to get creative.
SECOND Place: Japanese Blossoms
2995 Esplanade, Ste. 104, 891-9022
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 Best Burrito.
SECOND Place: Aztlan
Two locations: 1645 Park Ave., 487-7062; 2599 Esplanade, 965-5984
THIRD Place: J’s Tacos and Beer
900 Cherry St., 717-6300

Pho C&C

Takeout/Curbside

FIRST Place: Ginger’s Restaurant
2201 Pillsbury Road, Ste. 100, 345-8862
See Best Asian Cuisine.
SECOND Place: La Hacienda
2635 Esplanade, 893-8270
THIRD Place: Tea Bar & Fusion Cafe
Two locations: 250 Vallombrosa Ave., 895-8100; 555 Flying V St., Ste. 1, 809-1545

Vegetarian Cuisine

FIRST Place: Om on the Range
301 Main St., 487-8150
Chico’s favorite vegetarian restaurant has grown again, in size and in name. OM Foods is in a new downtown spot under the banner of Om on the Range. The local staple still specializes in fresh, organic and GMO-free foods, with a menu that is largely meat-free—now with more room in its corner spot. Another addition: a packed calendar of live dance-friendly music.
SECOND Place: Live Life Juice Co.
220 Broadway, 566-3346
THIRD Place: Priya Indian Cuisine
2574 Esplanade, 899-1055

Click here for more Best of Chico 2022.

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