Best of Chico 2022: Nightlife & The Arts

Crowd-pleasers in the center ring

North State Ballet (Photo by Ken Pordes)

Art Space

FIRST Place: 1078 Gallery
1710 Park Ave., 630-7522
The 1078 Gallery’s community-building efforts seem to have hit full-stride in the post-lockdown era. By partnering at the Park Avenue space with Equilateral Coffee and Harvests & Habitats Nursery, the gallery has created a de facto community center in South Chico where artsy types can socialize and check out the latest exhibits of “contemporary an experimental artworks” beyond the previously limited hours.
SECOND Place: Museum of Northern California Art (MONCA)
900 Esplanade, 487-7272
THIRD Place: Chico Art Center
540 Orange St., Ste. 6, 895-8726


FIRST Place: Argus Bar + Patio
212 W. Second St., 332-9914
The low-key, swanky atmosphere inside Argus Bar + Patio is just about perfect, and the back patio, with its vine-covered stone walls and wide-open seating, is even better. Also a favorite live venue for an eclectic range of local and visiting musicians.
SECOND Place: Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718
THIRD Place: The Banshee
134 W. Second St.

Bloody Mary

FIRST Place: Mom’s Restaurant
209 Salem St., 893-3447
They say that people always prefer their Bloody Mary’s the way their mom made them. Er, wait, maybe that’s potato salad. Regardless, Mom’s offers the beloved libation four different ways, including classic and cucumber-heavy versions.
SECOND Place: Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718
THIRD Place: Unwined Kitchen & Bar
980 Mangrove Ave., 809-2634

Casino – Regional

FIRST Place: Rolling Hills Casino
2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning, 528-3500
It’s more than just games of chance that make Rolling Hills Casino a valley favorite. The casino also offers excellent lodging, a variety of dining experiences (from fine cuisine to Fatburger) and kick-ass live entertainment at its Obsidian Spirits Amphitheater.
SECOND Place: Feather Falls Casino
3 Alverda Dr., Oroville, 533-3885
THIRD Place: Gold Country Casino Resort
4020 Olive Hwy, Oroville, 334-9400

Dance Company/Studio

FIRST Place: North State Ballet
2400 Notre Dame Blvd., 774-2364
In addition to intensive, professional-level training for future prima ballerinas, North State Ballet offers lessons and programs for dancers of all ages and skill levels. It’s not just ballet, either, as the studio also offers opportunities to learn styles ranging from acro (acrobatic dance) to hip-hop to tap.
SECOND Place: Hype Dance Studio
1033 Mangrove Ave., 898-8789
THIRD Place: Kinetics Academy of Dance & Gymnastics
627 Broadway, Ste. 100, 345-2505

Happy Hour

FIRST Place: The Pour House
855 East Ave., Ste. 270, 893-3000
If you want to get into semantics, then The Pour House should win for best happy hours; the place offers two separate multi-hour happy times,
3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m. until closing, featuring discounts on drinks and appetizers.
SECOND Place: Crush
201 Broadway, Ste. 200, 342-7000
THIRD Place: La Salles
229 Broadway, 487-7207

Argus Bar + Patio

Local Music Act

FIRST Place: Smokey the Groove
For the second year running, energetic jammers Smokey the Groove have clinched the title of Chico’s best Local Music Act. The half-dozen strong band continues to wow audiences at venues and festivals throughout the region with their delightful, horn-heavy, danceable “rage funk.”
SECOND Place: Hot Flash
THIRD Place: Blü Egyptian

Local Visual Artist

FIRST Place: Janet Lombardi Blixt
Janet Lombardi Blixt is not just beloved for her colorful paintings but also for sharing her knowledge. She has offered art classes to children and adults at her Chico Art School and Gallery (261 E. Third Street) for more than a decade.
SECOND Place: Ama Posey
THIRD Place (tie): Caitlin Schwerin
THIRD Place (tie): Zak Elstein


FIRST Place: Tres Hombres
100 Broadway, 342-0425
With it’s expansive list of varieties of the classic—including various fresh-fruit flavors (peach, melon, banana, etc.)—plus more than 120 types of tequila and seasoned mixologists, perpetual local favorite Tres Hombres remains El Rey de Margaritas in Chico.
SECOND Place: La Hacienda
2635 Esplanade, 893-8270
THIRD Place: Casa Ramos
216 W. East Ave., Ste. C, 894-0119


FIRST Place: Pablo Trenado Jr.
Parkside Tap House, 115 W. Third St., 636-4239; Tres Hombres, 100 Broadway, 342-0425
The talented and smiling Pablo Trenado Jr., Chico’s new top mixologist, is a beloved mainstay at two downtown hot spots. You’ll find him behind the bar at both Parkside Tap House and Tres Hombres, making drinks as well as friends.
SECOND Place: Stephanie Sosa
Argus Bar + Patio, 212 W. Second St., 332-9914
THIRD Place: Wendy Reid
Studio Inn Lounge, 2582 Esplanade, 343-0662


FIRST Place: Museum of Northern California Art (MONCA)
900 Esplanade, 487-7272
Housed in the beautiful and historic Veterans Memorial Hall (a landmark since it was built in 1927), the Museum of Northern California Art (MONCA) celebrated its fifth anniversary this year. The top-of-the line institution features a fine permanent collection of Nor-Cal art and hosts a varied schedule of rotating special exhibits and community events.
SECOND Place: Chico History Museum
141 Salem St., 891-4336
THIRD Place: Chico Children’s Museum
325 Main St., 809-1492

Place To Buy Art

FIRST Place: Chico Paper Company
345 Broadway St., 891-0900
Collecting art shouldn’t be a hobby reserved for the rich and well-heeled; Chico Paper Company knows this. From original works by established and up-and-coming artists to local-nostalgia prints by Jake Early, this downtown art store has something for everyone.
SECOND Place: Chico Art Center
540 Orange St., Ste. 6, 895-8726
THIRD Place: Art Etc.
256 E. First St., 895-1161

Place To Dance

FIRST Place: The Beach
191 E. Second St., 898-9898
There’s nary a seashell or a grain of sand to be found at Chico’s beach, but what the local nightclub does offer—abundant drinks, driving beats and beautiful people—once again puts it at the top of the list of where locals go to get their groove on.
SECOND Place: Crazy Horse Saloon
303 Main St., 894-5408
THIRD Place: North State Ballet
2400 Notre Dame Blvd., 774-2364

Place To Drink A Glass of Wine

FIRST Place: Wine Time
26 Lost Dutchman Dr., 899-9250
Downtown’s dives and dance clubs serve their purposes well, but there is a refined sensibility that reigns at North Chico’s Wine Time. Here, wine lovers can find a wide array of varietals—from California, Europe and more—as well as meals paired to enhance the experience.
SECOND Place: Unwined Kitchen & Bar
980 Mangrove Ave., 809-2634
THIRD Place: Grana Wood Fired Foods
198 E. Second St., 809-2304

Secret Trail Brewing Co.

Sports Bar

FIRST Place: Bella’s Sports Pub
231 Main St., 893-5253
Bella’s Sports Pub offers a variety of entertainment options—like regular dance nights, open-mic comedy and trivia contests—but at heart, it’s a sports bar. All the elements for a good game day—beer, bar food and big screens—can be found in abundance at this downtown institution.
SECOND Place: The Pour House
855 East Ave., Ste. 270, 893-3000
THIRD Place (tie): Buffalo Wild Wings
845 East Ave., 592-3251
THIRD Place (tie): Oasis Bar & Grill
1007 W. First St., 343-4305

Theater Company

FIRST Place: Chico Theater Co.
166 Eaton Road, Ste. F, 894-3282
Chico Theater Co. has a solid grasp on what local theatergoers like—namely musicals and other community-playhouse stples—and delivers them in a way that keeps audiences coming back. Recent productions include a rendition of The Spitfire Grill that received sizzling reviews, and a well-received run of the blockbuster Jesus Christ Superstar.
SECOND Place: California Regional Theatre
139 W. First St., 722-4522
THIRD Place: Legacy Stage

To-Go Cocktail or Bar Service

FIRST Place: Argus Bar + Patio
212 W. Second St., 332-9914,
See Best Bar.
SECOND Place: Tres Hombres
100 Broadway Street, 342-0425
THIRD Place: Banshee
134 W. Second St.

Venue For Live Music

FIRST Place: Secret Trail Brewing Co.
132 Meyers St., Ste. 120, 487-8151
A few short years ago, Chico’s new “booze district” on Meyers Street, far removed from downtown’s traditional gathering spots, seemed like a novel idea. Today, Secret Trail Brewing Co. is drawing huge crowds to South Chico with its stacked calendar of local and touring acts booked to its indoor and outdoor stages.
SECOND Place: Sierra Nevada Big Room
1075 E. 20th St., 893-3250
THIRD Place: Argus Bar + Patio
212 W. Second St., 332-9914

Watering Hole For Townies

FIRST Place: Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718
Chico may now contain prettier, trendier and more modern establishments, but the bar closest to the hearts of many locals remains Duffy’s Tavern. With it’s kitschy-come-iconic art work, old-school jukebox, Friday Irish-music happy hours, and an interior that hasn’t been spruced up since sometime in the last century, Duffy’s is a dive unlike any other.
SECOND Place: Secret Trail Brewing Co.
132 Meyers St., Ste. 120, 487-8151
THIRD Place: Studio Inn Lounge
2582 Esplanade, 343-0662

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