Best of Chico 2023: Nightlife & The Arts

An abundance of good times

Best Local Music Act: Hot Flash Photo by Ken Pordes

Art Space

FIRST Place: 1078 Gallery
1710 Park Ave., 630-7522
Open since 1981, the 1078 Gallery continues to remain faithful to its mission “to offer exciting exhibitions of contemporary and experimental artworks.” With the addition of Equilateral Coffee to the space, the works of local and visiting artists are now accessible 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
Not to take away from the main bar indoors, but the back patio at Argus—with its vine-covered stone walls, wide-open seating and frequent intimate concerts—is just about the most perfect spot in Chico to hang out with a cocktail or brew. It’s just a bonus that the inside is also great—a low-key swanky room, where a rotating selection of cocktail specials is served.
SECOND Place: Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718
THIRD Place: Parkside Tap House
115 W. Third St., 636-4239

Bloody Mary

FIRST Place: Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718
After one year away from the top spot, Duffy’s Tavern is back in its usual place of No. 1 local Bloody Mary, a bold and spicy concoction that’s as much a part of the fabric of Chico as the downtown dive bar that makes it.
SECOND Place: Mom’s Restaurant
209 Salem St., 893-3447
THIRD Place: Unwined Kitchen & Bar
980 Mangrove Ave., 809-2634

Casino – Regional

FIRST Place: Feather Falls Casino
3 Alverda Dr., Oroville, 533-3885
The campus of Feather Falls Casino in Oroville has more than just gaming halls (though there’s all you would want, including blackjack tables and 850 slot machines). It’s like a small city out there, with a microbrewery, multiple concert venues, a buffet and two cocktail lounges, a lodge and a KOA campground.
SECOND Place: Rolling Hills Casino
2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning, 528-3500
THIRD Place: Gold Country Casino Resort
4020 Olive Hwy, Oroville, 800-334-9400

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 and tap.
SECOND Place: Hype Dance Studio
1033 Mangrove Ave., 898-8789
THIRD Place: Kinetics Academy of Dance & Gymnastics
627 Broadway, Ste. 100, 345-2505

Bloody Mary at Duffy’s Tavern.

Happy Hour

FIRST Place: The Pour House
855 East Ave., Ste. 270, 893-3000
The Pour House wins again; they offer two separate multi-hour happy times, 3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m. until closing, featuring discounts on drinks and appetizers, with the option to enjoy them on the big street-corner patio (see “Food & Drink,” Best Patio).
SECOND Place: Crush
201 Broadway, Ste. 200, 342-7000
THIRD Place: Unwined Kitchen & Bar
980 Mangrove Ave., 809-2634

Local Music Act

FIRST Place: Hot Flash
For long-running regularly gigging groups in Chico—i.e., the tribute acts, party bands, and other dance-friendly crews—there’s often a lot of turnover in the ranks. While that’s been true for the “female-fronted cover band” Hot Flash, the band remains fronted by the core of drummer/keyboardist/singer Holly Taylor and singer Kathy Slater, keeping the personality and popularity of this local favorite intact for many years.
SECOND Place: Whiskey River Band
THIRD Place: Smokey the Groove

Local Visual Artist

FIRST Place: Ama Posey
A longtime local abstract artist, Ama Posey has recently branched out—way out—opening Ama Posey Studios (which just moved to a new location at 234 W. Third St., Ste. D) and offering a variety of art camps for kids in the mediums of drawing, painting, collage, fiber arts, photography, sculpture, and hands-on sensory based projects. As she says on her site: “Art Camp is a place where children can feel safe enough to express their own unique creativity, receive positive feedback, create work that they feel proud of, and most importantly, have fun.”
SECOND Place: Josh Kaercher
THIRD Place (tie): Janet Lombardi Blixt
THIRD Place (tie): Ben Lucas
THIRD Place (tie): Christine MacShane


FIRST Place: Tres Hombres
100 Broadway, 342-0425
With its 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: Sol Mexican Grill
3269 Esplanade, 342-4616


FIRST Place: Richard Garcia-Silva
Franky’s, 606 Ivy St., 898-9948
The man behind the bar at Franky’s is also adept at slinging bars as his rap alter ego, Michael Elias. When he’s behind the bar, the name is Richard Garcia-Silva, and his work is the drink specials, party bowls, wines and beers that go along with the Italian dishes and pizzas of the Five-and-I institution.
SECOND Place: Wendy Reid
Studio Inn Lounge, 2582 Esplanade, 343-0662
THIRD Place (tie): Pablo Trenado Jr.
Parkside Tap House, 115 W. Third St., 636-4239; Tres Hombres, 100 Broadway, 342-0425
THIRD Place (tie): Harrison Carter
Coin-Op, 229 Broadway, 809-2688


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) is the pride of Chico with its fine permanent collection of Nor Cal art and varied schedule of rotating special exhibits and community events.
SECOND Place: Chico History Museum
141 Salem St., 891-4336
THIRD Place: Gateway Science Museum
625 Esplanade, 898-4121

Place To Buy Art

FIRST Place: Chico Paper Company
345 Broadway, 891-0900
This locally owned art store opened in 1968, and since then Chico Paper Company had made a name for itself for both providing conservation framing services, as well as showcasing dozens of local artists among the works of national/international artists in its 2,500-square-foot gallery in the heart of downtown Chico.
SECOND Place: 1078 Gallery
1710 Park Ave., 630-7522
THIRD Place: Art Etc.
256 E. First St., 895-1161

Best Local Artist: Ama Posey

Place To Dance

FIRST Place: Crazy Horse Saloon
303 Main St., 894-5408
Everything you need to “cowboy up,” in Chico, is upstairs at the Crazy Horse Saloon. A full bar, pool tables, mechanical bull, loud country music and, of course, a big dance floor.
SECOND Place: The Beach
191 E. Second St., 898-9898
THIRD Place: Madison Bear Garden
316 W. Second St., 891-1639

Place To Drink A Glass Of Wine

FIRST Place: Wine Time
26 Lost Dutchman Dr., 899-9250
In north Chico, there’s a mini booze district with options for fine libations at every corner of the parking lot: craft beers at Lost Dutchman, speakeasy cocktails at Strong Water and an impressive array of varietals at Wine Time. At the latter, wines from California, Europe and more are paired with a concise menu of fine dining options 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

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 (and in its name), it’s a sports bar. All the elements for a good 49ers, Kings, Giants or A’s game day—beer, bar food and big screens—are found in abundance at this downtown institution.
SECOND Place: Oasis Bar & Grill
1007 W. First St., 343-4305
THIRD Place: The Pour House
855 East Ave., Ste. 270, 893-3000

Theater Company

FIRST Place: Chico Theater Co.
166 Eaton Road, Ste. F, 894-3282
Many theatrical productions that take place in Butte County are of the musical variety, and Chico Theater Company has been specializing in just that, producing everything from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on the theater’s first opening night in 2003 to Fiddler on the Roof opening later this month (Sept. 22).
SECOND Place: California Regional Theatre
139 W. First St., 800-722-4522
THIRD Place: Blue Room Theatre
1005 W. First St., 895-3749

Venue For Live Music

FIRST Place: Sierra Nevada Big Room
1075 E. 20th St., 893-3250
The Big Room is back. After a long pandemic-enduced hiatus, Sierra Nevada’s concert hall is back to scheduling regular shows featuring renowned and up-and-coming touring bands. In the next couple of months, the dance floor will be open for The Mother Hips (Sept. 7-8); Sona Jobarteh (Oct. 16); The Expendables and Bumpin’ Uglies (Sept. 23); and STRFKR (Oct. 25).
SECOND Place: Argus Bar + Patio
212 W. Second St., 332-9914
THIRD Place: The Barn at Meriam Park
1930 Market Place, 399-0753

Watering Hole For Townies

FIRST Place: Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St., 343-7718
See Best Bloody Mary.
SECOND Place: Studio Inn Lounge
2582 Esplanade, 343-0662
THIRD Place (tie): Secret Trail Brewing Co.
132 Meyers St., Ste. 120, 487-8151
THIRD Place (tie): Quackers Fire Grill and Bar
968 East Ave., 895-3825

Click here for more Best of Chico 2023.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.