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recs for Chico?

  • t

going to spend a couple days in Chico, anyone have some favorites? Keywords: adventurous flavors and superlative standards.
Going with someone who cooks for a living and insists on independant resturants.
thanks, hounds.
TJ

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  1. We have some great restaurants. Check out The Red Tavern, JP's and the Scillian Cafe. All have excellent food and great service.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Trish

      Maybe I'm having a brainfart (likely) but where is JP's? - I live in Chico.

      For a cool treat try Schuberts on 7th & Main Streets - no longer bright pink - now a sedate cream color.

      There is an earlier thread on Chico as well as a report based on it. Should be helpful. I'd link to it but I'm fairly new to chowhound and not up to speed yet.

      1. re: Bean Counter

        JP's is where Cafe Sandino used to be. It is a very nice dinner house now....totally remodeled. Excellent service and food.

        1. re: Trish

          JP's was wonderful but now closed.

          Replaced by fair place with name I can't remember.

        2. re: Bean Counter

          JP's is where Cafe Sandino used to be. It is a very nice dinner house now....totally remodeled. Excellent service and food.

          1. re: Trish

            Thanks, I will have to check that out.

            1. re: Bean Counter

              My dinner entree at JPs had a burnt flavor. I sent it back and the owner came over and made a scene. Killed my appetite. I wouldn't go back.

      2. Here is a unique suggestion - Basque Norte. I went there this weekend and enjoyed it. A meat and potatoes type place where the meal is served family style. Very heavy on the garlic. To give you a sense of whether or not this would be your cup of tea :

        Menu:
        relish tray - standard
        soup - tomato garlic - garlicky but good
        salad - standard - italian dressing
        bread - crusty & good
        pasta - garlic & olive oil spagetti
        beans - I guess I would describe as cowboy beans
        All above come before meal
        entree - I had lamb chops - yum!
        boiled new potatoes - fine
        green beans w/onion & dill - OK - not exactly fresh
        Dessert - ice cream

        This is definitely not gourmet but is a popular Chico spot.

        Where are you coming from and what meals are you looking for?

        6 Replies
        1. re: Bean Counter

          Coming from Central Coast SLO County, up I-5. Husband's family lives there, he grad'd from Chico High in the 60's. (We're Old Farts) We like to eat "world cuisine" not looking for fine dining or fancy settings, but ones that DO take diners' comfort to heart. We'll have his Mom with us--she's not too adventurous. Some place that blends the two tastes?Good food & service are a must.
          The Basque place sounds good. I LOVE lamb! I know I read a Chico post thread some time ago but looking for old posts gives me the 'heavy whilrlies' as we used to say in the 60's. Hah! I just go blind looking at all that script whizzing by.
          Can you give me an idea where these restaurants are? I get lost in Chico and my husband has been away too long! Chico is really growing!!

          Thanks to you both for the rec's. 'Hounds are just great!! Let me know if I can ever return the favor for our neck of the woods.

          1. re: toodie jane

            here is an old thread on Chico

            http://www.chowhound.com/california/b...

            gotta go to morning thunder for breakfast... love that place. and definitely stop in at Schuberts. have a "brown cow" for me. :)

            have a great time in Chico... you should see if its still baseball season. the stadium is a lot of fun.

            1. re: toodie jane

              I think Basque Norte would be nice. It is on the Esplanade sort of on the edge of town(past Eaton Rd). Open Thurs - Sun 5:30 - ?.

              Another option is the Sierra Nevada Brewhouse. It is on 20th St. Some items can be hit or miss. The earlier thread mentioned in withalonge's post has a review on this I believe. I'm not a fan of the pizza but highly recommend the filet. They have an arrangement w/the university farm. Cows get brewery leftovers, Brewery gets yummy meat.:) Also my absolute favorite thing there is the gumbo, only available Friday as a lunch special.

              Morning Thunder Cafe is on Vallombrosa and Memorial Way. There can be quite a wait here sometimes later in the morning. But worth it.

              Good lunch spot - Upper Crust Bakery, on Main Street between 1st and 2nd. If they have the black bean chili(not during the summer) back on the menu I recommend that w/the cilantro pesto and sour cream.

              The Red Tavern is on the Esplanade between 2nd and 3rd Ave (I think). I've never actually been here since I'm often dining w/a 10 y.o. but I've heard very good things.

              There is also a new restaurant in the new Diamond Hotel on 4th St and Broadway downtown. They have a menu on their website. I've heard the food is good but the service can be slow.

              One more - The Black Crow on Second St and ? (kitty corner from the Bear). They serve lunch and dinner. I'm a fan of this place although I haven't been in a while. The room in front w/the bar can get loud. I've had a really good sandwich at lunch and yummy roast chicken at dinner.

              Hope this helps and locations are specific enough. Just ask if you need more & please report back.

              1. re: Bean Counter

                The best restaurant in Chico is Chada Thai. It's on 2nd St., downtown.

                1. re: Paul Panzer

                  Chada Thai is on W.2nd St near Broadway.

                  Not only the best food in town, but the
                  best value as well.

                  Say hi to Nancy; she's in charge!

                2. re: Bean Counter

                  Enjoyed a very good meal at Basque Norte last night with DH and cousins. It was such a comfortable restaurant with no loud music to interfere with our conversation. We were seated at a four top in the narrow room at the back of the restaurant, and had a quiet conversation area to catch up on family tidbits.

                  The first steps into the entry/host area greeted us with the pervasive smell of well-cooked garlic. Well! MY kind of place!
                  Quickly seated, we were able to order as soon as we made our decisions. DH went for a steak, the other three of us ordered the lamb chops. I like my lamb fairly rare, but in the past at other restaurants have had "rare" lamb delivered that was really raw, just seared on the outside. So I asked for "between med-rare and rare" and that's what I got. It was cooked exactly as I wished. Three delicious 1 1/2" loin chops without too heavy a smokey flavor, juicey and rich. DH pronounced his steak as "great", and cousins were very pleased with their chops, done medium and med-well.

                  The sides were good--
                  rosey-tinted tomato-garlic soup, (very subtle garlic flavors--long-cooked and mild).
                  Crusty bread, tender on the inside with good flavor. The beans were mild compared to our hometown Santa Maria beans (spicier) but the sausage chunks were very good.
                  The green salad was definately a cut above most dinner house mixed greens. Very fresh red and green loose-leaf, tossed with juicy ripe tomato wedges, thin onion slices and lightly dressed. No overpowering flavors to smother the delicate greens.
                  The green beans seasoned with onion were a bit soft, but had good color and flavor.
                  The spaghetini was dressed with oil, parsley and cooked garlic. No overpowering flavors here either.

                  We enjoyed a fairly priced bottle of Dancing Bull Zinfandel which was just right with our red meats.

                  Our overall impression (cousins have dined here many times) was comfortable and pleasant atmosphere, wonderful aromas in the dining room, very good quality throughout all the foods presented, subtle and attentive service.Just as dining out should be!

                  Understated and excellent would sum up our dinner at Basque Norte, we'll make it a spot we return to again!

                  As an added bonus, we met the owner in the lobby as we left, and had a nice chat with him. It turns out his youngest son was our server, and we complimented him on his training. He laughed and gave his wife full credit for that, and said his specialty is the back house, "and doing all the maintenance and repair" Cousins could relate to that!

                  My only other outside eating expeience this trip was a quick stop to the taqueria at the north end of Nord where it turns west towards Hamilton City. Carnitas tacos rich and tasty. Alas no lengua, but I spied so many taco trucks, now I have another goal for next trip: explore all them all!

                  Thanks, 'hounds for all the tips, and for whoever ordered up the GORgeous weather. It's off today to King's Beach and Carson City. Lady Tamales, here we come! Then to the roar of the mighty En-gines at the air races on Sunday, where sadly the food is ususally pretty avereage. Maybe this year there'll be some new vendors!

            2. We're in Chico, staying at Mother-in-law Dear's till Fri a.m. and haven't had a chance to go out except to Burger Hut for lunch today.(disclaimer-DH's cousin owns BH) but we may go out tomorrow for lunch and maybe dinner--it's our 12th anniversary. Jim seconds the Basque Norte as a good spot. I'm eyeing all these taco trucks I see and wondering about them. Anyone have a favorite? I'm a real lengua fan--also of carnitas tortas. (I had cueritos last week for the first (and last) time....I'm adventurous, but not THAT adventurous....pickled, boiled pig's ears--h-m-m-m....)
              Dying to try the creamery you are talking about--whereabouts?
              There are so many interesting looking eateries. You guys are lucky! Any sushi places? I saw one over in an older shopping center by Mervyn's, near the bead shop--is fish fresh? (we're spoiled--we've got an excellent one in Santa Maria, Atari Ya.)
              So far I've met some of the nicest people-- so helpful. Chico is a real comfy place, if far flung... it's hard for me to get around not knowing the layout, but I'm getting better!! I also know to say "ess-plan-aid", and "a-muns", not all-munds!HAH!
              Last time we were here we ate at Morning Thunder per cousin Jim's rec--it is good, but LOUD; getting there early might be the key. good food and service which counts very high in my book.
              Will let you all know how Thurs eat-outs go!thanks for all the suggestions.

              TJ

              5 Replies
              1. re: toodie jane

                Alas, only fair sushi. Creamery's on Seventh. Best place in town is Chada Thai on Second St. If you know how to say a-monds you'll fit right in. Incidentally the Chinese buffet on Mangrove near Safeway is under new management and good for that type of place -- fresh ingredients, distinct flavors.

                1. re: paul panzer

                  Chada Thai is the best place in town. We are locals
                  and eat out 2 or 3 nights/week. Not trendy and
                  no equal.

                  The Asian buffet near Safeway is now call Kwando
                  with dim sum, sushi, lobster etc. Very good
                  for this type of place.

                  The person that complained about the party college
                  vibe is correct.

                2. re: toodie jane

                  Schuberts is on 7th and Main to be a little more specific. No longer bright pink - now a tasteful cream color.

                  Glad you seem to be enjoying yourself. There is another sushi place on Broadway & 4th downtown - the Raw Bar. Unfortunately I know nothing about it except its location.:)

                  1. re: Bean Counter

                    If you're used to the freshest fish, the Raw Bar will not suit you. It's a pretty space, and the cooked stuff is OK.

                    1. re: paul panzer

                      Raw Bar is a bit overpriced.

                      The staff thinks very highly of themselves.

                3. The best food in Chico is the Red Tavern. The Chef Owner used to own Citron in Berkeley (SF Chron 3 stars and 31/2 from the Contra Costa Times). He sold that and moved to Chico 10 years ago...If he stayed there, he'd be a celebrity chef by now. What makes their food so good is that everything is FRESH and in season; eg. you won't find a tomato on the menu from Oct. thru June--when you do, it's an heirloom from a local organic farmer who picked it that morning. That same spirt courses through their free range and grass fed meats and the delicate preperation and presentations...great, fresh food doesn't need to be fussed with.Red Tavern is, truly, our Chez Panisse...most Chicoans are oblivious to this and don't rely "get" what a gem the Red Tavern is.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: orangeplow

                    A big second to everything you said. Additionally, I found an obscure but delicious sangiovese from Trinity County on the wine list, which makes it even more fun.

                    1. re: orangeplow

                      thanks--will check it out. BIL has rec'd this place.

                      Taking the MIL & her beau out to dinner and wanted something quiet--hearing problems--will this place be noisy? Someone suggested the Kramore as being nice, and quiet to boot. I guess it's not in the same league foodwise, but MIL & beau are not chowhounds in the least. They raved about the Outback dinner they had last week.

                      Still hot up there?

                      1. re: toodie jane

                        If your MIL raves about the Outback...don't waste your hard earned cash at Red Tavern. I would recommend the 5th St. Steakhouse(very good) but L-O-U-D unless you can get an outside table--try it. Kramore Inn is quiet for a reason...nobody goes.

                    2. By far, Red Tavern on the Esplanade serves the best food in Chico. They have a pretty outdoor area, bocci ball etc. You can have sophisticated, SF type food, without driving all the way to the city. For lunch, I'd suggest Teaz Me on Vallombrosa. They serve delicious wraps and refreshing, cool teas. Get there before the high school lets out for lunch at 12:10! Was fooled by the original post date as today is also 9/11.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Tam

                        s'okay....we go two or three times a year and I'm always willing to hear more about great places to snack or dine in Chico! This year we went to Nash's which pleased the Seniors but was terribly loud due to 'drinks and appetizers' party seated nearby. Frat party loud. ugh.

                        Would love to try the Red Tavern....driving by it looks posh but if the food is good, they'll like it.

                        Do you know anything about Chico taco trucks? ....an obsession of mine.

                      2. Tacos de Puerto Vallerta (taco truck) at 11th and Esplanade (maybe 12th), across from the little market and Chico Nut. The BEST CHICO BURRITO! Hands down. Regular, with everything - $3.50. The red sauce is soo perfect. I will go nowhere else for burritos. In fact, I getting hungry for one now... Do NOT confuse it with the crappy little roach coach, in my opinion, parked at the Matador Hotel - worthless.

                        Nash's can be like that on weekends because of the champagne brunch. It's a great place to eat - love it for breakfast - but if mellow and quiet is your gig, you'll miss the champagne but go during the week. Espcially in summer for cool morning outdoor seating. Very nice.

                        Another GREAT breakfast spot is The Roost, on Park Ave. near Gates Resale. Your working folk locals-only homestyle breakfast, affordable, never a frat scene, the sweetest waitresses, and a really cool old diner "bar" to sit at. Good stuff.

                        The BEST desert, next to Shuberts off Broadway on 7th St, is the Blonde Brownie at Fifth Street Steakhouse (about two blocks west off Main St on 5th St). 5th Street ALSO has the best ribeye in town, swap the baked potatoe for garlic mashed. Spendy, but great for special night out.

                        You can never go wrong with Sierra Nevada. Great food, great beer, mostly affordable, nice atmoshpere. Again, the outdoor seating on a nice day is worth the trip alone.

                        The Sin of Cortez is also a VERY good spot for breakfast. Great food, and great presentation. Very yummy healthy food not in excess. The only drawback is this place is no secret and on weekends the wait can be substantial (as with Nash's).

                        Red Tavern at 3rd Ave and Esplanade is on my "next to try" list and I've heard nothing but good reviews.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Cyanbodie

                          Just tried Fifth Street Steakhouse with colleagues. Very good filet. Had a wait beyond the reservation time but it's the holidays and hostess was very apologetic. The bar is great so the wait is not a bad thing. Lively setting.

                          Onion rings with chipotle sauce was yum too. Would definitely go back.

                          1. re: rln

                            We tried Red Tavern the 2nd night. Also very good and what a cozy, pretty setting.

                            I had a pretty rich dinner -- crab, potato, leek soup (actually, it was creamy but not heavy, rich) and pork shank dinner. Can't remember the real name of the dish but it was recommended. Very good, large portion so split with a colleague.

                            Everyone at dinner was happy.

                            1. re: rln

                              Last time we went to the Fifth Street Steakhouse it was a party of six and they stuffed us all into one booth. It was cozy like a Japanese subway experience. They cook nice steaks; I'm no chef, but I can cook nice steaks. Red Tavern has a chef. Maybe it's an age thing; I'm getting old.

                              1. re: BN1

                                Big red hunks of meat, the young cooks can send you a good steak
                                so long as you order it the way they like it.

                                They are mostly lost when preparing fish, avoid.

                            2. re: Cyanbodie

                              cyanbodie--just saw your post!

                              Last visit we went to Sierra Nevada and were underwhelmed. I don't remember the others' entrees, but I had ribs which were overcooked, stringy and tasted of the freezer. I was not impressed at all. DH likes the beer, and the service was fair after a long wait to have our order taken. Not a place I yearn to return to.

                              Not a burrito fan, my first choice is always tacquitos, and always lengua if available. I've got my eye on the truck you mentioned! I like the little drive-in at the turn in Nord Hiway going towards Orland. Great carnitas last time.

                              Thanks for the breakfast rec. Healthy breakfast--sounds good before an 8 hour drive home!

                              Screaming children ran rampant on the patio outside our windowside table, nearly tripping servers and no one, parents (on far side of patio enjoying a quiet moment) or mangement, said anything!

                              1. re: toodie jane

                                Sierra Nevada; its all about the beer.

                                Basic is the best thing that can be said about the food.
                                Brought to you by college kids that have lots to learn.

                                1. re: bukzin

                                  yes, I live in a college town too, school begins in a week or two, and everywhere will be more crowded and noisy as Mom and Dad's money flows through the restaurants and bars.