Gimme New

New is good. New things expose us to different brands of creativity, fresh genius, and enliven the humdrum steps of our well-beaten paths.

Competition breeds innovation, which leads to better products and happier customers. In cities where stakes are high, the restaurant industry produces culinary world-changers. This is not, contrary to popular belief, only because there are a lot of people with money who eat out in large cities. Sure, it helps, but really, it’s because there are a lot of options, and restaurants and chefs who can’t cut it in a dog-eat-dog industry don’t last. People will take their dollars, both large and small, and simply go elsewhere.

When it comes to advancing food culture, there’s nothing better than a little old-fashioned competition to keep everyone on their toes. This is the stuff that exciting food is made of. Chico has a couple new spots worth noting:

Handle Bar

Brian and Carolyn are the proud owners of a new little pub that promises to quickly become a local favorite.

According to Brian, Handle Bar steers toward being a place for the thirty and forty-somethings to go; a place locals will be drawn to that lies just far enough down the city’s side-trails to offer relief from the overwhelmingly young downtown crowd. Handle Bar is well stocked with hard-to-find craft ales and yummy, simple German food to keep you drinking.

Handle Bar’s most popular craft beer is Trumer Pilsner, a german style beer made in Berkeley, which they call the “gateway to craft beer.” Carolyn’s personal favorite is the award-winning Drake’s 1500 Pale Ale from a San Leandro brewery. Other favorites include the Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA and Delirium Noel (a seasonal treat from the same makers of Delirium Tremens).

As far as food at Handle Bar goes, for me, there’s one word: Currywurst. This common German pub fare made its way to Chi-town and goddammit it’s a great dish. I brought my partner and fellow chef, Woody, along to taste all the gluten-containing items I wasn’t privy to, and he absolutely loved the Brewben, a good quality pastrami smothered in beer cheese instead of thousand island, and served on pumpernickel bread. 80,000 points for serving it on pumpernickel, by the way.

Mayhem

Jennie & Jeremy moved to Chico from Portland in March. Owners of a residential painting company in Portland, they were in search of better weather and a smaller community where they could try something new.

They found a truck for sale, renovated it with the help of Zack from Z Enterprises, worked with Jeff from Dragon Graphics on their logo and branding, and launched their business on November 26th, 2012 parked in front of the Senator in so-very-Chico style.

80,001 points for bringing more than tacos to Chico’s food truck scene. May this be the beginning of beautiful things.

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Jen Cartier misses Chico! However, she has taken to the great beyond (er...The Bay Area) to be some kind of chocolate maven while simultaneously figuring out how the hell to navigate her long-ass work commute, and still kick ass at raising three munchkins, loving one soon-to-be husband, and keeping one rascally Brittany Spaniel in the damned yard. She loves Nutella, red wine, and American Spirits. She takes her dog along on runs to wear him out (sometimes he shits in someone else's yard - bonus!) and also to balance her own general consumption of all the fine tasty things life offers, ciggys included. Follow her blog at riceflourmemoirs.com