It’s been difficult finding things to enjoy during the many quarantine-heavy months of the last year. One of America’s favorite date or family night activity pairings, dinner and a movie, was made much more difficult given restrictions on restaurants closing or going takeout-only, and movie theaters were a luxury of the not-so-distant past. But for those die-hard fans of the film-centered dinner date looking to find some great takeout, we’ve paired a few local favorite eateries with some movies actually filmed right in Butte County. So find a combination you like from this list, or mix and match to your heart’s content!
If you’re looking for a little slice of Americana in your life, you’ll find no more comforting a combo than the home-grown flavors of Chico favorite Mom’s and a young Jimmy Stewart in 1947’s under-viewed classic Magic Town. The film follows the adventures of a pollster (Stewart) who stumbles across a town that perfectly encapsulates a cross section of the American populace, but hijinks ensue as he attempts to keep the local newspaper editor with a drive to shake things up from endangering his newfound gold mine. The film features Chico’s Amtrak Station (formerly the Southern Pacific Station), a piece of Butte County history dating all the way back to the late 1800s. Today, the space is home to the Chico Art Center and is only a few blocks away from the California State University, Chico campus, as well as many other shops and restaurants downtown.
Mom’s provides the perfect compliment to the warm feeling of the film’s mid-20th century America with a likewise picture-perfect slice of down-home American cuisine that offers heaps of top-notch comfort food for when you need a pick-me-up or a little pampering. Their brunch takeout menu showcases everything from omelets and scrambles to specialties like chilaquiles, biscuits and gravy, and corned beef (or veggie) hash. It’s rounded out with benedicts, sandwiches, the obligatory pancakes and waffles, a few salads and healthier options for the discerning, and even an assortment of alcoholic beverages for those who live to lean in.
Curbside pickup is available at the restaurant, or you can use DoorDash to have it delivered! As for Magic Town, it’s temporarily unavailable on Amazon’s Prime Video but can still be purchased on DVD or Blu-ray.
On the flip side of the coin, we have a movie about the perfectly imperfect. In George B., David Morse plays the titular character, a simple man who ends up winning big at a casino before falling into the wily manipulations of an opportunistic clerk. This warm character study features shots from Oroville and, memorably, Chico’s Miller Mansion, a rebuilt Victorian home that, next to the Bidwell Mansion and Oroville’s C.F. Lott Home, stands as one of the most iconic historic homes of the area.
Since George strikes it rich in Reno, we can’t imagine a better food pairing than from one of Oroville’s excellent casino eateries, like the Feather Falls Brewing Company restaurant. A substantial takeout menu features everything from a goldmine of appetizers to burgers, steaks, salads, pizza, seafood, and even sushi (and don’t forget to grab some of their beer from a local shop while you’re at it). Almost anyone you’re watching with will find an appetizer and entrée combination to accompany their movie experience.
Action & Adventure
If the above movies were too sleepy for you, you might try 1966’s The Chase to satisfy your need for more action. A star-studded affair that features Robert Redford, Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Duvall, Angie Dickinson, and E.G. Marshall, The Chase follows the exploits of Bubber (Redford) after his escape from prison, where he returns to his Texas hometown for help after getting mixed up in a murder committed by a fellow escapee, only to fall into a drama nearly as big as the cast’s accents. Texas is here represented entirely by California, from Calabasas to Chico, including Chico’s gorgeous, picnic-ready, eminently hikeable Bidwell Park.
Because Bubber might have had an easier time of things if he’d followed through with his initial plan to escape to Mexico, we’re pairing The Chase with the authentic cuisine from Meehos Mexican Restaurant in Paradise. Currently operating at a reduced capacity out of a food truck on site, this local favorite continues to serve up delicious Mexican comfort food while taking advantage of quarantine to remodel their restaurant. Taco wagon-style tacos, giant half-pound, pound, or even two-pound burritos (in regular and breakfast varieties), and succulent charbroiled chicken are sure to make you glad that you made better choices than Bubber. And if you can’t find your way to Paradise, the area has any number of great Mexican restaurants doing curbside takeout, like Papacito’s in Oroville or La Hacienda in Chico.
If Robert Redford and Marlon Brando can’t provide quite enough bravado for your day, your next obvious choice is Clint Eastwood in 1976’s The Outlaw Josey Wales. Nominated for an Academy Award, the film is a post-Civil War adventure that dazzled audiences and achieved great commercial success during its theatrical run. Filmed in a variety of locations across America, it includes scenes of Oroville’s surrounding natural beauty, and it’s even rumored that Eastwood, while staying in an Oroville hotel during filming, shouted out—stark naked—his love for co-star Sondra Locke.
We can’t think of anything more appropriate for a Western than some excellent BBQ, and for that you need look no further than Smokin’ Mo’s BBQ in Chico, where you can get anything from a rack of ribs to a rich, hearty sandwich or sumptuous dessert. Located in Chico’s beautiful downtown, it’s also close to just about anywhere else you might want to walk. If you’d rather find an actual Oroville eatery to channel some of the energy that seemingly possessed Eastwood during his stay, check out the Boss Burger, with big portions and a rustic vibe to elevate your movie viewing experience.
Need something for the whole family? Then you may already be aware of the 1997 kid’s classic Under Wraps, where three kids accidentally release a 3,000 year-old mummy on the world and have to find a way to return it before midnight on Halloween. This Halloween romp was the Disney Channel’s first original movie and was filmed in Chico! It prominently features the northwest corner of Hazel and West 3rd Street where the mummy resides, the Chico Veterans Memorial Hall, and the Downtown Park Plaza at East 5th and Main.
Our go-to choice to pair with this piece of 90s nostalgia is pizza, and as luck would have it, there are a variety of options that will satisfy not only the kids, but the adults too! With fresh ingredients creating some wonderful flavor combinations and grown-up deliciousness, Farm Star Pizza has something for everyone—vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores included. Starters like the loaded mac and cheese or baked brie cheese wedge set the stage, and a huge range of wildly different pizzas bring it all home, but you can even get a satisfying salad or dessert to complete the meal. Pizza Riot is another heavyweight Chico contender worth a visit, and if your travels take you to Biggs, don’t miss the chance to stop by Pizza Round-Up, a long-time local favorite.