Of all of the exciting new things coming to Overton Square, the one that I've been the most excited about is Chiwawa, Taylor Berger's new casual Mexican restaurant in the old Chicago Pizza Factory space on Madison.
I absolutely love what they've done to the building. They took an iconic, but ghostly old pizza restaurant and turned it into something sleek and modern, but still very welcoming. The interior bar and restaurant space is deceptively big, and it's the sort of place where you can go with your family during the day and your friends at night.
The best addition to the restaurant is the new, split-level patio. It's definitely going to be the trendy patio this summer (or really, as soon as the weather gets passably warm).
The only thing that even sort of connects Chiwawa to the building's pizzeria past is the arched sign over the patio, which was given a bit of an update.
When I stopped by for lunch yesterday, the restaurant was busy, but it didn't take any time to get a seat at the bar.
The menu isn't huge, and it's priced in a way that encourages a la carte ordering. Most of the tacos are $3 each (the other two being $4), and nothing's more than $10. At $8, the chips and guacamole / chips and queso seem a little overpriced, but the portions are generous and the quality is high.
At the recommendation of my derby coach Brad (who's one of the managers), I ordered the Juantons, the Elote and the chips and guacamole.
The presentation is a little strange – just a pile of chips on a plate next to a huge scoop of guacamole, but both were so good that I didn't really care. The chips are house-made, and they've got a texture sort of like the ones at Las Delicias. The guacamole is made to order, so it was very fresh and nice and chunky.
The Elote ($5 for two ears of corn) was perfection. The grilled ears of corn come coated in cream, powdery cheese, chili powder and hot sauce. There were lime wedges on the plate, but they're not necessary – the corn already has a nice citrusy bite to it. I'm not normally a huge fan of corn on the cob (it's impossible to eat with any dignity), but Chiwawa's elote is so delicious that I could eat it over and over again without caring how I looked doing it.
The best part of the meal by far was the Juan-tons (three for $8). I mean, just look at them:
They're a Mexican twist on the Asian classic, perfect little purses stuffed with shredded chicken, poblano crema and salsa roja. If you're not super hungry, it's enough food to make a meal if you add a side dish. If you are super hungry, pair it with a taco or two.
Chiwawa has made a big effort to be vegan and vegetarian friendly. There's an all-veggie taco, a meat-less hotdog (named after Bianca), and there are tons of meat-free sides and appetizers.
Since I went at lunch, I decided to excersize some self control and skip the cocktail menu, but I'll definitely be back.
Chiwawa is open seven days a week, and the kitchen stays open late. On Sunday through Thursday, the kitchen closes at 11 p.m. and the bar closes at midnight, and on Friday and Saturday nights, the kitchen closes at 1 a.m. with the bar closing at 2 a.m.
They accept all major credit cards, and they're definitely family friendly during the day.
2059 Madison Ave.
Memphis, TN 38104