Tacos, Hot Dogs, Juan-Tons: Meet ¡Chiwawa! (Closed)

Posted by Holly Whitfield | April 4th 2013 6961 0

(Ed. Note: Chiwawa is closed.)

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.

Guacamole, Chiwawa, Memphis, Tenn.

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.

Elote, Chiwawa, Memphis, Tenn.

The best part of the meal by far was the Juan-tons (three for $8). I mean, just look at them:

Juanton, Chiwawa, Memphis, Tenn.

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.

Go there: 


2059 Madison Ave.
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 207-1456



Chiwawa on Urbanspoon

Show Comments


  1. Adrienne says:

    i've actually heard some bad recommendations from families – apparently they only have one highchair? that's the hostess' story at least….hope they can get a handle on that and make it a welcoming place for fams.

  2. JR Kamra says:

    you decided NOT to exercise control?

  3. JT says:

    queso with Chorizo was watery and bland. The smoked pork should not taste like BBQ. I actually like pork tacos but dont't want them tasting like I got them at Corky's. We'll give it another try after they've been open a while but are not rushing back…really dissappointing considering the excitement and hype before they opened.  

  4. IG says:

    I find the whole concept of Chiwawa to be uncomfortably racist.  If a group of white people opened a restaurant called "ckn-wffls" and served meals called "sa-mammie-ichs", the majority of their employees were white… Do you see how this is a problem?  The Hispanic population is marginalized enough as it is.  Please feel free to correct me, but if the owner's really wanted to celebrate Hisapnic culture, they might have hired on more Hispanics, or at the very least, not named a dish "Juan-ton."  

  5. Miles says:


    Have  you ever of something called a "pun" or a "tongue-in-cheek" expression? See, that's the problem with people like you these days- you all have become so politically correct that you forget how easy and simple life used to be. People like you are the ones that keep fueling racism in this country and, furthermore, in this city. Did you know that Chiwawa staff is basically a primordial soup (that's probably a concept you don't understand)… maybe a melting pot would sound better (no, that's probably an indigenous remark to something harsh the Monguls and Ghengis used during their pillaging small villages)… ok, I got it- The staff at Chiwawa is colorblind and friendly. That's a concept that YOU PEOPLE aren't used to either- no, "colorblind" or "colourblind" is a concept that the new generation has discovered; I say discovered only because we have always been colorblind since the dawn of man. It is YOU PEOPLE that cause racism. It has always been YOU PEOPLE that continue to bring up the race-card every opportunity available. It is YOU PEOPLE that will untimately lose sight of the accomplishments we are making as a whole. It is YOU PEOPLE who will be left looking like simpletons. As far as the other comments regarding the food, all the staff can ask for is a bit of patience as we are critiquing some recipes. Stay tuned for  sno cones and summer drinks that will revitalize your palate(s)!!!!

    Be Good and don't be a YOU PEOPLE!!!

  6. Adrienne says:

    Wow, @Miles – what happened to civil discourse and respecting other's opinions as you expect yours to be respected? IG shared his/her opinion and you are so defensive and rude that you have totally taken it out of context. Apparently, "you people" need to relax and learn to treat others with respect.

  7. Maggie says:

    Anytime someone says you're too politically correct, I just picture a toddler getting mad because she must share her toys with ALL of her cousins, not this one and that one. I think IG brought up a good point. I haven't been to Chiwawa or know anything about it past what has been posted here, so I have nothing to add to the argument, but I'd be interested in reading others' opinions.

  8. ecec says:

    Anyone who thinks the name Chiwawa or anyone on it's staff is racist, all I can say is wow. Have you ever been to an authentic mexican restaurant and see an all white staff? What do you expect at a very americanized mexican restaurant? It's a mixed staff… not all white, not all hispanics… not all black… wowwww. Why oh why do some people insist on throwing the race card? And ESPECIALLY living in Memphis where we are extremely diverse! Everyone is absolutely entitled to their opinion, I get it, but come on… I'd hate to see IG's reviews on hooters, the ebony beauty pageant, any authentic mexican restaurant,  gus's fried chicken, etc… 

  9. Lindsey says:

    Juan tons too much cream chz…disappointing. Corn good, margies good. But nothing special. Id rather go to las tortugas for the real stuff

  10. Ali says:

    Geez negative people!


    Ignoring all that, I tried chiwawa today on the patio with my doggie after Overton bark today, and it was GREAT! Everyone on staff was friendly, accompanying and contributed to a great dining experience.

    I too had the Juan tons which were creamy crunchy saucy DELICIOUSNESS! great to share or (like I did) pair it with a taco for lunch. I got what was a fish taco and thought it was excellent as well. Lots of flavors and colors piled high on one of those soft tortillas. And the chips are definitely similar to the homemade kind at Las Delicias (which are the best chips, in my opinion) but the have something extra – whatever seasoning gave it the added flavor besides the salt made them chips phenomenal I can only imagine how good they would have been had I gotten some guac with them! 

    I think to call this a Mexican place is to pigeon hole it and really it's just another fun, great place in Overton that can satisfy your margarita craving 🙂 I hope it does really well and I believe it is a great addition to this area. Would love to see some appreciation for local business instead of the ridiculous over critical and negativity that appears here.

    Oh and one last thing – my server recommended a cherry limeade this afternoon and it was the bomb.com. Perfectly refreshing on the sunny patio, but enough sweetness to make a lady like me want another 😉 plus it had luxardo cherries which automatically earn it a medal in my book!

    Can't wait to go back and some of the great stuff they will be adding after cinco de mayo.

  11. Ali says:

    Also sorry for typos! Hard to see on these dang phone screens and auto correct never does help lol 

    should have said accommodating not accompanying*

    and the chips not them chips*

    and that I can't wait to go back and try*


    although I am from east tn so I'm sure y'all won't mind just blaming it on that! Haha 🙂

  12. Kim says:

    I enjoyed my visit. The Juan tons were excellent. While I like Las tortugas, i'm not driving miles away to enjoy similar fair at a much steeper price. It is a welcome change to have places close by that serve the food I enjoy. I'm proud of what has become of Overton Square and I'll support the establishments that are closer to me in locality

  13. IG says:

    As a (third generation Mexican) American I can assure you that as someone who gets called "Juan" derogatorily, on a regular basis, referring to a food item called "Juan-ton" is not an adorable pun as much as it is distasteful, passive racism.  Also, @miles, I'm sorry the idea of "political correctness" also known as "treating other people, especially those that have been systematically marginalized for centuries" offends you so much.  Yes, it is the fault of people wanting to be treated with equality that spurs on racism.  Definitely that.

  14. […] Chiwawa (2059 Madison Ave.), Sat. and Sun., 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., $4 Bloody Marys/Mimosas, big patio. To read more about Chiwawa, go here.  (Closed) […]

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