Saturday, April 6, 2013

{Go There}: Chiwawa, Take Two.

A few weeks ago, Jake and I accidently attended Chiwawa's opening day as a restaurant. We were in Overton Square, saw people there, and decided to check it out. The result was disappointing - chaotic service, missing menu items, splinters from tables, and mixed messages on what came with the dishes.

This past week some of my friends wanted to try out Chiwawa. I decided it had been long enough that I was interested in seeing if they did in fact get their act together. I had seen on twitter that some people were enjoying it and there was less negative buzz. So off we went on a Wednesday night to check it out again.

I sat inside this time (since we were in the middle of winter-in-April) and right away noticed a difference. When I walked in, I was promptly greeted and told to go to the other side of the restaurant to be seated. The bouncer-looking man that was seating people was friendly, funny, and efficient. I got a table quickly, though if I had come 10 minutes later there would have been a line out the door. That's one thing I'll say - Chiwawa seems to be doing great business. It was very crowded from about 6:30 all the way until we left at 8pm.

I also noticed that they got updated menus that reflected their new taco deal. Tacos are $3-4 for one fancy taco but you can get 3 for $9 (a deal if you choose all $4 tacos but not if you choose three $3 ones..). They also took their fun adult sno-cones and paletas off the menu - I'm imaging that they will be back for summer.

We ended up having to wait for our third friend, who was stuck in a meeting that ran over. It turned out to be the perfect excuse to try the chips and dip. We got the queso blanco. It is a little expensive ($7) but you get a lot of dip and chips - unlike some places where you run out of one before the other. The cheese dip was also very unique and delicious - not just something from a jar at the store.

I did notice that as it got more crowded, it got a lot louder. I'm going to totally sound like my mom saying this (hi, mom) but there are a lot of hard surfaces in the design and it isn't conducive to conversation. We were basically shouting at our table by the end of the conversation.

Our waitress was very much on top of things, knew what she was doing, was patient when our friend was late, and was very helpful. A huge change from the clown show that was our waiting experience before. One odd thing - we got a pitcher of margaritas for us all to share so we had, at times, empty glasses but weren't done with them because there was clearly more in the pitcher. This girl that was most likely bussing tables kept coming around and trying to take our empty glass, at one point grabbing it off the table before I said I needed it still. She came no lie about 4 times. I guess they must have been low on glassware that night because she seemed desperate. It was awkward.

Now to the food. Last time I got the juan-tons. I didn't like them because they were too small so the ton-to-filling ratio was off. I saw that they went from 5 juan-tons to 3 so I'm hoping that they are bigger? I should have gotten them to see. Sarah got the three taco deal (she said she liked the chicken the best), AJ got the chiwawa dog (hot dog wrapped in bacon with avocado and salsa topping), and I went the healthy route and got the papas fritas and the elote sides. Really those were the two things I wanted to see if I would like so I just went for it.

My two sides were both ridiculously good. The side of elote comes with 1/2 an ear but the elote appetizer comes with two 1/2 ears. The elote is Mexican street corn, which is corn on the cob with a mayonnaise based coating, cheese, and some serious spices. The corn was so spicy but so good. My pappas fritas were also amazing. Hand cut fries topped with a crumbly white cheese, served with what I tried to determine was maybe a siracha-ketchup dipping sauce (it was a spicy goodness, that's what it was).

I didn't get an exterior shot last time I was there so I also took one of those - you can see that they took an old building that was falling apart and made it into a cool, modern space. There's a huge patio, a giant bar, and a big space downstairs for seating as well.

Other thoughts: all prices include tax, which makes this a very easy place to get food, eat fast, and leave cash on the table if you're getting lunch. Also this one is a strange side note - the next day I was wearing the rain jacket I had worn to Chiwawa the night before and I kept smelling this weird odor and I realized my rain jacket smelled like food - and then I smelled my clothes from the night before and they smelled like food too. So be aware - if you sit inside I guess there isn't good ventilation because my jacket smelled so funky.

I'm so glad I went back to see the polished product as opposed to the opening day chaos of Chiwawa. I think this will be a Midtown hot spot and help progress the Overton Square revitalization. Next Saturday (4/13), when Overton Square has their annual Crawfish Festival, Chiwawa is going to have live music more towards 6pm at the end of the festival so once you're done sucking heads out of little crustaceans, move on down the street and get yourself a taco or dog.

In Midtown being Memphis,
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Cathy Thompson said...

Thanks for your observations and comments, Kathryn. Will have to go check this place out!

Oh, and anonymous troll--get off her site!!!

Our Volunteer Family said...

I love your restaurant reviews, Kathryn! Don't let someone else's petty negative chatter influence you. You are awesome!


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