High Ground's signature "On the Ground" series embeds a team of journalists and photojournalists in a Memphis neighborhood for 1-6 months of intensive, hyper-local coverage.
While we're there, we eat. A lot.
We chose a different neighborhood restaurant every Friday for team lunches. We also hit up restaurants for "research" before we pen a business profile.
It's a tough job, but we're always ready to step up.
In "Destination Eats," we're rounding up some of the best restaurants we've covered in our 14 On the Ground neighborhoods.
This second installment takes us to Madison Heights. See the first here: "Destination Eats: Hickory Hill has what you you're craving
Madison Heights radiates out from its core at Madison Avenue and Cleveland Street. It sits between Poplar and Union avenues to the north and south with McNeil Street and Interstate 240 as its rough east-west boundaries.
We recommend getting it your food to-go to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Under current mandates, in-person dining ends at 10:30 p.m. but some businesses may still offer curbside and delivery after 10:00 p.m.
Bonus Fact: "Madison Heights" is a forgotten name. Madison Heights began as a township in the late 1800s. The name was still in use as late as the late 1990s, but most people now refer to the area as Midtown or the Medical District.
The Medical District's community development corporation and a few area business owners are working to revive the name to give the area a more distinct identity. They hope it will spur renewed interest and investment.
Riko's Kickin Chicken
1329 Madison Avenue | 901-726-5347
Currently 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Riko's chicken is definitely kicking. Customer favorites include the hot wings and whole chicken, broccoli and cheese, shrimpburger, fried fish, and kickin fries loaded with peppers, bacon, cheese, and ranch sauce. Their wing sauces are bold and complex, and they'll even dip your fish in any flavor you want. Honey gold catfish should be on your Memphis food bucket list.
Read more about Riko's Kickin Chicken here
Phillip Ashley Chocolates
1200 Madison Avenue | 901-572-1011
Currently 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday
Dubbed a “real life Willy Wonka
” by Forbes Magazine and the "King of Chocolate
" by Black Enterprise, Memphis-based chocolatier Phillip Ashley Rix has created custom chocolates for FedEx, Nike, and the Grammy and Emmy awards. Lucky for us, his Madison Heights storefront serves Memphians too.
Rix's chocolates are known for their bold, swirling aesthetics and non-traditional flavors and flavor combinations like strawberry hot sauce, fig jam, and barbecue sauce.
Read more about Phillip Ashley Chocolates here.
Viet Hoa Food Market
40 North Cleveland Street | 901-726-9388
9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily
Viet Hoa isn't a restaurant but it makes our list as one of the best Asian markets in the city.
It stocks some fresh produce, meat, and grocery items typical to any U.S. table alongside food, household, holiday, and religious items specific to Southeast Asian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese cultures.
Read more about Viet Hoa Food Market here
The Pumping Station
1382 Poplar Ave | 901-272-7600
Currently opens 5:30 p.m., in-person dining ends at 10:30 p.m.
The Pumping Station is one of the last gay bars in Memphis, but everyone is welcome. They're serving up beloved bar staples like hot wings, pizza, and cheese sticks, but we love the steak night and taco night specials. The fried mac-and-cheese and meatball sliders are worth a trip too, and their bartenders know pour a mean cocktail.
Read more about The Pumping Station and Dru's Bar here
Slice of Soul Pizza Lounge
1299 Madison Avenue | 901-509-2087
Currently Wednesday-Saturday, 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Excellent pizza and a great staff—you can't go wrong with Slice of Soul. We recommend the Westwood Whole Wings and Memphis Meat Mafia pizza. And don't skip dessert! Grab some of that Strawberry Staxx or Crosstown Carmel cake.
Read more about Slice of Soul Pizza Lounge here
Here are some other favorites we visited while embedded in Madison Heights:
Los Comales | 1322 Madison Avenue | 901-440-8393
10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; Friday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Tops Bar-B-Q | 1286 Union Avenue | 901-725-7527
9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily
The Cupboard | 1400 Union Avenue | 901-276-8015
7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily
Vietnam Restaurant | 74 North Cleveland Street |
10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily