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Gus's World Famous Hot and Spicy Chicken

310 South Front Street, Memphis, TN - (901) 527-4877
Posted By Michael Stern on 5/24/2010 12:56:00 PM
I'm not sure about Gus's claim to be world famous; but if it is not, it deserves to be. Here is some of the nation's best fried chicken. Each piece, dark and white, is encased in an envelope that vigorously crunches then offers rapturous chew, all the while radiating the ecstatic flavor combo of chicken fat and pepper. The menu calls it hot and spicy; but it is comfort food, nowhere near the incendiary heat levels of Nashville hot chicken. Other than catfish a couple of nights a week, chicken is Gus's only entree; any pieces are available in any combination; side dishes include spicy baked beans, creamy cole slaw, fried rice (!), fried okra and spiced French fries.

Even if you are a culinary purist who considers fried green tomatoes and fried dill pickles a novelty more than a necessary regional dish, you should try Gus's. The pickles in particular are transcendent, maintaining al dente character inside a crunchy coat which, like that on the chicken, is an elegant balance of spice and lusciousness.

Dining at Gus's is an adventure, that's for sure. On a ravaged street the wrong side of Beale, it regularly posts a security guard on the sidewalk so that visitors will feel safe between car and front door. The inside, where mismatched chairs are arranged around a couple dozen tables topped with miscellaneous checked easy-wipe tablecloths, it seems like a chaotic madhouse as customers mill around near the door waiting for their turn to sit. Once seated, you will deal with a staff who are nothing but courteous and efficient.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Fried Chicken
Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried Dill Pickles
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

The meat within is moist and full-flavored, but the crust that surrounds it is luxury incarnate -- maximum umami.
"The meat within is moist and full-flavored, but the crust that surrounds it is luxury incarnate -- maximum umami."
Michael Stern





When we saw coconut pie on the menu, we assumed it would be a coconut cream pie.  Instead, this is more of a chess pie, with a layer of coconut on top.  Our waitress Adrienne recommended in having it served warm, which was good advice.
"When we saw coconut pie on the menu, we assumed it would be a coconut cream pie. Instead, this is more of a chess pie, with a layer of coconut on top. Our waitress Adrienne recommended in having it served warm, which was good advice."
Cliff Strutz


The sound of teeth crunching through the batter envelope around this drumstick is audible ecstacy.
"The sound of teeth crunching through the batter envelope around this drumstick is audible ecstacy."
Michael Stern


A close view of a Gus's wing only hints at just how succulent it is.
"A close view of a Gus's wing only hints at just how succulent it is."
Michael Stern


Sandy texture with just the right amount of tartness, the fried green tomatoes are the best side here at Gus's.
"Sandy texture with just the right amount of tartness, the fried green tomatoes are the best side here at Gus's."
Cliff Strutz


We love the fried dill pickles.  What a great combination of textures and tastes.
"We love the fried dill pickles. What a great combination of textures and tastes."
Anne Ritchings


Crispy, spicy, and piping hot: it may be the best or, at the very least, a strong contender for the title.
"Crispy, spicy, and piping hot: it may be the best or, at the very least, a strong contender for the title."
Anne Ritchings


My favorite fried dill pickle anywhere, retaining nice cucumber crunch, its tart flesh and luxurious batter an irresistible appetizer.
"My favorite fried dill pickle anywhere, retaining nice cucumber crunch, its tart flesh and luxurious batter an irresistible appetizer."
Michael Stern


One of the fry cooks shows off his bounty of golden deliciousness!
"One of the fry cooks shows off his bounty of golden deliciousness!"
Cliff Strutz


Listen to the neon chicken!
"Listen to the neon chicken!"
Cliff Strutz


The dining room isn't that large and fills up quickly.  Best to come early, if you don't want to stand in line.
"The dining room isn't that large and fills up quickly. Best to come early, if you don't want to stand in line."
Anne Ritchings


Friday night at Gus's, the dining room is full and there is a crowd of people waiting outside on the sidewalk.
"Friday night at Gus's, the dining room is full and there is a crowd of people waiting outside on the sidewalk. "
Michael Stern


This chicken may not be world famous, but it is famous all over Memphis.
"This chicken may not be world famous, but it is famous all over Memphis."
Anne Ritchings



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