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Best Bite of the Week: Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

It seems that lately in Los Angeles there has been a renewed interest in fried chicken.  A few years ago I attended a Fried Chicken Festival and as I was perusing my past blogs to find that story, I realized I have definitely written about some fantastic fried chicken dishes since we launched our blog.  But it seems recently many of the foodie emails I receive are all about fried chicken, and specifically two places that have risen to the top of the chicken chain:  Howlin’ Rays which started as a food truck and Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken which is a family-owned business started in Tennessee in 1973.  Now with 16 locations (including here in Los Angeles) and three more on the way, Gus’s is spreading their love across the USA.
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Unlike Howlin’ Rays, Gus’s is open 7 days a week, so my research pals (the same ones who invited me to the Fried Chicken Festival) and I planned an early lunch at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken on Crenshaw one recent Monday morning.  They open at 11:00am, and we found free street parking close by.  When we walked in at 11:05 there were already a few tables filled with diners.  The room is spacious and airy, with big windows and checkered tablecloths topping the tables.  The brick wall adds a nice homey touch along with some signage, posters and a few flat screen TV’s showing chicken commercials.  Our server Patty was absolutely delightful and she made our whole experience a lot of fun.
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We started by sharing an order of Fried Green Tomatoes with a side of ranch dressing.  Not greasy at all, just deliciousness.  We could have eaten a second order but were saving ourselves for the spotlight, the Fried Chicken.  Between  the three of us we ordered 10 pieces.  The chicken on the menu is categorized under individual pieces, snacks, plates and specials.  My plate came with a breast and a wing, placed on a single fresh piece of white bread, which is a tribute to the earliest days of this business when it was served as a sandwich between two slices of white bread, out of the back-door of a tavern in Mason, TN.  The plates are served with coleslaw and baked beans, but for a few cents you can substitute either for any of five other sides.  I swapped out the beans for potato salad.  The sides were good but my appetite was strictly focused on the fried chicken.  And the fried chicken was TOURific!!  Moist, juicy white chicken meat inside the most crispy flavorful fried chicken skin.  It was not too hot but there was definitely a lingering spiciness that I enjoyed after the chicken was long gone.  I ate that chicken to the bone.  And wanted more BUT since I had also heard good things about the chess pie, decided to save a little space for that.
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So even though Patty told us the Pecan Pie was her favorite we opted for the house favorite, Chess Pie.  Warmed up with a scoop of ice cream on top, it was a perfect way to end our lunch!  I have a friend who makes chess pie and I think she would approve of the pie at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken.    But truly the highlight here is the fried chicken.  It put to shame a recent lunch with a piece of fancy fried chicken I tried at a new Original Farmer’s Market kiosk.  That experience almost made me cry, thinking how much I paid for one dry piece of chicken.  I say run, don’t walk, to Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken on Crenshaw for a plate of fried chicken that will make you smile.  According to Patty, weekends can attract a line out the door, so try visiting over the lunch hour or a weekday dinner.  I am declaring my Two Piece White Chicken Plate from Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken as My Best Bite of the Week!
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By Trish Procetto