Gus's Hot Chicken, Spicy Chicken, Food and Drink, Los Angeles, California

Looking for Hot and Spicy Chicken in Los Angeles? Go to Gus’s!

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A couple of years ago I had drinks with a friend from out of town who told me that the next big thing in Los Angeles casual dining was going to be Nashville Hot Chicken. Having no idea what that meant, or whether or not that was going to be a good thing, I filed the info away for later (so far away that I probably forgot about it until just recently). Well, it looks like this is going to be the official “Alison was right” post.

 

Gus's Hot Chicken, Spicy Chicken, Food and Drink, Los Angeles, California

 

Nashville Hot Chicken (or rather Tennessee-originated Hot Chicken in this case) is indeed becoming a big thing here in Los Angeles. And it was my great fortune to make it to Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken to try it out for myself. Credit for that entirely goes to Penny who read about this joint’s location on Crenshaw Boulevard and forced me off of the couch to try it.

While it is new to the area, Gus’s is not new to the world. The beginnings of this hot and spicy fried chicken legacy started in Mason, Tennessee more than 60 years ago. From selling their chickens out of the back of a tavern to a shop they built with the help of customers, Maggie and Na Vanderbilt created something that has withstood changing tastes and fads. And you can find them all over the United States now.

Now let’s talk about the food!

It will surprise absolutely no one that the fried chicken is indeed hot and spicy. The sides were plentiful – we ordered mac and cheese, fries, fried okra and cole slaw for the table. Now, I’m not an okra fan because the texture tends to turn me off, but the fried okra made it far less slippery, and I would actually try it again. My favorite side was the mac and cheese because it was creamy goodness with a bit of tanginess to it. It helped counterbalance the heat and salt of the fried chicken and the fries (which were seasoned, hot and spicy, too).

Gus's Hot Chicken, Spicy Chicken, Food and Drink, Los Angeles, California

 

As for the chicken, I went with just one individual breast (and with the sides, it was more than enough food for me). Others chose plates with multiple pieces, plus beans, white bread and slaw. Now, they don’t let you choose your level of flaming spiciness, so keep this in mind if you are particularly sensitive. The most fascinating thing to me was the combination of the cayenne hot crispiness (I assume cayenne is involved, I can’t prove that) and the incredible juiciness of the white meat it covered. Was the coating hot? Oh, my, yes. Was it spicy? You betcha. But keep in mind that I’m a lightweight when it comes to spicy foods, so your mileage may vary.

Penny thought that the chicken had a “pleasant amount of heat… it was the trifecta of fried chicken — moist, crispy and not at all greasy. Plus, I thought the seasoning was just right, but I love heat.”

I didn’t end up getting a desert of my own because I was far too full, but I did try a taste of the chocolate chess pie. I’ve never had chess pie before so I can’t compare it to others, but I thought it was delicious. It was another great balance of sweet against all the spice of the earlier meal.

Gus's Hot Chicken, Spicy Chicken, Food and Drink, Los Angeles, California

 

The atmosphere was fun and very casual. Checkered tablecloths, exposed brick and televisions decorate the space. It has the vibe of a longstanding neighborhood joint despite the fact that it has only been in this location since June. I understand that it has been so popular that another one is opening in Burbank soon. Go early to avoid some of the lunch rush, although the staff was so great that even when people started to pack the place, we didn’t experience a real slow down in service.

Try it out for yourself and then leave me your thoughts in the comments!

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