Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken started out in a tiny shack in a tiny town outside of Memphis more than 60 years ago. Fifth location in the chain just opened in Austin at 2nd and San Jacinto. With only 5 locations, it really is more of a spreading of the word than the opening of a chain. Austin, like many Southern cities has suffered from a lack of non-fast food, bone-in, slap your Grandma, authentic home-style fried chicken. Gus’s is definitely not fast food. Count on at least a 20 minute wait from when you order. That is a good sign of fresh fried, piping hot chicken. The breading is a thin but tasty crisp crust with a spicy kick. The chicken is juicy and moist with flavor to the bone.
Here is the menu for Gus’s. Meals come with baked beans and slaw with other sides available for a small substitution fee. The baked beans are of the canned variety with another welcome dose of heat. I opted for mac and cheese over slaw which again was more from a box than homemade but they do sprinkle a healthy bit of real cheese over the top. I went on one of our rare cold days, so the barely warm mac failed to melt the added cheese, which probably would have been a nice touch. Instead it was an unpleasant combination of odd textures.
Your meal comes on styrofoam plates with plastic silverware and slice of white bread. Nothing wrong with that, it isn’t supposed to be fancy. It is just the sides might stay as warm as the chicken if they were served on something that could hold the heat.
I confirmed that the pies are made in-house but was disappointed with the sad chess pie that they brought to finish my meal. The crust was obviously pre-made and slightly burned. The filling, although tasty, was weepy from being overcooked. Considering they have been open less than a week, these small failings are easily overlooked and most likely will be improved upon in the weeks to come.
The restaurant has a casual vibe with plenty of neon on the walls and blues in the background. There are several beers available including 4 or 5 locals. I hear that there have been lines at times but when I went around 3pm on a weekday, the only waiting was for the fresh, hot chicken.
I had to try Gus’s after seeing several shout outs from my favorite local high end chef’s in town including one who went here 3 days in a row when they first opened. Despite the few small criticisms, I get it. The chicken is damn delicious and some of the best in town. I still think Lucy’s is the best but Gus’s is a welcome addition. I suggest you check it out before the hipsters standing in line at In-N-Out figure it out. I was sitting next to a pedicab driver who wandered in and said it was as good as he remembered from Bonnaroo, so I think the word may be out soon.