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

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Gus's World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken, Los Angeles Food Scene, Nashville Hot Chicken

Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken

 

A couple of years ago I had drinks with a friend from out of town who told me that the next big thing in LA 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.

Nashville Hot Chicken (or rather Tennessee-originated Hot Chicken) is indeed becoming a big thing here in LA. 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 World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken, Los Angeles Food Scene, Nashville Hot Chicken

Chicken breast and seasoned fries. Sorry for the less than artistic photo — we just wanted to eat!

 

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 World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken, Los Angeles Food Scene, Nashville Hot Chicken

Interior of Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken in Los Angeles

 

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!

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

  1. Thanks for the tip on Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken! I had no idea that Nashville Hot Chicken was becoming a big thing in LA. Mac and cheese to counterbalance the bite of the spice sounds good to me!

  2. That spicy chicken looks fabulous. Good for me that I’ve just had lunch because otherwise I was definitely going to find something similar here in Romania. I wonder if our chickens taste different than the ones from the Los Angeles.

  3. Ever since I went to Nashville a few years back, I’m on the lookout for hot chicken! Definitely adding to my list when I am that area – thanks for sharing! Yum!

  4. They don’t let you pick your spice level? Oh no! I like spicy food but don’t handle it as well as I would like to. I’m still willing to try though!

    • PatriciaSteffy // March 15, 2017 at 4:55 pm // Reply

      They don’t let you pick. And it’s funny because within our group they had a serious wuss (me) and very adventurous eaters (Penny and Andy). I found it really hot, and they found it to be just the right amount.

  5. Thanks for the foodie suggestion. I am not a real fan of spicy, especially something really hot and spicy so not sure that this is the place for me, although I know many others who would love it.

    • PatriciaSteffy // March 15, 2017 at 11:13 pm // Reply

      It was definitely a surprise for me how much I enjoyed it. I’m normally with you, and not a fan of really spicy food.

  6. I had to do multiple takes because I’ve been to the Gus’s in Memphis and it was recommended to me by my Couchsurfing hosts there, so I assumed that it was a local thing. Now, I find our that it’s all over the US! I can attest to the fact that it is suuuuper tasty!
    Paige Wunder recently posted…The Black Sand Beaches of Vik and Reynisfjara, IcelandMy Profile

  7. I don’t live in LA so unfortunately won’t be able to visit this place anytime soon, but it sure does sound pretty great! Chicken dishes are some of my favourite, and even though I can really handle strong spices I’d still give it a go! Will keep Gus’s in mind in case I’m in the area 🙂

  8. I am a big fan of fried chickens, even better when it is spicy! This one looks so crispy! I’ll have to check it out when I’m in town!

    • PatriciaSteffy // March 16, 2017 at 1:08 am // Reply

      It’s definitely worth adding an itinerary! And now I’ll be looking for them wherever we road trip.

  9. Food has power to make you happy is being reflected through this article. Nashville chicken seems to be an integral part of LA’s culture now. The post shows that how this dish can pacify your soul.

  10. Sounds like the place to go if you like hot chicken! I am not a big chicken fan so definitely won’t go there but will bring mitch for sure!
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    • PatriciaSteffy // March 16, 2017 at 2:51 pm // Reply

      While he’s trying the chicken, you might be more interested in their amazing pies (of course, I’m always interested in pie!).

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