Looking for the best fried chicken in Austin? Try Gus’s Fried Chicken.
Some businesses that grow beyond their original location do so because of a deliberate business plan and an astute management team. Others expand because the food is just that good that it would be a crime not to share the love beyond the original spot. Gus’s (NB, that’s their choice of punctuation) is one such place.
Originating (and still trading from) a nondescript shack just a couple miles outside of Memphis, Gus’s is one of those feel good stories where down home cooking, Southern hospitality and a helluva secret recipe resulted in a beloved and legendary restaurant. The most recent Gus’s franchise opened in doors in Austin and it’s a welcome addition indeed.
There’s nothing fancy here. No interpretative appetizers, no metal silverware, no chef interpretations of traditional Southern food. Just fried chicken, sides and pie. I mean, you may as well just get it to go – everything is gunna be served on foam plates anyway.
Well, it’s not just chicken, they also have fried green tomatoes. Because what better way to prepare for a fried main, than with a fried appetizer.
Ok if I had to pick a negative, I’d probably point out that the teeny ranch tub does not allow you to dip the ‘maters, and if you want it you have to pour it over. But seriously, who wants to be the person who complains about that level of ridiculous detail? Well, I guess half the people who use Yelp, but not me.
And so to the yardbird: this is everything you want fried chicken to be. Impossibly crisp, with a perfect amount of spice that gently builds up in strength rather than smacking you in the face in one hit. Sorry Nashville, I want to taste my damn chicken, not use it as a vehicle for cayenne. The chicken inside remains moist and flavourful, and you pretty much feel like you’re getting the culinary version of a big hug from a jolly fat grandmother.
As for the sides – let me tell you straight that the mac’n’cheese is old school Velveeta goodness, but the potato salad is as sweet as a dessert. I didn’t go past my first bite, and definitely would have loved a tart, vinegary, mustardy Texas-style tater salad to cut through all the friedness.
Oh look! They come in drinking cups! Kudos to the person at Gus’s HQ who spotted a cheeky but perfectly functional way to keep inventory down.
You still with me? If you’ve done this right, you’ve ordered an appropriate amount to save yourself room for pie. For real, pie after fried chicken is like closure – it just feels that much better.
Pro tip: stick with the pecan – there’s a reason it’s the most ordered flavor.