Most comfort food is too heavy.

It tastes great but after you eat, it’s laying there in your stomach and you want to got to sleep.

Not Gus’s.

It gives you all the flavor and comfort and none of the drowsiness.  

Gus’s World Famous Hot and Spicy Fried Chicken features fried chicken and a few other things on its small menu.

It’s a friendly place.

“Bring your family,” manager Octavio Gonzalez said. “Expect good service.”

Located at Long Beach Boulevard and Willow Street, it seats 60 people. It’s very warm and friendly.  It’s unassuming without being phony.

“It’s a Southern Juke Joint including the music,” Gonzalez said.

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken is the third Southland location for the Memphis-based chain.

After the death of the founders Maggie and Napoleon “Na" Vanderbilt, their son Gus Bonner opened the Gus’s in 1984. Today there are more than 20 locations around the country.

ABOUT THE FOOD

They do a limited number of things extremely well.

Fried chicken is part of the name and it’s the main item. The crust is thin, light and perfectly textured. It comes on white bread.

Chicken can be ordered by the piece (starting at $3) or as a plate.

Plates start at $9 and include baked beans and slaw. Gonzalez said the beans and the slaw complement each other as well as the spicy chicken.

Chicken is served dark or light pieces and tenders.

Gonzalez takes pride in his fresh ingredients. He said he wants people to know that it’s not a fast food place and they should expect to spend around $15-$24 per adult.

The chicken is cut fresh on-site.  Allergen free peanut oil is used and cooking is rotated among four fryers to keep things fresh.

The chicken is tasty, but Gus’s sides are second to done. I’m not a mac-n-cheese fan, but Gus’s version has the intense flavor and the mixture of textures without being too heavy. House potato salad (mild but flavorful) and seasoned fries are a worthy choice.

Other sides may be substituted for beans and slaw for an additional 50 cents each.

For diners looking for a bargain, there is the Tuesday Tennessee Special: three legs, beans and slaw for $7.50.

As expected in a place specializing in southern food, starters are Fried Pickles with ranch dressing, Fried Green Tomatoes and Fried Okra.

Desserts are homemade pies. Try the  Chocolate Chess Pie, which is a good recommendation. Chess pie is a pudding-like texture, with chocolate filling on a homemade crust.  It’s $4 and ice cream is an extra $1,  which is worth it.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW

There are plenty of choices for kids. Besides ordering chicken by the piece, there’s a grilled cheese sandwich and PB&J.

Gonzalez also wanted to point out that they’re transitioning into biodegradable to-go containers.

Gus’s, 2580 Long Beach Blvd., is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The phone is (562) 2796-1819 and the website is www.gusfriedchicken.com.

Kurt comes to the Gazettes with 30 years experience in broadcasting and journalism. He has produced and/or directed hundreds of television programs, including news, sports, entertainment, election coverage, town meetings and telethons.

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