Earlier this year, I saw advance word that the small Memphis-based chain Gus’s was going to open its eleventh location, and first east of I-65, in Atlanta. In Peachtree Center, of all places. It wasn’t April 1, and I didn’t have a single brandy at lunch. It’s in one of those weird off-the-path corridors of that strange little mall that doesn’t get any foot traffic. We’ve had dinner here once and I promise, I was not hallucinating. Some of the very best fried chicken on the planet is available in Atlanta. You can go get some today.
Gus’s started as a little roadside shack in the town of Mason TN and has grown to a major food tourist attraction in Memphis, with stores dotted around the Mississippi River states. We visited the main store in Memphis in May 2012 and, for reasons only a parent with a sad and surly teen who needed a little sympathy can understand, I passed on a three-piece dark meat plate in favor of the same order of tenders that my sad and surly teen ordered.
Those were probably the best tenders I’ve ever had. They weren’t as good as what Marie saved for me to nibble. The only reason we didn’t go back to Gus’s when we were in Memphis earlier this year was because I was waiting for this place to open in Atlanta.
We took the train downtown and visited Gus’s the second evening they were open, which is far too early for a proper review of any kind. The service was miles from efficient, for starters. So let’s just say that I’ve been looking forward to this opening for months and months, and the food did not disappoint me at all. The chicken is excellent. It’s got a very mild kick of spicy heat, and it’s just incredibly juicy. It’s by leagues the best reasonably-priced meal available anywhere within walking distance of the downtown hotels.
It’s going to rain all weekend, but if you can make your way to a MARTA station with free and covered parking, you can take the train to Peachtree Center, enjoy a nice book as you go, and dig into this yourself without getting a drop of rain on your head. Eat it here, love it here, take a big order of it home for the next day, as our friends at Burgers, Barbecue and Everything Else did. The next time anybody asks for nominations for the city’s best fried chicken, you’ve got your answer.
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