Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken–Little Rock, AR

Let’s face it. I love fried chicken. I’ll throw back a box of Popeye’s any day. Another local favorite (I’m from Louisiana) is Southern Classic. Apparently they are so ghetto, they don’t even have a web presence. I won’t even turn my nose up at KFC or chicken from the grocery store. Fried chicken is a southern institution and I’m doing my part by enjoying it.

It’s not difficult to fry chicken, but there is an art to it. Personally, I don’t care to fry because the splattering grease and clouds of flour turn my kitchen into a disaster area. I love cooking, but I’d rather get prison shanked than scour a greasy kitchen.

About a year ago I encountered the fried chicken that puts all others to shame. I was at the original Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis on my first encounter. (Actually I think the original original is at a house in the sticks, but this was the original restaurant if my memory doesn’t deceive me).

The beans are punched up pork 'n beans, but the tang complements the spicy chicken.
The beans are punched up pork ‘n beans, but the tang complements the spicy chicken.

Today as we were passing through Little Rock, AR, I was compelled to try one of Gus’s latest satellites. It has the homey appeal of the Memphis location, but is punched up some as if a hipster was trying for the old authenticity, but you could feel the slick veneer. It’s all marketing, anyway. I really don’t care what a place looks like. In this case, the proof is in the chicken.

The crunch of the crispy skin is incredible. If you pay attention, you can tell that the skin tastes a bit like cracklings, or as we call them, cracklins. The juicy chicken contrasted by the über crispy, pork-esque skin is what makes Gus’s stand apart from the others. That, and they season the meat with a firey blend that adds yet another dimension.

This location isn’t quite as good as the Memphis restaurant, but don’t let that stop you from a day trip in search of culinary delights. I’d easily drive three hours (one way) for their chicken.

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