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Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken Sink your teeth into this crispy - then juicy - spicy fried chicken

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

4101 Third St., Detroit, MI 48201
  • Neighborhood: Midtown
  • Price Level:   
  • Cards Accepted

Tags: fried chicken, pie, mac-cheese, gus-world-famous-fried-chicken, secret-recipe

“Secret Recipe” is a term that gets thrown around a little too easily. It reminds us of an ad for a can of beans, or the hasty exchange of fast food through a car window, or your Aunt Clara’s pretzel jello that no one really wants the recipe for anyway.

But in the case of Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, we’re pretty sure the reason this recipe stays secret is because it calls for freshly grated fairy dust, or the tears from a young unicorn, or something equally dark but delicious.

This new fried chicken spot in Midtown comes to Detroit by way of Memphis, Tenn. The exact ingredients and preparation for their crispy birds (we know it involved a brine and a wet batter, but not much else) have been a closely-guarded secret for over 60 years – ever since Napoleon Vanderbilt, a small town carpenter with a big city name, served his first sandwich out of the back door of a tavern.

Their modern Third Street dining room is airy and casual, with high ceilings, red and blue checkered tablecloths and mismatched chairs from your grade school multipurpose room. It’s a bustling, friendly place to spend your lunch hour.

Everything else seems to fade away, however, once you get your mouth around that first piece of dark golden brown chicken. The bird is enveloped in a lovely crunchy crust which tastes like a magic buttermilk batter with a generous sprinkling of cayenne, giving the whole thing a nice kick of heat. But beyond that, we have absolutely no idea what’s in it, or what makes this chicken so wonderfully crispy out the outside and unbelievably juicy once you get to the meat. Must be the unicorn tears.

The menu is succinct and focused. Start off by splitting some fried tomatoes or fried pickle spears with a friend, or get right to the main event: fried chicken. You can choose plates with light or dark meat, or buy pieces a la carte. Then, complete your plate with a couple of sides. We like ours with baked beans and coleslaw, but you could also get mac and cheese, potato salad, fried okra, greens, or seasoned fries. A slide of white sandwich bread also comes with every plate. It handily doubles as a napkin for those moments when a hot squirt of chicken juice rolls down your chin.

It’s easy to get caught up in the golden fried excitement, and forget to save room for dessert. But once we catch a glimpse of a slice of silky, old fashioned coconut pie being served at the next table, our appetite comes right back. Gus’s serves half a dozen southern homestyle pies like pecan and chess.


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