Worth Flying to Get To

A few years ago, Gentlemen’s Quarterly named Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in the west Tennessee hamlet of Mason one of the ten restaurants in the United States worth flying to get to.

Rightly so. They serve the best darned fried chicken on the planet. Spices infuse the juicy flesh of their crispy fried chicken—they’re not simply stuck to the skin. Accompanying this heaven-on-a-bone are collard greens, black-eyed peas, fried okra, potatoes, and on and on… All of it soul food at its most soulful. The generous buffet allows indulgence in a score of Southern delicacies. It’s all made to nourish farmers and rural folks who stand in line for their to-go orders, while those of us with the time to linger over our meal make too many trips to the buffet. We’ll think about dieting tomorrow…

We stopped and ate at Gus’s on the way from Memphis up to my family farm, taking the backroads through the gloriously lush green landscape of a Tennessee spring. The aroma of that famous chicken greeted us as soon as we pulled into the parking lot, before we even opened the car doors. The restaurant is nothing fancy at all, but this is not a place you go to for posh surroundings. There’s serious eating to be done here, finery be damned!
The GQ article is framed on the wall, but it’s given no more prominence than all the local write-ups and accolades heaped on the place. The Gus of Gus’s fame died in the summer of 2007, but those he left behind have carried on the tradition he established of providing honest, tasty, wholesome fare at prices the locals can afford. And if guests actually DO fly in, they’re just as welcome in their city duds and rental cars as the farmers in their dusty work clothes and pick-up trucks.
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