808 Fair Oaks Ave.
South Pasadena, CA 91030
(626) 799-3251

I’ve traveled far and wide in a life-long quest to sample as many varieties of barbecue ribs as I can.

On a trip north along the east coast of the U.S., we stopped in North Carolina for the express purpose of sampling the famed local ribs. I wrote this feature on barbecue as the true American food.

We stopped in Tyler, Texas for a night so I could sample the famed local ribs. They were excellent. And I learned that the ribs touted at the Q joint near my home as being “Authentic Tyler Texas style ribs” aren’t anything like the real thing.

I have the recipes for a full, authentic Santa Maria barbecue that includes ribs, salsa and pinquito beans. I used to cook those ribs for holiday celebrations at my late sister’s home.

But when I get the itch for some really great Q, I’ll get in the car and head for Gus’s, even though it can be a tough drive on a weekday evening. My cardiologist is glad I don’t live closer to Gus’s.

The featured ribs at Gus’s are Memphis baby backs and St. Louis spare ribs. I gladly would eat either – often. The baby backs are sensational, but my personal preference is the St. Louis. Usually, I eat my ribs with no the sauces. A true test of the meat and the smoking is to eat it naked – the meat not me. At Gus’s, however, the Memphis sauce is wonderful. Instead of overpowering the meat, it enhances the taste of the ribs. I spread around just enough to get the flavor and some mild heat.

I’ve tasted the beer braised Texas brisket and the smoked sausage, when Jennifer ordered a combination plate. Both are excellent. The BBQ baked beans at Gus’s are outstanding – so much so that when I select the two sides that come with the main course, I order two sides of beans.

Chicken and pulled pork are available as plates or sandwiches. Southern specialties include southern fried chicken, gumbo, fried catfish and chips, and blackened rib eye. Four burgers and eight sandwiches complete the menu for mains. Southern fried chicken with waffles is available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Reservations are a must on weekends and a good idea on weekdays.

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