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Gus's BBQ in Pasadena

  • m

Has anyone tried this place? I heard it's ok... I tried that texas roadhouse place on Fair Oaks a few weeks ago and was terribly disappointed. The meat was dry and tough and the sauce was about as good as a random store bought grocery variety.

I've tried Hogley Wogley's which was pretty good and that place on Pico... not so good.

I'm originally from the East Bay up North and I'm a big fan of Everett and Jones on San Pablo. And Yes, I think the dirtier one is better than the nice and clean spruced up one in Jack London Square in Oakland. The Sauce is killer and the meat is pretty damn good. Not the best but it's very good.

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  1. stay away from gus's. i grew up in south pas and now live nearby, and the best part of gus's is that sign outside.

    11 Replies
    1. re: smssms

      HAHAHA! Will do. Yeah, that sign is very attractive. It's the reason why I've been so curious about it.

      1. re: Meathound

        Gus's BBQ is worse than Barn Burner north on Fair Oaks. I agree that the sign is great but the bbq is crap. Depending where we are, we like Robin's BBQ in Pasadena on north Rosemead or Zekes in Montrose on Honolulu ave. Robin's is better than Zekes but sometimes we don't want to drive across town.

        1. re: eric
          local foodie

          Let's not forget Big Mamas on Lake avenue in Pasadena. They do some decent bbq and even better soul food. You're correct that Robin's has some fine bbq and I have to concur that both Gus's & Barn Burner are bad excuses for bbq. That sign that gus's has is pretty darn cool though.

          1. re: local foodie

            Cool, I'll try all three places. I live in West LA but I work in South Pas and my girlfriend also lives in S. Pas so I'll definitly check them out. I'm glad I won't be waisting my money on Gus's now.

            The "chorus of complaints" is too funny!

            1. re: Meathound

              I had to include my 2 cents, although you wisely are listening to everyone else. Gus's was so terrible, I still hold a grudge. I'm one of those people with a good "food memory" -- so I literally can still *taste* that lame, lame, lame watery tomato sauce they put on their so-called "barbecue" chicken. Yuck. How is this place still in business?

              I love Robin's - especially their not especially bbq sides like the blueberry cornbread and coleslaw with blue cheese - wow. great stuff.

              1. re: kimpossible1138

                We'll second the opinion on Robin's. The blueberry cornbread rocks & you can smell the wood burning smokers out back in the parking lot. Your nose won't lie to you.

      2. re: smssms
        You know that new pizza place near Gus is not bad

        I had a few slices from there the other day and was pleasantly surprised. That is of course if you like NY style pizza. It's definitly not the best but it's servicable for Sout Pas if you live in the area. I'm like 5 blocks away so it's not like I have to go very far or fight traffic for it.

        1. re: You know that new pizza place near Gus is not bad

          What's the name of the pizza place and where is it located?

          1. re: Leslie

            I don't remember the name of the Pizza place. I think there used to be a KFC there...

            It has a green and white onning and is only a few buildings down from Bristol Farms on the same side of the street.

            Sorry I can't be clearer on the name and location. If you park at Bristol you could walk a min or so and you'd be right there.

            1. re: Meathound

              I believe it's called Mama's Brick Oven Pizza.. and it looks pretty busy. Yes, for past few decades used to be a KFC.. Had a decent slice there a couple weeks ago.. weird to get a slice in the likes of South Pas (only other pizza options lousy chains)..

        2. ...strangely enough, the best bbq I've had lately was in Chinatown at the Spring Street Smoke House. I used to frequent Woody's on Vernon, Carl's Dirty Rice and Leons up on SF Bay but this place has some ribs that rank right up there with the best.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cleats

            Spring Street Smokehouse
            640 N. Spring St.
            Los Angeles, CA 90012
            (213) 626-0535

            Link: http://www.SSSmokehouse.com

          2. g

            Just wanted to join in on the chorus of complaints. I live 1.5 blocks from the place and have only been once - the place is awful!! What offends me the most is the use of "BBQ" - yes there are many regional differences and opinions about what makes great American Q, but none of them call for BAKED meats with mediocre bottled sauce slathered on it. Again, avoid avoid avoid.

            1. I think we went to Gus's once (once was enough.) We like Ribs USA in Burbank. Order the Easy Issa's or the Presidential. We're kind of always on the hunt for good ribs, and these aren't mind blowing but always pretty good, consistently. I may be blaspheming here, but I didn't love Hogly Wogly.

              1. Not to defend Gus's *barbecue* per se, but I think it's more a halfway decent diner that perhaps back in the old days used to be a real bbq place.. sadly, not anymore, but the diner food is pretty decent, the atmosphere pleasantly old school (the only bar in South Pas, I don't know how they manage to get around the city charter).. you're always guaranteed a big leather booth, and I especially like the breakfasts.. they keep the coffee coming and hash browns are yum (some sort of herbs they put in it I love).
                They could just remove the "BBQ" from their sign and stop serving the stuff.. but maybe ironically, the sign is so classic (which blatantly advertises bbq all over) that it would be a major pity and loss to the Fair Oaks landscape if they got rid of it (looks real cool next to all the bland and modern frontage lining the old street).. maybe, in a decade or so some intrepid new owner (like Robin's guy) will add a real BBQ smoker to the place and do the sign justice, but till then: I like it a lot better then the likes of Carrow's for diner food/breakfasts in the area..


                1 Reply
                1. re: jflo

                  Hmmm that's good to know. I never thought of going there for anything other than BBQ (which I've done once and vowed never to do again).

                  Though the ribs are really bad, it would be a shame to lose the sign. Unfortunately, the way development is the more likely scenerio would be the entire building would be razed and turned into a Kohl's or another Starbucks or two, and if we're lucky the sign gets rescued out of the dumpster and turned over to MONA (Museum of Neon Art) in downtown.

                  Link: http://www.neonmona.org

                2. I think Gus's is great fun. The service is friendly and everything is ultra fresh. I never get the barbecue items and presume they're coffee shop style and appeal to the contingent of elderly diners who frequent the place. The salads are excellent in that really crispy fresh iceberg lettuce sort of way. They serve a nice date bread and the Greek chicken (the owners are Greek) is very satifying. The soups are also nice and they serve Fosselman's ice cream. If you compare Gus's to an authentic barbecue joint, it won't fare very well. If you compare it to other coffee shops (it really is a coffee shop...) in the area like Shakers or Wild Thyme, it rates infinitely higher.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Slow Foodie

                    I'm gonna go along with that. I was pretty much agreeing with this thread because I DID try some of their "barbecue" once, and it was worse than HS cafeteria food. However, we've gone there two or three times with a friend who just likes the slightly rundown atmosphere, and the various sandwiches and salads we've had were perfectly adequate, if not (of course I'd say this!) up to Pann's quality. And we always have the same old gal waiting on us, who is a certified Hoot.

                    And, yeah, given that the local competition in that category is Wild Thyme and Carrow's, I'd say it's the class of the crowd!

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      Hmm, well this all gives me something more to think about. It's right down the street so it would be nice to stroll out there for a decent meal from time to time. I'll check out their menu from afar and figure out if I want to walk in... I just know that my curiosity is going to get the best of me and if I walk in, I'm gonna get some Q... or what they call Q...

                  2. I have heard that Gus's is lousy BBQ. I've never eaten there, but recently I was walking by, and I just walked in to quickly check ou what it looked like, and to grab a to-go menu. I really liked the way it looked, inside and out. They have a very nice counter, which I like, and plush red booths. I won't argue that the Q is bad, but the general drift of these reviews is that, while the Q sucks, there is plenty of good diner foood to be had there. I'm linking to their website. Check it out,, it has good pix, and you can download the menu. So, the feeling is, go to Gus's, but just don't oorder the BBQ!

                    Link: http://www.gussbbq.com/

                    1. I had to try a new/old BBQ in South Pasadena. Sooner or later I get to all of them. Gus's BBQ has been around for ages, but in the past several years, it seemed mostly closed. Now, new owners take it over and I am hoping for the best. I went there for lunch last week and sat at the counter. In the narrow small kitchen there were at least 7 cooks. Um? The waiter was very nice and accommodating. I ordered the half slab of St. Louis ribs with slaw and French fries. I also asked if I could give me a taste of the brisket. After all any BBQ that's any good must at least serve good pork ribs and beef brisket. Gus's has a big original sign in front saying "Traditional BBQ" and also "California Style." That already seemed like a strange combination. The food arrived. However, when the cook prepared the ribs, he took a half slab out of the refrigerator and warmed them in some way that I could not see. These ribs were not St. Louis cuts. Not nearly as large and with no cartilage on the tips. In fact after chewing all of the meet off the bones, they only measure about 2 and half inches long! And the price was too high $19.00! The rub used was good but the two sauces served in "creamer" type cups were nothing unusual. The "spicy" sauce tasted more like a marmalade with lots of sugar and few spices. The brisket was a complete surprise! It arrived in a rectangular bowl and was all chopped and stringy. It looked and tasted just like "pot roast." The beer flavor was poured over it by the cook when he warmed it. It could also have been the sliced-off ends of the meat which taste OK but it sure isn't at all similar to any brisket served in a "traditional BBQ." I would call it at best the filling for a "Sloppy Joe." Nothing special about the iced tea. Water would have been better. Good service and friendly people but totally misguided with their "California Style." I wish them luck but will not return.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: OJT Barbecue

                        I think some of the above posters good it right - this is a diner. It just passed (recently) from one big Greek family (Tripodes) to another (Bicos). I grew up w/ these guys a couple miles away, so I wouldn't look too hard for BBQ credentials! Go in thinking of a good I-95 Greek-owned diner and not, I dunno, a BBQ place.

                        1. re: cant talk...eating

                          Although I know what you're getting at, the Greek-owned diner thing is kind of off the mark and could confuse people. No, it's not super-authentic barbecue. Yes, it is a good place to take a family or group looking for southern food/comfort food, with a few good barbecue items, really nice fried chicken, great sweet potato fries, solid mint juleps and beer on tap. Nothing dinerish about it, though. It fills the bill for a place that covers most of the bases like good drinks, kids menu, etc., and there aren't very many non-chain places in that category.

                          1. re: Chowpatty

                            Thanks for gently clarifying! I agree, not a diner either; I was more getting at the standard American-ness/familiarity of it all. But yes, maybe a non-chain-alternative is a better descriptor now that I think about it.

                            1. re: cant talk...eating

                              Great place to go but I wouldnt want to eat there! We have tried Gus' under both old and new ownership. The BBQ is subpar at best. Our visit last week, we orderd the ribs, Wierdly tender, not in a good way, more as if they had been macerated in pineapple juice and got that slimy strange textur. the taste of liquid smoke was overpowering.

                              The salmon, fo grocery store Atlantic salmon was decent, and the drinks were good. the lakers were playing, so there was a good crowd there.

                              We do like the Tri Tip at Robins in Pasadena

                      2. this thread started way back from 2005. And Gus's been taken over and re-opened in Apr 2008. Are the reviews still hold the same for this place? :-)


                        Gus's Barbeque
                        808 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: kelvlam

                          See my (very) positive review in another thread just posted. Yes the place is holding up just fine.

                          1. re: kelvlam

                            I had breakfast there a couple weekends ago and didn't care for it at all - see my review in another recent thread.

                            The new ownership seems to really try - everyone was super nice and they've given the place a nice little facelift. But the food was really a disappointment.

                          2. Be kind to Gus's. It's more a landmark than a gourmet eatery. Try the chili size. Jay from Jay's J Burger once told me that Gus's had the second best chili in L.A. Behind his, or course. He said that he, Tommy's and Gus's used pretty much the same recipe. I agree, their Q is so-so, but it ain't bad. The burgers are nice, the salads too.

                            1. Native says avoid. Go up to Zekes if need you a place in the area. Big Mama's hush puppies make me weep, otherwise, very N.Carolina style sauce. Is swinging door in N. Hollywood really gone? That was the best.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: gordita

                                Yes, Swinging Door is unfortunately gone. Yes, Zekes is also good. No, Gus' should not be avoided - it's also quite good. All these places are (or were...) good.

                                As for Big Mama''s - liked it a few weeks back on our first visit, but thought the ribs a little bit greasy, plus some stuff out of the kitchen arrived cold.

                                It you liked Swinging Door, check out Kansas CIty BBQ on Magnolia near Vineland. Pretty down home authentic. Ranch House BBQ on Van Nuys Blvd near Victory is also pretty good.