South Pasadena, CA 91030
Parking: Metered Street Parking and Free Neighborhood Parking, also .5 miles from the Mission St. Stop on the Metro Gold Line
Drink Deals: $3 Well Martinis, $1 off Wine, $2 off Draft Beer, $1 off Canned Beer, $1.50 off Well Drinks, $3 off Southern Sangria
Food Deals: $2 Fried Pickles, $3 Mini-BBQ Sandwiches, $5 1/3 Rack of Ribs w/ Fries or Cole Slaw
Have you ever been to South Pasadena? If not, you should get on the Gold Line Metro and get yourself there now. It is a quaint, quiet, cool area far enough from the madding crowds of Holly(cuckoo-bananas)Wood to feel like a whole ‘nother city. And I guess, technically it is :)!
Booze and I had just lined Sierra Madre Blvd. to watch the Rose Bowl Parade live in person, then saw THE MUPPETS (“Hilarious! Must see!”), and then found our way to South Pasadena to try Gus’s BBQ, a neighborhood restaurant which has been around since 1946 (though with new owners – a pair of cute young brothers whose dad opened the original Tops in Pasadena).
We loved the space right away – a cute diner in front with more restaurant like-seating and a sit-down bar in the back. Happy Hour is served on the front patio, at the diner or the bar. We arrived at 2:30 before Happy Hour even started and as it turns out, that was fine for the food deals since their HH bites are a little meaty for this vegetarian. I know, why is a vegetarian going to a BBQ joint? Because in SoCal, even BBQ joints have fantastic vegetarian options and here at Gus’s, I loved my homemade veggie burger) with arugula, tomato, red onion, smoked mozzarella, BBQ sauce and roasted garlic aioli! Served with a side of sweet potato fries, the meal was $10.95, which seems like a swell price for the deal.
Veggie Burger w/ Sweet Potato Fries ($10.95)
Anyhow, when Happy Hour finally hit – Booze and I tried an order of the Fried Pickle Chips w/ Ranch, and it was a huge serving size for $2! They were pretty tasty to boot, breaded with flour like fried chicken rather than the traditional cornmeal I’ve had on fried pickles before. What can I say? Just like our Memphis hometown hero, Mr. Elvis Presley himself, JG and I are suckers for fried pickles!
Yum, fried pickles!!
For drinks, we started with 16oz. of Gus’s Honey Blonde beer which ran us $3.50 during HH – nice price! For drink 2, I tried their famous Southern Sangria for $5 and it was delicious, a true sangria – more like a nice fruity wine than something too sweet. For her second drink, Booze went with the Stone Smoked Porter for $3.50 and that was a tasty light-dark beer.
Gus's Blonde Beer ($3.50) posed with homemade BBQ sauces;
Southern Sangria ($5)
Lots of drink choices (including JG’s and my favorite Red Blend, Red Velvet Cupcake Wine!!), but not as much on the food side. The small BBQ sandwiches did look good, but I didn’t see anyone ordering the ribs near me. Ribs – I do miss the smell and texture :). Also loved the music – a nice bluesy mix that made my Memphis-born self feel right at home!
A couple downside notes – of course I’m not crazy about the 3-6pm Monday-Friday Happy Hour, any Happy Hour that ends before 6pm in LA just ain’t cool! I was glad to have this particular Monday off to try out the HH, otherwise couldn’t have made it! Also, the bartender wasn’t that friendly – not mean by any means, just not that nice. Booze and I started feeling a little uncomfortable when the guys next to us received a full-size sandwich after ordering the HH small-sandwiches and there seemed to be a slight Mexican standoff as to whose fault it was. All worked out, but really – why would the guys have ordered a regular sandwich from the Happy Hour menu? Hopefully, the bartender was just having an off day.
I’m about to have a Mexican standoff with myself here – it’s hard when I love a place, but its Happy Hour could be better (in this case, better times and a couple more food options). Still, the positives outweigh the negative here and I really did enjoy this cute restaurant! So I recommend going anytime and if it’s Happy Hour – even better for your drink choices!!
Happy New Year!
Rating: 3.5 Martinis