For years people came here just for the 1940s neon sign outside, and now that it’s under new management, Gus’s is actually worth visiting. It’s great looking, with dark-wood floors, an old-school diner kitchen, padded booths and a proper bar (rare in South Pas) in back. The brothers who overhauled the place are the sons of the founder of the original Tops in east Pasadena, and they learned well at their daddy’s knee: focus on good, unfussy food that makes people, if not their cardiologists, happy. Nothing is mind-blowing, and it’s on the pricey side, especially at lunch. But you’ll have a great time eating the dry-rub ribs, brick-flattened chicken, fresh Southern greens, sweet baked beans and tender, salty pulled pork.
808 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena, 626.799.3251, gussbbq.com, Barbeque/Southern L & D daily. Full bar. AE, MC, V. $$-$$$