Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Contender: Dirty Birds

With 30-plus sauces, the P.B. success story is in the running for best wings


Published:

 

It took a few years, but I finally finished reading Dirty Birds’ menu. What an epoch. Peter Jackson should adapt it into a movie starring hobbits. There are naked wings, lemon pepper wings, salt & vinegar, garlic parm, Hawaiian, chicken enchilada, Old Bay, apple-bourbon chipotle, dirty jerk, dirty ranch, maple-chipotle, Asian-orange, General Tso’s, Seoul wings, flaming honey mustard, habanero-lime, you name it. Thirty-plus sauces in all, one for every available brand of blood-thinner. So, obviously, variety is the main allure (but not the only one) of the mini-chain started in Pacific Beach in 2008.

DB has gotten some national attention for their efforts, named among the best wings joints in the U.S. by Yahoo Sports and The Daily Meal. It should be noted that they have a PR firm with national representation, which helps a restaurant make lists like these. But sometimes restaurants have good PR because they’re good enough to warrant spending money on someone who’ll spread their gospel. There’s no denying Dirty Birds does wings right, taking the time to season and slowly bake them (which tends to keep the moisture of the meat better than simply frying) before briefly frying them to order. 

DB’s wings are the meatiest, juiciest and most tender we’ve eaten so far. Mediocre wings almost feel rigor mortis-ized, stringy-dry meat on bone. DB’s taste braised and flash-fried. 

We look at the server, point to the menu, and provide her a look of profound lostness. She mercifully points us to five of her favorites, and two of them are special. First the dirty jerk (order it “wet,” which means with extra sauce), which pops with allspice, cinnamon, garlic, cloves, thyme. The second is the flaming honey mustard, with both a homesteader sweetness and a heat that’s not really flaming, but at least has enough sparks. 

If there’s one complaint about Dirty Birds, it’s that both of our favorite sauces are too sweet. Dirty Birds is smart, knows that Americans love their sugar (whether in honey form or otherwise). And the unsweetened one we order—the diablo, which should be their signature hot wing—doesn’t live up to some of the other joints.

With a full bar, enough big-screen TVs to anesthetize whatever emotional sports deficiency you may be experiencing, it’s for sure one of the city’s top wings joints. 

 

Dirty Birds, multiple locations 

 
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

A Q&A with Armand King, on His Book 'Raised In Pimp City'

The founder of nonprofit Paving Great Futures discusses his former life as a pimp and how to end sex trafficking

Where to Drink Craft Beer in Tijuana

San Diego’s sister city is brewing world-class craft beer just a few miles from home

Rare Society Opens in Hillcrest, Double Standard Closes in Gaslamp

Plus Chad White returns to San Diego for a special dinner series and more San Diego restaurant news
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Subscribe to the Blog

 
Edit ModuleShow Tags


SD Food News

The hottest thing in San Diego food right now just might be Tijuana.

About This Blog

Restaurant reviews, food trends, top cocktails, wine, beer and generally the best eats and drinks in San Diego, by Food Editor and general good guy Troy Johnson.

Recent Posts

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

’Tis the Season for San Diego Fun

Here's where to play and stay this winter in America’s Finest City

We Chat with the Crew behind Hornblower Cruises and Events Aboard the High Spirits Ship

Sponsored by Hornblower
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags