Sunday, November 4, 2018

Happy Hour Bite: Dirty Birds

Chicken wings are the pinnacle of bar food: You can eat them with your hands, they're shareable and they're great with a beer. But there's one place in San Diego that has taken that pinnacle and airlifted some extra soil on top to create (*gasp*) an even higher pinnacle. That place is Dirty Birds.

Thirty-seven flavors. Take that in for a minute. Dirty Birds has thirty-seven discrete flavors of wings. I've been here many times, and I still haven't even tried half of them. (The ones I have tried, I've catalogued in a spreadsheet like the insufferable nerd that I am.) They're also half off during happy hour (weekdays 3–6pm), meaning you can get 10 wings for a very reasonable $7.50.

Dirty Blue and Seoul Wing, plus token veggies.
I paid a visit the other day and got two of my favorites. First was the Dirty Blue, a mix of a classic buffalo sauce and house-made blue cheese dressing. This is the most brilliant innovation in wing technology since the airfoil. Blue cheese already goes great with wings, so why not bake it in (literally) from the get-go? The result has both the spicy vinegar kick of the buffalo and the creamy pungency of the blue cheese. Every bite makes you crave the next.

I should note that they've also come up with a couple of other wonderfully balanced sauce blends. The Dirty Ranch uses ranch dressing for something a little less sharp and more creamy. The Flaming Honey Mustard's combination is a bit sweeter and also slightly spicier, probably due to a slight bite from the mustard.

My other choice, the Seoul Wing, is one of the more interesting flavors on the menu. It's a distinctly Asian-influenced sauce with notes of garlic, soy sauce, teriyaki and sesame, plus a firm but tempered dose of chile. It all comes together in an awesome amalgam of sweet, savory and spicy.

There aren't many restaurants that do one thing as thoroughly and as successfully as Dirty Birds does wings. While not every sauce is a winner, most of them are—and the absurd number of options ensures that just about anyone can find several that suit their taste.

Score: 9 out of 10 (Fantastic)

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