Showdown: War of the Wings

Dirty Birds
Photo By Siddharth Atre /Guardian
Dirty Birds Photo By Siddharth Atre /Guardian
Dirty Birds Photo By Siddharth Atre /Guardian
Dirty Birds
Photo By Siddharth Atre /Guardian

Dirty Birds
4656 Mission Blvd., San Diego, CA 92109
Mon. to Wed.: 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Thu. to Sat.: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Sun.: 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Walk into Dirty Birds, and you’ll see Americana memorabilia plastered on the walls in between glowing beer signs and television screens broadcasting live basketball games and country music videos. Visit on a Wednesday night, and finding table seating should be no problem. Dirty Birds is small and loud, perfect for establishing an atmosphere of intimacy within a group because the only way to hear each other is to lean inward toward each other. After one Shania Twain music video, our group was ready to order a set of 10-piece wings with half classic Buffalo and half Dirty Bleu and a five-piece set of General Birds. You can get five wings for $7, 10 wings for $12 or 20 wings for $22. Go with a group for the best value because every five wings can be designated a different flavor, so ordering the 20-piece set and splitting the cost leaves you full of wings and relatively full of money. On Mondays at Dirty Birds, you can enjoy all-you-can-eat wings for the flat price of $13.99, and on Tuesdays, wings are half off. With a huge selection of unique flavors to choose from — ranked by spiciness, from totally “kick-free” to “fire-extinguisher-hot” — Dirty Birds lives up to its reputation as the wing stronghold of Pacific Beach. The classic Buffalo-flavored wings tasted like someone took concentrated Buffalo sauce extract and blasted it into the wings. If Buffalo sauce is your favorite flavor, these wings are your salvation. The Dirty Bleu wings are much more subtle, which is nice because the bleu cheese flavor is not overpowering at all. The real showstoppers are the General Bird wings, which are plump, juicy wings glazed in General Tso sauce. The perfect marriage of tang and spice, General Bird wings are a flavor fiesta for your palate. They say all good things come to an end; unfortunately, this party ended when we licked our baskets clean of any trace of General Birds.

Bub's Dive Bar  Photo Courtesy of elliscontracting.com
Bub’s Dive Bar
Photo Courtesy of elliscontracting.com

Bub’s Dive Bar
1030 Garnet Ave., San Diego, CA 92109
Mon. to Fri.: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Sat. to Sun.: 9 a.m. 2 a.m.

Before you even get a foot through the door, a pair of grumpy-looking bouncers might ask for identification. A group of us were carrying to-go containers of Dirty Bird wings, and once the bouncers saw them, they told us, “You can’t bring those in.” Already we felt a sense of uneasiness with the atmosphere at Bub’s, but then we heard Idina Menzel’s “Let it Go” playing from Bub’s speakers and tried our best to, indeed, let it go. Bub’s Dive Bar is a huge, orange-tinted bar with peanut shells littering the floor. Wednesday is Bub’s specials night, which might explain why it was so packed and why patrons couldn’t bring boxes in. On Wednesdays at Bub’s, guests can pay $0.50 per wing and order in five-wing increments, but the huge caveat is that you can’t take any wings home (hence, no boxes allowed in), and everyone in your party must order a drink from the bar. This means that there is no way to have a designated driver because everyone is forced to buy a drink without passing one off to a friend. Rude staff members who were unwilling to explain our options left us further unimpressed and irritated. Our group opted not to take advantage of the special and ordered the Garbage wings instead because it best described our opinion of this dive. Garbage wings are a whopping $12, but they pack a punch. Toss super huge and juicy wings in buffalo, barbecue, honey mustard and teriyaki sauce with some bleu cheese, almonds, sesame seeds and onion and you have Garbage wings. Sweet, and just a bit smoky, these wings were bursting with flavor. If you like sweet and tangy flavors, these wings will do the trick, but if not, they will leave you confused as to why anyone would ever mix bleu cheese and sesame seeds in one dish.

Winner: Dirty Birds
Dirty Birds’ welcoming staff and flavorful wings make it the perfect package for a group of friends looking for options and originality. The Garbage wings at Bub’s were delicious but couldn’t compensate for the unwelcoming atmosphere. There is definitely a reason you’ve probably heard of Dirty Birds and not Bub’s Dive Bar; this time around, believe the hype surrounding Dirty Birds, skip Bub’s and let the music video styling of Shania Twain and Keith Urban lull you into a wing-induced stupor at Dirty Birds.

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