In Pacific Beach, as is true in many parts of this fine city, there are a few hidden gems right off the main strip.
Just north of Garnet Avenue -- on Mission Boulevard -- you will find Dirty Birds, a small place that packs a big punch when it comes to happy hour and daily specials.
During these hard economic times a good happy hour allows you to get out and enjoy yourself while not having to spend an arm and leg to do it. Fortunately, Dirty Birds feels the same way! The atmosphere is high-energy, with flip cup games, foosball and killer surf videos on the plasma televisions.
Since we're no longer allowed to drink on the beach, bars like Dirty Birds are the only option for those not fortunate enough to have a beachfront condo. From what I've witnessed, the "no shirt rule" doesn't apply, which is great if you're hanging out at the beach for the day and want to enjoy a cold beer (or two), or simply grab a bite to eat before getting back to fun in the sun.
The décor is something I've seen before, but still find quite amusing. Over a third of the bar is covered in dollar bills from customers who've left a personal message on the bill. From showing support for their favorite sport team, to “Give Ryan a call for XXX at 619...” (this message required several bills), you'll find more than a few bills to entertain you. If not, pull out a bill and ask for some markers and leave your own mark.
One thing I do want to mention, that may seem trivial, is that the bar stools, while made out of wood (which we all know can be hard on your rump when sitting for extended periods of time – like three hours of football), are wide, concave "benches." Believe me, this makes a difference. Some of you guys may be thinking I'm being a sissy, but you're missing the point. My wife didn't complain about being on the bar stool for a couple of hours (which is priceless). Remember, women like to be comfortable -- plain and simple.
So, what kind of food can you expect to come out of the kitchen? The best way we can describe it is traditional bar food that has raised the bar on quality. During our visit we tried the Thai Chicken Salad, Fried Cheese-Cheeseburger, BBQ Pulled Pork and Western Sliders, Mini Hot Dog Sliders with Tater Tots and, finally, the Diablo, Dirty Ranch, Lemon Pepper and Sweet and Spicy Wings. We enjoyed everything.
The salad was more gourmet in both presentation and taste than you would expect for bar food. I've never seen anything the likes of the fried cheese-cheeseburger, but enjoyed the chewy, yet crunchy texture of the fried cheese. The sliders were flavorful and a perfect item to share with friends. Even the sides that came with a couple of the dishes, macaroni and cheese and coleslaw, were gobbled up quickly.
What was our favorite item you ask? With the name Dirty Birds, how can you even ask? It was the wings, hands down -- all four kinds. We suspect all nine varieties are equally delicious, since wings are one of their specialties.
Dirty Birds' wings consist of wings and drummettes, which are coated with a secret dry rub and then baked prior to applying the seasoning or sauce of your choice. This is what kills the competition. Most places deep-fry their wings while they're still frozen. This process ruins the texture as the meat tends to be partially fried, minimizing the amount of edible meat you get off of each wing. Considering you pay on average of $1 per wing at any bar or restaurant, a wing should be meaty.
There are a lot of places to choose from in Pacific Beach when you are looking to spend your hard earned money, so why shouldn't you expect the best value for your dollar? Dirty Birds does and they're looking out for your wallet so you can get busy getting dirty.
One more thing, the next time you stop by, tell them The King sent you.