Dr. Ink: A five-napkin beer outing

Posted: January 13th, 2017 | Bars & Happy Hours, Featured, Food & Drink | No Comments

I used to come here for wine and cheese boards. Today it’s all about the beer and chicken wings, per the takeover of the Liberty Station structure by Dirty Birds that was once home to Wine Steals.

Situated at the idyllic lip of The Loma Club’s nine-hole golf course, the 3,000-square-foot space reopened its doors in December 2016 to a crisp and inviting remodel flaunting countless flat screens usually showing sports games, a reconfigured bar and big, plushy dining booths.

Crispy and properly sauced chicken wings on the cheap (Photos by Dr. Ink)

Space Dust IPA

The walls were painted light gray. They’re accented with well-placed neon beer signs that add artistic color to the high-ceiling room. In addition, a blown-up photograph of Liberty Station’s main gate from yesteryear looms large on one of the walls, and a sizable outdoor patio looks out to the golfing greens.

This is Dirty Birds’ third location. The others are in Pacific Beach and Rolando. All are magnets for wing lovers, considering there are numerous sauce flavors to choose from.

During weekday happy hour, you can score a pitcher of select beer for half price, as well as an order of five, 10 or 20 wings. Also, what isn’t stated on the menu or website is that well drinks and draft beers by the glass are $1 off. The bartender on duty knew of that deal, but my waitress didn’t once I took a booth.

The beer list offers an uncomplicated mix of commercial and craft labels — Bud and Bud Light, Stella Artois, Latitude 33, Mother Earth, and others. There’s also Ace Pineapple Cider, which this palate can tolerate only in small doses due to its cloying finish. But if you’re attempting some of the scorching wing sauces, such as habanero or ghost pepper, the fruity cider comes to your aid.

I chose a piney tasting Star Dust IPA by Elysian Brewing in Seattle, which paired seamlessly to an order of 10 wings, half Buffalo-style, and half Diablo sporting a redder sauce made with three types of chilies. The latter offered a heat level a notch above medium.

Go through this archway in Liberty Station to find the entrance to Dirty Birds.
(Photos by Dr. Ink)

Served extra-crispy as requested, they arrived within minutes since the kitchen pre-bakes them and then flash-fries them to order. They were accompanied by somewhat diluted blue cheese and celery and carrot sticks — but no discard bowl for the bones like they always provide in Buffalo, N.Y., where I was born practically with a chicken wing in my mouth.

Yet five napkins later my food basket was empty except for the bones that I gnawed clean. And I’ve since put Dirty Birds at the top of my list for wings that measure up to my finicky standards.

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