After the announcement almost two years ago, San Diego’s premier wing spot, Dirty Birds, has finally landed in Price Center (PC). Located in the former Round Table location, the sports bar-style restaurant opened just a few weeks ago at the beginning of Fall Quarter.
I was just beginning my sophomore year at UCSD when I learned that Dirty Birds would be replacing Round Table Pizza. Now a weathered senior who has tried a fair share of wings in San Diego, I was excited to see how this new location compared to its sister locations in Pacific Beach, San Diego State University, Liberty Station, and Ocean Beach. As restaurants have slowly begun to reopen across the county, I have been extremely wary of COVID-19 social distancing precautions, and was especially curious to see how Dirty Birds was handling guidelines on campus.
With our face masks on, I made my way toward Price Center on Tuesday night with former Managing Editor Ethan Coston. We chose to come on a Tuesday because of the weekly all-day happy hour special. The restaurant’s interior was spacious, allowing for effective social distancing between tables. Unlike other Dirty Birds locations, customers order at the counter before finding a table for their party. When the food and drinks are ready, the workers call your name from the bar, where you go to pick up your order. The entire ordering process, from the moment we entered to when we picked up our food, was mostly contactless – the only exception being the part where we paid.
There are daily specials offered at various times each day, including options for half-priced wings, cheaper pizzas, and $3 mimosas on the weekends. Daily combos are also offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for deals on food and soda. Furthermore, Dirty Birds is one of the few locations on campus that serves alcoholic drinks with rotating beers on draft as well as wine.
As for the menu, instead of the 37 usual varieties of wings, the PC location only offers 27. While the menu itself is smaller, it still included most of my favorite flavors. Ethan and I ordered Dirty Ranch, Lemon Pepper, Garlic Parm, and Maple BBQ Chipotle wings.
Although we went at night, the weather was balmy so we chose to sit outside. The outdoor patio was arguably larger than the interior, with the option of high and low tables, lounge chairs by a fire, and island-style seating. There were also multiple televisions broadcasting sports games, and the loud trap music added to the casual, student-friendly atmosphere.
When they called out my name, I noticed that the food was already packaged in takeout containers, which made cleaning up after the meal easier. The instant I bit into the Dirty Ranch drumstick, my worries about the food quality melted away. I was instantly taken back to the moment I tried Dirty Birds for the first time in Pacific Beach, and I spent the rest of the meal reminiscing through past Dirty Birds adventures and catching up with Ethan while we munched on the wings.
In the 90 minutes I spent at Dirty Birds that night, I was pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness of the entire restaurant and the quality of customer service. The workers were incredibly friendly and patient, even offering personal recommendations when customers struggled to choose what to order. The wait time — from ordering to picking up the food –was also reasonable. We only had to wait around 15-20 minutes, which differed from my experiences at other locations.
Although the restaurant was fairly busy for a Tuesday night in the middle of a pandemic, I am certain that it will only continue to grow in popularity as more students return to campus. With its specials, affordable menu, and welcoming ambience, I have no doubt that Dirty Birds will soon become a campus hotspot.
It gives me great joy that the new PC location maintains the same standard for food quality as the other locations, because it certainly won’t be the last time I visit. Whether it’s for a night out with friends or a quick lunch in the middle of the day, Dirty Birds has taken its place in the heart of UCSD and will certainly be a student staple for years to come.
To be honest, I’m glad that I can enjoy some of San Diego’s best wings, just a ten minute drive away from my apartment, as I finish up my last year here at UCSD.
Ella Chen is the Editor-in-Chief of The Triton. You can follow her @cinder_ellachen.