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Dirty Bird Fried Chxx soaring in Ogden

By Valerie Phillips - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Mar 24, 2022
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The Classic sandwich is topped with shredded lettuce that’s tossed in ranch dressing at Dirty Bird Fried Chxx in Ogden.
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Manager Filippo Castronovo at Dirty Bird Fried Chxx in Ogden.
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The Dirty Bird sandwich is topped with bacon and pimento cheese at Dirty Bird Fried Chxx in Ogden.
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Banana pudding — a Southern classic — is one of the sides offered at Dirty Bird Fried Chxx in Ogden.

A lot of “bird” restaurants are flying around Utah lately. Pretty Bird. Sticky Bird. Lovebirds. The Bird.

A recent “Bird” to land in Ogden is Dirty Bird Fried Chxx.

Fried chicken is hot these days, and spicy Nashville hot chicken is even hotter, in every sense of the word. This crispy-crunchy fried chicken with a fiery attitude is having a trendy culinary moment.

“Chicken sandwiches are all the rage right now,” said Dirty Bird’s manager Filippo Castronovo. “We say we’re Nashville-inspired, because we’ve taken the concept and made it our own.”

Nashville’s hot chicken legend goes back more than 75 years to a handsome, philandering man named Thornton Prince, according to his great-niece André Prince Jeffries, current owner of Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville. She tells the story in several publications of how one night Prince stepped out on his lady friend, and the next day the woman took revenge by serving him fried chicken, with a surprise dousing of hot pepper. Prince actually found he liked the mouth-numbing chicken and eventually opened his own chicken shack to serve up this sizzling dish. The family legacy continues today.

Over the years, other hot fried chicken joints sprang up, making the dish almost as famous to Nashville as its Grand Ole Opry.

The first Dirty Bird Fried Chxx opened miles away from Nashville — in the Hut Food Hall in Provo. Founder Michael McHenry is a restaurateur behind several Salt Lake-area eateries such as Sunday’s Best, Ginger Street, Oak Wood Fire Kitchen and Southside Pizza Co., according to a company press release.

Last year, Dirty Bird was acquired by Wag’s Capital, an investment company, with plans to open more locations. The first of these, at Ogden’s Riverbend development at 350 Park Blvd., opened last September, and another one is planned for Clearfield this spring.

Dirty Bird’s minimalist menu has a choice of five fried chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders and four sides.

“We love that our menu is simple,” Castronovo said. “It’s not a Cheesecake Factory booklet that you have to read through to try to figure out what to order.”

Recently, the fast casual restaurant branched out a bit with a weekend brunch menu. Its two choices are fried chicken and waffles, plus a breakfast burrito featuring — of course — fried chicken.

Castronovo said what sets Dirty Bird apart from competitors is, “Our chicken has a lot of flavor. Our sandwiches use chicken thighs because they stay juicier.”

The chicken, he said, is brined overnight to add flavor and juiciness. Then, it’s fried until crispy, then dipped in chile oil. Depending on customer request, the heat can vary from bland to mouth-searing.

“We can make them cry if they want to,” Castronovo said.

The chile oil is made in-house. “We grind our own chiles, mostly African Birds Eye chiles because they have a combination of both heat and flavor. So you get a lot of flavor, not just heat,” he said.

“Also, we add a little paprika and cayenne,” he added.

Besides pickles and mayo, the sandwiches have a few variations.

The Plain Jane is simply fried chicken, pickles and a choice of sauce on the side.

The Classic has chile oil, spicy ketchup and “ranchberg” lettuce (shredded iceberg lettuce tossed in ranch dressing). Castronovo said the ranch dressing helps cool down the heat.

The signature Dirty Bird is topped with chile oil, pimento cheese and bacon, spicy ketchup and mayo.

“It’s our name, so it’s a good one to try,” Castronovo said.

Pimento cheese — a cheddar-y spread mixed with mild red peppers, or pimentos — is a Southern thing that Utahns aren’t as familiar with.

“We explain pimento cheese a lot to customers,” Castronovo said. “My mom’s side of the family is from the South, so I grew up eating pimento sandwiches.”

The Hot sandwich has extra-hot chile oil, spicy ketchup and pickled jalapenos. “It will clean out your sinuses for you,” Castronovo said.

The Hot and Dirty combines the Dirty Bird toppings and the Hot toppings

Sides are simple: fries, “Dirty” fries topped with pimento cheese, mac ‘n’ cheese and banana pudding, a Southern favorite.

“I think everyone should try the banana pudding,” Castronovo said. “Everyone who gets it the first time keeps coming back for it.”

And those in-the-know can ask for homemade hot honey on any sandwich. “It really enhances any sandwich, for just 50 cents more,” he said.

So far, “Ogden’s been really good to us, especially the lunch crowd. We offer a public servant discount for military, police and firefighters, and some regulars come two or three times a week.”

He said the key to the restaurant’s success is, “We take so much pride in the preparation and presentation of our food. Our goals are to be obsessed with our guests, to be obsessed with our food and to be obsessed with our team. We want to promote that Southern hospitality and be welcoming to people.”


IF YOU GO

Dirty Bird

Location: 350 Park Blvd., Ogden

Contact: https://www.dirtybirdchxx.com/ogden, (801) 961-4040

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

Price range: $7-$11

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