The Place: The Anthill Pub, C-215 Student Center, University of California–Irvine, 4200 Campus Dr., Irvine; (949) 824-3050.
The Hours: 4-7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
The Deal: $1 off pints; $3 off pitchers.
The Scene: An unimposing doorway in the midst of other unimposing
doorways in UC Irvine's student center, the inside looks like a study
lounge until your eyes adjust and you get a glimpse at the bar (kept
from the original building) and the wonders of the beer list. The place,
even on “off” days, is full of twenty-something college students,
faculty and staff bent over books, papers and laptops. The pub isn't
visible from the nearest road (Campus Drive), so unless someone happens
to know about it, chances are everyone in there is affiliated with UCI.
The Sauce: Excellent. The Anthill Pub has a strict “no swill” policy,
which means you won't find domestic, mass-produced pisswater like Coors
Light or PBR on tap here. What you will find is craft beers, heavy on
the American. The barkeeps are beer geeks themselves, not just suds
jockeys, so ask for recommendations. There are some wines available, but
no hard liquor.
The Eats: You order food at the end of the counter; it's pretty standard
pub grub, though with extremely generous portions and college-student
prices. Potato chips are a good bet, but sweet potato fries are a very
good rendition of the Orange Menace. Burgers and sandwiches seem to be
the order of the day for “real” food; the pastrami sandwich isn't going
to make you miss Katz's anytime soon, though.
The Verdict: Political science and particle physics are all very well,
this is the kind of education that will save America. Great beer, cheap,
in an unpretentious environment. Music every now and then, trivia
nights, and tucked away tables if you want a little privacy. Parking is
an expensive proposition, but think of it as a cover charge (and don't
even think about parking at Trader Joe's and walking across the bridge).
Had there been a pub like this where we went to school, we might have
drunk less Natty Light and Grain Belt Primo. Anthill Pub, we salute you!
The Grade: A.