Anthill Pub & Grille

Nikki Jee | Staff Photographer—The only time you'd find the ever-popular Anthill Pub & Grille empty is when it's closed.

Slainte! Cheers! L’chaim! Salud! Step into the Anthill Pub & Grill at almost any time of the day and you’re likely to find yourself in the midst of an energy you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else on campus. The Anthill’s atmosphere is always thick with conversation and laughter. The pints and pitchers come at reasonable prices, the delectability of the food makes up for the extra buck or two in cost and, unlike many students on Ring Road, the Anthill’s pub-dogs are more than open to fresh conversation.

Without a liquor license, it’s true that the Anthill can’t sell liquor on campus. For some, this gets in the way of a crazy Monday night. For others, it’s a boon that preserves the pub’s mellow, laid-back feel. While you can’t run the gauntlet of the Bastard Series (and wake up in jail afterwards), you do have the choice of over 30 different types of high-quality ales, beers, ciders and lagers, from the ever-popular Dragoon’s Irish Stout to the New Belgium Trippel to Stone Pale Ale.

The pub serves only two imports; everything is American craft. The Anthill also offers a small selection of strong ales – beer that has a hopped-up alcohol percentage. Our campus beer connoisseurs will be pleased to hear that the Anthill follows a strict “swill-free zone” policy, meaning it only serves beers of fine quality; students will not be able to order beer-pong beers such as Budweiser, Miller, Natural Ice or Coors at the Anthill.

“We work by a certain philosophy at the Anthill,” says the pub’s general manager, Scott Winterstein. “Three priorities, really. First, we’re here to offer really great beer at a price students can afford. Second, we offer good food. It’s not gourmet status, but a lot of people have said it’s the best food you’ll find on campus. And third, we provide a very chill, student-oriented atmosphere. There’s no one here badgering students to buy their product or anything. It’s a student’s atmosphere – a very low-key, neighborhood bar kind of feel.”

“Our best-selling beer is the Great White Wheat,” Winterstein adds. “Everyone seems to really like that one. We’ve got thirty taps, three of which are ciders. The only bottle we have is Three Philosophers.”

The music played over the pub’s speakers is bartender’s choice, says Winterstein; on any given day, pub-goers are likely to be treated to music such as rock, pop, jazz or trip hop.

The pub’s third anniversary lands on Dec. 3, a day when the pub plans to extend its happy hours to cover almost the entire day and will host no less than three live bands. Winterstein assures students it’s a fun day to come in and relax.

“We have live music a couple times a week,” Winterstein says. “We also have a comedy night every Monday and a trivia night every other Tuesday. That’s when people can buy in to groups at two dollars a person to make teams of up to eight people. We go through six rounds of trivia, and whichever team ends up with the most points at the end wins the cash pot.”

The Anthill’s comedy night is certainly a great way for students to unwind and blow off the stress of the upcoming school week with some much-needed laughter; the pub regularly hosts special comedy stars and guests, such as winners of Comedy Central’s “Last Comic Standing.”

The Anthill is also home to the Quarter Club, an event that the pub runs all quarter long. Interested students sign up at the beginning of the quarter and buy at least one drink every day (that the pub is open) for the whole quarter. Should they miss a day or two, the pub allows them to make it up during finals week. Students who stick to the plan the whole quarter long get their names engraved on a “Wall of Fame” plaque with other Quarter Club veterans, as well as the option to buy up to four beers at a quarter each.

“We used to offer unlimited beers at a quarter each,” Winterstein explains, “but people got a little crazy, so we had to change it. Last quarter we had 80 people complete the Quarter Club. Right now we have 75 engaged in it.”

Considering the incredible dry spell of bars surrounding UC Irvine, the Anthill Pub is a fantastic place for students to kick back after – or before – class, split a couple pitchers and dig into a mountain of sweet potato fries, which many students agree are better than those served at Veggie Grill.

If you’re looking for a comfortable place to meet up with your friends with the option of grabbing a pint or two or if you’re tired of walking all the way to the Steelhead Brewery, having to drink in a restaurant atmosphere and bleeding through your wallet for each drink, then you’re going to want to stop by and visit the Anthill Pub.