The Doll Hut, sequestered deep in the land of Disney and the Angels, is the antithesis of the myriad peach-stucco and neon yuppie hangouts that pervade the Southland.
This place is more grunge than glitz. Top 40 is strictly prohibited. It's too loud and cramped to possibly be construed as a pick-up joint.
Although defying simple categorization, the Doll Hut might be best described as a wonderful little underground neighborhood pub, serving up some of the best beer and alternative rock to be had in Orange County.
This may be the only spot on Earth where one can hear a variety of good live local avant-rock, slug down pints of Guinness and shoot pool for free--all in a friendly atmosphere, with no cover charge.
The beer alone is worth a visit. The hard-working bartenders serve up 24 different beers from around the world, most notably Gorky's Russian red ale on draft (available nowhere else except at the two L.A. Gorky's restaurants) and a definitive pint of Guinness stout.
There's a sense of Orange County history here, too. The building, wedged between Manchester Avenue and century-old railroad tracks in the heart of old Anaheim, was built in 1921.
For the past three decades it's been known as the Doll Hut, as in a hut where "dolls" were as welcome as guys. But new owners who took over a year ago transformed it into the popular haven for beer connoisseurs and new-music lovers it now is.
The live music, ranging from acoustic folk to industrial anti-pop six nights a week, is fresh, intriguing and often a great showcase for young, local talent. Only problem is, the U-shaped bar wasn't set up for live performances, so on a typically crowded night, the stage is visible to only about half the patrons.
But, in between sets, there are always videos playing, along with a rich blend of recorded rock, from the Who to the Sex Pistols to the Stone Roses. Or, if you prefer to settle down with a pint and chat or people-watch, there's always an interesting, diverse mix of folks milling through the house.
The Doll Hut, 107 S. Adams Ave. (at Manchester Avenue), Anaheim. Open Monday through Saturday, 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. (714) 533-1286.