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Bukowski Tavern

Not Rated.
Bukowski TavernBukowski Tavern
BA SCORE
88
very good

67 Ratings
Ratings: 67
Reviews: 56
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 10.74%
Taps: 21
Bottles: 100
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

1281 Cambridge St
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139-1338
United States
phone: (617) 497-7077

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @bukscambridge

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: Todd)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 67 | Reviews: 56 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Boston71
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Boston71, Sep 13, 2014
Photo of mklisz
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

mklisz, Sep 08, 2014
Photo of chrisharris
4/5  rDev +2.3%

chrisharris, Jul 29, 2014
Photo of ivyman
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

ivyman, Jul 14, 2014
Photo of SweetChicken
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

SweetChicken, Jun 26, 2014
Photo of bpfrush
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

bpfrush, Jun 24, 2014
Photo of smcolw
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%

I frequent the Bukowski in Back Bay frequently, but I must say I prefer this one. First off it's probably three times larger and not nearly as divey. Second, I find the tap selection to be more varied featuring more unusual brews. Third, this one opens up to the street.

The single room is 30 x 40 feet with a 20 foot bar to the side. The tap list is about 25 - 30 different offerings. And with the exception of Pabst Blue Ribbon, all of the beers are craft. On this Saturday afternoon (May 31, 2014), it was active but not not too busy. There were a couple of bar stools and several booths available, although all of the tables near the open garage doors were taken.

Although I didn't try the food, the menu could be described as creative bar grub. It is also a sparse choice of eight items and one dessert. Still, everyone seems to enjoy what they ordered, but then again, one doesn't come here for the dining options.

The service borders on indifferent and friendly. Not bad, but also not that attentive--my glass was always empty for about five minutes before I was asked if I wanted another. Not that I would come here strictly for the service.

So, if you are near Inman Square in Cambridge, this would be the place to go. But if you are willing to walk a half mile down Hampshire, you could go to Lord Hobo's, one of the finest beer joints in the area.

smcolw, May 31, 2014
Photo of doremite
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%

doremite, May 29, 2014
Photo of Steve-Atlantic
5/5  rDev +27.9%

Steve-Atlantic, Mar 03, 2014
Photo of BostonPhilly
4/5  rDev +2.3%

BostonPhilly, Feb 02, 2014
Photo of tegelaar
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

tegelaar, Jan 29, 2014
Photo of brureview
4.16/5  rDev +6.4%

I had read about Bukowskis and finally had a chance to have a drink there when I visiting friends in Cambridge.

It's a very unpretentious place and low-key hipster. No attitudes here.

I was impressed with the server's knowledge of beer, and she poured possibly one of the best wheat beers I have seen in a bar.

The beer menu is varied. Some excellent beers and some macro fare. I drank a Berkshire Brewing scotch ale which was quite good. My friend had a Port Brewing Board meeting which was far superior to a bottled beer I had bought a few months earlier and full flavored.
Our friends had German beers.

The appetizers are very good. The sweet potato fries were better than in most restaurants, and the pita and hummus was fresh.

Overall, an excellent Cambridge bar. Perhaps too hipster-grungy for some folks, but craft beer drinkers should check it out.

brureview, Oct 27, 2013
Photo of TheAnk
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

TheAnk, Oct 12, 2013
Photo of BostonHops
3.61/5  rDev -7.7%

as far as Boston-area bars which are filed under the craft-centric heading go, Bukowski's to me is somewhat middle of the road. (measured against your everyday bar it impresses considerably more, obviously.)

atmosphere is good; dimly lit, with booths lining the center of the room and the bar stationed off to the right. a collection of high tables is arranged at the front, opposing floor-to-ceiling windows which are removed during warm weather.

service is very hit or miss. I've had bartenders/waitstaff be friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive, and I've had servers such as the one we had last night; while not overtly rude, definitely caught a strong impatient/unfriendly vibe from her - not the level of affability you kind of expect from someone in the service industry (expecting to be tipped).

selection is solid, covering a broad range of styles and breweries. that said, have never really found anything rare or off the beaten path. again, if you're looking for some good craft brews in general? you won't be disappointed. if you want to be blow away? you'll probably be disappointed. if you're in the area it's absolutely worth a stop but not the kind of place you need to go out of your way for.

BostonHops, Aug 19, 2013
Photo of FrankLloydMike
3.13/5  rDev -19.9%

I keep going back to Bukowski's, and I almost always leave wondering why. This place could be so great--the open garage doors along the front in the summer, the collection of booths, high-tops and the bar, the very solid beer list and pretty good menu. But it messes almost everything up, and it almost always has to do with unreasonably high prices and rude staff.

The room is great--dimly lit with booths in the center of the space and high-tops in the front. But the music is always blasting in a room that would be loud already from conversation. I like music and human voices in a bar, but when I have to shout for the person next to me to hear, there's really not much point in going out to a bar. On quiet evenings in the summer, when you can seat by the windows, it's great. Otherwise, the noise level ruins any chance at having a conversation over your beers.

Some (maybe even most) of the servers are friendly, but some are incredibly rude, unknowledgeable about beer and simply full of themselves. Last night, our server stood waiting for me to finish my beer, so he wouldn't have to come back to pick up another empty glass the next time he passed by. Well, tough shit. I just paid $7.50 (plus tax) for a 12 oz glass (full to maybe 10 ounces) of beer that elsewhere would be $6 for a pint; I'm not rushing so you can save five seconds.

The beer list here is often very good, but rarely astounding. I take that back, the prices are always astounding. Last night, not a single beer (Harpoon IPA and PBR excepted) was under $7. And most of those came in 12 oz glasses (or smaller), with the at least honest qualifier that that is the glass, not the pour size. Add to that that when the bill came, I remembered that unlike most bars, the price at Bukowski's doesn't include tax. So the bill for five beers last night came to over $40. That's insane! An otherwise good tap list with nothing reasonably priced can't be described as above-average.

And it's a similar story with the food. $10 for onion rings? Are you kidding me? The food is fairly (and in some cases very) good, but for the prices, like the beer, it's unreasonable. And I don't mind when local businesses are cash only--I don't want my and their hard-earned money going to Visa--but when Bukowski's is charging upwards of $7.50 for a 10 oz pour, they can eat the credit card fees.

I want so badly to like this place, and I understand that Boston is an expensive area--I pay rent here, too. But when I can consistently get the same beer--sometimes in a larger serving--for $1-2 at other, nicer bars where I can have a conversation, there's really no excuse for Bukowski's absurd prices.

FrankLloydMike, Oct 15, 2012
Photo of WanderingFool
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%

Met up with some friends in Cambridge for dinner and beer at Bukowski's. We were there on a Sunday afternoon and had no problem getting a table.

They have a fairly extensive tap beer list and a separate book for bottled beers. Nothing super rare, but great beers like Ithaca Flower Power and Jack's Abby Hoponius Union. They also have a cask and some cellar selections.

The food is terrific. We got some white trash chips and all of us had peanut butter burgers. Super tasty! My friends have been there before and said the other burgers on the menu are just as good.

Our waitress was terrific. She knew her beers and was there when our beers began to run low. Also the appetizer and burgers arrived quick. Granted, it wasn't a very busy day, but service seemed quick just the same.

Prices are reasonable, but its a cash only establishment.

I think my only complaint was the bathrooms. They were dirty and graffiti covered. Overall though, I really enjoyed Bukowski's and look forward to my next visit.

WanderingFool, Mar 27, 2012
Photo of Neorebel
4.6/5  rDev +17.6%

I was anxious to visit this bar with beatnick character - it certainly lives up to its namesake. The walls are adorned with quotes and surreal images. The staff is young and friendly. I ordered a Sazerac and my server wanted to ensure that I liked it. The crowd seemed to be mixed with all ages and walks of life. The music was ok - mostly popular alt. rock. I would have appreciated more underground stuff. The appetizers were good but pricey and nothing special. The beer selection however, rocked! They had a cask beer, good beers on tap and an extensive bottle menu - including Cantillon Iris 2007! They had a big boardwalk style wheel you could spin if you couldn't decide what to get. There was also a funny 'hobo special' of a hot dog and a 40 in a take out brown bag. Really fun place - check it out!!

Neorebel, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of womencantsail
3.86/5  rDev -1.3%

Came here with bring and a couple friends for a couple beers.

The place seems to fit its name fairly well, other than the fact that they serve expensive beer. Though the Hobo Special (hot dog and a 40) works.

Took a seat at a bar table and had a few adult beverages. The tap list was pretty eclectic and featured a nice range of beers that I had not tried/can't get back in California.

The service was pretty decent, especially for what I had expected (hoped?) from Hank's namesake. The thing I liked was that they offered half pours of everything on the menu.

womencantsail, Oct 04, 2011
Photo of glid02
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%

Stopped in for a few drinks while in the area after having visited the Boston location for lunch earlier in the day.

Atmosphere is nice, it's certainly more open than the location in Boston, especially in the summer. 4-5 tables sit near the open-air windows and a bar sits on the right upon entering. Certainly more relaxed than the Boston location.

Quality is good. The beer arrived at the proper temperature with a good amount of head.

Service is also good. Our waiter knew about the beers down to the style as well as their attributes, which was nice to see. We had to wait a few times to get our glasses refilled but nothing over the line.

Selection was very good, as I found it at the Boston location. 30-40% of the beers on-tap were locals and the rest were solid selections covering a good range of styles. The number of 5% beers was striking and well-received by me. As with the Boston location, the bottle list was far from extensive but was well thought out.

Value was good, a bit expensive to a Georgia boy but par for the course in the area.

Overall this location didn't have quite the amount of character I found in the Boston location, but the openness and more relaxed vibe made up for it. Worth a stop if you're in the area.

glid02, Aug 16, 2011
Photo of SunDevilBeer
3.01/5  rDev -23%

Hadn't visited here in nearly 9 years since a miserable visit, but a friend visiting town wanted to meet there so...

Visited around 7 on a weeknight. About half full, met my drinking partner at the bar.

Admittedly I had low expectations given my prior experiences at Buk's/Lower Depths. The hipster/tatooed barkeep met us pretty quickly and cordially to take our orders. Ordered a Harpoon 100BBL Rye IPA, my friend ordered a Brooklyn Lager. My beer arrived in a 11/12 oz glass, my friend got a foamy pint. Both beers tasted OK, but were small for the price.

During our visit the music escalated in volume immensely. Crappy techno punk from the barkeeps ipod....ick.

Bartender was checking back often...kudos. Was surprised at the service level given Buk's reputation & my prior disappointing visits.

The thing that really derails this place is the pricing....1 to 2 dollars more than the rest of Boston for drafts. Looked at the bottle list and most of them were out and out ripoffs.

Cash only here. Bullshit.

Not a place I'm anxious to return to, but better than I'd previously thought.

SunDevilBeer, Jun 12, 2011
Photo of rinhaak
3.35/5  rDev -14.3%

I had been hearing about Bukowski's Tavern for a long time and was anxious to give it a try. The beer list at the Cambridge location is impressive with 30 beers on tap, plus the house beer and a cask ale. They also have a very small - and overpriced - bottle list (four selections when I was there).

Sat down towards the back of the tavern in a booth with a friend. There was a rather unpleasant draft coming from somewhere, and considering it was cold and rainy outside, this really wasn't very welcome. However, once some food and drink was inside of us, we didn't really notice this minor annoyance anymore.

There were four TVs, all broadcasting a different sporting event. There was music playing in the background. Unfortunately, about halfway through our meal, the music tripled in volume and it became very difficult to have a conversation.

The service was good. The waitress came immediately and was always quick to check on us. I cannot comment on her knowledge of the beers on tap as I didn't ask her any questions.

I ordered the Imperial Stout Trooper, and while the tap lines seemed to be well maintained, I was a little disappointed when my beer arrived in a juice glass. Looking around the bar, they appeared to have four different glasses: the juice glass for heavy stouts, a Hefeweisen glass (though I didn't see any Hefs on the menu, so I'm curious what was in poured into this glass), a La Chouffe-style glass for the Belgians (my second beer, the Urthel Hop It was served in this glass), and a Brooklyn Lager pint glass for everything else.

The food was a huge disappointment. I ordered the Godzilla Burger: a housemade yellowfin tuna burger with mirin-chili-soy glaze, kalamsi mayo, sweet potato tempura, and avocado on a toasted brioche roll. They claim the burger would be cooked "rare," but was really anything but. This was overdone and dry. The bun was stale, not toasted, and the sweet potato was raw and crunchy with a small amount of fried tempura breading around it.

It did come with a side of fried plantains that were very good, however.

If you're going to a show at the Lily Pad and need a drink before or after the show, this is a good, nearby option. If you're wanting a good meal, you're better off going elsewhere. And with so many high quality beer bars in the Boston/Cambridge area, Bukowski's Tavern is best left alone.

rinhaak, Mar 11, 2011
Photo of Keith238
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%

I was a little uneasy about going in after reading some of the reviews here. While I like a place that is laid back and not pretentious, I don't like to get a lot of attitude. My fears were unfounded as the staff was very friendly. I loved the atmosphere of the place. This is an old service garage turned into a bar, complete with the roll up garage door still there. The bar itself reminded me of an old diner or the lunch counter at Woolworths, old metal framed stools bolted to the ground.

Nice selection of beers including cask beer. Not sure what you want? Spin the wheel. There's a carnival style wheel with the name of each beer offered. The only catch is whatever the wheel lands on is what you're paying for. And did I mention you're paying cash? No plastic taken here, cash only. Truth be told, I probably would have stayed for a few more beers if I could have used my credit card as I was running low on cash and didn't want to pay fees for an ATM.

High on my revisit list for Boston. I may have to check out their other location as well.

Keith238, Dec 31, 2010
Photo of asabreed
4/5  rDev +2.3%

I only thought there was one of these, but I was wrong. We passed the one in Boston on a trolley tour, which literally hangs over the edge of the interstate in a parking garage, which equals pure awesomeness. Definitely will make a point to get there next time for sure.

I do like the one in Cambridge, though. We were luck enough to get a spot next to the windows, only they're not windows but open shades, or whatever you want to call them. So we not only got to people watch, which my wife loves to do, but it was a nice fall-like day in August, which made the experience better.

I wasn't too keen on the prices, which have a lot to do with the selection. At a place fairly close, Lord Hobo, the selection's better and the prices are better. Now I say this because if the selection's better, and you have certain stuff you can't get elsewhere, then you don't mind paying a bit more. But when a pint of Southern Tier Hop Sun is $6.50 -- a brew that's maybe $10 a six-pack if that, and only 5% ABV -- that seems a little ridiculous to me. Higher alcohol brews that are that much in 12 oz. glasses -- that's fine. Alas, that's just me, and many of the brews they had I'd had before, and with a place that has the reputation Bukowski's had, I consider their selection and quality good, but I was just hoping for more.

It wasn't too busy, but it seems like it could be on weekends when all the college kids are back. Lots of room to sit, with booths on the opposite side of the long bar, and tables closer to the front open windows.

Overall, a good experience, and certainly a place I'd return to, but I hope next time visit the other one in Boston and see what that brings.

asabreed, Aug 18, 2010
Photo of drpimento
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%

Neat little place, in a way. Just mid-way over the bridge from this neat old fire station. Can't miss it due to its bright orange red color. Walked in and bar was full but shortly thereafter I got a seat. Great selection of beers available on draft and in bottles including locals, regionals, macros, both craft and mass brewed. Bartender was friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. Patrons, on the other hand, while not rude, certainly were some of the least friendly I've ever run into: no chit chat, no eye contact, real stand offish. Would've given a better ambiance and overall grade but for that.

drpimento, Jun 28, 2010
Photo of RBWoodward
4.63/5  rDev +18.4%

This is my go-to tavern, my first choice, a great neighborhood establishment. The beer selection, quality, and diversity should get you in the door. What will keep you coming back, besides the beer, is the staff, the atmosphere, and the food.

Bukowski's is probably best known for its Dead Authors Club - drink 1 each of 133 different bottled beers on a predetermined list that covers the gamut of beer types within 6 months, and you are rewarded with immortality in the form of a numbered mug engraved with the name of the author of your choice, well, dead author of your choice. From then on you can fill your mug with whatever beer they have on tap at the time (about 16 different ones at any given time) at a significant discount. Joining the club is a bit daunting at first, but a couple of beers a day a few times a week will get you there. Plus, you can learn a lot in the process, about both beer and yourself. I didn't realize how much I liked Scottish Ales and Belgian Strong Pale Ales, my current fave, until I had started my mug quest.

Pursuing (and attaining) membership in the Club will keep you coming back, but if it weren't for the other positives of Bukowski's, it would not be nearly as enjoyable. The staff are great, very friendly and knowledgeable. The food is underrated! The menu is creative, and new items are added often. Finally, the environment is wonderful because it's versatile and neither too big nor too small. When the weather is nice, they open up the front floor-to-ceiling windows for a near-outside dining/drinking experience. You can of course sit at the bar by yourself or with a friend or two, and if you want to have a big group party, there's space for that, too.

Note that they are a cash-only establishment, but if you forget to cash up before you arrive, the ATM in the back will conveniently solve that problem for you.

The location (Inman Square) is not the most accessible if you're not local because it's a bit of a hike from the nearest T stops. Honestly, though, I like it that way. It's got a healthy level of activity as it is, and we really don't need any more student watering holes or conveniently located magnets for pub-crawling posers who are looking to pound 4 or 5 PBRs with their new best friends, now do we. Bukowski's is not for them. However, if you enjoy great beer and great food, it might just be the place for you.

RBWoodward, Jun 26, 2010
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Bukowski Tavern in Cambridge, MA
88 out of 100 based on 67 ratings.