Gulu-Gulu Café

Gulu-Gulu CaféGulu-Gulu Café
Gulu-Gulu CaféGulu-Gulu Café
Bar, Eatery

247 Essex St
Salem, Massachusetts, 01970-3401
United States

(978) 740-8882 | map

View: Place Reviews | Events
Reviews: 19 | Ratings: 35
Photo of sliberty
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

This is the best beer list on the North Shore as of this review (6/2/2016).

There is always a great variety of different beers from all over the country / world with a large but manageable tap list and a deep bottle / can list full of quality choices.

The atmosphere is hipster chic with exposed brick, high ceilings, a variety of seating choices including bar, long tables, and couches, and a great location downtown Salem. It's also very near a lot of other great bars and restaurants.

The food is good, especially if you know what to order. The bagel and lox plate is amazing.

Service is very spotty and uneven... or if you prefer to be generous, call it European-style service. After all, the bar is inspired by another of the same name in Czech Republic. You may be waiting a while for food, but if you've got nowhere to be and want the best beer available, this is your place.

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Photo of TylerKitchens
4.71/5  rDev +15.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Always an awesome draft list and the bottle selection is extensive. Most of their food is artisanal cheeses and meats, different crepes and breakfast food, and some of the best coffee around.

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Photo of mynie
4.14/5  rDev +1.2%

The best word for this place is "cute," followed closely by "busy." The vibe is youthful, but not pretentious, and although the aesthetic is welcoming they're usually too busy to be outright friendly. Bands and open mics take the stage most nights around 8, and it gets loud. That's sometimes nice, other times not so nice, so be sure to check the website and see what's going on there before you head out.

The tap list is the best in town. Lots and lots of middling MA locals, along with a handful of excellent imports, bigger-name crafts from the (Mid)west, and some genuinely good stuff from Maine. Still haven't seen Trillium out here, but this will be the first place that gets it.

Their website tap list is updated regularly, and it includes prices which is really nice. The food is pub fare and it's okay. I--I got nothing else to say. Cute joint, definitely worth stopping by if you're in town.

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Photo of Mantooth
3.9/5  rDev -4.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.25

Stopped by Salem on a recent vacation - love the laid back hippie vibe of this place. Had an amazing sandwich and a four glass sampler of beers, picked from their 20 son taps. I'm from NC so I was happy to try some Firestone Walker brews I'd not had the chance to pick up before. Great food and beer - if you're in the area... check it out.

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Photo of nootch23
4.06/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.75

Gulu Gulu is one of my favorite places to go in Salem. It can get quite busy at any time of day, especially during the lunch and dinner rushes but during the week they usually have bands playing and an open mic night which will make finding a table hard to find. Overall, the food here is pretty good, their breakfast is amazing. The service can be pretty slack when it gets busy but nothing too horrible.

The beer selection is outstanding. They have about 20 taps and a cooler for bottles. The tap selection always carries a very good variety of styles and tastes. Every now and then they will have a rarity on tap. I believe every Tuesday night is cask night when they will crack open a cask of a local brew. The bartenders know their beer and are great resources to ask about different tastes of the beers and for recommendations. Not all places are like that.

I will always highly recommend Gulu Gulu for beer. It's become our go to place.

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Photo of JordanPhraczek
4.69/5  rDev +14.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

The Gulu has more than 20 taps, always caters to every craft brew palate, and you cannot beat their prices for craft beer.

If you went to Boston you could spend $2-3 more dollars on every draft beer they have. The service is wonderful for a seat yourself place, and the age demographic is larger than almost any "cool" bar around. I am continuously impressed by the Gulu.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.13/5  rDev +1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Roaming around Salem, and we stumbled into this joint. Interesting vibe throughout, and we had a fun time while we were there. A very eclectic atmosphere, from the exterior to the decorations, the food menu, and the drinks. Lots of fun, and this place gets pretty busy on weekends. The service was great, from the hostess down to the servers. It seems like there are a lot of events going on there, especially local music. We were there on a night when a comic art project was having an opening, followed immediately by a live band. Fun stuff. The beer selection was very decent, with a ton of brews on draft, and even more available by the bottle. I was impressed with the selection. However, do not be fooled by the beer list on the wall. I walked in and was extremely excited to see Founders Breakfast Stout on the wall. When I ordered, I was informed by the waitress that they ran out of that "a long time ago," and that the wall rarely gets updated. They have a menu that they keep up to date, so if you go in and have to wait for a table for a while, do not reference the wall. It can only lead to disappointment. The food was great, and as I said, there is a good variety available, from tapas and appetizers to full blown entrees. Price was very reasonable, and we would absolutely go back when we are in Salem again.

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Photo of medic25
3.88/5  rDev -5.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Went for lunch here with the family; fairly crowded, but they offered to put our two teenagers at one table and my wife and I at another (bonus!). The beer selection was very impressive; much more than I expected walking in. For the fall they had a variety of pumpkin beers; I started with a Southern Tier Punking, which was delicious. They also offer a sampler, so I followed that with 3 small servings.
The food was also enjoyable; my only complaint was with the speed of service. We had an appetizer of cheese and meats (including a delicious Czech spiced brie). Then for the main I had a turkey panini and my wife had a mushroom crepe (the menu was mainly sandwiches and crepes). Unfortunately as we learned from the waitress, the small kitchen only has 1-2 panini presses and a crepemaker, so we waited close to 45 minutes for our food. Not a big deal to me as I was enjoying my beers, but my pregnant wife was less than thrilled. The wait staff overall were very helpful; if not for the slow kitchen I'd give the service score a bigger bump.
Overall I was quite impressed; the prices were very reasonable and the selection was outstanding. Definitely worth returning to.

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Photo of rousee
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I tried out Gulu-Gulu recently and was glad I did. Its located right in the heart of the pedestrian square in the middle of Salem. It has a few outdoor tables and when you walk in the bar is off to the left. The beer selection was very solid and I tried an Imperial lager by Krusovice which I hadnt had before, a Session Pilsener from Notch brewing & I also tried their session pale ale. All the beers were served in appropriate glassware and tasted nice and fresh. It looks like their website is fairly up-to-date,so please refer to it if you are interested in seeing some of the other beers that are offered here.

The decor is a standard cafe/beer bar hang out type set up --fairly spartan wooden chairs and such but certainly comfortable enough.

The staff that work here are a little hipster-ish but they are the nice friendly type that don't have any of that "I'm too cool for school attitude" that is sometimes prevalent. In fact, they all have their bios on the website and I thought they were fairly amusing. Some are true and others are just a bunch of BS but who cares.They seem to be having fun with it and enjoy working there.

We tried this meat and cheese plate and ended up getting 1 meat plate and 1 cheese plate. The Chorizo we got was a nice imported Spain chorizo and the capicola and salami were fairly standard. The cheeses really stood out as the Brie had some nice veining in it and the Cheddar had a nice grassy element to it. Manchego always matches up well with beer, so that was our third cheese and it was quite good too.

In summary, this is a great place to stop off at and I could easily spend a few hours in here. Very friendly vibe, some nice food and beer and the prices were pretty reasonable too.

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Photo of lordjeff78
4.72/5  rDev +15.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

My two brothers, their wives, my girlfriend and I all went to the Gulu Cafe for lunch prior to a family wedding. Wow did we pick the right place to go. Solid tap list, great bottle list, super friendly waitress, and great food. This place picks up the artsy witchy vibe of the town without being corny and really pays attention to the food and the beer. The bartender came around the bar and chatted us up about my girlfriend's DFH Fort tee-shirt. Cool staff. Additionally, there were tons of dogs in the town and sitting in the outside seating. Any place that combines that great beer with great food and dogs I can't say no.

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Photo of SunDevilBeer
3.83/5  rDev -6.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Visited an out of town friend who was staying in Salem and decided to meet here.

Hipster alert! Hipster alert! :0) Though unlike the Boston/Cambridge/Somerville hipster beer haunts, the staff here are extremely friendly and efficient.

Eclectic selection of draft and bottled beers, ranging from local/regional selections to well-known national crafts and obscure imports. I had a Czech dark lager I've never heard of and it was terrific.

As others have stated, the menu is tight and consists of healthy crepes, wraps, and simple meat plates. I had some kind of cold sausage and peperoncini plate, marinated in vinegar, and it was tasty.

As for the clientele, all sorts of types like middle aged beer geeks (me), students, artsy types, & lots of people with multiple piercings beards & tattoos. But I give them credit, it's a comfy place & welcoming no matter who you are.

I would visit this place again the next time I'm close.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.78/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3

Gulu-Gulu is French for "glug-glug."

Sometimes I want to dismiss this as an artsy hipster bar but in truth you can find anyone, anytime at Gulu. According to Gulu, "we're an everyone bar." That sounds about right.

Seating is a mix of barstools, couches, tables and chairs. No matter how many people are crammed in there I always seem to find a place to hang. We even somehow managed to get a table for six on halloween evening.

The worst part of Gulu is the music. Almost every night they have some whining folkster or terrible DJ mixing Mario Bros. soundbytes. Legend has it this goes back to when Gulu didn't have a liquor license and could only serve alcohol during special events. Thus every night an event was booked. Now that they have a liquor license Monday night is Gulu night during which absolutely nothings happens. Monday is my favorite night to be there.

Service is excellent at Gulu. Not only are the servers attentive they actually have personalities and are engaging. I love that in a bar.

I'm not a fan of Gulu food. The food itself is fair, it's just not food I like. Not having a stove or grill Gulu is limited by what they can do with a panini maker. The three food groups are crepe group, meat and cheese plate group, and wrap group. The crepes are great and the sandwiches are eh but nothing will ever make your mouthwater. Unless you're a crepe person I guess. I once had an amazing M&M's muffin though. Everything seems to be stuffed with sugar and butter. Perhaps that's the French influence. I'm usually only game for the hummus plate and a beer.

The tap list frequently changes. Usually it has a mix of German, Belgian and American craft. Weihenstephaner hef is always on tap and that's just fine by me. There's usually a tap devoted to Troegs and Southern Tier as well. A good, well-rounded bottle selection which features fresh Delirium Nocturnum which is a rare commodity. $3 Cisco Whale's Tale cans is the bargain beer.

Update: a Nutella covered bagel and a fine stout makes for a great afternoon.

Since I've moved to Salem this is my new local.

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Photo of WanderingFool
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I visited Gulu-Gulu Cafe for the first time on a Sunday night and the place was hopping. The bar is eclectic and caters to the artsy college crowd. However, a wide range of people from college kids to middle aged beer enthusiasts (us) were all represented. Local art work covers the walls and free wi-fi is available. There's seating for I'd guess 40 people and room to dance in front of the stage where the DJ was set up.

My friends and I got a table and a round of beers and all of us were impressed with the selection they had. There were 8 beers on tap including Dale's Pale Ale, Victory Storm King Stout and Yeti Imperial Stout. There were also a few beers in bottles including Racer 5, which I tried.

None of us ordered food, but we did look at the menu and noticed a nice selection of cheeses, sandwiches and appetizers. All reasonably priced in the $5 - $15 range. I'd like to go back some time and try some of these offerings.

Even though the place was busy our waitress came by our table almost on queue when a beer glass was empty. She also knew which beers were currently available (a couple kegs kicked) and answered all the questions we had.

Gulu-Gulu is conveniently located in downtown Salem, however parking nearby could be a problem. Luckily it's a short walk from the many parking lots in the area.

If you're looking for a fun atmosphere surrounding by lots of interesting people who enjoy good beer and food definitely give Gulu-Gulu a try. I'm already looking forward to my next visit.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
3.54/5  rDev -13.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Met an old college roommate here for a couple of beers on a hot summer afternoon. He lives in Salem so was a regular to the joint but I had never been. The place had a nice vibe, there were actually board games in the corner where you could play if you wanted and a small stage they had set up for local bands that play. There was a small shelf where there were super hero action figures set up as decorations which I thought was pretty crafty too. We each got a couple of beers, I really didn't enjoy my first that much and my 2nd I liked a little better. Both of my beers looked a little hazy which made me question how often they clean the draft lines (I got a lager and the 2nd was a porter). I've heard from a few different people that the food is great but I didn't try any. One knock on the place that I had, or not so much a knock as very surprising. For a place with such a diverse beer selection, they didn't carry much from MA. They carried both American and import beers, I got a Atwater Vanilla Java Porter and a Krusovice Imperial Pilsner. They also carried Dogfishhead, Stone, Brooklyn, Smuttynose, Sierra Nevada and Rascallion. They had imports such as Delierium Tremmons, Hoegaarden Duvel, Chimnay, and Stella Artois. The only MA products they had on tap or in bottle the day I went was the Rascallion Honey Pale ale. I'm usually very surprised when Sam Adams products arnen't carried. Especially just the quality control factor. Sam Adams doesn't allow their beer at places that doen't properly clean their draft lines. I still think I will go back if I ever goto Salem again, I'd still like to tr the food and maybe another beer I haven't tried. I guess they have about 7 taps that constantly rotate if I understand it correctly.

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Photo of currysage1
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Interesting place to be on the Wednesday before Halloween. My girlfriend and I had Absinthe with a couple or witches (real).

But on to the beer.

Gulu-Gulu is my kind of bar, very open floor plan, mix and match tables and chairs, and a couch or two. We sat on a leather couch that was on a stage that on other nights hosts musicians. Very laid back atmosphere.

Bartender was very nice and tried to be as informative as possible, served my Saison Dupont in the appropriate glass. I moved on to a Westiphaner Korbinian after, my gf had a Ommegang Abbey on tap and then Absinthe.

4 taps - Ommegang Abbey and Hennepin, Kruskovice Imperial Pils, and Dogfish 60. Bottle list was much better than I had expected, but I have to say I'm very spoiled with the Moan and Dove and the Dirty Truth. The only reason I knocked the selection was because if they want to play at being a beer bar then they NEED to get a few more draught lines going.

Food sounded very good but didn't try, very Euro style.

All in all it was a very good experience and I would most certainly be back when I'm in the area.

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Photo of abartke
3.56/5  rDev -13%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4

I went here last night for a few beers, and it was kind of a neat place. Granted, it was the Friday before Halloween, so Salem was a little interesting, this place had a good vibe to it. There was an electronica band playing that, even though that isn't my ideal style of music, was a good fit for the crowd and atmosphere of the "cafe". The crowd there was fairly diverse, complete with an older man dressed up in costume sitting by himself at the bar.

The beer was fairly priced, $5-6 for the four they had on draft, and bottles ranging from $6 to around $11, obviously depending on the quantity and quality of the beer.

The service was a little disappointing. The first bartender had to ask my party of three a few times before we actually got our beers what we had ordered. In addition, the glasses weren't very clean. We all had food specks on our glasses. A little disappointing.

The selection was much better than the atmosphere would dictate. Check out their beer list online for a complete list of what they have. I was fairly impressed.

My friend got the soup, and he said it was delicious. And then they tried to give it to him again for some reason. I'm assuming it was a kitchen mix-up.

Overall, a good place to stop and grab a few beers, but nothing phenomenal.

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Photo of altgeeky1
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Writing this fromm Gulu-Gulu's free wifi. This is a comfortable, relaxed cafe with a great atmosphere and great beer menu. The tap list now is: Hennepin, Dogfish 60 ipa, Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout, Krusovice Imperial lager. All taps 5-6 bucks. there are 25 bottled beers all 5-12 bucks, including Orval, Dupont Saison, etc.

Something going on every night... themes like board games, silent films, live music,etc. Watching a Chaplin silent movie on projector right now.

This is more a cafe with great beer, than a bar. In that sense it's more open of a community.. you can join a card game where 1/2 the folks have a Belgian, and the rest have coffee. Much diff't than the average pub. Food's good, beer pairings with cheese... cereal, you name it. You should also consider eating at the Upper Crust next door, also good.

This place is great; worth a trip!
PS- Bring a hooded jacket... all the locals do b/c they CRANK the A/C low (shared zone with the kitchen... you can imagine thermostat wars between cooks and waitstaff..)

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Photo of JoeCeez
3.8/5  rDev -7.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I guess it's supposed to be like a Czech bar but Gulu Gulu is more of a coffee shop with a beer and wine menu. I really like the atmosphere, one large room with very high ceilings and plenty of tables with some couches as well, there's also 4 or 5 tables outside. There's usually some good music being played. The vibe is hip and artsy, very nice since most of Salem is full of tourists and yah dudes.

The quality is good. The beers are poured in proper glassware: pint glasses, chalices, and tulips.

The service is average. The waitstaff is kinda lazy. I've been there when it wasn't busy and sat watching my food get cold while the waitstaff were shooting the shit. I eventually got up and got my food myself.

The selection is great for Salem. There's 4 taps, Krusovice pils and shwarz, 60 min IPA, and usually a Fisherman's seasonal. About 20 bottles, highlights being Stone Smoked Porter. Also Ommegang, Chimay, Delirium, Dupont, Duvel, Trois Pistoles, and Maudite. Also a bunch of liqueurs and wines.

The food is very European: salads, crepes, panini... last time I was there I had a great sausage dish. Gulu Gulu is NOT the place to go if you want wings and french fries
with your beer.

Overall Gulu Gulu is a great place to go if you're in Salem and want some good beer; you can sit outside and if you're not interested in the average Salem bar scene. I love Gulu Gulu because it's got good beer and its only 5 minutes from home.

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Photo of ohmesohoppy
4/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Gulu-Gulu Cafe is pretty new to Salem, but it has easily become the best place to get a beer in town. It is located right downtown off washington st right near the famed and controversial bewitched statue. Inside is very laid back- much more of a cafe feel than a bar (but thats not necessarily a bad thing). Bright yellow, blue and red walls, with exposed brick and local art displayed around. This place is based off a Czech Republic cafe, and it definitely reminds me of a cafe in Prague that I visited when I was there. Theres lots of seating (10-15 tables some with comfy chairs and couches) and a nice bar that seats about 10. Theres free wifi also so its a great place to go in the afternoon do some work and get a good beer. Behind the bar there are several long chalk boards with the bottle list draft list and wine list. You would think that this place being a cafe would not be as welcoming at night, but I've been here a couple times at night and its a good time- they often have live music at night.
Alright now to the important stuff- the beer. Gulu-Gulu by far has the best selection of beer in Salem. For draft when I went they had Hennepin (16 oz $6), DFH 60 minute (pint 5.50), and two Krusovices ( the gold and the schwarz which was nice seeing its a czech bar). Notables in bottles include more Ommegang, 90 min, raison detre, Victory hop devil and golden monkey, arrongant bastard, Stone smoked porter sierra nevada, smutty brown, brooklynn lager. For imports they have Unibroue (trois pistole, maudite), Chimay bleu, avril dupont, duvel, delirium tremens, and some others check out their website for a full list. Now I know I might of rated their selection a bit high, and this list might not compare to some stuff you can get in Boston. But I've lived in boston and been spoiled by bars like Deep Ellum, TPH, and Red Bones, too, and this might not compare to their lists, but it definetly blows most bars on the N. Shore out of the water.

The one thing I will say though is that they could use some more glassware; it seems as though all they have are pints and Unibroue tulips and wine glasses- not a big deal though since they are clean.

The food here is also pretty good. Nice panini sandwiches and crepes. Try the Munich. The service has always been friendly when Ive been there. It can be a bit slow at times, but realize this is a cafe and thats kind of the point- to chill out have a beer and relax. (Very much like the Otherside).

Overall this is a great chill place to get some quality beers in Salem, especially if youre getting sick of the Beer Works. The owner is often in here and he seems like a very nice guy. Gulu-Gulu is doing a great/much needed job in bringing more interesting beers north of boston, so please check them out if you ever find yourself in Salem.

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Gulu-Gulu Café in Salem, MA
Place rating: 4.09 out of 5 with 35 ratings