For being the main artery of hipster expat life, Gulou Dong Dajie itself is astonishingly lacking in bars beyond the Dada-Temple vortex and serene Amilal. Other options should be a welcome addition. But Gladiator Bar squanders its prime location with offerings that evoke lesser cities.
The four sidewalk tables allow patrons a chance to take in the street while enjoying one of the bar’s many dirt-cheap beers (as low as RMB10 for Heineken, RMB25-30 for most Belgian brews). But the dark metal and wood décor and candlelight on the street is marred by the blaring music and tacky interior.
Even the beer, the only drink option, is slightly warm, having all been crammed into a single too-small fridge. Perhaps the only strong point of the bar is friendly owner Li Jiangwen, who jumps to help patrons walking in and makes this a bar worth rooting for. But at best, it’s a spot for a quick, cheap drink before moving on to your next stop.
Our rating: ★★✩✩✩
What: Gladiator Bar
Find it: 105-4 Gulou Dong Dajie, 鼓楼东大街105-4号
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