I’m not posting about this little bar because of the beer. More because I just really like it.
Situated at the Eastern end of Kingsway, sorry Republic Street, the narrow, less trendy end of Valetta’s main street. Gugar self proclaims as a ‘hang out and bar’ and the Times of Malta article on the wall says it’s run by a co-operative.
I instantly think of eco warrior, minority rights, knit your own sandals sort of thing when I hear co-operative. Don’t let that put you off though and don’t let the small size of the place put you off neither, there’s another room in the probably several centuries old cellar that’s reminiscent of a shishah joint without the smoke.
A vaulted stone cellar is one of the features of the old buildings in Valetta and in these small bars is usually where the toilet is. And it’s quite good for Valetta, unless you are over 6’1”, in which case you have to duck and contemplate how you would shut the folding door if you needed a sit down job?
Beer? Cheapest Cisk in Valetta at €2.50 for a pint bottle (if there are any cheaper please let me know in the comments section), there’s a few other brands in the fridge but nowt worth mithering about. No just sit and drink your Cisk and enjoy the ambience. Unlike other beer bloggers who make short visits to Malta and then consciously avoid the national beer!
You could dive into the food side of things, mostly snacks soup and light meals. All healthy eating options, vegetarian or vegan, and again excellent value and quality. I can definitely recommend the Ftira Maltija at €3.50, think large crusty local bread roll stuffed full of all sorts of local tasty things; capers tomatoes, cheese, beans, etc. Well good and substantial enough to be a meal in itself. There’s also a wide range of smoothies and teas and everything else you’d expect in a bar in the middle of the Mediterranean.
The word “Ġugar!” comes from the Hindi concept of “Jugaar” [ जुगाड़] Although there is no exact English equivalent of the word, essentially, “Jugaar” means to come up with a creative solution for any problem you might encounter. Jugaar is the art of making things work [Copied from Gugar webpage] . Hence most of the decor is DIY, recycled, upcycled stuff, it took me two visits before I worked out the light shades behind the bar were modified egg boxes.
The people are pretty decent too, not just the staff neither. Although a few visitors get in, most of the punters are locals, the customer profile being twenty/thirty somethings, educated, into arts, music and politics; they love their politics over here like you wouldn’t imagine.
You rapidly get drawn into conversations, or is it me that just impinges? Anyway, Malta is very much ‘no matter where your from every one’s local’. Like we got chatting with two girls the other night, turns out they’re friends with the girl we met up with the night before, who’s in a band with the guy who told us to go to Gugar in the first place. They invited us to a contemporary dance concert, but Mrs C told them that they’d get a more positive response if they asked if they could poke me in the eye with a sharp stick.
Verdict: Cheap eats, cheap beer and a cool ambience. It’s quirky, wacky and wonderful, even when it’s raining in February.
You can find Gugar at 89a Republic Street, Valetta, Malta.