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Monk's Café

Not Rated.
Monk's CaféMonk's Café
BA SCORE
98
world-class

429 Ratings
Ratings: 429
Reviews: 328
rAvg: 4.42
pDev: 9.5%
Taps: 20
Bottles: 218
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

264 S 16th St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19102-3357
United States
phone: (215) 545-7005

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 429 | Reviews: 328 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.2/5  rDev -5%

Monk’s Caf酅you’ve heard of it and you know where it is even if you have not been. ….”oh yeah Monk’s in Philly you simply have to go there”. Well finally I got a chance to spend several hours in here on my way back to Philadelphia International Airport and LAX. Fellow BA Erica offered me a lift to PHL via this establishment, parking was, well a fucking nightmare to say the least, several runs round the nearby streets offered zero street parking options, if I had known we would have circled Monk’s a few times I would have brought some weed & crack to sell to the local kids that waved at us as we passed and cruised by on a few occasions. Inevitably, as my thirst grew drier than Mahatma Gandhi’s Sandals we opted for the paid parking option, I was getting thirsty and picked up the tab, a minor quibble (the lack of street parking not me paying) but something worth thinking about if you are traveling here by Automobile also.

A short walk of a few blocks from the Parking Lot and we soon hit the front of Monk’s Café, shimmering in the early afternoon heat the tricolor canopy barely fluttered. A thin brick frontage has a “great Café in a run-down area” feel to it, similar to that of the Bier Circus in Brussels.

Once inside a small corridor opens up on your right to a door that takes you into the front room. As you open the door its acoustic deafening qualities are obvious and you are assaulted by a chitter-chattering mass sat at a variety of types of tables and chairs, the front windows let in some light but it is dark and cool, the AC is welcome. The front bar is to your left but Erica insisted that we sat in the back room, after a short walk via a wooden clad chicane we eventually got there. “The back room is much cooler” so said Erica…and she wasn’t kidding, it was fecking freezing, the AC and fans were on overload, once I chipped the ice off the stools and moved the family of Penguins we managed a couple of stools at the back bar no problem. Twenty or so taps had a great selection; I went straight for the Monk’s Flemish Sour Red Ale, a badged brew from Van Steenberge and a damn fine sour libation to boot. After that we shared a bottle of Panil Bariquée (awesome), ‘t Smijse Calva Reserva (uh!) and Proef K-O (so-so).

Here’s what I don’t get about Monk’s, the two bars, front & back, well they have two draft beer lists, two bottled beer lists…..they just taking the piss or is it some kind of competition!? Why can't they balance this somehow!?!?

Decor is Belgique, nice wood paneling, lots of Belgian breweriana which all sits nicely with the dark interior and classy looks. It’s nicely decked out for sure.

Service was barely above average and at times enthusiastic but not very attentive overall. We were in the back room and aside from the freezing effects of the A/C it was a pleasant enough experience, but the woman in here was patently overwhelmed at times and clearly “elsewhere” at others. At one point she brought in some food to eat behind the bar…..very strange, doesn’t the staff get food breaks?!?! There is something distinctly very amateurish about seeing someone eating behind a bar whilst trying to serve beer. At one point a nice quiet chap came and sat next to me, after 5 minutes of no service he just got up and moved to the front bar to get served. The woman serving had been chatting and realized this happened but sadly too late, it was not intended but still it happened. Service gets a 3.5, and I think I’m being a tad kind here.

Aside from the Service issues this really is a very cool place to hang out. The Beer list is why you come no doubt, well stocked and laid–out in a clear “by Style” fashion it makes for easy reading. The food that was served looked great, including the steamed Mussels, but I opted for beer only as I had but a few hours before my flight. I’ll eat next time though I think, assuming there is a next time.

Highly Recommended for the beer list and overall experience……but not for the parking woes or spotty service, they just come with the territory I guess.

Thanks to BA Erica for the ride here and the company, always a pleasure.

Last Visit: Sunday 28th August, 2005.

TheLongBeachBum, Sep 04, 2005
Photo of JackNip
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

JackNip, Yesterday at 05:13 AM
Photo of Davepoolesque
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Davepoolesque, Monday at 07:08 PM
Photo of anteater
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

anteater, Oct 14, 2014
Photo of Fusebuddy
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%

NIce beer bar if you're in Philly. Only a short 10-15 minute walk from my hotel by the convention center. Small place for sure and as others say, its quite dark in there. Which is cool by me, so I was at home. Loads of Belgian offerings here, I'm guessing more than half the beers. Had a Damnation on tap, sure nice to enjoy a RR beer on the east coast, then a Racer 5 IPA. Food was so-so, the service was fine. In between my two beers, I did waste some time trying to order off the beer list which said they had FW PNC and 17. Each time the server going around looking for the beer, then coming back to advise that its no longer available. After waiting to find out they didn't have those, just went with tap offerings. I would say its a must place for any BA in Philly because its really a cool beer cave, but I wasn't exactly overwhelmed.

Fusebuddy, Oct 14, 2014
Photo of ChicagoNick
2.5/5  rDev -43.4%

Monk's Cafe has some decent bottles, but I don't get the hype. Unless you're a local that can stop in anytime for special tappings, this place is extremely mediocre. Food is okay. Service is okay.

My recommendation: go during the day (dimly lit at night and loud) and don't bother reading the online menu. Expect them to be out of at least one thing that you ask for. Also, they like to leave certain high-demand bottles on their list that are long gone. Fair warning to those interested in one of the 5 Cantillon bottles which have been sold out since September 20th. (Today is Oct. 13)

ChicagoNick, Oct 13, 2014
Photo of Davelucas88
5/5  rDev +13.1%

Davelucas88, Oct 08, 2014
Photo of Lupo
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Lupo, Oct 06, 2014
Photo of stephenjmoore
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

stephenjmoore, Sep 30, 2014
Photo of NJBeer265
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

NJBeer265, Sep 22, 2014
Photo of beerded_drunk
4/5  rDev -9.5%

beerded_drunk, Sep 18, 2014
Photo of Devman171
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Devman171, Sep 12, 2014
Photo of AlexM
5/5  rDev +13.1%

AlexM, Sep 10, 2014
Photo of Stephenjtorres
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Stephenjtorres, Sep 09, 2014
Photo of ILuvBeer
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

ILuvBeer, Sep 09, 2014
Photo of Dizzy242
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Dizzy242, Sep 06, 2014
Photo of kwa357
4/5  rDev -9.5%

kwa357, Sep 06, 2014
Photo of MWilcox20
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Amazing place and a must when in Philly. There may be some better places to get a beer in town (Eulogy, Tria) but Monk's is a classic and usually has some amazing stuff on tap. Went there last week and had Lost Abbey Deliverance - rocked my world. Monk's has an epic reputation and is well worth the visit.

Also the mussels are incredible :)

MWilcox20, Aug 25, 2014
Photo of KornWallace
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

I was at Monks for their Pliny the Younger offering in March. The bar itself is a little on the small side, made even smaller by the large number of people who were there for the special offerings that day.
That day their offerings were amazing, as to be expected, I did take a look at their bottle list while there and there seemed to be a good deal of bottles that I would have loved to have tried. While I was there I had one of the burgers which was very good.
The pricing was pretty expensive as was to be expected. The bottle list was slightly over the price points I would have expected.
The servers that day were overwhelmed. They did what they could and remained calm cool and collected throughout the day.

KornWallace, Aug 23, 2014
Photo of Slatetank
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%

Slatetank, Aug 22, 2014
Photo of BigRizz62
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

BigRizz62, Aug 19, 2014
Photo of SFNC
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

SFNC, Aug 17, 2014
Photo of Lehighace06
5/5  rDev +13.1%

Lehighace06, Aug 16, 2014
Photo of MattXT
4/5  rDev -9.5%

MattXT, Aug 16, 2014
Photo of mklisz
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

mklisz, Aug 13, 2014
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Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
98 out of 100 based on 429 ratings.