Monk's Café

Not Rated.
Monk's CaféMonk's Café

338 Reviews
Reviews: 338
Visits: 491
Avg: 4.38
pDev: n/a
Taps: 20
Bottles: 218
Cask: 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 

Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Reviews: 338 | Visits: 491
Reviews by donniecuffs:
Photo of donniecuffs
3.8/5  rDev -13.2%
vibe: 2 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 5

First, I'm not going to waste time repeating what most other reviewers have said already...the selection and quality of Belgian, Belgian-style, and even non-Belgian-style beers is tremendous. I honestly think that if someone has a problem with the selection, then that person, quite frankly, cannot be pleased at all. Let me instead focus on my 'atmospheric' experience as well as the service, as this is where I stray from the majority.

For a saturday night on Labor Day weekend, the Philly streets were understandably empty, but this place was PACKED. After waiting for 10min to get two seats at the bar, and then waiting another 10min before the bartender remembered to get our drinks, we were finally able to sit down and relax...if you could call it that. Since the bar area is very small, I found myself needing to shout over the din in order to speak with my wife...which is the exact opposite of what a Belgian beer cafe should be like.

Furthermore, it was annoying to continually have grad students and intellectual wannabe's pushing their way between order a Chimay. And even further, I noticed that over a stretch of nearly an hour, most of the patrons to our left and right wouldn't even bother looking at the provided paper copies of the aforementioned great beer selection before ordering; they would simply default to Chimay, like the average American defaults to 'Bud Light'. As such I had no inspiration to strike up a conversation with anyone but my wife. Please don't misinterpret this; Chimay is an excellent beer, but ordering that, very readily-available beer, when you have access to so many other hard-to-find brews, is like walking into a gourmet ice cream parlor with 100 flavors and ordering vanilla. The culmination of this experience was when a grad student sidled up next to me while his date was in the restroom, spotted the bottle of Achel Brune in front of me, and asked, "Is that like Chimay?" Enough said.

As for the bartender, (a) she screwed up our order..twice, (b) I overheard her giving false beer descriptions to a few Chimay-ers, and (c) she wasn't friendly at all. The only reason why I didn't rate service a '1' was because I gave her a little leniency, given the size of the crowd that night.

In summary, I have mad respect for the fact that the Michael Jacksons of the world have been to this establishment and rate it highly. I would like to think that I had just hit it on a bad night, and I would certainly be open to giving it another shot...on an afternoon, though, as opposed to late-night. However, I think...and hope...that the picture that I have painted for you goes to show how TRENDY the whole Belgian beer movement has become with the non-beergeek crowd; to the point where it is maddeningly annoying at times.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of FightinIrish88
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4

Photo of barleywin
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of JaredSammy
4.25/5  rDev -3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Photo of amano_h
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

If I were to commit a capital crime tomorrow in the city of Philadelphia and were asked what I wanted for my last meal, I would without hesitation answer "The Duck Salad Sandwich, Ghent Mussels, and draft Pliny the Elder from Monk's Café."

It's kind of hard to describe experiences like these, but every time I walk into Monk's Café and sit at their rustic bar waiting for my food and beer, it's as if I'm sitting on some sort of invisible, yet mobile spa; all my stress and worries just melt away from my shoulders and leave me in a state of complete relaxation and bliss... which soon shifts to ecstasy as soon as my food and beer arrive.

Fluffy and flowery images aside, if you don't know already, Monks Café probably has the most extensive Belgian beer offering in Philadelphia and maybe in the entire USA. If you didn't know already, Monks Café probably offers the most authentic Belgian fare in all of Philadelphia and maybe in the entire USA. And if it hasn't hit you already, you should most definitely make this a to-go destination if you enjoy good food and beer, which probably means YOU, since you wouldn't be on if you didn't enjoy good food and beer.

I would also recommend stopping by here during the afternoon if you like a more serene, home-y atmosphere; make this place your destination in the evening if you like a more ambient, dive-ish under the candlelight atmosphere (to whomever called this a dive/hole in the wall: how dare you.)

I love you Monk's Café. Never leave me.

 1,512 characters

Photo of Mnteti
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.75

Photo of RMoeNay
4.33/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

Photo of dailyminefield
4.31/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5

Photo of fitzy84
4.38/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75

Decided to go here during my Philadelphia trip. Monks seemed to be a relatively small place with dining near the window, a bar to one's left, and more tables in a narrow restaurant space.

The space had a cool soundtrack playing across the evening of all my personal favorite bands which was a huge plus. It was not too busy on a Sunday night so I sat at the bar area. All the workers seemed nice from the interactions I had with them. The place was A bit dim with lit candles across the bar. I felt like one could enjoy a nice conversation with a friend or read while at the bar. This helped make Monks welcoming and laid back to me.

The draft menu was on a small piece of paper, but the selection was out of this world with mostly some Belgian style drinks. The bartender that evening was quite nice and responsive when I wanted another drink. He was also very kind when I accidentally butchered a Belgian drink's name! I definitely enjoyed a good selection of beers that evening.

I did not have food at Monks, but the couple next to me had an awesome looking mussels dish.

As a tourist, I am really glad I got to sample this bar in Philly. I would recommend it to other people I know and would go back whenever I visit the city again.

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Photo of KTCamm
4.95/5  rDev +13%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

The Mid-Atlantic mecca. Everything its cracked up to be and more. The beer list is ridiculous - one wonders where to even begin. Two bars worth of taps from all over. (I scored some good Russian Rivers) plus large quantities of bottles, perfect for local BYO eateries. But if you are staying, the enormous pot of moules with frites and breads is the tops. You have to go there.

 377 characters

Photo of Brown120
4.43/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Photo of RutgersBeerGuy
4.23/5  rDev -3.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5

The legendary Monk's Cafe! A craft beer icon in both locally in Philadelphia and in the United States, if not the world.

We sat at the front bar. It was pretty crowded for mid-afternoon on a Saturday, but due to a party leaving right as we arrived, we managed to get three seats together. The space is somewhat cramped and the lighting features neon. It's a weathered aesthetic. A testament to the bar's longevity, perhaps.

The tap list is small, but incredibly well-considered. There is a focus on Belgian and Belgian-inspired brewing, but there is a nod of the head to the popularity of IPA, as well. The taps are split across the two bars. You can order from either, but it does mean waiting a little bit for your beer to be fetched from the other bar, as necessary. I had a Russian River Blind Pig and a dry-hopped Saison Dupont. The beer was in top shape.

We didn't eat, but the menu, like the beer, trends Belgian. There's an impressive range of mussel preparations that I'd love to sample.

The service is a bit stuffy. Our bartender wasn't unfriendly, but he didn't welcome us with open arms, either.

I can only imagine the oasis that Monk's Cafe must have been in, say, 1998.

 1,190 characters

Photo of TheNakedStiletto
3.95/5  rDev -9.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of Kramerbarthomer
4.11/5  rDev -6.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Photo of sokol_1993
4.91/5  rDev +12.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

A very nice and cozy place with a huge selection of beer. The service was very nice and polite. The food is great too. I got a good burger and fries.

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Photo of JArt
3.6/5  rDev -17.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 1 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Without question, this place has an awesome draft list! However, I feel that the bartenders are extremely pretentious and act as though you are bothering them when you order your beer.

 184 characters

Photo of HookemHoos
4.08/5  rDev -6.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3

Photo of Persdawg
4.7/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Photo of devilfluff
4.71/5  rDev +7.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of Sparger
3.54/5  rDev -19.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.25

Great selection of beers to choose from

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Photo of philerman
4.91/5  rDev +12.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Photo of N17shelfside
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of JMUbrewz
4.55/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75

Photo of JoeMans
4.64/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Photo of lizpckrng
4.73/5  rDev +8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5

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Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
97 out of 100 based on 338 ratings.