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Monk's Café

Not Rated.
Monk's CaféMonk's Café

339 Reviews
Reviews: 339
Visits: 495
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: 339 | Visits: 495
Reviews by mdfb79:
Photo of mdfb79
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Went to Monk's Cafe in Philly last weekend with my girlfriend, her brother, and some of his friends. Since a car crashed into the front of the bar, you had to enter through a side alley into the back bar. We were met at the front of the alley by a hostess, who told us we couldn't walk down the 25 foot alley by ourselves; we had to wait for to be escorted by another hostess.

Once we got inside we asked the bartender if we could be seated (tables are only for people ordering food), but she told us we had to go back outside and ask the hostess to seat us. It was a pretty awkward start to the Monk's experience, but it picked up from there. We asked a waitress if she could seat us and she did so no problem. Both waitresses we encountered were very nice and knew their beer. Some of the people in my party weren't sure what they wanted and the waitress was very helpful.

In terms of the beer itself, I was pretty impressed. They had about 15 beers on tap, including bourbon barrel aged Allagash Black, Consecration, and Damnation. Most beers were only $6.50 too, which coming from DC bars I found pretty reasonable.

The bottle list was pretty large, especially the Belgian section. I noticed some stuff like Fou' Foune, Angel's Share Grand Cru, and De Struisse Pannepot 2006, as well as many more Cantillon beers. While some of the prices were expensive (Fou' Foune was $50 a bottle), others were quite reasonable (the Pannepot was only listed at $12 a bottle). I ordered several beers and the only one out of stock was the Pannepot.

In terms of food, I ordered a small bucket of mussels which were cooked in a Cantillon beer. They had many different kinds that were all reasonably priced (half cooked in different types of beers) and I thought they were great. Someone else ordered the frogs legs and the scallops, both of which I'm told were very good as well. The frites were ok.

Overall I really enjoyed Monk's and would definitely go back next time I'm in Philly.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Spreetaper
4.16/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Photo of mildlybitter75
4.64/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Monks is an enigma wrapped in a tight Pandora's box. My Oddessey began a few years ago on a cold winter night in Philly. Me and a few friends at the time were making our way to this beer Mecca. I had a wallet full cash and I was ready to drink. We entered this hallowed hall and made our way back to the back bar. No room at the bar so we grabbed a table and started to study the huge bottle beer list when all of a sudden a snooty waiter informed us, that unless we were ordering meals off the menu that we were not allowed to sit at the table. What a crock of crap! We walked out never looking back. A few years roll by and monk's myths of snooty waiters and bartenders have grown into legend. I had been to Philly about a hundred times since that visit and I never have given monks much thought. Well forward to November 2014. My father was getting surgery at Thomas Jefferson and my sister and I decided to step out for a late lunch and a few beers. We had checked out mcgellins ale house for sandwiches and a beer. We wanted something with more of a kick to take away the late fall chill. We decided to make the small hike to monks. Made the hike walked in, the place was empty. Made if to the back bar and sat down at the bar. The bartender was right on us. We both ordered a draft chimay white while we looked at the bottled list. We didn't really have much time, so we didn't get food just a few more beers. The service was great and we were treated very well. Monks is a great place when it works. Yes, when it works! To next time, well I might have to change this review.

 1,581 characters

Photo of scxcrunner
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

Photo of Salt-n-Beer
4.46/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

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 yelp.com 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.

 1,244 characters

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.

149 characters

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

39 characters

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

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Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
97 out of 100 based on 339 ratings.