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Monk's Café

Not Rated.
Monk's CaféMonk's Café
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BA SCORE
97
world-class

341 Reviews
Reviews: 341
Visits: 503
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 | map
www.monkscafe.com

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Place: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 341 | Visits: 503
Reviews by rdrummer:
Photo of rdrummer
4.08/5  rDev -6.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I figured it was about time that I actually reviewed Monk's although it doesn't suffer from lack of attention. I try to go for weekend lunches when the press of the crowd is tolerable. The place is tiny so expect a mob scene any dinner hour or until late at night.

It is a great atmosphere with dark woods and the beer bible and blackboards with all the taps listed and their wine selelection, as well. The beer is always served at the right temperature in the right glass, and I've never had a bad pour.

Now, the one bugaboo of the place. The service, to put it nicely, is not friendly and it is slow. I thought this was a product of being busy until I realized that it's the same way when it's slow. The bartenders can be friendly during the few slow periods they have, but the wait staff basically slings the food at you.

That won't stop me from going back. The mussels are the best in the city. The Monk's burger is superb. Sausages are great. Seafood is always done perfectly. The beer selection seems to have gone downhill a little. There is a huge bottle list, but many favorite Belgians are off the list. Don't bother looking at the tap selections on the Web site either. Other than Chimay, Hoegaarden's, and Monk's Sour Flemish Ale, none of the beers are likely to actually be on tap. The beer that is on tap is always good and never macro crap.

If you've never been here, you have to go. If you have been here, you know what I'm talking about.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of TheBeerdedCharmer
3.14/5  rDev -28.3%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 2.25 | selection: 3.25

Photo of Uconnelmo
4.56/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 5

Photo of mkh012
4.89/5  rDev +11.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Maybe my favorite restaurant. Go here if you get the chance. Small, cozy, good music playing quietly, usually a tame crowd. Can get pretty crowded on weekends, but the people are usually chill and courteous. The service is very knowledgeable but can be a little snippy/condescending (mostly when they're busy). The food is probably an 8/10 but a 9 or 10/10 for a bar. Amazing burgers. The mussels are pretty good as well. The beer list is just...almost intimidating. There are usually only about 20 beers on tap, but they're mostly hard-to-get gems like Pliny the Elder. The bottle selection is mindblowing. Yes, there may not be as many beers on tap here as there are at other places, but there are probably well over 200 different bottles of beer to choose from. I've had many of my favorite beers here for the first time. Dreaming right now about a bottle of Goulden Draak and a goat cheese burger...

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Photo of beershawn
4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

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

Photo of frankiebrewer
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5

Photo of Cpmitchno1
4.12/5  rDev -5.9%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

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

Went here for my birthday with my grandma. Love this place!

Vibe: Very relaxed, with a diverse mix of music playing in the background. This place is very cozy but has a very friendly vibe about it.

Quality: The beers are served at optimal temperature and the food was cooked perfectly! The food was also very fresh, as was the beer!

Service: My waitress was fantastic! She knew her beers very well and was very sweet and accommodating. She even checked up on us periodically. I will look for her next time I'm here!

Selection: The tap list isn't huge but it's incredible. Today, they had Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder on tap and even Tilquin Gueuze. The bottle list was pretty awesome but they don't have many of the beers in the beer bible. I got a bottle of Brooklyn Wild Streak which was a surprise to me!

Food: The food is among some of the best food I've probably ever had! The mussels were cooked to perfection and loaded with flavor and the duck salad sandwich was so rich! The fries with their dipping sauce are also incredible.

I will definitely be going here as often as I can. This place is a almost hidden gem in Philly. An amazing place to celebrate my birthday!

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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.

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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

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Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
97 out of 100 based on 341 ratings.