Monk's Café

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

475 Ratings
Ratings: 475
Reviews: 338
rAvg: 4.43
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 

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Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 475 | Reviews: 338
Photo of Jacobob10
4/5  rDev -9.7%

Arrived at 1:30pm on a weekday and found on-street parking about a block away on 17th St. There were a decent amount of people sitting down grabbing lunch and two people at the front bar. I took a seat at the front bar and after a quick review of the draught list ordered a St. Bernardus Abt 12. The beer arrived and seemed a little under-carbonated, perhaps a bit cold as well. Still tasted great but not the world class beer I've had many times before. I spent some time looking through the impressive "beer bible" containing their bottled offerings. Surely something for everyone. The bar area was dimly lit and had a dark feel inside of it, with Halloween decorations and colored Christmas lights strewn behind in. I was into whatever music was playing, some sort of 70's funk fusion.

Next up, I ordered a Tripel Karmeliet, but after a quick trip to the back bar to retrieve it, the bartender told me the keg was kicked. I was disappointed as I really had my heart set on it, but decided to go with something I had not had in many years, La Chouffe, and got an order of Ghent mussels to go along with it. The beer and mussels were both excellent and lifted my spirits after the sub par Abt 12.

The vibe was a little gloomy but I went at an off time and I'm sure it is much less low key at night. Next time, I will check out the rear bar area as the front bar is small and very close to the entrance. Still, I enjoyed my time here and wouldn't hesitate to return to this mecca of beer.

Photo of Shandycan
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%

Took long enough but I finally got to visit the esteemed Monk's after figuring out it was less than a mile from the concert venue I was attending... upon first entrance, I thought I might have been missing something... and I was right, because once we navigated our way to the 'back bar', there was far more room to operate! Semi-early on a Friday night, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowd. Super happy to sit down and order a Blind Pig! Tried out the house beer, Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale, which was solid.

I doubt I'll ever make a special trip to the city JUST to go here, but if I am nearby I won't hesitate to stop in for a few pints or possibly something from that vaunted Beer Bible!

Photo of Fusebuddy
4.25/5  rDev -4.1%

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.

Photo of ChicagoNick
2.5/5  rDev -43.6%

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)

Photo of MWilcox20
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%

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 :)

Photo of MicroBeerMan1980
4.75/5  rDev +7.2%

Wonderful selection, and the food is great!

Photo of KornWallace
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%

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.

Photo of Ravenclaws
4.36/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Monks needs to be on your must visit list if you are visiting Philly and love craft beer. The place is small but a wonderful atmosphere and great service. My glass was empty very little and wish I would have had to time to go back during my trip.

Food was not to my taste, they only offer a veggie cheese steak to give you an idea.

But the beer atmosphere and service more than makes up for the food.

If you skip this one you are making a big mistake folks.

Photo of otispdriftwood
4.26/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

Finally made it to Monk's on the way to D.C. It was early on a Saturday so had a choice of tables. Picked one close to the window since I'd read reviews about how dark it can get. My impression of the place was overwhelmingly positive, however, the selection was not up to their usual standards. About half of the list was crossed out and the waitress said there were having some issues with the lines in the back bar so my review reflects my disappointment on the day I was there. I do intend to go back at some point and will amend my review to reflect a complete beer list.

Photo of Flashy
4.66/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75

Snuck over while chaperoning a school trip to Phillie. Loved the town- much safer, nicer and cleaner then I thought it would be. Staff was friendly, beer selection was more Belgium centric then I see in bars in my neck of the woods (and I do live in the woods). My only complaint is the bar is a bit dark and would rather be somewhere a bit brighter on a nice spring, summer or fall day.
Will head back ASAP.

Photo of sebaastionb
4.62/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5

A Bit Loud, But You Expect That On Philly Beer Week. Crowded, Which Is Perhaps A Testament ToThe Establishment In And Of Itself. Excellent Beer Bible, Lending itself To Large Variety Of Delicious Brews. Competent Staff Despite The Amount Of Customers.

Photo of Treyliff
4.6/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.75

I lucked out and happened to be in Philly for work during Russian River Mad Monday at Monks. I ended up spending four separate trips here while in Philly.

A- The bar is pretty small, with a front bar and a back bar at the opposite end of the building. Seating for maybe 100-125 people total. If you go in the evening, it is DARK! So dark that you have to use candle light at the bar to read the beer menu. Lot's of Belgium beer signs hung around the walls. It gets pretty packed and hard to maneuver around in the evenings

Q- You're not going to find an establishment that is more dedicated to serving world class beer, while serving it at proper temperature and in the right glass

S- Bartenders are super knowledgeable, the two females that I talked to were very nice and loved to talk about beer. Service was pretty efficient, even when crowded

S- The best beer selection that I have ever seen at a bar, period. In my four visits, I had Firestone PNC, Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Blind Pig, Supplication, Temptation, Consecration, Against the Grain Bo & Luke, Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze, Older Viscosity on tap, the list goes on.

F- the fries are great and the dipping sauce is awesome, highly recommended. Burgers were good but not great, the lunch specials were very good.

V- This place isn't cheap when it comes to good beers, but you won't find a better selection in Philly, it's worth it

O- to be honest, I wasn't a fan of Philadelphia. It's not somewhere I would purposely come back to, but if I ever do, Monk's will be the first place I go

Photo of KXS
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I had been to a number of places in Philly recommended by beer advocate while here for a conference - but wasn't impressed with any of them until I wondered over to Monk's. It was too small, crowded and popular to bring a whole crew over from the conference without advanced planning, but I was squeezed into a table. Had an ultra hoppy IPA then a couple of their sour beers - brewed and named just for them - that were literally good enough to write home to my family about just how good it all was. I wouldn't travel to Philly just to go here, but if you find yourself here, definitely go.

Have a picture of current offerings but don't know how to post it here.

Photo of danshpc
4.7/5  rDev +6.1%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75

So this place has been on my bucket list and finally made it the other night. It didn't disappoint.
Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig on tap, as close as you get to heaven on the east coast. Add St Bernardus ABT 12 and it get's even better.

Be aware if you're going and never been;

The place is small and you must eat to get a table, so come prepared to eat. The good news here is that the food is great.

The servers can be a bit quirky, but that's all to the good as far as we were concerned.

Worth a trip from anywhere.

Photo of socon67
4.86/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Came here for the Mad Monday event to try Pliny the Younger.

Place is a gem of the American craft scene. Small, ramped place that once inside teases you with bottles of rares like Russian River, Cantillon, and others scattered about the décor. The taplist on this day was mind blowing; so much so that Pliny the elder on tap was an afterthought. On most other days they have an incredible selection of Belgian imports, hard to get domestic beers, and favorites.

Staff knows their stuff and treats you well. I was here on a jam packed bar and still was able to get service fast. Prices normally run high but then again they are pouring the rare liquid. A must visit when in Philly, even with better options around. This is a historic craft mecca (Michael Jackson adored this bar).

I'll be back and when I do go I hope to be at the bar for a stretch.

Photo of Sound_Explorer
5/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

At the suggestion of my local bottleshop owner in Washington, I made a stop in Philly specifically for this place on a trip to the East Coast. I wanted to stay for the last 7 days.

The front section has the restaurant and main bar, but it also has a smaller, almost "exclusive" room in back with handles and plain wooden seating. Busy, fun, bit loud but that is a sign of a good business and happy customers.

Huge Belgian selection of both taps and bottles. Friendly, witty staff that know just about every beer they offer. Served in correct glasses of course. Overall a Belgian "Mecca" that, if you are in Phily, you need to try. Slightly expensive but Belgians usually are anyways and sadly didn't try the food. Go forth!!

Photo of Aledog
5/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

This might be the best bar in the world--definitely a contender. Beer selection is amazing. Cool atmosphere, dark, cramped, bustling. If you can get a seat at the bar you have won the lottery and should stay as long as you can continue drinking-then leave and let someone have a seat. They have some fantastic beers on tap that are continually rotating. Had Pliny on tap when I was there--need I say more? Try their own sour ale, nice way to end the night.

Photo of aqualung23
4.78/5  rDev +7.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.75

Monks is THE place for the beer connoisseur visiting Philly. A constantly rotating selection and some VERY knowledgable servers, you absolutely will not leave disappointed. Don't even bother choosing. Just tell them what you like and try at least a few of their recommendations. A little pricey for Philly, but you should be very pleased. A++++

Photo of mkh895
5/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I was in Philly for work and had a Saturday free, I went to monks and told the bartender I was from Arizona and would like anything I could not get out west, I ending up trying beers from Switzerland, Belgium, PA, and NH. His selections where outstanding and after every new beer we would talk and he would further refine the next one. I would highly recommend this to anyone.

Photo of curl217
4.49/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Visited Monk's during a weekend shopping trip based on BA rating, as it was near our hotel. Great atmosphere, beer selection, food, knowledgable bartenders. Loved the old school feel of the place. Best of all, no TV's . Worked my way thru the Deschutes beer on tap. Quite satisfied. My advice: go early, stay late, visit the back bar, have a meal.

Photo of smartassboiler
4.33/5  rDev -2.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I visited Monk's Cafe on a recommendation from a friend. We battled rush-hour traffic from Cherry Hill into Philly to visit here, and I wouldn't change a thing.

The Atmosphere is awesome. It has an almost rustic feel to it with both a front bar area with some tables, and then a back bar area with additional tables. Only complaint would be that it's a compact space, but that doesn't bother me when it's a great bar.

The Quality was fantastic. The high quality brews and great food make this place a winner.

The Service was just alright. The back bartender wasn't that friendly, and while I understand they were busy, they took a LONG time to make their initial visit to our table. However, once we received our initial visit, the waitress was great the rest of the night.

The Selection is among the best I've seen. I was able to drink a Firestone Walker PNC without having to trade for it, and I also ordered up a Cantillon Gueuze. I think that says it all. They have various Cantillons throughout the year according to the bartender. They had 20-25 total drafts between the two bars, and their bottle list is craziness, which includes a lot of relatively hard-to-find Belgian ales and sours.

The Food was fantastic. I got the chicken apple sausage, the fries with accompanying sauce, and I tried my co-worker's mac and cheese which was also amazing. Although it's almost impossible, try to save room for dessert as the couple we tried were incredible.

If I were closer (25-30 min drive), I would come back here again on my final night. This place is incredible and is a must-visit when in Philadelphia.

Photo of WanderingFool
4.35/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

My wife and I were visiting a friend who moved to Philly and agreed to meet him at Monk's Cafe. We got there early and lucked out with a seat at the front bar on a crowded Friday night. The restaurant is a long rectangle with a front bar and small seating area, more seating in the middle and another room with a bar in the back area. Since it's not very wide people are packed near the bar with hardly any elbow room. It's also very dark in the bar. It's so dark that it's hard to read the tap list posted behind the bar. We had to get a printed copy to find out what was on tap.

While we waited for our friend we each got a Russian River beer (Pliny the Elder and Damnation). Our first time having either on tap. Beer prices were on the high side, but fair for what you are getting. We had time for another couple beers when our friends showed up. From there we got a table in the back room. This room is decorated like a monastery and the bar has beers on tap that weren't available up front.

The food is creative and tasty. I got the mac & cheese special, which was very filling. Our friends had burgers which were huge.

Service was fine. It was a very busy night so at times it was hard to get our waitresses attention, but she did what she could for us.

Anyway, if you're a craft beer fan you need to visit Monk's Cafe when in Philly. The beer list is incredible and includes beers specially brewed by top Belgian brewers just for this bar.

Photo of cakimbrough
4.64/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Upon entry, it looks like you might be stepping into a dark dingy biker-bar. What you'll actually find is awesome food and a definitely impressive beer list. Their service may not be the quickest but that's because this place is either packed or the staff is taking the time to answer your geekin'est beer questions- super knowledgeable. A beer must if you're in the area, or even if you're not.

Photo of Porter
4.61/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Great beer selection but that is not what sets Monk's aapart from the crowd. The beer selection also includes beers you cannot get anywhere else. I had the Demolen Rooka me Leer, a smoked porter aged in Laguvulin casks; definitely an acquired taste but worth the tasting. Also had the Firestone Walker PNC Imperial Buckwheat Stout, awesome beer and I would have many more if I did not have an early meeting the next morning.

Photo of HamGlade10
4.39/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Monks is a small cafe in Philadelphia. It was dark and cramped while i was there. Pretty full too, its not big so the little space there is fills up quick. The food wasn't bad, nothing to brag about. The beer selection is quite impressive. Saw a few beers there ive never seen anywhere. Its a bit pricey, then again, everything in the city is. I will definitely go back for the beer selection alone, but i wont do it during peak hours. If you find yourself in the Rittenhouse Square section of Philadelphia, i would recommend stopping in and checking it out.

Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
98 out of 100 based on 475 ratings.