Monk's Café

Not Rated.
Monk's CaféMonk's Café
BA SCORE
96
world-class

335 Reviews
Reviews: 335
Visits: 481
rAvg: 4.35
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 335 | Visits: 481
Photo of danshpc
4.7/5  rDev +8%
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. (521 characters)

Photo of socon67
4.86/5  rDev +11.7%
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. (854 characters)

Photo of Sound_Explorer
5/5  rDev +14.9%
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!! (726 characters)

Photo of Aledog
5/5  rDev +14.9%
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. (456 characters)

Photo of aqualung23
4.78/5  rDev +9.9%
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++++ (344 characters)

Photo of mkh895
5/5  rDev +14.9%
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. (376 characters)

Photo of curl217
4.49/5  rDev +3.2%
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. (347 characters)

Photo of smartassboiler
4.33/5  rDev -0.5%
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. (1,611 characters)

Photo of WanderingFool
4.35/5  rDev 0%
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. (1,450 characters)

Photo of cakimbrough
4.64/5  rDev +6.7%
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. (395 characters)

Photo of Porter
4.61/5  rDev +6%
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. (424 characters)

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. (558 characters)

Photo of JRak
4.9/5  rDev +12.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

An absolutely amazing beer bar. The draft and bottle selections are top notch and the food was great as well. I had Blind Pig from Russian River on draft (a first for me), as well as a local BBA Barley Wine. I saw at least a half dozen more I was dying to try but after the 26 oz barley wine I was about done but will definately go back later this week. A must see for any visit to Philly, you will not be disappointed. (419 characters)

Photo of Fluffheady
4.34/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4

This place is an absolute institution in not only the Philadelphia beer world but in history of craft beer in the United States. As with any institution, they kind of have the attitude that they don’t need "your" business because someone else will always be behind you to take your stool. However, it is absolutely worth a visit. Monk’s Cafe is responsible for bringing Russian River to Philadelphia. They also have great food (think mussels and fries). (457 characters)

Photo of Tiburon
4.24/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.25

Initially was drawn there because they had Pliny on tap. Had two beers the first day, then came back the next day for more. Had two more beers, as well as some frog legs. Froggies were well done w sauce that tastes suspiciously like atomic wings at Wing Stop. Also got to give the Beer bible a good looking over.. Very knowledgeable staff and excellent beer and food. Seemed a bit cramped, though I noted there is a back bar where they have to fetch some of the tap beers from. (477 characters)

Photo of DNICE555
4.46/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Small little unnassuming place from the outside. I walked in and saw Pliny the Elder on tap, it was fresh... giggity. Had some of the best fries I've ever had - short, thin cut, good texture, mmm mm. Packed with beer nerds due to a homebrewing convention. Service was decent despite this fact. Well located two blocks from the double tree. I'll be back. (353 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
4.36/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

I spent about 4 hours one afternoon with two friends the other day while in Philly for the AHA convention. A reasonable walk from our downtown hotel worked up an appetite for a long lunch. I've got to say this place is friggin small for such a world class operation which makes even the smallest of crowds seem huge. A small bar on the left wall as you walk in with maybe 15 stools, a dozen or so tables crammed into the rest of the existing floorspace. The backroom holds a bar on the right wall with about half as many tables. The beer, well today we had Pliny, Temptation, A couple from De Molen, Chimay, Lindemans, Allagash, that I can remember, but about 20 great taps, and an insane bottle list. The menu has a nice mix and our burgers were great, although the buns were too big for the meat. Like everything of this quality be prepared to drop some coin, quality isn't cheap. Our waitress was overwhelmed with the 4000 beer geeks in town, but seemed attentive enough to us. I look forward to giving them more of my money in the future. (1,042 characters)

Photo of BrianMChi
3.35/5  rDev -23%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4

I had very high expectations given the hype for this place and I was very disappointed. Only one Belgian beer on draft, expected more. Ok bottle list but nothing hard to find. Food was good and service was ok given the mob of people in the place for the aha conference. (269 characters)

Photo of T_rizzo
4.27/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75

This place was a nice little spot to end a difficult day. The price was a little more than I had anticipated, but the quality of the beer selection always wins me over in these types of establishments. My only somewhat negative comment is the cramped quarters along the bar could be relieved to make it a better overall experience. Tucked away in the cobblestone district of Philly, this little spot adds a cozy european atmosphere to this historic town. (454 characters)

Photo of outoffocus
4.84/5  rDev +11.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5

Stopped at Monk's last week while driving through Philly. It was my first time here. It was the middle of the afternoon on a beautiful day, and my only complaint about the atmosphere is that it is a bit dark. Sat at the back bar and the service was great from the bartender back there. They had bottles of Cantillon - Classic Gueze, Rose de Gambrinus, and Kriek - limit 1 bottle per group. I chose the RDG and obviously it was awesome. After getting that out of the way I had a hard time selecting what else to drink as the menu was ridiculously extensive. I considered Allagash FV13, RR Supplication and Consecration, amongst others, but settled on an IPA from Boneyard as I had never tried anything from that brewery before. My girlfriend had a Blind Pig. None of this stuff can be found in Pittsburgh, so it was pretty overwhelming. Summary - worth the hype, will go out of my way to return. (894 characters)

Photo of erialbill
4.34/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Glad I paid Monk's a visit, great selection of both tap and bottled beers. Being from NJ we do not get to enjoy beers from Russian River so I was very happy to indulge while I could. They had Pliny the Elder but had run out just before we arrived although I did have some Blind Pig and Supplication which were both outstanding. The barmaid was very helpful and service was what I love... very attentive but not in your face. Prices were very reasonable and I plan on visiting again soon. (487 characters)

Photo of rjp217
4.36/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

I've been to Monk's quite a few times being from the Philadelphia are and it never disappoints. Excellent selection, leaning slightly heavy onto Belgian's. Good tap selection, usually a great variety, but the bottles are even better. A lot of very difficult to find brews which is the main reason I seek this place out every time I visit home. The service is outstanding. Very educated bartenders and servers. They seem to know their stuff and are extremely attentive every time I have been there, even on Friday and Saturday nights. There's actually two bars with a different taps in each area. Space is dark and cramped, but it's very unique. The food is pretty good, though I am usually pretty far gone by the time I eat. I recommend the Chicken and apple sausage, it's amazing. The price can be a little on the high side but when it comes to their selection and you realize you are in downtown Philly, I don't mind.

Awesome overall venue, a definite place to check out. (974 characters)

Photo of clayrock81
4.33/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75

Hard to rate this place if you are thinking that it is a beer nirvana since apparently it is in the top 3,5 or 10 places to have a beer list depending on who you ask (and that's just at Monk's b/c they are proud to willing to remind of you this). That being said, while it may be impossible for this place to live up to the hype it is a, and pardon my couth language but I don't have the most extensive vocabulay, damn good place. Avoided any crowd by going on a Wednesday afternoon right between lunch and dinner (and parking was still a bitch) crowds and got a table for two next to the bar for my wife and I. Some people say this place is snobby or pretentious, but the server and bartender I talked to were great, if not the most knowledgeable, and while I was there I heard Abbey Road and Tupelo Honey in their entirety so being a "classic rock" that appealed to me. OK - the beer: the biggest Belgian selection I have seen and probably the most diverse so go ahead and just assume it the most diverse (that I've seen). American and other imported beer selection is just as good as there aren't too many diamonds in the rough but the ones you find are worth the price and the wait. Only knock on this place for me was the food. I was told their pommes frites were some of the best chow in the city and quite frankly they were average, as were the chicken strips and sandwiches. Oh well - I will definitely go back to this place and just eat something around the corner b/c other than the food this is one of the best beers in the country. Just ask 'em yourself. (1,566 characters)

Photo of jophish17
4.48/5  rDev +3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Visited on a dreary day in November 2012

After taking forever to find reasonable parking, I finally got to visit Monk's after reading about it for years. First off: the place, even during the day, was incredibly dim and a bit spooky, if you will. I sat at the bar up front. Being after lunch, the place was dead, with just a few tables and bar stools occupied. This helped me get some great service from the bartender.

The beer selection was diverse and all-around awesome. Belgians, major US crafts, and obscure shit. The bottle list was impressive as well - though, apparently, they don't sell Westvleteren ;-) Monk's has all of the proper glassware and they serve their beers to perfection. As far as selection and quality go, this is one of the premier beer bars in America.

Monk's is every bit worth the hype, visiting on a midweek afternoon allowed me to really take in the place and exploit its merits. Highly recommended. (933 characters)

Photo of PaleAlePat
4.09/5  rDev -6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Decent food and an impressive beer list. Convenient location. Have been here a few times and servers (not the bar tenders) were awful. Took a long time to take our order, were not helpful when it came to questions we had about the beer, never came to check on our table until we were ready to pay, serious attitude problem. If you want as great a beer selection but without the snobbish wait staff, visit Eulogy in Old City. (424 characters)

Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
96 out of 100 based on 335 ratings.