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Monk's Café

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

458 Ratings
Ratings: 458
Reviews: 336
rAvg: 4.42
pDev: n/a
Taps: 20
Bottles: 218
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: 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 

Notes:
Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 458 | Reviews: 336 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of yemenmocha
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Monk's is one of the original beer enthusiast location to visit in Philly. Keep in mind there's two bars inside, so if it is busy up front you might find a cozy chair in the back.

Monk's offers extremely rare offerings at times. For example, I was able to enjoy a pint of Victory Old Horizontal that was aged for several years, served on tap here at Monk's.

Top quality local craft and a wide range of Belgian imports are the norm. Atmosphere is intimate, comfortable, and somewhat upscale compared to some places that are more like a college frat boy bar atmosphere.

Photo of Nutleybeer
4.08/5  rDev -7.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

For all of the hype about this place over the years, I finally got a chance to visit it. Went on a Saturday night, it was PACKED.

It is not a large place. There are a few tables in the front, then there is the bar. In the back, there are some more tables and another bar. The walkway from the front to the back, alongside the bar, is tight when it gets this crowded. I felt bad for the servers who had to squeeze thru carrying food.

But, to the beers...for those not aware, this place is all about the Belgian beers. Their taps are limited, but they have a massive bottle list. Among those on tap, at least in the front bar, was Chimay and the Monk's Sour Ale.

The bartender was pretty amazing. On his feet & in action pretty much non-stop for the 90 minutes we were there. He clearly knew his beers. Every beer is also served in a specialty glass. You won't find too many generic pint glasses here.

While the bottled menu consists of a lot of Belgian beers, there are plenty of others available too. Stoudts, Sly Fox, Rogue, Southhampton, etc...not to mention selections from around the world. I also saw beers from Russian River, Founders and a few others not often seen in our area.

I never tried any food, but those famous garlic mussels smelled out of this world.

Monk's in a staple of Philly. A classic spot that is a must for any visiting beer fans.

Photo of cypherus
3.25/5  rDev -26.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.5

My girlfriend and I decided to take a trip to the city yesterday and I had a couple places in mind to choose from to have dinner. We chose Monk's.

After searching the BA boards for a good place to have a beer and meal, Monk's came highly recommended. While my thoughts aren't set in stone, I can give my first impressions of Monk's.

We walked in around 4:30pm and were seated quickly in the back. The place was already pretty packed, but more people filtered in as we sat. I asked the waitress for a recommendation of what to drink from the tap and she asked what I liked to drink. I was eyeing the Caracole Saxo and Delirium Tremens. The waitress recommended the Caracole Saxo. It came over in a tulip glass and wasn't anything like I was used to. It had little to no carbination, which I guess was normal, and had a sweet taste and good mouthfeel. I drank this with the Pommes Frites, which were kind of limp and greasy. The sauce that was served with them was good though.

The next beer I ordered was the Spatz Franziskaner, which turned out to be a beer I had tried before, which was the Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse. I drank this with my Rack of Lamb that I ordered, which was delicious, but portions were small. My girlfriend ordered the Duck Ragout and she loved it.

The last thing that we ordered was dessert. We ordered the Chocolate Hazelnut Tart, which was kind of dry. I ordered my final beer, which was Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale. It was a little too harsh for me to drink with the dessert, but I didn't know how it was going to taste before I ordered it so that's on me. Dinner, drinks, and dessert all together was $99 with tax and tip.

Altogether, we had a good time, but I just wanted to point out a few things that I think could be improved upon. The waitress was running around from the front to the back and was hard to get ahold of. I must have sat seven or eight minutes with an empty glass before the waitress came over and asked if I wanted something else. For a bar that touts itself as having such a big selection, I would prefer more of a knowledge of beers and recommendations. The prices were a little high and I agree with others that think there should be samples prior to ordering. I didn't ask for one because I read that there were none prior to ordering.

I will definitely check this place out again because they have a large selection, but not before hitting up Eulogy and McGillin's first.

Photo of Donnie2112
4.2/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

So I went to this place for the first time last night. I was sitting there talking to my girlfriend and my buddy Ben. My girl refuses to drink any beer that is below 10% ABV (I know she can be so closed minded sometimes :) And my buddy Ben really likes trying new stouts. I just like almost all beer that I try so I thought that it would be a really fun little group for checking this place out. Then we had a couple of tag alongs. Anybody ever have this happen? You have a nice little group of people that like good beer go to a bar dedicated to interesting and different beer and then some people tag along and whine about you not going to a place that has "normal" beer, then they throw around the offensive term "beer snob." It's interesting how people attack what they don't understand. Anyway, I didn't have that great of a time at monk's but it wasn't because the bar sucked, on the contrary it was awesome. I got to try Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout on tap (nice but I remember liking it more out of the bottle), Avery Hog Heaven on tap and I had a Flemish sour ale that I can't remember the name of. All very very nice and the staff was knowledgeable and fun for me to talk to while my friends ignored me. Anyway, the place is cool, it's kind of crowded but that might have something to do with their awesomeness. The price was also much more reasonable then the old city prices I'm acustomed to. I highly reccomend this place. I want to go without the closed minded folks next time and maybe on a school night so I can just sit there with the girlfriend and we can talk to the bartender and and just get drunk on a great beers.

Photo of ColForbinBC
4.24/5  rDev -4.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I have been here twice now and both times have been extremely similar. Walked in, the smell of mussels hits me hard, the front bar is very crowded and ended up sitting at the back bar after waiting a quarter of a beer for a seat.

The atmosphere is cramped and a little rushed. I get the feeling this isn't a place they like you to post up for a while, especially at a table.

The quality and selection are about as good as they get. An excellent selection of Begians with a nice touch of American craft breweries in there. I had a St. Bernardus 8 and a De Ranke XX Bitter. I think they had about 12 taps at the back bar.

Definitely city prices.

I like this place, but can see how it would get some negative reviews around here. When I usually go to a place like this, I stick to the bar/beer and am never steered wrong. The service was prompt, given how busy it was, and knowledgeable. Overall, a good visit and recomended.

Photo of alysmith4
4.71/5  rDev +6.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Checked out this place on a recent (and first time) trip to Philly. It was perfect for the time of night that we went. Just crowded enough, and we were able to get a seat at the bar.

The selection was excellent, and the bartender was very friendly and knowledgeable. And they had one of my absolute favorite beers in the bottle. I didn't try the food, but it smelled amazing.. the mussels especially. I would definitely visit this place again, and would certainly recommend it to anyone traveling to Philly for the day.

Photo of jackorain
3.9/5  rDev -11.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

The atmosphere is old philadelphia, wood floors, very narrow, noisy, crowded. I mean mobbed. My wife I went after the Home show for dinner on Friday night. It was about 9pm. We could barely stand but finaly got two barstools while we waited for our table.

We got seated at th back bar area at a table next to a loud group of younger guys. It wasn't that pleasant. Don't get me wrong, I am not an old fart or anything, I like loud and crowded, but I had hoped we'd hit the lull between happy hour and nightlife at 9pm.

Beer selection was great, about 10 taps up ront and 10 nore out back. Great rare and awsome belgians. John's Locker stock series from rogue. Bottle selction was great too.

Mussles were good but not great. Frites were. okay.

Mussel prices and beer prices were city, which means a little high but given the location...

Photo of ranchik
3.4/5  rDev -23.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 1.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Bad service is a theme in the last reviews. We arrived with 4 out of 6 in our party. We asked for a table, and we are told we can't sit until the other 2 arrive. We mention they are 15 minutes away.

While I can understand this policy, think of the nonsense from a business perspective! At Monk's prices, we could have easily spent $75 in beer BEFORE the food order.

As we approached a 45 minute wait (with the other two in the party) we decided to talk to the uppity staff. At least 40 people have passed us by in smaller parties.

They tell we are "at the top of the list", and when we say we are willing to split into two groups--- to make it easier to seat us---one girl says "yes", and the other says "no".

We have a person in our party with a neck brace, who is experiencing severe pain due to the now one hour plus hour wait.

The entire evening was ruined by the treatment we received. I will never return, and will certainly stick with the recent reviews, and tell you to pass on by. Spend your money more wisely elsewhere.

Photo of DaveHS
3.4/5  rDev -23.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

When I first moved to Philly, I thought this place was the last word on Belgian beer bars on the east coast. I have changed my mind since then.
Sure, the selection is pretty good, even great sometimes, but you will pay through your ass for it. The most recent outrage was a Bris Bon Bons from Fantome for $32.00 a 750. It was $20 at the Foodery. The draught list is often impressive, but Monk's is starting to face some touch competition from some of the better suburban beer bars. They don't get too many exclusives anymore.
And then there's the food. Many people have told me how much they love the food at Monk's, but I just don't get it. For an establishment that specializes in all things Belgian, they sure do have some lousy frites. I think it's because they have such a busy kitchen staff. Either they're overcooked, or they're salty, or soggy, or greasy...they're never consistent. The bourbon mayonnaise is alright, but it gets old fast, and the food menu never seems to change. The mussels are okay, nothing special. Again, I think this is because of volume.
Monk's is still a fun place to go on a Sunday night, when it's not busy, and you can actually sit at the bar.
The problem lately is the beer dinners. They will kick you out if they're going to have a dinner. They won't just partition it, or put it in a different room. The past few times I've gone in to have a beer, I have been immediately kicked out, because they were setting up for an event. I'm not usually the self-righteous bitchy customer, but if you spend alot of money in a place, as I have at Monk's, and then they kick you out in the middle of your beer with no warning, it's disrespectful, and shows no devotion at all to their customers. It's rude.
I don't think I will be going to Monk's again any time soon.

Photo of TrojanMan
3.23/5  rDev -26.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4

If you will only be in Philly for a short time, feel free to skip Monk's. Your time and money are better spent elsewhere.

I won't bother to describe the decor and tap selection, that has been done by other BAs. I write this review to detail a few problems I see with this establishment and to encourage others to ignore the marketing and hype surrounding this largely mediocre bar.

The first issue I have is the price. I don't mind paying extra for a good beer and I don't mind a small pour for a high-ABV beer but I very much mind paying a high price for a small beer. Cost works out to about a dollar an ounce for most beers which I find to be very high, even for a major city. When I can go to a store and buy a 750ml bottle for what you're charging me for an 8-ounce pour, I start to question whether I'm really getting my money's worth.

The second issue I have is with service. Bartenders absent or inattentive, even when the place isn't crowded. Bartenders not knowledgable with the beers they're serving. My brother asked for an opinion and our bartender regurgitated the tasting notes from the tap list. Thanks, we can read. So he asked for a sample and...

This brings me to my third point - arrogant, pretentious and haughty atmosphere and policies. They will not give you a taste. Not even for sale. You must pull the trigger on an $8.50 (plus tax) pour with minimal tasting information and little help from the bartenders. Their condolence is that you can chalk it up to the 'cost of education' - from their "beer bible."

Speaking of the "beer bible," it is just one of many features that project a patronizing, holier-than-thou atmosphere of the joint. You get the impression that they are somehow doing you a favor by allowing you to purchase their beer. Nevermind that much of the information in their "bible" is flatly incorrect, especially the sections on brewing. Also, the haughtiness is present throughout. And they charge you $3 for the honor of walking out with a Xeroxed copy of of what is a glorified bottle list? No thanks.

The proverbial last straw was when the bartender finished telling us that they can't spare any beer for a sample, then not two minutes later grabbed a glass and poured a drink for herself. You can't spare half an ounce for a sample that will likely sell beer for you but you can spare an entire beer so your bartender can drink on the job? I have other complaints but there's a 5000-character limit here.

I can't get my money back but you can be smart and save yours.
If you want a Belgian beer bar, go to Eulogy instead.

Photo of jjboesen
3.43/5  rDev -22.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 1 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Having read so many glowing reviews for this much-lauded purveyor of Belgian beer, and being in town to experience Philadelphia Beer Week, what better place to start? So, I chose a quiet Friday afternoon and settled in at the front bar.

In the front, there is a small, L-shaped bar seating about 10; additionally, the area has several tables with two prize locations at the windows overlooking 16th Street. If you pass the hallway and head to the left, you come to the larger back bar - also with different beers on tap. (I recommend checking this first.)

Of course, Monk's Beer Bible is an amazing read - and can be purchased for $3.00. And to describe the diversity of fermented culture would be just repetition; Monk's has many, many beers. However, being the beer perfectionist, I didn't find the available taps (a paltry 7) very impressive - the one that did intrigue me, Urthel Hop-It, was not available. Settling down with a bottle of Val Dieu brown, I enjoyed the Pulled Pork Sandwich and frites (with mayonnaise, of course). When the bartender wasn't busy chatting with her gay friend, I was able to induce her to serve me a bottle of Alvinne Gaspar, a hop monster possessing a head that took 10 minutes to settle! Therein lies the rub with Monk's: the service just sucks - on a quiet afternoon at that!

There are flaws in even the most valuable gems; with Monk's it was the indifferent service. What a shame, since I had really anticipated coming here. While, Monk's is a first-rate beer bar, it leaves a lot to be desired in the realm of hospitality, and since Philadelphia has so many similarly fine establishments from which to choose, why even bother. A great bar is more than a massive beer list; a great bar is one where a beer drinker feels welcome, one where he or she could just stay and never leave. Unfortunately, the "much-lauded" Monk's is not one of these. Great beer bar and a great disappointment.

Photo of marcpal
2.95/5  rDev -33.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 1.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.5

As great as the selection of beer is, that is how poor the service is. This place is legendary from what I have heard and when I got there, the beer list did not fail the hype. Second to only a few, particularly Brick Store and Publick House Mass in bottle and tap selection, Monk's is far inferior in terms of atmosphere and quality service. Not sure if it was the expectations, but they fell short.

The list of Belgian bottles was very tight and those offered on tap were very good as well. Prices were a little on the high side but for some of the rarities that they had, it has to be said that it was fair and worth it.

It was nice to get some of the hard to find US craft brews here but the selection wasnt mind blowing. On tap was Hopslam in preparation for beer week which was impressive.

The food was so-so. The mussels were not bad but not all that substantial and came with a small piece of soaking bread. Not all that impressed. The burgers, both what I had and what I saw others having were awfully weak. Another point to Eulogy on that one.

It was a weekday, fairly busy and they just completely understaffed would be the only excusee for such bad service. What typified it all was a patron who asked for a beer that was on tap in the back bar and was sitting at the front and the bartender said she would have to wait a while if she really wanted it or to get herself- whats the deal.

I echo the account of previous reviewer in that I myself and others there also asked for a small taste and they refused and not kindly either. Just "our policy and Im too busy". Funny, Eulogy's stuff was just as good and expensive but that made the effort. Barleywine on tap served in a Hoegaarden glass, are you kidding me.

Also, for a place like this that prides itself on the beer, they do an absolutely horrific job of pairing beers. I was given an Urthel Hop-It with a pint glass when I am sure they had some Urthel goblets. I guess just lazy, pretty weak.

There are too many other great options in this city to choose this place. In terms of being taken out to Brussels, Ill take Eulogy for one.

All in all, reminiscent of an establishment that has gotten cocky in terms of staff and a little big for their britches.

Photo of sholland119
3.28/5  rDev -25.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 1.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Monk's introduced Belgian beers to Philadelphia, and was instrumental in creating a demand for fine craft beer establishments. Sadly, Monk's has rested on its laurels on the beer side, and taken a step backwards in the quality of its food. Other establishments have improved on the formula and, for me, Monk's is no longer the best place to go in Philadelphia.

What's good:
The Belgian bottle and tap list is quite extensive. Without doing an exhaustive count, the lists at Eulogy and Teresa's Next Door seem comparable. No other place I have been around here comes close.

The atmosphere is pretty cool, esp. when you make your way to the back bar.

The fries are good.

What's just ok:
The American craft brew list was a massive disappointment. Due to the owners' close relationships with the brewers at Russian River and Lost Abbey/Port Brewing, you could always expect to see something you could not find elsewhere. This was not the case last week. No RR except Temptation, nothing from the Port Brewing side of the house. Nothing from Bear Republic, Moylan's or Hoppin' Frog, which are all new to eastern PA and popping up all over. One choice each from Bell's, North Coast, Southampton, Avery.

The food other than the fries. Burgers and mussels used to be standouts here but not anymore.

What's not good:
Surly, inattentive service. We used to get good service here, possibly because we came often enough to be known by the day bartenders. But on Friday we got an up close and personal dose of the rudeness mentioned in so many other reviews. Also, i don't really get hung up on proper glassware but I was served Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout in a small pilsner glass and a Monk's Sour Ale in a small Hoegaarden style tumbler, firsts on both accounts.

This is the only beer bar I know of that will not give you a taste of a beer before ordering. Our bartender's rap was "our beer is too expensive to give a taste". Which probably also means it's too expensive to order blindly. Obviously, we all buy beers from recommendations on BA and other places. But if Teresa's Next Door or Eulogy will let me try Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek 2005 before buying and Monk's won't, where do you think I am going to go?

In the future, we will be happy to spend our money at Tria or Eulogy or North Third or Standard Tap or Johnny Brenda's or Teresa's Next Door or TJ's or the Drafting Room or the Grey Lodge or, well, you get the idea.

Photo of AaronRed
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

On a business trip I decided to visit this place with a few of my collegues. I got the recommendation from BA. When we got there on a Thursday night, it was quite crowded- I think we were in the front bar. The beer selction is quite amazing, I did wish they had more on tap, although my Chimay triple was just great. So many beers by the bottle that I have never had. Food also was very good and fresh- especially the muscles. Everyone with me loved their food and beer. Although it was very busy, the service was precise and helpful.

Photo of BWH3
4.53/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Well Monk's is a Philadelphia institution. The atmosphere is cramped crowded dank tavern. The place draws a lot of serious beer drinkers which adds tho the atmosphere if you sit at the bar. The quality of the beer is amazing. First, Monk's has its own Flemish Sour brewed overseas specifically for them and served on draft only at Monk's (bottles are available in some stores). This is a must visit. The beer on draft is fresh and is some of the finest beers period. The service is fantastic. The staff know all the draft beers as well as the extensive bottle list. The selection has only this fault - very few lagers. The selection is limited to primarily to French and Belgian ales. However, this selection is vast. They also include many American micros but not the best selection of Pennsylvania brews in Philly. Food is pretty good. I enjoy the seared octopus marinated in the Flemish sour and the steamed mussels. A must visit for any beer enthusiast who comes to Philly.

Photo of mfhlucky13
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I can't say enough good things about Monks. Their beer selection is outstanding. The mussels are fantastic. You can have them one of seven ways. I love the Sourpus. Grilled octopus marinated in flemish sour ale. I have enjoyed many firsts at Monk's. Their rotating taps offer a selection to satisfy any beer geek's cravings. Parking is a premium and be prepared to spend 45 minutes to a hour waiting for a table during prime hours. The atmosphere is friendly and service is great. I only wish I could go more often.

Photo of jasonm
4.4/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Good fortune found me at Monk's during a trip to Philadelphia. Walk in and you are greeted by a dimly lit, small and narrow bar/seating area. As mentioned the front bar is long and narrow, and filled with all sort of breweriana. The smaller back bar is a little more brightly lit and more subdued decor wise. Each bar has a different tap selection. The crowd is the expected mix you would find in a downtown location; a mix of young professionals, hipsters, tourists, and die hard locals. Its a refreshing experience to see not a single BMC beer in sight being served. Monk's is also good at getting in some pretty rare offerings (like Rodenbach Grand Cru on draft, and RR Toronado 20th Anniversary).

The quality of beer available is excellent, with Belgians taking center stage. Just about any Belgian or Belgian style beer available in the US can probably be found here at one point in time. They also have a solid US micro selection, and some vintages available of several beers.

For dinner, I went with the Charcuterie platter, which included a nice selection of sausage and cheeses, along with fruit, spicy mustard and bread; and an order of the frites.

Even though I sat at the back bar, I received attentive service from the bartender. I also overheard her giving descriptions and recommendations to several of the patrons. A positive experience given a lot of the feedback you here about the service at Monk's sometimes.

Photo of far333
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Literally stumbled upon this place a few blocks away from my Philly hotel. Was well awae of it, but never knew it was so close.

It's a pretty small place with a handful of tables right upfront in the bar. The bar only has about 8 seats, and also 8 tap handles. It's a bit dark, a little rough-edged, perhaps bordering on dingey, but the staff was very polite and welcoming.

If you head to the back of the bar area there are about a dozen more booths, a little cramped, but then you can walk down a hidden hallway to a whoe separate room in the back with 8 more different beers on tap and a bunch more tables. The back area seems newer, cleaner, more upscale.

This is a Belgian beer mecca, what an unreal bottle list. Also some selections from Germany, France, and the US. Didn't try the food, but it looked really good. Service was attentive and helfpul, and VERY knowledgeable about the styles and all the selections on the extensive menu. Had a few pints, enjoyed the place very much. Very laid back vibe, but it must get crowded and crazy on a weekend night.

Photo of joeskirkie
4.4/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

It’s a very unassuming place from the outside. The interior has a musty old-world feel to it. Granted I've never traveled outside of the "New World" before but I imagine that this is what it would be like.

A dusty bottle collection sits overhead at the bar. Belgian beer signs hang about. Overall it's dark (in a cool way) and cozy (I hear it can get crowded, we were there on a Saturday around 2pm, things were starting to pick up as we left.)

Now if you've read a few of these reviews you'll no doubt note how we all talk about the selection. It was simply amazing; I was surprised not to find any Westmalle on the list at the time but that’s ok. I got to try some Belgian (and Dutch) beers that I probably would have never found otherwise. The Geants Goliath and the Koningshoeven LaTrappe Dubbel come to mind.

Our prompt, friendly, and knowledgeable bartender could offer notes on whatever beer we pointed out. The pommes frites were good and the Thai curry mussels were great. It's a bit pricey in my opinion but I would say that it's well worth it and fair, given the quality.

I go to Philly often, I'll no doubt be back.

Photo of edskirk3
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I (and my brother) finally went to Monk's yesterday afternoon. I had wanted to check out this place for a long time.

The inside is dark and low-key. They have two bars, front and back, along with two analogous dining areas and stools along the wall with ledges to rest your drink upon. It wasn't crowded when I came in but it started to get cramped pretty quickly.

The beer selection is overwhelming! So much to choose from. Though, if you're on a budget the decision is a little easier. Belgians are their specialty but they have American craft beers available as well. I had a Rodenbach Grand Cru from the tap, and then a bottle of St. Bernardus Abt 12 to go with the Thai Curry Mussels and Pommes Frites we ordered.

The food was excellent. If you are a connoisseur of mussels you need to go to Monk's.

The bar staff know what they're doing. If you have a question about a beer, they will be able to help you out.

Draft lists and beer menus are conveniently available at the bar.

Some of the top shelf Belgians will set you back a bit, but where else in Philly are you going to find a lineup like this? Anyone who enjoys better beer needs to come to this place at least once. I plan to go more than once.

Photo of brantadid
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

If you like belgium beer, Monk's is mecca. Let's start with the food because it is easy. Fantastic. The burgers are great, the mussels never overcooked, and the wings are fiery (but very tasty). They have a diversified menu and there is something for everybody.

Now the beer. I don't know what to say. To be able to jump from Tremens to Chimay to La Fin Du Monde to their own Flemish Sour is unbelievable. As long as you have an adventurous palate, you have a home at Monk's.

My only complaint is that I have to go to Philly to go to Monk's. I wish they were closer.

Photo of medic25
4.53/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

My sister was good enough to get married this weekend a couple of blocks from Monk's, which gave me a great opportunity to finally try this legendary beer bar. The interior was fairly small and narrow, but we were seated right away for lunch in the back room. The atmosphere was great; the tapestries and signs created a great old world feeling. Our waitress was pleasant and quite knowledgeable about the beers on the menu. The selection was of course incredible; my uncle visiting from Belfast was a little thrown (no BMC, no Harp), but he quickly warmed up to the wheat ales. Everything I tried was fantastic, although I was surprised not to have any beers served in their own glassware.
We had the charcuterie platter (ham, sausage, cheese and fruit) and the thai curry mussels, which were both very good. My fiancee also enjoyed her cheeseburger. This was one of the best beer bars I've ever been to; I can't wait for my next opportunity to visit Philly.

Photo of michael573114
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I love Monk's. I've only been there twice, once was a sort of accidental find, the other was very well planned for over two years. Once was was all it took, I just had to go back.

This time, I had the pheasant, which I'd never had before. Quite yummy. I paired it with a Rodenbach Grand Cru, one of my favorite sour beers, quite a rare find to have it on tap. After that, I had a bottle of Monk's Red Ale, which was everything I was told it'd be, sour, funky, strange tasting, but absolutely excellent.

I don't think I'll be able to go to Philly ever again without a trip to Monk's!

Photo of bosco7
4.72/5  rDev +6.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Sat at the front of the restaurant. Place is pretty small and I am thankful we came for a late lunch. Dusty bottles line the bar area and vintage Belgian beer signs grace the walls of the dining area. Pretty cozy and inviting. I would like to come during peak hours just to experience the vibe.

Belgian beer list is unmatched in my experience. A dozen or so Beligans (some hard to find) on tap. Hundreds of bottles in various vintages and sizes of bottles. They even have a "Cave Aged Belgian" section-Amazing. About 40-50 American micros in bottles. I had Rodenbach Grand Cru on tap, Geants Goliath on tap, and Russian River Supplication. Pretty pricey though- the average beer on tap will run you above 6 bucks. No big deal. Worth it.

The food is great. When I say food I mean the delicious pomme frites and the bourbon mayo. I had a veggie burger with the "Trappist" toppings (raw red onion, goat cheese, lettuce, and tomato) and it paired perfectly with Rodenbach Grand Cru. Plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.

If you are in Philadelphia and are a beer enthusiast then this should be your first stop. Good luck with parking though.

Photo of EvilJelloMan
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I became a big fan of Monk's when going to college in Philly. This little hole in the wall in center city will always have a special place in my heart, as it's where I was first introduced to the world of exceptional beers. Starting with a humble Leffe Blonde so many years ago, I became a true fan of the wonderful world that is Monk's.

The beer selection at Monk's is, in a word, exceptional. They have a large variety of top-notch bottled beers, and an ever-rotating selection of great microbrews and imports on tap. For the best experience, sit at the back bar and strike up a conversation with the owner, who can often be found back there, dispensing wisdom and helping choose a beer suited to your tastes.

The food is also something that's reason enough to go back to Monk's. Even amongst friends who don't like beer, Monk's has become a traditional meeting place when I return to visit Philly. The burgers are outstanding, but the real prize of Monk's is the game food. I'm particularly fond of the roast pheasant and the rabbit is delicious as well. For an appetizer, you absolutely MUST get a pot or two of Monk's mussels. This is not debatable. Be sure to ask for extra crusty bread to soak up the delicious broth. Do leave room for a choice from the dessert tray, though - Monk's desserts are delightfully rich and you might have trouble finishing one. I suggest sharing so you don't overload your taste buds at the end of an already outstanding evening.

My only possible complaint about Monk's is the size - this place is just too small for the crowds it draws. Trying to get a table at dinner time is often painful, and forget about trying to get in with a large group. Don't be surprised if you end up standing out on 16th street for an hour or more waiting for a table. Don't dispair, though - when you finally sit down and try your first Monk's mussel, you'll see it's well worth the wait.

Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
98 out of 100 based on 458 ratings.