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Monk's Café

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

420 Ratings
Ratings: 420
Reviews: 326
rAvg: 4.43
pDev: 9.26%
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:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 420 | Reviews: 326 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of HossMcGraw
4.85/5  rDev +9.5%

Finally got to Monk's and it was every bit as good as I had hoped.

2 small dark bars with great music, friendly laid back atmosphere, and one of the sickest beer selections I've ever seen. The Monk's Flemish Red was phenomenal! Our server knew her beer, and she was very knowledgeable, sweet and attentive. All beer was served in the appropriate glassware.

The mussels were delicious, but our entrees were kind of average. The value was teriffic however. Very moderately priced food that was adequate enough to go along with some world class beer.

HossMcGraw, Dec 11, 2006
Photo of BeerHonky
4.55/5  rDev +2.7%

Oh man, this place is great. Monk's offers a great selection of beers (mostly Belgian) and fantastic food. Lots of beer on tap and an ample selction of bottles. In my humble opinion their mussels are second to none. I also hear their burgers are fantastic. The place is dark and cozy, perfect for any beer lover. The only bad thing is that it can get very very crowded at times, so go a little earlier for a more relaxing experience. If you like good beer and good food and find yourself in Philadelphia, you'll be doing yourself a diservice by not going here.

BeerHonky, Nov 24, 2006
Photo of Foxman
4.65/5  rDev +5%

The fact that Monk's is located pretty much around the corner from Nodding Head makes this stop #1 in an evening of one-two beer punches. Though after stopping both places, driving is the last thing anyone should even remotely consider doing, so the proximity to the PATCO station is a real plus for a Jersey-dweller such as myself.

You walk in, and from the get-go, you're snug as a bug in a rug in this narrow, crowded, warmly appointed Belgian-esque café. Well, I'm assuming Belgian, but having never been to Belgium, I think I can say safely at least Western European. The people expect to be packed in, and they're most all content with that. The front bar is kind of awkwardly placed in the flow of traffic, but who cares? Past the booths (my favorites) and then a left and a right past the kitchen and unisex bathrooms, down a short hall, and you're in the back bar, a genuine beer-geeks dream locale. The tables are even tighter here, and the bar too small, but no matter where you end up, you have an eclectic soundtrack in play, and you're never more than a few steps from some incredible beer. Crowded or not, if you can't find a comfort level here, then you're likely better suited to some off-the-path corner taproom with two or three bleary-eyed regulars and Coors Light the big seller. Oh, and the new non-smoking policy, my civil libertarian twinges aside, make what has always been tremendous even better.

As far as the quality, it gets no better. Beer is religion here, as noted perhaps by the Beer Bible, and it's served clean, correctly, at good temperatures, and in a variety of always damned-close if not dead-on glassware choices.

Now, I know some folks are fond of trashing Monk's for what they perceive to be poor service. I am not about to debate that, because perception at least tempers reality, but I'll say I have never had a negative service experience here. Are they hurried, harried, and in perpetual motion? Well, yeah, because they have to be, but no one has ever been anything short of, at the least, professional, and I usually get some cheerful thrown in as well. And they all know what they're serving, with very few exceptions. Oh, and one of my favorite things is, they have a very low tolerance level for drunks, obnoxious or nodding off at the bar. These folks are escorted onward, either with a driving friend or a cab. It's smart from a liability angle, and it makes for a greater experience for those who prefer to respect their beer.

Ah, and now to the true draw of Monk's, the selection. First, to echo the previous reviews, the American craft selection in bottles is second to none in the city, and I'm not sure who, anywhere, can beat, though I'll assume someone can. Still, there are even a few on tap at any one time, so it's truly special in that regard. But the real strength is, of course, the Belgians. Start with the Monk's Flemish Sour Red, a proprietary genuine Belgian, and go from there. You'll always find Chimay Triple, and even Hoegaarden for the faint of heart, but it's the others that make return trips not only fun, but mandatory in order to sample whatever's newest in the never-ending rotation. Various Duponts, not just the Saison, Lucifer, Piraat, Cantillon, Delirium Tremons, Chouffe- one could go on for hours reciting what has been on tap. Come thirsty, my friends, and try your damnedest to find a designated driver, because you'll want much, and they have much to give.

And the food...well, start with the pommes frites, for my money the best in the city, consistently, and with the wonderful bourbon mayonnaise in tow it's starchy bliss. And the starters, not a one not wonderfully done, from my experience. The mussels are simply stellar, with my favorite the Ghent and my wife's the Thai curry. The duck salad's a winner, as are both lamb dishes, the trout, both filets, and the venison pot pie. The one thing that did not impress me as much was the burger, which, while quite tasty, was a bit dry even though it was cooked medium as requested.

You'll walk out of here feeling as though you've found an experiential bargain, having immersed yourself in another culture, hip-deep, for well less than you'll think you should have spent. But, realize that it's not free.

So what else can I say? Maybe I sound like I'm worshiping at the altar, and maybe I am, but all I know is that when my wife and I are planning a night out and she suggests Monk's, I'm about as happy as a husband can be. I don't care about the crowds, because there's always someplace to grab another beer, and that's what it's about. As I said, if you don't like crowds and waiting, then stay away. But if you can look past such petty matters to focus on a riveting beer experience. come along, little doggie, and enjoy the ride.

Foxman, Nov 14, 2006
Photo of Gasp100
4.65/5  rDev +5%

To start off, I'm still just getting my feet wet with Belgian's but I know good beer when I see it (and people who appreciate good beer as well). I was in Philly working on Thursday night and my boss took me out for my 6 month review when we were done (pretty cool). I had Chimay (triple?) on draft served in a Chimay goblet and it was fucking fantastic. We also tried the Monk's Madness (tasted like a nice APA to me) and went crazy with some Cantillion Gueze (Monk's version?). He offered to buy some Rochefort 10 which I thought was too over the top at $12/bottle... (should have took him up on that) but we also had La Chouffe and a lot of other brews.
I was really happy to see their beer list went well beyond Belgians and the Sly Fox Pale Ale on draught was a welcome change from being Belgian'd out. They had South Hampton Special Ale Alt and one guy got some Aventinus for dinner.
The place was fucking packed and standing room only to the obnoxious level so I don't know when I'll go back... but overall it was worth it for one night of Belgian flavored fun (for free!!!)
In any case I bought 2 bottles of Chimay today at the store so it has left a lasting impression. Oh yeah, the food and the prices were very reasonable for what you are asking for and what you get as well. Good times... next time I want to hit something like Ludwig's which I'm hoping is the German version of this with better seating and way more room.

Gasp100, Nov 05, 2006
Photo of Poppypitbull
4.9/5  rDev +10.6%

Just a great all around place.
a really well informed waiter who knew his stuff guided us through the evening for selections when we wanted to experiment. A cool atmosphere, great tunes on the system, food was good but not awesome (it's bar food, just better cooked). A little pricey though, but it's to be expected with what they serve there. We got down to PA just in time since they banned smoking only 2 weeks prior and it made the evening that much more enjoyable.
Got to try a variety of things I'd never had before and even got a free bottle to take back to NJ the next day!

Poppypitbull, Oct 17, 2006
Photo of Phatz
4.95/5  rDev +11.7%

What an absolute slice of heaven. This was a truly *remarkable* experience!!! Never in my life have I seen a selection of Belgian Beers like this before. Even the collection of American micros is absolutely unparallel! The closest thing I have ever seen is Zeno’s in State College but this atmosphere is much more classy. This place has the seating spread out and a front bar and back bar so everything feels cozy but it’s capacity is larger than the eye would suggest. Still, it is not a large place and the homebrew club nearly filled the back bar.
What you see: Lots of wood. The floor and walls it is all rustic dark wood and paneling and lots of Belgian Breweriana. The real thing you want to see is their "Beer Bible" or the beer menu. Goodness! I had to bow my head and pray. It is ridiculous. AWESOME! But ridiculous! Bottles must number well over a hundred and a dozen taps, many Belgian. If only I lived close by …
This is my second experience with Monk’s though my first rip there. I met Tom Peters at the seminar in State College and sampled several of their dishes that are cooked with beer. The food may cost a little more than some other places but it is the best you’ll find, so it is still very reasonable. Try many dishes prepared with beer. The staff seemed incredibly knowledgeable and the helpful. So the service the selection and the food are all perfect reasons to visit. Not to mention everything is of the utmost quality. We had a cellared Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks) a beer that you can’t even find anymore. Not to mention the Russian River “Temptation!” There is not one reason, not to make it to Monk’s Café!

Hope this is helpful.
Cheers!

Phatz, Oct 04, 2006
Photo of n0rmann
4.74/5  rDev +7%

Quite simply, Monk's Cafe is the best place I've ever been for Belgian ales. They have almost everything I could think of -- Chimay, Abbaye, Corsendonk, De Dolle, Dupont, Duvel, Regenboog and Rochefort.

But, it doesn't stop there. The selection for almost every country is fantastic. From the U.S., there's a large selection of Dogfish Head, Heaveyweight, Rogue, Stoudts and Flying Dog.

From England, they have Thomas Hardy's from 1991, '92 and '94 (for $30 a bottle).

They have Aventinus from Germany, Thiriez from France, and they even have three beers from the Swiss trappist monks.

Some of the ber is expensive, but they have many of reasonable price.

There's a back bar within monks that has extra beers on draught.

Definitely a must if you stop in philly.

n0rmann, Oct 01, 2006
Photo of VegasBill
4.4/5  rDev -0.7%

Went two days in a row for a late lunch and was lucky, it was busy but not packed. The food is some of the best I have ever had in a pub, simply wonderfull. The beer selection is also outstanding, when I was there they even had some Russian River offerings, in Philly!!! wow.
The only downside is in the evening one better like a really mobbed place and even have a second choice in mind in case the wait is too long and Philly is a smoking OK city so cigarette smoke with your meal is the norm. Even with the increased competition Monk's is still worth a visit for a really enjoyable time.

VegasBill, Sep 09, 2006
Photo of MuddyFeet
4.28/5  rDev -3.4%

Went to Monk's for dinner after Happy Hour drinks at the Nodding Head during my recent trip to Philadelphia. Perhaps the best thing about Philly I saw on my short trip.

Atmosphere was very dark and cave-like. Long and narrow. Made me think it was dirty too without it actually being dirty. My mind was playing tricks on me and made me think that there was an abundance of moisture in the air. Lots of beer placards and beer trays along the walls. I just hung out at the front bar and never ventured toward the back bar because the bartender offered to run to the back bar if I wanted anything on the back bar taps.

Service was great. In addition to running to the back the bartender answered all my questions and when I wasn;t sure which Russian River bottle I wanted she let me handle both bottles before I decided on which one was the bottle for me.

For dinner I had the venison pot pie. Very, very good. I was afraid it might be dry but it was very moist and hit the spot just right.

Now for what everyone is interested in reading about. Very impressive tap list. About a dozen taps and all with something that made me drool a bit. A couple of "available only here" selections from Belgium too. The bottle selection was superb too. Wonderful place for the selection of beer.

MuddyFeet, Sep 08, 2006
Photo of Hollister
4.65/5  rDev +5%

I've only been to Philly a half dozen times, but each time I'm in town I try to go to Monk's Cafe. It's awesome! It's located just a couple blocks from the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts which is home to the Philadelphia Orchestra - which makes for a great evening... Monk's for dinner and a pre-concert Belgian, a symphony concert, and then right back to Monk's to finish off the night.

They've got the best Belgian beer list that I've ever seen. The food is excellent, and the atmosphere is great minus the smoke. If only restaurants were smoke-free in PA... Anyways, so far I haven't had a bad experience there, and have enjoyed everything that I've tried. It's a little expensive, but that's city life. The Belgian beer selection is out of this world -- Monk's Cafe is a must in Philly!

Hollister, Sep 07, 2006
Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
98 out of 100 based on 420 ratings.