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Monk's Café

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

413 Ratings
Ratings: 413
Reviews: 326
rAvg: 4.42
pDev: 9.28%
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)
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Ratings: 413 | Reviews: 326 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Loki
Loki

North Carolina

4.58/5  rDev +3.6%

What can you say about Monk's that hasn't already been said. Great place. I went out of my way, leaving early from NYC on my drive down to Camden, NJ for a presentation on a business trip for two reasons.

One: visit Monk's
Two: Spend as little time and avoid eating in Camden

Atmosphere: Lively, friendly, almost old world. Great. Everybody was having pleasant conversations, everybody seemed friendly, the place just seemed warm, alive, and inviting.

Service: Great, fast, friendly, talkative, and they seemed to know everybody.

Selection: Umm....Tons of hard to find beers from the US and Belgium. Lots of Belgian beers, but lots of harder to get US beers as well. They had the Urthel dinner the night before so they had five beers on tap including the Dunkel and Hop It, both of which are new to the US and may not be found elsewhere.

Food: The burger was fantastic, especailly with the quality goat cheese. Fries are excellent and the mussels are suppose to be fantastic, but the lawyer next to me said that they are heavy on garlic and would not be good to eat before my presentation.

Value: Some of the beer can get pricey, but only because of the rareity. The other selection are very reasonably priced.

Overall a great experience. I can't wait to go back and stay for more than 45 minutes.

10-06-2005 16:27:53 | More by Loki
Photo of bedwyr
bedwyr

South Dakota

3.96/5  rDev -10.4%

Af first glance this is a cozy, classy little place. I read about it and couldn't wait to try it out. I was not disappointed by the large selection of Belgian ales and was surprised that the prices were pretty reasonable...a trait I didn't find in many Philly pubs. The treat of the day for me was Monk's Flemish Sour Ale. I'd never tried a beer of this variety before and after a few sips to get used to it's distinct flavor, I loved it. My only knock against Monk's was that it was beautifully decorated and had a great atmosphere that was mildly hindered by a Top 40 station playing on the radio.

09-21-2005 17:54:29 | More by bedwyr
Photo of tgbljb
tgbljb

Pennsylvania

4.55/5  rDev +2.9%

Visited on a Saturday about noon. We were promptly seated in the back bar area. Our waitress was attentive throughout our meal. The bottled beer selection was awesome and the tap selection was unique. Everyone in our group was completely satisfied with their beer selections. We all selected salads and sandwiches to eat, and other the pulled pork sandwich every thought the food was excellent. I had the trappist burger with was delicious. We also ordered a side dish of fries which was great, especially with the dipping sauce supplied. This is truly a great place to visit. I will definitely go back, because their tap selection is so large and unique that it will require several visits to enjoy it all.

09-18-2005 21:27:08 | More by tgbljb
Photo of NolanGTI
NolanGTI

Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev -3.8%

As many know, this is considered the crown jewel of the Philly scene. It was not given that title, it has earned it. Monk's has a wonderful variety and a great atmosphere..assuming you aren't there during prime time when it can be almost impossible to move.

The selection of beer on tap and in bottles is one of the best I have ever encountered. The food is great, sort of a Belgian pub grub. The service is where Monk's falls flat. I have been there about 20 times and received great service 0 times, good service about 5, avg service 10, and bad service about 5 times. They sort of assume if you aren't a regular you don't know s#It about beer, and quite honestly many of the servers and bartenders have no idea what they are doing.

It is still a must visit, and continue to support them even though I have been peeved on more than a few occasions byt the waitstaff.

09-15-2005 13:38:26 | More by NolanGTI
Photo of LPorter33
LPorter33

Massachusetts

3.88/5  rDev -12.2%

I used to hit this place up all the time on my business trips to Philly. Atmosphere is interesting but good. It can get extremely cramped in there, especially if you don't get a table. The place is made of up tiny and cavernous rooms and hallways with a bar up front, then narrow corridors you must walk through to reach the rear bar. It's dark and loud. Waitstaff was just average. I would always go back to the rear bar and the barstaff didn't overly impress me. They were speedy and attentive but not friendly nor did they provide any recommendations.

Selection is impressive. A huge book of bottles that is a little overwhelming. A tap selection of all quality brews. (Chimay Blue was on tap last time I was there).

The food is very different from typical bar grub, e.g. you can get roasted rabbit as an entree. Beware those wings! They were one of the hotter things I've ever put in my mouth. The caesar salad was good with a very unique, heavy dressing that was rich and filling.

I definitely recommend Monk's if you even come across Philly in your travels.

09-08-2005 12:49:23 | More by LPorter33
Photo of chelovek
chelovek

California

4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

I only had a couple of days in Philly but I heard this place was a must stop for the beer and food. Started off with a gouden caralus and then had one of monk's cafe own brews. Both exceptional I might add. Both were recomemded by the extremly helpful and freindly staff. All I had to do was ask what beers I should try that might not make it to the west coast and I was presented with some good choices I had never had before.

As far as the food goes the side and main dishes were excellent. It's up front Belgian grub that was very yummy. I had a vegan sandwhich that prepped me nice for the next few rounds. I can't emphasize enough how freindly the staff was. Even though the place was packed, whenever the bartender had time he was talking beer. Not only was the staff freindly the locals were nice as well. I met a few people that were more than happy to direct me to places to eat and things to see. On a two day philly trip this definitely was a well worth stop all around.

09-07-2005 02:43:52 | More by chelovek
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
TheLongBeachBum

California

4.2/5  rDev -5%

Monk’s Caf酅you’ve heard of it and you know where it is even if you have not been. ….”oh yeah Monk’s in Philly you simply have to go there”. Well finally I got a chance to spend several hours in here on my way back to Philadelphia International Airport and LAX. Fellow BA Erica offered me a lift to PHL via this establishment, parking was, well a fucking nightmare to say the least, several runs round the nearby streets offered zero street parking options, if I had known we would have circled Monk’s a few times I would have brought some weed & crack to sell to the local kids that waved at us as we passed and cruised by on a few occasions. Inevitably, as my thirst grew drier than Mahatma Gandhi’s Sandals we opted for the paid parking option, I was getting thirsty and picked up the tab, a minor quibble (the lack of street parking not me paying) but something worth thinking about if you are traveling here by Automobile also.

A short walk of a few blocks from the Parking Lot and we soon hit the front of Monk’s Café, shimmering in the early afternoon heat the tricolor canopy barely fluttered. A thin brick frontage has a “great Café in a run-down area” feel to it, similar to that of the Bier Circus in Brussels.

Once inside a small corridor opens up on your right to a door that takes you into the front room. As you open the door its acoustic deafening qualities are obvious and you are assaulted by a chitter-chattering mass sat at a variety of types of tables and chairs, the front windows let in some light but it is dark and cool, the AC is welcome. The front bar is to your left but Erica insisted that we sat in the back room, after a short walk via a wooden clad chicane we eventually got there. “The back room is much cooler” so said Erica…and she wasn’t kidding, it was fecking freezing, the AC and fans were on overload, once I chipped the ice off the stools and moved the family of Penguins we managed a couple of stools at the back bar no problem. Twenty or so taps had a great selection; I went straight for the Monk’s Flemish Sour Red Ale, a badged brew from Van Steenberge and a damn fine sour libation to boot. After that we shared a bottle of Panil Bariquée (awesome), ‘t Smijse Calva Reserva (uh!) and Proef K-O (so-so).

Here’s what I don’t get about Monk’s, the two bars, front & back, well they have two draft beer lists, two bottled beer lists…..they just taking the piss or is it some kind of competition!? Why can't they balance this somehow!?!?

Decor is Belgique, nice wood paneling, lots of Belgian breweriana which all sits nicely with the dark interior and classy looks. It’s nicely decked out for sure.

Service was barely above average and at times enthusiastic but not very attentive overall. We were in the back room and aside from the freezing effects of the A/C it was a pleasant enough experience, but the woman in here was patently overwhelmed at times and clearly “elsewhere” at others. At one point she brought in some food to eat behind the bar…..very strange, doesn’t the staff get food breaks?!?! There is something distinctly very amateurish about seeing someone eating behind a bar whilst trying to serve beer. At one point a nice quiet chap came and sat next to me, after 5 minutes of no service he just got up and moved to the front bar to get served. The woman serving had been chatting and realized this happened but sadly too late, it was not intended but still it happened. Service gets a 3.5, and I think I’m being a tad kind here.

Aside from the Service issues this really is a very cool place to hang out. The Beer list is why you come no doubt, well stocked and laid–out in a clear “by Style” fashion it makes for easy reading. The food that was served looked great, including the steamed Mussels, but I opted for beer only as I had but a few hours before my flight. I’ll eat next time though I think, assuming there is a next time.

Highly Recommended for the beer list and overall experience……but not for the parking woes or spotty service, they just come with the territory I guess.

Thanks to BA Erica for the ride here and the company, always a pleasure.

Last Visit: Sunday 28th August, 2005.

09-04-2005 08:19:38 | More by TheLongBeachBum
Photo of macpapi
macpapi

Maryland

4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

This review is based on my four previous visits to Monk's Cafe, all of which were great. Located not too far from many of the tourist attractions of downtown, and near several noted restaurants, pubs and bistros, one can easily include a stop at this gem into their visit to Philly. But who would want to go anywhere else?

Constructed a bit differently from your run of the mill bar, an entry hallway, leads to an oddly placed front door. The establishment is separated into two halfs--with a narrow, turning hallway between each. There is a front bar with 10-12 seats by the door. A few tables are in this entry room. As you go back into the bar a left turning hallway leads to the more square shaped back room. The back bar is a bit larger--perhaps 15 seats--and there are more spacious tables--including benched, booths along the walls.

Atmosphere is great. Belgian style tapestries line the back room. The lighting is minimal, producing a cozy feel. There are no tvs and limited noise. This is a great place to have a normal toned conversation while enjoying fine beer.

And the beer is excellent. Selection is up there with the best around. This is not one of those 75-100 tap places, closer to 20 between both bars. But what they have is phenominal. During my visits I've had such jewels as Gouden Carolous Emperor Cuvee, Stone Imperial Stout, Delerium Tremens and Piraat among others. Bottle selection is also great. Ranging from Stone products, to classic and rare Belgians to lambics to regular ipas--all visible behind glass doored refrigerators--there is something for just about anyone. Prices are really not bad considering what you are ordering. I do not consider paying $7 for a 750 of Ommegang or like products to be excessive for a public house environment; nor is $6.50 for a 10 oz draft of Carolous that bad.

Service was also great each time I visited. The bartenders know their beers and gladly will go to the opposite bar--either front or back--to procure anything that is not present at their present post. Food was also very good. The much talked about fries are great and their burgers are also worth trying. I hear that the mussels are tasty also, but have never tried them.

Overall I would have to say that Monk's is the premier beer establishment that I've visited to date. If I were thinking about opening my own bar this would absolutely be the one place I've frequented that would have the most influence. In the future, whenever I visit Philly (or have the chance to visit the city) attendance at Monk's will be a definite requirement.

08-30-2005 20:16:54 | More by macpapi
Photo of Fish113d
Fish113d

Pennsylvania

4.44/5  rDev +0.5%

I visited this establishment while on a bachelor party with Sulldaddy this past weekend. I must say, my overall experience is great!

I was a little disheartened when we first entered and I noticed that there was one small bar with about 10 stools, a few stools on the opposite wall and a few tables. However, as we ventured into the restaurant part of it, and after having a LaChouffe on tap from one of the 7 or 8 taps, I was a bit more excited due to the fact that we actually found another bar back a long hallway in a decent sized room, again with about 10-12 stools at the bar and a few tables around. It was nice that we all (8 of us) got to sit down at the bar, enjoy a few drafts of Delerium Tremens (one of my favorites) and a few other belgian bottles that they had on their fairly extensive list of brews (mostly belgians). I spent lots of money, and I was a little tipsy, so I am not really sure what the brews cost to be exact, but I would venture to say that my draft of Delerium ran about $7...a bit pricey in my opinion but not bad really considering the alcohol in it. The bartender was very knowledgable and friendly, and I was really suprised by the time we left at how much I really liked this establishment!

08-30-2005 02:48:40 | More by Fish113d
Photo of sulldaddy
sulldaddy

Connecticut

4.58/5  rDev +3.6%

The third and most fun spot of the trip to Philly! The pub is easy to find due to the nice decor outside. Walking inside there are some tables and the Front Bar area. The Front bar has about 10 stools and 5-6 draft lines. There is a bottle list available as well. Decor is beer themed. The place was a little crowded and even the staff told us it isnt the best bar for standing and drinkin. But they were not being rude just letting us know. no biggie. WE ordered some drinks, I had La Chouffe on tap and others got various drafts and bottles. Theydid have Pliny the younger on draft, and we just missed the RR Supplication. DAMN!
WE walked back a hallway (very long and narrow) to the back bar area. AHHH. Much more drinkin freindly. There are a handful of tables and about 8-9 stools on a rectangular bar. THere a more drafts and a cask. The cask was Middle Ages X. Another hoppy brew. Bottles are in coolers behind bar with glass windows so you can see what is available and just order that way, or you can read through the beer list which is immense. Quite a nice selection. We did not order any food here. I had so many belgians that I dont remember them all but definately did not tire of choosing beers here. It wasnt very crowded for a Sat nite and again the staff said we were lucky on that front. When the one bartender found out it was my bachelor party he gave us some free passes to a local gentlemans club. Service bonus points there I think!

Of course when in Philly go here. It is close to Tria, Nodding Head Ludwigs and several other great beer destinations. Go and get wowed!

08-29-2005 01:23:37 | More by sulldaddy
Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
98 out of 100 based on 413 ratings.