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Monk's Café

Not Rated.
Monk's CaféMonk's Café

Taps: 20 / Bottles: 218
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
BA SCORE
98
world-class

399 Ratings
Ratings: 399
Reviews: 323
rAvg: 4.42
pDev: 9.28%
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ 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: 399 | Reviews: 323 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of noob
noob

Massachusetts

4.26/5  rDev -3.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | $$

Went to Monk's one beautiful Saturday afternoon while in Philly for a friend's art show. The front room was packed to the gills, but luckily we were able to get two bar seats in the back room. After we sat down it took about 10 minutes to get the bartender's attention away from the couple she was chatting with. Aside from that, the draft/bottle selection is second to none if you are a Belgian beer fan. I had a Rodenbach Grand Cru, served in a Rodenbach glass and my gf had a Troublette Wit in a tulip glass (Both on draft!!!). Both beers were amazing. This place is really dark and smoky, after one round my gf was ready to leave to see some daylight.

05-23-2005 20:04:15 | More by noob
Photo of ithacabaron
ithacabaron

California

4.63/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$

What a fantastic place, and I'm lucky enough to make it almost a weekly stop. My opera company rehearses just down the street, so Monk's is a natural stop for a pint afterwards.

Atmosphere is fantastic -- incredibly dark, incredibly smoky, incredibly crowded, and every piece of dark wood furniture banged and bruised to a well-worn shine. A beautiful thing, and very much in the traditional belgian vein. Don't mess with the front bar. Go right to the back, babe.

Quality is very good. Sometimes things are served a touch too cold, but you shouldn't be in a rush hanging out here. Going to Monk's for a spell means a few long, lazy hours. Just hang out and let that baby warm up a bit.

Service is very nice, always interested in helping you out, and appropriately gruff and rude when they need to be. If you pester a waitress too often about a certain vintage (and this happened at the table right next to us), she'll turn right around and tell you to get off her back, to relax, and that she's still trying to find the bottle. Once she finds it, she'll be happy to tell you the history of it, her own feelings about the offering, and whatever else have you. So don't be a pain in the ass. You'll be gotten to when you need to be gotten to. These people are consumate professionals -- and sometimes that means giving a little verbal beat down back. Nothing wrong with that. Sort of charming, really.

Selection is just about the best you'll find, Belgian-wise, in the entire United States. No 5 from me, however, as a little bit too often there's bottles that appear on the menu, but no longer exist down in the cellar. Still fantastic selection, and some things (Cantillon 2002 vintages on tap) that you simply won't find anywhere else, anytime soon. Proper glassware is provided for everything. Other countries are well represented as well, and those beers are treated with the same respect.

Food is fan-freaking-tastic. Have any of the burgers, moist tender, and a little bit bloody. Have some mussels (I'll even break my rule and snag a few from a friend's plate here), have some pomme frites. Just have something to eat. It's surprisingly affordable, and very delicious.

In fact, everything here is pretty reasonably priced. Sure, you'll pay 15 dollars for a beer sometimes, but it'll be a 750 of a limited-run Saison from a brewery that doesn't even exist anymore. Things like that. Pretty much everything on draft, from the Hommel Ale, to the Delirium Tremens, to the Cantillon, to whatever else, you'll get for five dollars, and generously poured full into a nice tulip for five dollars at that. You'll never be shocked and horrified at the bill here, and that's a good thing. You will put out a little cash, but you get what you pay for -- and you only find the best here.

All in all, Philadelphia's finest beer bar, far and away. Make a special trip just to visit here, or just make it your new local, like I have.

05-16-2005 21:13:53 | More by ithacabaron
Photo of Sammy
Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

4.05/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$$

Great beer on tap, but it's not for me. I was not impressed with the dark,smokey, tight crowding in the place. I gues they maximize profit this way, and there are a lot of regulars. It was so dark, I could not see the ber in front of me. Bartenders they look after the many people, and there is a certain oddness about them, reminding me of bartenders in heavy drinking bars that need to decide when the customer has had to much, as several here had. Yuppie crowd. Great Belgium taps, set the standard across the city.

05-12-2005 21:32:54 | More by Sammy
Photo of bennybrew
bennybrew

Maine

4.36/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$

well. then there was monk's. i suppose it was kind of like mug's of philly, in my opinion, of course. monk's was crAzy busy when i got there a little after 6pm on a thursday but i walked in and got a seat at the bar (i was alone at the time). i got a monk's brew and spent the rest of the time drolling over the beer menu and the aged beers and the domestic beers and the imported beers (why i passed on the lacto stout i don't know. i'm sad about that. moving on...). and you know you're in a BEER BAR... in spite of the pile of single malts and tequila (i think it was tequila..) behind the bar. go to monk's. it's like going to church (couldn't pass that one up).

04-24-2005 23:24:42 | More by bennybrew
Photo of blitheringidiot
blitheringidiot

Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev -8.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

What can I say about Monk's??? It is only, I repeat, ONLY the most impressive selection of beer, BEER bar in Philly. Let's do this...Monk's is sorta off to the side in Philly. The interior is divied up betwixt a front and a back. It's a narrow joint that squirms back to the left and right - don't get lost - to the - AMEN - back bar. Here is where the five or six cold boxes kick in. Of course, you can get the beers that in the back bar too, in the front bar, but the back is cooler...me thinks. The food menu is diferent. Like it has some different items mixed in with the burgers and fries kinda thing, but a great value especially in the heart of Philly.

Their Belgian selection plain flatout rocks! I mean, Belgian beer is what Monk's is about. On my most recent visit, I had five beers (that I paid for) and a sixth freebie sampler for $32 kickers. Sweet!!!

Had a hamburger with some wicked blue cheese sauce on a visit last time. Did the trick.

Last swigs: If in Philly, FIND MONK'S!!! But know what you want when you ask for it. He who hesitates, loses. This place gets packed early.

03-28-2005 06:13:35 | More by blitheringidiot
Photo of yankeeheel
yankeeheel

Maine

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

I went down to King of Prussia a few weeks ago for a conference and dragged some of my buddies in to Philly to satisfy my good beer jones. Monk's was the destination of choice and boy am I glad we went. The place is everything I like in a beer bar. As you walk in you get the feel of walking in to a countryside pub. Low lighting with a lots of wooden booths and belgian beer decor adorns the walls. Smallish front bar with a few free standing tables is mobbed. Follow the narrow passage ways and halls as you slink to the back bar and the room opens up to a sea of beautiful tap handles with names like St. Bernardus and Delerium Tremens. Nice. I had the Saison Dupont, La Chouffe, and Fou' Foune, which was tapped seconds earlier. All stellar. Food wise I had the tuna steak burger with pom frites. Excellent. If in Philly this is a go out of your way to get some place.

03-27-2005 01:32:57 | More by yankeeheel
Photo of whartontallboy
whartontallboy

New York

4.3/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I'm lucky to only live four blocks from Monk's. Like other people have said, it's tough to get a spot at the bar or a table at almost any time, but if you go at an oddball time (4:30 on a weekday afternoon), you can have fun. The hostesses and waitresses seem friendly to me, but I'm pretty good-looking. Actually, not really. They haven't been that nice on my 4-5 visits thusfar, but it might be because they're always uber-busy and packed into a tiny area. No excuse, but oh well. The beer is worth it. The bottled selection of Belgians is without equal in Philly, and the tap selections are incredible. When I was in yesterday, they had Chimay white, Saison Dupont, Hennepin, Monk's Flemish Sour, and a few others I can't seem to remember. All of these are great tap selections, and although you can get the Flemish sour at the other places the owners have, it seems best to have it at the namesake. The food is always good and the portions are big. Don't miss the bourbon mayo! If you don't mind the crowds and the occasional attitude/guff from the employees, you can't beat the selection or the prices on drafts.

03-26-2005 20:32:55 | More by whartontallboy
Photo of monkeybutler
monkeybutler

Vermont

3.18/5  rDev -28.1%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 1 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$$

Monk's to me is like an ugly smelly older relative who pinches your cheeks, kisses you with terrible smoker's breath and too much perfume, but you put up with it because they will give you money when you leave.

Except that Monk's has an extremely rude waitstaff, cramped quarters (even by center city standards) and a clientele that makes you want to go back in time and make abortion mandatory for those who might give birth to snobby yuppie types. The reason I keep going back? An absolutely mind-blowing beer selection. Every time I go, I do two things: wait for the abuse to pile on at the hands of disgruntled and snooty waiters, and salivate at the beer menu. The tap list is ever changing and just incredible. The bottle list is equally incredible and filled with hard to find belgians.

The food is okay, but it might as well be non-existent because I'm only there for the beer. So the selection can't be beat, but let me get back to the servers, who should be beaten, preferably with baseball bats.

I probably don't fit the demographic of the type of people that the Monk's folks want to see in their downtown high rent swank location. I'm not an uber rich 50 something schmuck from the main line with tons of cash to burn. But I am a 20 something, clean, well dressed, well mannered beer aficionado with cash enough to burn.

But here's a short list of the abuse that has been handed down to me from the Monk's waitstaff, or as I like to call them: hellspawn incarnate.

A hostess once asked me if I was leaving, and when I responded affirmatively, she looked me in the eye and said, "Good".

After ordering many beers in addition to our appetizers, my party was told by the hostess that my appetizer did not really constitute a meal, and so I should be at the bar. Meanwhile, all of the other tables in the back were empty, so I wasn't holding up the dinner people. Also, my party probably spent $50 a person that night.

Another time, I was alone in the back bar with the barkeeper. She poured me the wrong beer, and I brought it to her attention. She argued with me, and then noticed that the lines were crossed. So she poured the right beer for me, and didn't apologize, or make any amends at all.

Once, when I was at the back bar during a busy night, I paused in my order for a few seconds at most, and the barkeeper walked away and didn't come back for 10 minutes, out of spite, it seemed. The same barkeeper scoffed at one of my questions about a beer, rolling her eyes and attending to someone else before offering a curt obligatory answer.

The beer brings me back, so try as they might, Monk's can't get rid of me.

03-15-2005 09:08:07 | More by monkeybutler
Photo of francisweizen
francisweizen

Alaska

4.33/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Monk's is a damn good Belgian beer bar in Philly. However, I do find two things wrong with it. It is very overcrowded, and very overrated. The atmosphere is nice, and "Belgian" in nature, I suppose. Although i've never drank in a bar like this in Belgium. The dark wood, and ancient breweriana make for a nice drinking environment. Quality of the beers and food is very good, with my selection being in tip-top shape. Service was nice. A bit slow and laid back, but knowledgable and nice. Beer and food selections are both very good with about 200 bottled beers spanning the whole realm of Belgian brews, and a nice draught list of 20 or so with the more mainstream Belgians, some small batch beers from family breweries, a cask brew, and some quality US micros as well. We had an aged 750 of Fantome on out last visit. Always a winning choice. The food here was good, but I found the "Belgian" fries a bit lame and not very Belgian in nature. They did taste good though, and I do like the bourbon mayo here. The sandwitch I had was great (Portabello) and the salad it came with was nice, as was Ericas Antwerpen vegan burger. All of the food items and beers are very reasonably priced as well. A solid place, that is somewaht worthy of its praise. One big tip: Come on a weekday afternoon when it is dead or else you will be waiting for a seat forever!

01-17-2005 23:58:00 | More by francisweizen
Photo of HappyHourHero
HappyHourHero

Indiana

4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$

Stopped in the day after Christmas (sunday) at about 11:30 and by 12:30 the place was about full. I sat at the front bar, which had like six taps, plain glasses for every style and a few dozen from different breweries. There was some Mad Elf, Saison Dupont, Three Philosphers, Hennepin, Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale. The back bar had probably twice as many taps, but they were down:-( I had the mussels with bacon/blue cheese/onions which were awesome and the sauce for the fries was awesome (a better/mellower version of Burger Kinds zesty sauce). The bartender was really nice, answering all my questions and even helped me pick out my last beer. I had a bottle of Fantome Saison that was amazing, fresh as could be. They had a large selection of Belgians in bottles along with a few French, Italian, and Japanese. There was also a decent selection of micro's. I went witht he Hair of the Dog Adam and didn't regret it. Definitely worth the trip, a quiet and relaxing place to enjoy some quality beers on this particular day.
Value: It's in a big city, you're probably buying some rare Belgians, and eating mussels; atleast I would. Prices are what they should be.

01-06-2005 14:07:28 | More by HappyHourHero
Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
98 out of 100 based on 399 ratings.