1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 420 | Reviews: 326 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tgbljb
4.55/5  rDev +2.7%

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.

tgbljb, Sep 18, 2005
Photo of NolanGTI
4.25/5  rDev -4.1%

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.

NolanGTI, Sep 15, 2005
Photo of LPorter33
3.88/5  rDev -12.4%

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.

LPorter33, Sep 08, 2005
Photo of chelovek
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%

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.

chelovek, Sep 07, 2005
Photo of macpapi
4.75/5  rDev +7.2%

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.

macpapi, Aug 30, 2005
Photo of Fish113d
4.44/5  rDev +0.2%

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!

Fish113d, Aug 30, 2005
Photo of sulldaddy
4.58/5  rDev +3.4%

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!

sulldaddy, Aug 29, 2005
Photo of MsRogueRed
2.85/5  rDev -35.7%

After hearing about Monk's for a few years, we finally made the two hour trip. We got there around 12 noon on a Saturday and the door was locked. After waiting outside for about 10 minutes, we were let in along with two other patrons that were waiting. Normal opening time is 11:30.

Although he was the one to let us in, the bartender was no where to be found for almost 10 minutes after we sat down at the bar. When he got back, he wasn't the most friendly guy. I asked him about the Monk's sour (how sour it was and he replied, sour). I was hoping for a bit more description. I ordered it and my husband got Chimay (can't go wrong with that). Mine was VERY sour, but I drank it since it wasn't awful tasting, but I would've liked to have been offered a small taste instead of getting 16oz of it.

I ordered fries since I read so many great reviews of them. I love fries and was expecting some great belgian style fries. I have had better fries at local carnivals/fairs, so I was a bit let down. I had a Hoegaarden for my next beer. My husband ordered the Ghent mussels and they smelled excellent and he said they tasted great.

There were glasses from the night before left on the bar and the place reeked of old lemons and just seemed sorta dirty. I guess I had higher expectations about the atmosphere. It wasn't a horrible experience, but it was a one and done trip for me. Pricing was a bit high, but not necessarily for Phila.

I would've had a better time if the bartender had been a little more friendly and would've explained the beer more. I've tried over 100 beers in the past few years, so I'm ok with having a beer that isn't my preferred style, but I also like a bartender who can give you a good description of beer.

MsRogueRed, Aug 01, 2005
Photo of yelterdow
4.05/5  rDev -8.6%

At last, a trip to Monk's while in Philly at my cousin's wedding. Visited on Sunday, June 19 at three o'clock in the afternoon with my wife and parents.

The front bar showcased Saison Dupont on tap along with about six other beers, and is situated in a well lit area with small tables. Just past the hostess station, a hallway leads back to the rear bar where the real excitement is. The beer list rotates regularly so you never know just what you're gonna get... I missed Stone Ruination on tap by one day! Dammit!

It is all about the Belgians, as you can imagine. After my Saison Dupont I chose the Russian River "Damnation", and my wife enjoyed an Urthel Samarinth... big ass malty quad. All beers were served cold in Belgian style smaller scale tulip glass. Bottled beer selection was good, as I brought home a Third Coast Old Ale.

The menu kicks ass. All choices are prepared with different variations on Belgian themes... and most entrees and appys are made with a particular beer. You might try the Brussels mussels, which incorporates a fume with garlic, fennel, and herbs de Provence, or the vegan burger with their world-famous bourbon mayonnaise and fries. Our waitress was friendly and courteous.

I will return to Monk's next time with friends, and look forward to another great time.

yelterdow, Jun 21, 2005
Photo of NoLiberty
3.95/5  rDev -10.8%

On visits to Philadelphia Monk's was THE spot to come for the dankest of beers from Belgium. Food and beer were worth the wait. Now, after having lived in the city for several years my impression of Monk's and the beer scene in Philly has changed dramatically. Monk's remains the mecca of what is good beer in Philly, but due to its always packed tables, poor service and sometimes unfriendly bartenders I've chosen elsewhere to rest my bones for a classically good beer. Philly provides many more establishments with good diversity of beer for half the price and a third the hastle. I still love this place but only on rare occassions.

NoLiberty, Jun 07, 2005
Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
98 out of 100 based on 420 ratings.