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Monk's Café

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

427 Ratings
Ratings: 427
Reviews: 328
rAvg: 4.42
pDev: 9.5%
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: 427 | Reviews: 328 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of chOAKbarrell
4.38/5  rDev -0.9%

As you probably already know, this is the place to go if you're in Philadelphia.

My experience at Monk's didnt blow my mind, but I can definitely see its appeal. The biggest problem was that I went on a monday night, and the place was PACKED. I mean, it was insane. It is not a big or spacious bar as it is, but this was just silly. And on a monday night, too. I was constantly bumped into, and there was barely anywhere to stand, let alone sit. I dont know what the story was, and apparently the bartender didnt, either. He said that it is not usually like that on mondays, and that he had actually requested to work that day, because he thought it would be calm.

As far as the atmosphere goes, aside from the huge crowd, I was kind of suprised. With over 200 beers, I expected a medium sized bar, at the least, but this is a small neighborhood bar.

The quality gets top marks, just for the selection alone. TONS of bottled Belgians, which obviously, Monk's specializes in. I mean, there's so many Belgians, they are divided into 9 catagories: Lambics, Trappist, Abbaye, Saison, Stong golden/Blonde, Flemish Sour, Amber/brown, Cave aged, and miscellaneous. A sizeable USA beer list too, currently with 42 bottles. Other countries represented are: Canada, Japan, Scotland, England, Finland/Sweden, France, and Germany.

The tap situation was a bit strange, as I only saw 6 taps. But after I left I found out that there is both a front & back bar. Whichever one I was at (the front, I believe) had only 6 taps, including Chimay, Hoegaarden, and Sierra Nevada Harvest ale (what I ordered). Apparently the back bar specializes in Belgian taps and has about 12.

The prices are reasonable, taking into consideration that you are at a high quality bar, and also that you can't normally buy single bottles at a liquor store in PA. There are a lot of $4-5 American 12 oz beers, and the Belgian bottles, as well as the USA bombers, seem to hover mostly in the $7-8 range.

I wish I wasnt so full from dinner at Nodding Head brewpub (about a 3-4 block walk away from Monk's), and I wish Monk's wasnt so crowded, so that I could have stayed & had a few more. A good experience, and I'm glad I stopped in.

chOAKbarrell, Oct 26, 2005
Photo of goodbyeohio
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%

visited 10/22, a saturday for lunch. probably my 50th or so visit since i used to live in philadelphia, and every time i have a different experience. this one was pretty even (some bad, some great) so it's a good one to review.

wouldn't ya know it, two spots together at the front bar. got there just at the right time. from the time i arrived until my 230ish departure, it got more and more full. the front bar is very small and seats maybe 7 people. if the person next to you is smoking (as was the lady on saturday) well then you're smoking too. quickly distracted by multiple glasses of russian river erudition (how does this place hook up these rare drafts?!?!) and delicious sour red braised mussels. some of the best ive had outside of belgium.. no grit or sand despite them being from a 'hurricane batch' or whatever. front bartender was a younger guy with longish hair who had great info on all the beers. gave the guy sitting next to me the whole rundown on the history of the russian river brewing company.

figured i'd then hit the back bar. back bar always has better taps but when it's full it sucks. this place is like putting eli cannon's under a shrink ray which allows for less seats and a more cramped hallway type atmosphere. if the bar seats are full, and people are eating at the tables in the back, there is no decent place to stand. focus in the rear bar should be taken off the food and placed a little more on the beer. seems like more people crammed into the back room to drink would make more money than people crammed in for lunches... allie's 12oz fou foune and my 12oz st bernardus totalled $16 and were gone in 10 minutes.

service is good, and the decor and atmosphere is appropriate for the type of belgian old-world cafe monk's wants to be. the taps are amazing and the bottles are pretty damn good too (although more vintages would be nice here.. i dont think there were any at all actually).

space and size and layout suck hairy nuts. you need to get here at a perfect down time and sit in whatever seat you can find.. if you're lucky, you can have someone scout out whatever bar you're not sitting at and maybe make the move before someone steals it. i guess you could always take a table, but those are cramped too. i'll keep going here, for the taps. purely for the taps.

best described as a beer nerd's tourist trap that just cant be resisted

goodbyeohio, Oct 25, 2005
Photo of pikemark
3.95/5  rDev -10.6%

I cant really give this place a bad review because I guess Im biased being from Philly and hanging out here so much. The atmosphere is nothing amazing to speak of -- very cramped quarters usually no seats.

The service is not bad if not for the bartender who thinks hes the man.

The selection is always great, never had sanything out of stock and the food is great -- try the oysters.

All in all this is the type of place that sort of becomes a favorite or default hangout, very chill and great place to dine, if you are a smoker.

pikemark, Oct 22, 2005
Photo of Lnedrive14
3.78/5  rDev -14.5%

I must admit that I went here prior to being quite as into the beer scene as I am now, but I feel that I have to write a review anyway.

The quality of the selection is great. Everything was picked by someone who took the time to make sure they got great brew.

The selection is quite small (but so is the place) but certainly more than adequate even for the most discriminating BA. Only about 16 or so on tap, but a lot in the bottle. The selection is actually quite interesting and there was a lot of stuff that I was unfamiliar with. Also, the only macro beer on the menu was Sam Adams, which was refreshing.

All in all, I was very pleased with the beer itself. No complaints. The beer was served in correct, clean glassware and the pours were great. The food also is pretty good. Belgian food and damn good french fries. I had heard great things about the burgers, which I found to be only above average. Good food + good atmospher + awesome beer should = a helluva place right? WRONG.

The service was awful. Straight up some of the worst service I have ever had at a restaurant. To make a long story short, the server misinterpreted my order and ended up bringing me something more expensive than I had ordered, which I didn't realize until I got my bill and which I could have had no way of knowing that there even was a more expensive version of what I ordered (if she was unsure, she should have clarified with me prior to placing my order). When I brought it up with her, she basically said, "sucks for you." Well, it would suck for me, until I took the balance straight off her tip. So, I guess in the end, it sucked for her. To make matters worse, I was somewhat new to Belgian beer and was having a tough time deciding what to order, so I told her what type of style I was looking for (a brown strong dark ale) and instead she brought me a Chmay Red. I won't say anymore.

In any case, service like that would usually make me never return, but like I said, the rest of the place was so good, I am willing to chalk it up to just a bad server. We will see what happens next time.

Lnedrive14, Oct 21, 2005
Photo of RECiPE
4.78/5  rDev +8.1%

A must-visit for any beer snob traveling to Philadelphia. My hotel was about a mile from Monk's. It was worth the walk (in the rain, I might add). I sat at the front bar. Tried the four beers tap beers that were available that night. My favorite was the Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Red Ale. There is supposedly a bar in back too, with a dizzying array of beers. I never made it there.

I had the Monk's burger. A hamburger with blue cheese and sauteed leeks. Mmmm. One of the best burgers I have had in recent history. The french fries were so-so. Maybe my tastes are too white trash to like Belgian style fries, or maybe the fryer was overwhelmed, but they were greasy and soggy.

Bathrooms are labeled men/women and women/men. Straight back as you walk into the place.

RECiPE, Oct 16, 2005
Photo of Loki
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.

Loki, Oct 06, 2005
Photo of bedwyr
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.

bedwyr, Sep 21, 2005
Photo of tgbljb
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.

tgbljb, Sep 18, 2005
Photo of NolanGTI
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.

NolanGTI, Sep 15, 2005
Photo of LPorter33
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.

LPorter33, Sep 08, 2005
Photo of chelovek
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.

chelovek, Sep 07, 2005
Photo of macpapi
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.

macpapi, Aug 30, 2005
Photo of Fish113d
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!

Fish113d, Aug 30, 2005
Photo of sulldaddy
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!

sulldaddy, Aug 29, 2005
Photo of MsRogueRed
2.85/5  rDev -35.5%

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 -8.4%

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 -10.6%

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
Photo of noob
4.26/5  rDev -3.6%

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.

noob, May 23, 2005
Photo of ithacabaron
4.63/5  rDev +4.8%

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.

ithacabaron, May 16, 2005
Photo of Sammy
4.05/5  rDev -8.4%

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.

Sammy, May 12, 2005
Photo of bennybrew
4.36/5  rDev -1.4%

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).

bennybrew, Apr 25, 2005
Photo of blitheringidiot
4.03/5  rDev -8.8%

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.

blitheringidiot, Mar 28, 2005
Photo of yankeeheel
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%

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.

yankeeheel, Mar 27, 2005
Photo of whartontallboy
4.3/5  rDev -2.7%

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.

whartontallboy, Mar 26, 2005
Photo of monkeybutler
3.18/5  rDev -28.1%

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.

monkeybutler, Mar 15, 2005
Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
98 out of 100 based on 427 ratings.