1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Monk's Café

Not Rated.
Monk's CaféMonk's Café

449 Ratings
Ratings: 449
Reviews: 334
rAvg: 4.42
pDev: n/a
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 

Place added by: BeerAdvocate

No notes at this time.
Place: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 449 | Reviews: 334 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of guzzle211
4.58/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

This was my first trip to Monk’s and I typically like to visit a place a few times, at different times of day, before I review it but I think Monk’s pretty much speaks for itself. I might actually be able to see getting jaded by the immense selection, the guaranteed constant stream of newcomers, and the crowd, but I am still in the honeymoon phase with Monk’s, so we’re still in love.

I was in town for the Steely Dan concert, and this was a perfect spot for some pre-concert food and beverage. We arrived at 5:15pm this past Saturday 8/19 naively thinking it might be early enough for it not only to not be completely packed, but we even expected an empty seat or two – wrong! The place was already packed (but not nearly as packed as when we left a little after 6:30 – I was honestly shocked) but we got very very lucky and got the last little two-top right beside the back bar. It was a very tight, extremely hot and smoky fit, but considering there were parties of 4 already waiting 20 mins, we were thankful. One glance at the beer bible, available for purchase $3 and also on their website, lets you know why its worth the wait (if you have the time.)

Since we were at the back bar, I concentrated strictly on those offerings (see website for full list.) They were out of the Sly Fox Pale Ale and one or two others, but I had my sights set: I started with a Lucifer ($6.50) to drink with the frites (see below,) then had my first of two St. Bernadus 12 ($7) (I won’t go into a review of the beer here – I typically don’t like to review beers on tap like this because of all the smoke, but the complexity that emerges in this beer as it warms to temp is amazing, a truly incredible transformation.) It was only after I got home and checked the website did I realize I missed RR Pliny Elder and Benediction at the front bar (but at the same time, the Lucifer was perfect for the frites and the St. B. 12 was my mission. I am already dying to go back.) Simply put, think kid in candy shop.

Our server, (I sincerely apologize; it was so loud when we asked her name I couldn’t make it out – Karissa? Klarissa?) was in the eye of a hurricane (and we’re talking about it only being 530pm) but she never missed a beat and always had a smile when she came to the table. She had to repeat several things she said but didn’t mind at all. Despite juggling so many people neither my glass of water nor glass of brew was ever empty.

We had the frites, and I gotta say, they were firm, crunchy and tasty, not soggy as I expected from the previous reviews. Also, the sauce is authentic; it might seem yucky to some, but ever have frites in Belgium? You ask for BBQ sauce and they put a little dab in a dish and then fill the dish with mayo. So I gotta say its what I expected. We kept it simple since there was a long night of Steely Dan ahead of us and chose burgers - not the biggest or fanciest, but a real tasty quality-meat burger for less than $8 in one of the hottest beer spots in a major city is nothing to complain about. Mine was mushroom / swiss (delicious!) and my buddy ordered a topping combination that wasn’t on the menu, and they didn’t even bat an eyelash (that can be sacrilege some places.) Total bill for 5 uber-quality brews, frites and two quality-meat burgers? Not quite $50 – I was completely satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, there are some bottle beer prices that you might initially shake your head at, but I knew where I was going and what I was in for. I had a tough time giving Monk’s $$$ (instead of only $$) because of this, but at the same time I am taking into account what I normally do and where I normally go for craft beer (even though where I frequent has nowhere near this expansive of a selection.)

When we left after 630pm, it was mobbed. The front bar was 4 people deep. It was tough to walk out of a place with so many offerings this early on a Saturday night, but I had a Steely Dan ticket in my pocket. Needless to say, I am already trying to figure out when I can work in my next visit to Monk’s.

Photo of mjc410
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

This was a primary goal of mine on my day trip to Philly, and I was quite happy. Parking is a near impossibility on the one way streets, although this is not the of Monk's.
The restaurant is located in a short, skinny building. It advertises itself quite garishly with neon lights, which takes away perhaps a bit from the atmoshphere. However, coming here in the late afternoon afforded my girlfriend and I a seat at a long table along the front window. Another party was seated at the opposite end of the table, which made things interesting. There were certainly no smoking problems, although that might just have been chance. We drank Monk's Sour, Urthel Bock, and Saison de erpe-mere, all of which were wonderful. The beer prices are absurdly high, especially for the bottles, but draft is more reasonable. Food is more easily priced, and the Saison paired well with the Saison Dupont trout. A fun beer/food experience, and something that I hope to repeat!

Photo of Abita45
4.58/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Possibly the best beer bar in town. I'm probably not breaking any ground with that statement, but it continues to impress me.

I stopped by last night around 10 for a beer and some food. I ordered a Gulden Draak, while my girlfriend, with the help of our waiter, found a beer with an apple flavor to it. The beer's name escapes me, but I've run across it periodically (it was Lindeman's Pomme).

In any respect, we ordered mussels and a trout dish appatizer. Both were excellent. They make several styles of mussels, and we had ours done in a white sauce with basic seasoning. They were very good. The trout was grilled with a horseradish sauce on top, in a bed of greens and capers. Also, very good.

There was a nice crowd, but we got a table immediately. The service was very good. While I had a good idea of what I wanted, our waiter did a nice job sheparding my girlfriend through the beer menu.

I mention it being "a bit pricey," but that's only because the beers can be expensive. However, you get what you pay for, and those beers will be expensive under any circumstance. I certainly believe Monk's pricing is appropriate and very reasonable.

The interior is a little small, but nice. There's always a good vibe in Monk's and I've never had a bad time. The staff is knowledgable and helpful, and beer selection is second to none.

A true beer bar.

Photo of DrJay
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

We entered Monk's early on a Saturday afternoon and headed through the front room (fairly bright from natural light, lots of dark, old world style furniture) to be seated near the back bar. This room had no windows and lots of dark wood paneling. There's a cool tapestry on one wall too. It has more of a cozy vibe than confining. The had their house sour on tap (very good), along with a great selection of other beers (Chimay White, Chouffe Houblon, Delirium Tremens, Hoegaarden, Kwak, Lindeman's Framboise, Lucifer, Oerbier, Ephemere Apple, St. Bernardus 12, Grottenbier, and Flying Fish Big Fish. The bottle selection was huge, with tons of Belgians and plenty of US beers from the East Coast/PA, California, and Michigan (including Russian River, Bell's, New Holland, and Stone). The English selection was also quite good, with things like Lee's Harvest Ale, Thomas Hardy's, and Young's available, and there was a decent line up of German and Scottish offerings. Overall, somewhere around 200 bottles - and not really a dud among them. The service was good and our server/bartender was quite knowledgable - she'd obviously sampled a lot of beers that come through the place. My wife and I both had burgers (very good) and shared the frites (a little too soggy). An excellent experience and we'll definitely be back.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.38/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

This happened: A guy walks into Monk's and asks the bartender for a Yuengling. She responds "We don't have it." He gets righteous: "I came to Philly hoping to get a Yuengling, I can't believe you don't serve Yuengling!" She says, "We serve better beers."

That about sums it up. Their selection cannot be beat.

Monk's was a bit of a mecca for me, considering its concentration on Belgian beers. And the beer list did not disappoint, offering several Belgians I didn't know, and many other rare beers from Netherlands, Finland and even lots of US microbrews. The tap list was ridiculous: St. Bernardus 12, Delerium Tremens, La Chouffe Houblon IPA, their own infamous Flemish Sour Ale, lots more. Obviously a cut above your typical bar.

My host in Philly said the only way to really enjoy the place is to get there early, as it gets really crowded after 5. (and since I can't stand smoke in bars, or anywhere else, it was a good thing we went early.) So we sat there from 4 to 6:30, imbibing and enjoying. The space is narrow but long, and even though it wasn't super-crowded, it still felt a little cramped. The service was excellent (despite how busy they became after 5), extremely knowledgable as well. Some of the glasses they used for the taps were a little smaller than I expected, and this underlines my only real gripe about the place: it's a bit pricey. No wonder it was an almost exclusively yuppie, upwardly-mobile crowd. My friend and I didn't seem to be typical of the clientele. And that's just fine by me.

There's a bar in the back, and in between bars is a seating area for diners. Didn't have the food. Loved the beer, and even though one of those was a disappointing bock by Urthel (an otherwise ace brewer), the experience made up for it, and this is a destination I recommend to ANY enthusiast of great beer, which is almost everyone lurking and taking part in this site.

Photo of nlmartin
4.3/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This was the first beer bar I took my wife to in Philly. It was a Wednesday night at 10pm. The place was packed almost to bursting. We got seated in the back bar area. The place was almost closterphobically packed with smoking people. Dam is this place very loud! The beer list was well populated by expensive and great selections. Saint Lamvinous was $50 a bottle. I opted for something else. We drank the house Flemish ale a dam tasty offering. We also had Russian Rivers Damnation and Smuttynose IPA. The wait staff was both knowledgeable about the beer and attentive to a bursting crowd. We had a late dinner. My wife had Mussels ala Monks. I had the rabbit. Both meals arrived hot and had fairly large portions. We both enjoyed our meals from monks. Over all this is a very good beer bar. Some items are dam expensive and others not so. The place thined out and quieted down around 11:30 pm.

Photo of Hautacam
2.76/5  rDev -37.6%
vibe: 2 | quality: 3.5 | service: 1 | selection: 4

Expected a great experience here...did not happen. Went on a Sunday evening....not crowded....went to the back bar...very small and very smoky...yes , they do still smoke in Pa. bars.
We decided to go back to the front bar...less smoky, but people smoking there too....and, if there was ventilation....it wasn't working. Got a seat at the bar. I ordered a Goliath Tripel, as did my buddy...$7.00 for a very small tulip glass. My girlfriend ordered the Monk's sour ale. All good. Bartender polite.
Here's where it really sucked....my girlfriend's sister, not knowing what she wanted , asked if she could taste a few...the bartender's reply.." we're not supposed to do that "...and he walks away. I have never experienced that in a beer bar....ever. So we sit there and try to enjoy our beers...more people come in and light up smokes...when we left after one beer each...we all reeked of smoke.
I know that all bars used to be smoky....I used to smoke years ago...but in CT,MA, RI. NYC...I have been enjoying the smell and taste of good beer w/o cigarette smoke for a few years....and can't stand it now. Could not smell my beer with that much smoke...and it wasn't even crowded....must be awful when it is crowded.
If you don't mind a lot of smoke with your dinner or beer, then Monk's is a good place...if you know what all the beers taste like ...it's a good place.
We'll never go back.

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

Monks sits in a typical center city Philly row house. Long and narrow on the inside. They have a front and back bar, with different items on tap at each. We went for the back, since they had St. Bernardus Abt 12 on tap. I ordered one and the bartender yelled back “Were out”. OK. How about the Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel that is on tap… The response was “That’s out. What the hell do you expect on a busy Saturday.” Well then. Boy do I miss living in center city and dealing with that patient, respectful Philly attitude. I didn’t think asking for a beer that was listed on the menu would warrant that kind of response. I would think they would at least cover the tap handle if they were out, but whatever. The hostess that seated us was no better. Very rude and short.

Once we were seated, our waiter was great and that is the only person we needed to deal with the rest of the time we were there. Nice beer list. I came expecting to clean up on Belgians, but they had plenty of other offerings as well. Had my first Bell’s Two Hearted and Péché Mortel that night. I also had Russian River Temptation that I have been unable to find in MD. Even the Brickskeller was out the last time I was there. The beer was great. I could drink the Monk's Flemish Sour Red Ale forever. Solid sour red. The food was good. We had a generous portion of mussels simmered in the sour ale and garlic. (there were many other choices of beer and spices to have the mussels). We also had the wings. They were whole wings with an interesting glaze of pepper spices. Lots of cool beer signs decorate the wooden décor. Great place to go if you can tolerate a little attitude for no reason. If you are in Philly, you are most likely used to it by now.

Photo of gbarron
4.28/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Was in Philadelphia on business and on the recommendation of fellow BA's went to Monk's.

Very small, hole-in-the-wall type joint with a front bar that was loud and crowded when I got there at around 6pm on a Wednesday night. Some dining tables line the wall down a narrow hallway that lead to the backbar area that is much quieter and doesn't have any TVs, so I sit back there.

Menu is largely belgian, some sandwiches, salads, entrees, and of course mussels and belgian fries. I had the Monk's version of the mussels along with some fries, where were excellent and fairly priced.

The draft selection is excellent, several rare belgians I've never heard of and couple of local beers. They have a hand pump for cask, but unfortunately right now nothing is on it. The bar staff is extremely knowledgable and friendly. They have about a dozen or so beers on draft, and then a 'menu' of about a hundred or more in bottles, including a substantial selection of belgians and American micros. Prices were very fair.

Photo of elmocoso
4.36/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5

What a place. Very deceiving from the outside, but when we walked in, this place was jumping. It was Friday night, so not much room to even stand. We found a half-bar against the wall and I shoved my way up to the bar. It was a beautiful thing. There were about 5 beers on tap and a bunch of coolers stocked to the gills with all the beer you wanted to try. The first waitress kind of gave me attitude. When we finally got up to the real bar, the service was much better with the new waitress. We both got another beer and perused the impressive beer-list. I would have like to check out this place when it wasn't so busy, but I'm glad we went.

Photo of ricodewey
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Monks is the best! What else can I say. I make at least 3 pilgrimages a year to Philly just to go to Monks. Is it crowded? You bet. Can you expect to wait a good hour for a table for four on the weekend? No doubt. Is it worth it? Yes. The beer selection is exquisite ( esp. if you are a Belgian junkie) the food top-notch, the servers are really good. Just watching them manuever through the 8 inch aisles that are extremely congested is worth going. Any beer pairing questions are answered and everytime I order a gueze they warn me how bitter and earthy it will taste. ( of course I know this but appreciate their honesty and love gueze anyway)

If you are in Philly and love beer, you are doing yourself a huge disfavor by not visiting Monks. If only they had an equivalent cafe in every town!

Photo of John_M
3.9/5  rDev -11.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I'm with Chimayman on this. I haven't been to Monk's in a bit, but the place is so awesome, I'm not likely to forget the experience any time soon. So I feel well qualified to review the place.

When I lived in Baltimore my work required me to trek up to Philly every now and again on business. Every time I went there Monk's was at the top of my list of places to visit. Yeah, my friends and I enjoy bashing Monk's as much as everyone else, but I have to tell you there was never a time we failed to include it in our travel plans. Still, let me get the negative parts out first before I extoll its many qualities.

The service at Monk's flat out sucks much of the time. My buddy and I like to joke that one of the reasons we like going there is because suddenly we have super powers. In the case of the staff there, I've noticed more then once that upon entering the premises I've become invisable. I swear I've sat at the back bar for 10 to 15 minutes at a time waiting for service, and I'll be damned if the bartender(s) doesn't look right through me.

Admittedly, another problem is how small and cramped the place is, and there's no getting around the fact that the place is pretty tiny. Still, the reason this is such a problem is because the place is so popular. Why is it so popular? Take one guess. To this day I've yet to find another place that has anything like the Belgium bottle and draft selection you can find at Monk's.

The beer and food at Monk's are flat out excellent, and the service very friendly (if not particularly attentative). Also, while the prices are not exactly cheap, a recent trip to Brouwer's Cafe in Seattle made me stop and take a another look at Monk's prices. Frankly, as my buddies and I are quick to concede, considering the incrdible selection of Beligums available, the prices seem very, very fair.

So the service be damned I'll continue to come here as often as I can (which is not nearly often enough any more). Truly, this is one of the best beer bars in the country, and well worth a special trip whenever you are in town.

Update from 3/08. Recently visited Monk's and after thinking about the experience, realized I should revise my score... downward. The fact is that while the bar has been raised considerably when it comes to Philly beer bars, Monk's continues to sit on its laurels, which really make its numerous flaws all the more apparent and annoying. Finding parking around Monk's is a nightmare and the service is as terrible as ever. I guess they got tired of customers taking the old "beer bible," so they created a new updated version and now charge $3 for it. I can't think of any other place I've been to that charges customers for a copy of their menu. Prices are very high here, and it's no longer for beers I can't find any place else. On the contrary, the last time I was there everything on the draft menu was something I could find just as readily back at Max's in Baltimore.... and unlike at Max's, the staff at Monk's will not allow you to taste anything before you decide to purchase it.

This is still a worthwhile establishment in my opinion, but I cannot say that it's a destination I will seek out any more whenever I'm in Philly.

Photo of chimayman
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Over the past several months, especially since going on the Golden Age of Beer Tour in Philadelphia this March, I’ve noticed quite a bit of Monk’s “hating.” People complain, myself included, that it is too crowded or the service is slow. I even read a review stating that the “fries were nothing special” and that the burgers were awful. This I can’t tolerate.

Monks food is great. The bartenders are knowledgeable. The selection of beers is unparalleled. The only bar that comes close to their selection is Eulogy in Old City, but that is even smaller than Monk’s and their food isn’t nearly as good.

Monk’s is not only the best beer bar in the city, but one of the best you’ll ever see.

Photo of jwm232
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I like Monks because it's a cozy little establishment in the heart of Philadelphia. The atmosphere is great, abeit crowded when I was there during a mid-afternoon Saturday. It's dark, inviting, and has an older feel to it. However, there are often lines that spill from wall to wall making it difficult to get to the bathroom if you are seated by the window. I had a veggie burger, Brugges style (cheese and onions). It was tasty and was served with a little green salad on the side. The pommes frites with their homemade mayonaisse is amazing.

As for the beer: I always heard of Monk's for its exceptional Belgian selection. While the bottle selection is quite extensive, the tap selection (at least for the front bar was a little disaapointing). There was a Victory, Hoegaarden, and three others on tap. I was expecting some exotics. I had the tripel karmaliet which was delicious. There were many to choose but if you don't know the beers, be weary, there is no explanation. The waitstaff seemed knowledgeable when it came to the food and beer. Beers were served in appropriate glasses which is always a nice touch.

I could spend a whole afternoon (and a whole lot money) in Monks. Aside from being somewhat expensive, the beer is delicious, the food is good, and the atmosphere ties it all together. If you are in Center City Philly it would be a shame to pass it up.


Photo of dogfooddog
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

visited 08-15MAR06.

While there may be better belgian selections in other bars in the US, this bar is without a doubt the best belgian beer bar I have been to, possibly including the bruges beertje.

Oddities on tap at the time of my visits included unblended cantillon lambic, as well as a flemish red house ale. The beer list must have 200 bottled beers on it, over a third being belgian. Special items include many of the dolle brewers special vintage bottlings from 2002 and 2005, 'tsmisje calva reserve, several rare cantillon bottles, a de proef series of beers i had never even heard of. They also have the excellent Courage 1993 Imperial Russian Stout (room temperature)

Food is excellent, including octopus, a filet with roquefort cheese, and good burgers.

Service varies from usually indifferent to rarely friendly. Overall I was not too impressed, maybe this is a snob-job in the realm of restaurant workers?

My *only* beer complaint with this bar is the temperature the belgians are kept at. Their flourescent-lit coolers must be 40F or lower, meaning many of these beers are far colder than they should be. I found this a problem for the 'tsmisje calva reserve (too cold) and for subsequent bottles of stronger beers (de dolle extra stout, 2005 dulle teve reserve) actually ordered the beer early and let it sit 30-60 minutes to get to a reasonable temperature. I was even shown a cantillon st. lamvinous from the same cooler, ice cold as well. I will note that even some prestigious beer bars in belgium have the temperature problem. I personally do not understand the difficulty in serving at the proper temperature when you have coolers full of 45-50F recc. temp. beers but clearly it is a challenge - but so is a Cantillon Lou Pepe 2001 Framboise served at or below 40F.

My non-beer complaint is the dearth of restrooms - 2 unisex toilets in the whole place!? Atmosphere is marked down as standing in line to urinate is not a positive contribution. Even a male-only pissoir would relieve some of this.

This bar is a must-visit if you are even in or even near philadelphia, or can plausibly invent an excuse to go there. if you are going to try the rarer or now-unavailable bottles they have, they are expensive, but you will probably never see some of these things avaiable anywhere ever again in the US.

Photo of BillyB
4.6/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

The atmosphere of the place is great when it isn't crowded. When it is crowded it's hard to move around and kind of claustrophobic. The quality of the food and beer is exceptional. The mussels are excellent and I like the mayo/sauce that comes with the fries. Try the venison pot pie.
The service is pretty good but the place is so busy you're gonna do some waiting no matter what.
As far as food selection the menu is very eclectic with good ol' american burgers and fries and some tradtional belgian dishes.
Beer selection is basically as good as I've ever seen. Just outstanding. Try to come on a weekday afternoon. If it wasn't crowded i'd stay there all day.

Photo of petemoss14
4.33/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I had never been to Philly before, but my father-in-law's parents, bronther, and sister live there. My wife and her family go down there every Thanksgiving, but this past one was our first as a married couple. Thus, it was my first visit to the City of Brotherly Love.

Well, I knew of Monk's even though I had never been to Philly, and if I was going to spend a long weekend with the in-laws, I was determined to at least get to Monk's.

Managed to get there at around 1 pm the day after Thanksgiving, with my wife, father-in-law, and brother-in-law in tow for lunch and a couple beers.

The selection here is excellent. Some nice selections on tap (I started with a DeKoninck) and a wealth of great stuff by bottle, including a superb selection of Belgians.

I love the atmosphere here -- dim lighting, lots of dark wood. It makes you feel cozy. You feel even more cozy because this place gets packed. We just beat the rush it seemed, and still had to wait about an hour for a booth (it's the type of place where people sit and stay for awhile, which I like, despite the wait). Not a lot of standing room here though, and staying out of the waitresses' way was excedingly difficult.

The food was actually pretty good, and I give them credit for attempting, with fair success, some finer cuisine. I got braised veal cheeks, which were pretty good. The fries are not to be missed.

Other than the crowd, my only other gripe would be that the prices were kinda high. But overall a great place. Can't wait to get down there and visit the in-laws again!

Photo of Billolick
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

What can be added about this world class beer destination? Beer list is outstanding, they even have a special Belgian sour ale named after and brewed especially for them! And it's a great beer, they have on tap, it goes great with mussels. Food that I've tried is limited to the several varities of mussels they serve in the expected metel pots, outstanding, tasty and of course terrific with fine Belgian ales. Go to Monks. Drink great beer, enjoy Belgian cuisine de la Biere. If you want to eat get there early in the evening. This is a very popular place that fills up quickly and stays crowded all night.

Photo of Jredner
4.4/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

One of the best beer experiences I have ever had. Bar none. Co-owner Tom Peters drank and chatted with me all night opening vintage beer after vintage beer. We talked about beer and the state of beer and brewing and he was genuinely happy to rap with another beer geek. He is genuinely passionate about beer and food and you can see how his staff follows his lead..

The food (I had the veal cheeks) was so good I asked for a second order. The beer menu is very sophisticated with great emphasis placed on quality over quantity...though there are still plenty of beers to choose from. The place definitely attracts a huge dinner crowd, but the beer draws equally as well and the staff is one of the most passionate and knowledgeable I have personally met.

I consider this place a can’t miss and worth dealing with any size crowd in order to experience it.

Photo of JulieRFoster
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

A very fun atmosphere with knowlegdable staff (our waitress recommended an Urthel Samaranth, as she personally knew this only female brewer in Belguim). They have around 2000 bottles and about half of the beer menu is belgiums (my personal favorites, so I enjoyed it immensely) with quite a variety on tap. Very few places are highly touted for both their beern and food, but this is certainly one of them. A bit pricey with all the fancy beer and food - expect to pay at least 6 or 7 bucks for a brew and 15 for an entree at lunch - but definitely a spot to hit.

Photo of ggaughan
4.63/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I feel that I am lucky enough to work about a 5 minute walk from Monk's so I pop in from time to time during the week for a few good drinks before heading back home. Each time I head here there is something else I find that I have not tried before but can't wait to try.

The atmosphere to me is straight out of Belgium. Having lived in Holland for awhile, it feels like being back in Europe each time I visit Monk's, which is often. The collection of breweriana and paintings on the walls is not large but very appropriate.

They seemed to be the first to have some great Russian River beers on tap and in bottle as well. Not to mention the odd Belgian's they get in bottle or on tap for special dinners that you can't get anywhere in this country, at least until others catch up to them.

Although the food menu doesn't change that often, what they have is great. The frittes alone warrant a very high rating and the burgers and chicken or tuna sandwiches are a must. Save room for dessert because they are hard to pass up.

Also, one of the best things about Monk's in my opinion is the number of great dinners they have from time to time. I have gone to a few Michael Jackson and Steve Beaumont dinners and have been amazed at the food and beers that have been served. A dinner entirely pared with trappist beers? Crazy. Alaskan Smoked Porter from 1997 and 2004? Can't beat it...

Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.58/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Always get to Monk’s early. This place is small, so it fills up quick. Getting there early will give you an evening’s worth of tasty beers.

This is a top notch joint. Great food and beer at a reasonable price in a nice atmosphere. What more could you ask for? This building is small and there aren’t many seats, but the Belgian decor looks great. Feels like a quaint pub. There are seldom too many people here, so I’ve never felt too crowded. Even if it fills up, you can be at peace at a table. The wait staff is prompt, friendly and knowledgeable. Every time I’ve asked for a beer, they’ve always known if its in stock or not. This place has the best beer selection in Philadelphia, so its selection is literally the best. The food is wonderful as well. Their sausages are fantastic. Most of them are prepared with Belgian Beer, so its easy to pair a drink with. Monk’s is just awesome. If you dig beer and are in Philly, you simply must stop by. Just remember to get here early!

Photo of chOAKbarrell
4.38/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

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.

Photo of goodbyeohio
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

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

Photo of pikemark
3.95/5  rDev -10.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

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.

Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
98 out of 100 based on 449 ratings.