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Monk's Café

Not Rated.
Monk's CaféMonk's Café

413 Ratings
Ratings: 413
Reviews: 326
rAvg: 4.42
pDev: 9.28%
Taps: 20
Bottles: 218
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

264 S 16th St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19102-3357
United States
phone: (215) 545-7005

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

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(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 413 | Reviews: 326 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

08-01-2005 20:29:23 | More by MsRogueRed
Photo of yelterdow

New Jersey

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.

06-21-2005 13:07:59 | More by yelterdow
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.

06-07-2005 02:20:48 | More by NoLiberty
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.

05-23-2005 20:04:15 | More by noob
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.

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

Ontario (Canada)

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.

05-12-2005 21:32:54 | More by Sammy
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).

04-24-2005 23:24:42 | More by bennybrew
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.

03-28-2005 06:13:35 | More by blitheringidiot
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.

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

New York

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.

03-26-2005 20:32:55 | More by whartontallboy
Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
98 out of 100 based on 413 ratings.