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Monk's Café

Not Rated.
Monk's CaféMonk's Café

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

399 Ratings
Ratings: 399
Reviews: 323
rAvg: 4.42
pDev: 9.28%
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]

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

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
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Ratings: 399 | Reviews: 323 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cro250klr
cro250klr

Pennsylvania

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

Hit Monk's just prior to Chrismas '04. The plan was to shop, have a grog at Monk's, then shop our way to the end of town. There, we would stop at Euology, refuel, and shop back to 19th where we were parked. We got to town at 2 and Monk's didn't open untill 5. Need I say that our shopping trip lasted 3 hours?
I did a Belgium trip in the summer and Monk's was very reminisent of the places we drank at in Europe. Dark wood. Old creaky stairs. Musty old smell. Nice. The beer selection was pretty good with a lot of Belgians that I had never ever heard of yet. The food was excellent. I had some kind of sausage sandwich. Other entees were mussels and a European salad. Prices weren't bad either and I'm not from Philly. Monk's is a much better place to visit than others in New York. Not that there aren't any good offerings in N.Y. The reasonable prices, good selections and good service, not to mention that Philly is a hell of a lot easier to get around than neighboring N.Y. is the reason I say this. Downtown Philly isn't that big, so, anyone you ask should be able to direct you if you came to town without a clue. Definitely worth a try.

01-05-2005 00:01:32 | More by cro250klr
Photo of ECdOc
ECdOc

Pennsylvania

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

Ive been to Monks Beer Emporium a few times, with a great beer selection and decent food who could not go back? One thing very noticable about Monks is the pride they take in stocking the Belgian beers that they do, being a Belgian beer bar who could blame them. They have a large selection of bottles including Trappist Ales as well as 2 well stacked bars, one in the front and one in the rear (go to the rear for a better selection). One thing i learned at my most recent visit is that they do not usually serve shots (thats what the 'tender told us) but were going there for beer anyways right! The food is good as well, GREAT fries... but this place always seems to be too crowded no matter when I go in there. Regardless it is worth the wait if you must. Hit up Monks, you wont regret it.

11-09-2004 22:37:52 | More by ECdOc
Photo of ascavuzzo
ascavuzzo

Pennsylvania

4.13/5  rDev -6.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

One Philadelphia's best beer bars. You will find a beer for every taste bud. Belgians, French, Canadian, English, and Micros from the east coast to west coast are represented. Not too many taps to chose from; the selction is mostly bottled but the beers are served in their propper glassware. If you like the hard to find beers then this place is for you.

The food is also very good. The menu is your typical bar menu but with a Belgian flare. We are talking about 5 varieties of mussels and belgian frites. You also have burgers, chicken and tuna steak sandwiches.

All places have some drawbacks. The location is in the heart of center city Philadelphia which mean if you want to eat and drink with the big boys, pull out your wallet. The beers are on the pricey side which is the price you pay for the selection you get and the location of the establishment. The place is also always crowded. I've gone on Monday through Sunday nights and I always have to wait 30 min. for a table. If you go on a weekend, you will probably have to wait an hour. The bar itself is small and can not really handle the flow of people so if you have white shoes, don't wear them unless you want to turn them into art work.

All in all, a really good place to go if you love beer. If you are in town, it's a must visit.

10-01-2004 19:41:58 | More by ascavuzzo
Photo of psugrad98
psugrad98

Pennsylvania

3.8/5  rDev -14%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

As a previous reviewer pointed out, Monk's is very busy. Located on 16th street, close to another favorite of mine, Mohogany, this bar is the place to be if you love great beer and a cozy atmosphere.

Small, dark, and loud, monk has kind of a poetry-jam sort of atmosphere. There is a cross section of most every type of people, and you'll get to sit close. Where we sat in the back bar, we basically sat at the same table 6 other folks.

The beer selection is incredible. Monk's carries more Belgian brewed beer than I've seen elsewhere. There is always a rotating selection of beers on draught, and there are numerous bottles to choose from. Good luck finding anything more mainstream than Stoudt's Pilsner.

The food selection is rather small, but there is a good cross section of food from sandwiches to burgers, to seafood. There is also a decend selection of vegetarian entrees.

Surprisingly, as busy as they were, the food came within only a few minutes, in my case it was the Portabella sandwich and fries. The sandwich was fresh, and the fries were hot.

Overall, Monk's is a nice place to go once in a while. The prices are a little high, but I guess with quality and selection comes a price. Definately a place to try when you are in center city Philadelphia, and want some place to get a good beer.

07-26-2004 12:46:09 | More by psugrad98
Photo of FoolCircle
FoolCircle

Delaware

4.15/5  rDev -6.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Monk's is ALWAYS busy. I've gone three times now and each time the wait has been too long - over and hour and half twice. This time we were told thirty minutes, so we stuck it out. To our pleasant surprise we were seated in ten. Unfortunetly the table was an off-center wobbly two seater more or less in the way of the waitstaff, so basically we got bumped a few times.

I had Chimay (triple) on tap first. Lovely beer, lovely temperature, a little pricey, but very good. I followed that with La Chouffe on tap also, basically the same review as above. My partner-in-crime had a Lucifer in bottle and also a La Chouffe. We ordered and split an appetizer - very good, cold sausages, cheese wedges, mustard, fruit, bread - perfect for the place, mood, and beer. We then followed that up with sandwiches and a basket of fries and a 25oz. DFH Pangea. Definetly try the "mayo" that comes with the fries - bangin'! The DFH Pangea was like nothing else I've had, worth trying but not one of my favorites.

All in all, it is a really cool place. It's a little dark, a little small, but the beer and beer selection were crazy. I would definetly say check it out but make sure you allow plenty of time and money for it may be a wait, but the beer is worth it.

07-26-2004 00:32:41 | More by FoolCircle
Photo of 99bottles
99bottles

Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev -7.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Well, here goes. What can be said about Monk's that hasn't been said already? It's a cool litte Belgian beer bar in Center City. An unassuming exterior leads to an unassuming interior of small dimly lit tables and wood accented walls, tables, bars and pretty much everything. A few mirrors add some soft lighting. Walk past the bar on your left and through the small tables scattered about to arrive at the back room which is better lit, and has another bar and more tables.

Pros? A great selection of Belgians in bottles and especially on-tap. If you're looking to try one of your favorites on-tap, this is your spot as they have some really tough to find offerings (I was floored by Saison DuPont). The house beer, Monk's Sour Flemish Red is tart and delicious. The food is tasty and as far as I can tell, quite authentic. The fresh cut fries with spiced mayo are the perfect greasy snack to munch at the bar. They have all the right glassware and they use it when serving their beers.

Cons? It's pricey. $6 a pint for even some of the American on-tap offerings (yes they exist). Parking is a problem, but if you've ever been to this part of Philly before, you already knew that. The proprieters, although I don't know them, have chosen to make some personal politics into public politics. If you don't follow me, then nevermind, but if you do you ought to know I disagree with the unprofessional way in which they resolved their dispute. It also gets ridiculously crowded, especially on weekends and after 9.

Conclusion: It's a great place to visit, especially if your wallet is feeling heavy and you're full of patience. Philly is hard pressed to offer a better bar for beer lovers.

Tip: If you want a seat then plan on having dinner there. They don't offer tables to people just drinking, and they will let you know you're not allowed to sit down except at the bar. After 10 or so they don't care.

07-14-2004 07:13:54 | More by 99bottles
Photo of aracauna
aracauna

Georgia

4.3/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This is a very cool little place and seems to be quite trendy. It is extremely small, so do not wait until the last minute to go to the bathroom, as you may hit a traffic jam around the bar). The food is pretty good and the service wasn't bad. The beer list is huge and while being heavy on the Belgian beers, it's not totally Belgian. There are several American, British and German beers on the list, although I focused on the Belgians for the night. The place is a little pricey, but not too bad.

06-10-2004 04:30:17 | More by aracauna
Photo of rdrummer
rdrummer

New Jersey

4.08/5  rDev -7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I figured it was about time that I actually reviewed Monk's although it doesn't suffer from lack of attention. I try to go for weekend lunches when the press of the crowd is tolerable. The place is tiny so expect a mob scene any dinner hour or until late at night.

It is a great atmosphere with dark woods and the beer bible and blackboards with all the taps listed and their wine selelection, as well. The beer is always served at the right temperature in the right glass, and I've never had a bad pour.

Now, the one bugaboo of the place. The service, to put it nicely, is not friendly and it is slow. I thought this was a product of being busy until I realized that it's the same way when it's slow. The bartenders can be friendly during the few slow periods they have, but the wait staff basically slings the food at you.

That won't stop me from going back. The mussels are the best in the city. The Monk's burger is superb. Sausages are great. Seafood is always done perfectly. The beer selection seems to have gone downhill a little. There is a huge bottle list, but many favorite Belgians are off the list. Don't bother looking at the tap selections on the Web site either. Other than Chimay, Hoegaarden's, and Monk's Sour Flemish Ale, none of the beers are likely to actually be on tap. The beer that is on tap is always good and never macro crap.

If you've never been here, you have to go. If you have been here, you know what I'm talking about.

05-24-2004 23:26:17 | More by rdrummer
Photo of GeoffFromSJ
GeoffFromSJ

New Jersey

3.6/5  rDev -18.6%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$

First of all, you are going here regardless of how I rank this. Let's be honest. I loved going here, but, as a local, I picked an off-hour (around 6:00 on a Tuesday) because it get's insanely crowded. It has a back bar in a small room which was insanely crowded due to a Ommegang event. My wife and I had dinner in the front and it did not disappoint either of us. The food was really good. I had the burger with brocoli rabe. Really moist on a really nice bread. The beer selection isn't incredible, but it is really good. They have a beer bible which helps explain styles and tells you what they have. It is an incredibly helpful resource and would be great for a non-beer lover.

If you are coming with a non-beer lover, be warned. Long waits may test their patience and/or love for you. At the very least, warn them about what awaits them.

Update: Monk's is starting to put on cask ale from Great Britain. Now that's cool. Very good tap selection, including a beer made just for them.

Update: Well, it is time to seriously downgrade my review of Monk's. After coming here after work at 2:15 on the Friday before Memorial Day, 4 of us went to the back bar. We were told that we couldn't sit at the largely empty tables (not enough room at the bar for us). They were reserved for people ordering meals. And after some time standing by the bar, we weren't even acknowledged by the bar tender. We left and went to Jose Pistola's and had a fun time. The bartender there here's people left Monk's for them all the time. I don't want to go back to Monk's unless someone I'm with wants to go there. Bad service affects the vibe and it affects the perceived quality of the place.

Complaints about the service are not some aberration of a few malcontents. This problem is real.

05-05-2004 10:13:13 | More by GeoffFromSJ
Photo of cerevisiaephilus
cerevisiaephilus

Michigan

4.53/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Monk's is the place to be in Center City. Not too far from Nodding head either, which is pretty cool. I really like the atmosphere at Monk's. Tastefully done dark wood walls. Small, crowded rooms and winding hallway all make it feel old. Well it is an old building I suppose, which is nice.

The service is a little slow, but it gets quite crowded. Really a great selection of hard to find belgian bottles, maybe 10 lambic and 3 or 4 sour ales (oud bruin and flemish red). They also have all the Trappists and several other Belgians. They also have several Belgians on draught which I thought was kind og cool. I know that is kind of looked down upon, but that's how they used to do it and I think its a cool experience. I had Gulden Draak on Draught which ruled. I also really enjoy their house Flemish Red on Draught.

The food is really great. Very traditional Belgian fare plus some standards. I though it was pretty great that they give you a dish of spiced mayonnaise with your frites instead of ketchup.

Parking can be a pain in center city, and the prices are fairly high at Monk's, but it is a treat one is entitled to every now and again.

04-18-2004 00:02:45 | More by cerevisiaephilus
Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
98 out of 100 based on 399 ratings.