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Monk's Café

Not Rated.
Monk's CaféMonk's Café
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341 Reviews
Reviews: 341
Visits: 503
Avg: 4.38
pDev: n/a
Taps: 20
Bottles: 218
Cask: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

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

Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Reviews: 341 | Visits: 503
Photo of NeroFiddled
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

What establishment can possibly score a 5.0 on every point - only Monk's! And that's pretty much all that needs to be said, but let me also interject that it's not just Monk's - it's Tom Peters! Chimay on draft! Their own house beer! Where else? Belgium? This guy does it all - I'd say he breaks his balls but I think he enjoys it WAY TOO MUCH for that. It's what he's about. That should be enough to get your ass over there. Even if you have to drive from Maine... plan to show up during the week and enjoy some of the finest Belgian cuisine and the biggest selection of Belgian beers in the area!

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Photo of iuhoosier336
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

What a great place. First off, the food is amazing, I had the trout sauteed in Sasion Dupont which was great. Every knows this place is the best beer bar in Philly and there's really no doubt about it. The have a very wide selection including some very good Belgiums, their specialty. The service is great, everyone is very friendly and knowledgeable. There are two bars which could be a little bigger but not much room here to complain. There's one in the front which a little more social and one in the back which is also usually packed on Fridays and Saturdays. There are some good beers for cheap there but for the ones that are hard to find you may be paying a bit more. All around a great great bar that can never really let you down. If you're looking for something new to try give Monk's a shot, its a great place.

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Photo of beersheppard
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Atmosphere: Dark, the place is crowded and cramped, but it is the best bar in Philly. I reccommend a Sunday night if you don't like the crowds.

Quality: The finest beers from Belgium, the US, and around the world. The owner Tom ensures that the beer list is phenomenal. Once, I was in there and the "Beer Bible" listed three casks of beer from a defunct brewery that the owner loved so much that he made sure he bought up the very last of their product. Things like that are not unusual at Monks. The owner, for years, has taken his vacations in Belgium and has established amazing connections in the country. He is regarded as the foremost Belgium beer expert in the US.

Service: The servers and bartenders know there stuff and are always helpful when selecting from the plethora of beers. My favorite is the bartender with the white hair.

Selection: Hundreds of beers specializing in Belgiums, nonpareil.

Food: Is excellent as well. Great burgers, sandwiches, and entrees. The mussels are amazing.

Value: The beers are a little on the expensive side, but you can't find that kind of selection anywhere. Well worth the money. The alpha and omega of the Philly beer bar world. I have since moved away from the area and I miss it dearly.

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Photo of frank4sail
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

What can I say... this place is my church. I have never had a bad time here. The food is always consistant and good.. you must get the mussles and fries and a burger.. The burger is on a LaBus roll (awesome). The beer selection is second to none.. When entering put your name in at the podium and then go to the back ber... very quaint and the staff is knowledgable.

Tom will go out of his way to help a customer and to get a beer to the US just for you. If you like Belgian Beer this place will knock your socks off. It is not cheap... but for the city it is a great value. I know for a fact the beer engine is clean as a whistle. It is a "beer advocate" kind of place.

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Photo of Sound_Explorer
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

At the suggestion of my local bottleshop owner in Washington, I made a stop in Philly specifically for this place on a trip to the East Coast. I wanted to stay for the last 7 days.

The front section has the restaurant and main bar, but it also has a smaller, almost "exclusive" room in back with handles and plain wooden seating. Busy, fun, bit loud but that is a sign of a good business and happy customers.

Huge Belgian selection of both taps and bottles. Friendly, witty staff that know just about every beer they offer. Served in correct glasses of course. Overall a Belgian "Mecca" that, if you are in Phily, you need to try. Slightly expensive but Belgians usually are anyways and sadly didn't try the food. Go forth!!

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Photo of jrancan
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Prior reviewers have pretty much said it all, but I thought I might as well throw my 2 cents in. Of the countless times I've been here, I have never had a problem with either the exceptional food or outstanding beer. Although the taps are usually reserved for hard to find Belgian's, July brought about the tapping of 7 or 8 great American selections, Arrogant Bastard, J.W. Lee's Brooklyn Best Bitter (cask), Rogue Double Incinerator, Tupper's Hop Pocket etc. Outstanding!!
The one small issue I have is the crowds, but I guess that's what happens when a place this good comes along.

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Photo of amano_h
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

If I were to commit a capital crime tomorrow in the city of Philadelphia and were asked what I wanted for my last meal, I would without hesitation answer "The Duck Salad Sandwich, Ghent Mussels, and draft Pliny the Elder from Monk's Café."

It's kind of hard to describe experiences like these, but every time I walk into Monk's Café and sit at their rustic bar waiting for my food and beer, it's as if I'm sitting on some sort of invisible, yet mobile spa; all my stress and worries just melt away from my shoulders and leave me in a state of complete relaxation and bliss... which soon shifts to ecstasy as soon as my food and beer arrive.

Fluffy and flowery images aside, if you don't know already, Monks Café probably has the most extensive Belgian beer offering in Philadelphia and maybe in the entire USA. If you didn't know already, Monks Café probably offers the most authentic Belgian fare in all of Philadelphia and maybe in the entire USA. And if it hasn't hit you already, you should most definitely make this a to-go destination if you enjoy good food and beer, which probably means YOU, since you wouldn't be on yelp.com if you didn't enjoy good food and beer.

I would also recommend stopping by here during the afternoon if you like a more serene, home-y atmosphere; make this place your destination in the evening if you like a more ambient, dive-ish under the candlelight atmosphere (to whomever called this a dive/hole in the wall: how dare you.)

I love you Monk's Café. Never leave me.

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Photo of RockAZ
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Rodenbach Grand Cru American Release Day during the Craft Beer week 2005 and a few times since.

The first trip there was a quick lunch and a pint, but I came back with a posse and we were there to see what Tom was hiding in his cellar. $800 bar tab well spent between the four of us, and the food was great. Had a lot of unusual bottles that had just been recently acquired from a purchase in Belgium, the Rodenbach was awesome and welcomed back after many years lost to the US. Great people at Monks, top level seafood, and just a great Cafe all around.

The rest of the night is a blur, was already checked into a hotel in NJ that I knew early on that I was not going to make it back to so I sensibly checked into some hotel around 7pm that I forgot where it was by midnight and finally checked into a third at about 4am,.... Good times, good times.

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Photo of mkh895
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I was in Philly for work and had a Saturday free, I went to monks and told the bartender I was from Arizona and would like anything I could not get out west, I ending up trying beers from Switzerland, Belgium, PA, and NH. His selections where outstanding and after every new beer we would talk and he would further refine the next one. I would highly recommend this to anyone.

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Photo of tonyrocknroll
5/5  rDev +14.2%

Best bar on the planet to drink beer! Drink some Russian River or the house Flemish Sour under the unicorn tapestry in the windowless backroom, it's cool as hell. Bonus, awesome mussels and a killer legit veggie cheesesteaks.

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Photo of Aledog
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

This might be the best bar in the world--definitely a contender. Beer selection is amazing. Cool atmosphere, dark, cramped, bustling. If you can get a seat at the bar you have won the lottery and should stay as long as you can continue drinking-then leave and let someone have a seat. They have some fantastic beers on tap that are continually rotating. Had Pliny on tap when I was there--need I say more? Try their own sour ale, nice way to end the night.

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Photo of THSmusicman
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Went here for my birthday with my grandma. Love this place!

Vibe: Very relaxed, with a diverse mix of music playing in the background. This place is very cozy but has a very friendly vibe about it.

Quality: The beers are served at optimal temperature and the food was cooked perfectly! The food was also very fresh, as was the beer!

Service: My waitress was fantastic! She knew her beers very well and was very sweet and accommodating. She even checked up on us periodically. I will look for her next time I'm here!

Selection: The tap list isn't huge but it's incredible. Today, they had Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder on tap and even Tilquin Gueuze. The bottle list was pretty awesome but they don't have many of the beers in the beer bible. I got a bottle of Brooklyn Wild Streak which was a surprise to me!

Food: The food is among some of the best food I've probably ever had! The mussels were cooked to perfection and loaded with flavor and the duck salad sandwich was so rich! The fries with their dipping sauce are also incredible.

I will definitely be going here as often as I can. This place is a almost hidden gem in Philly. An amazing place to celebrate my birthday!

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Photo of jreitman
4.95/5  rDev +13%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

A great bar in the center of Philadelphia. Monk's specializes in Belgium brews and will not dissappoint with their selection. Their beer "bible" is pretty sizable and the staff very knowledgeable. If you go, you must try their french fries... some of the best I have ever had. The back bar is definitely more cozy and inviting than the front, but if you are with friends and want a table, the front section is your best bet. Bottom line...if you are in Philadelphia and like belgium brews (or want to experiment with them), you MUST stop at Monk's.

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Photo of PhillyFoodie
4.95/5  rDev +13%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Amazing selection of primarily Belgians and rare beers. Food is excellent and and as affordable as can be in Center City Philly. Truly a beer connoisseur's heaven. I had my first Rochefort 10 there 15 or so years ago and it has held a special place in my heart ever since.

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Photo of KTCamm
4.95/5  rDev +13%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

The Mid-Atlantic mecca. Everything its cracked up to be and more. The beer list is ridiculous - one wonders where to even begin. Two bars worth of taps from all over. (I scored some good Russian Rivers) plus large quantities of bottles, perfect for local BYO eateries. But if you are staying, the enormous pot of moules with frites and breads is the tops. You have to go there.

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Photo of Phatz
4.95/5  rDev +13%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

What an absolute slice of heaven. This was a truly *remarkable* experience!!! Never in my life have I seen a selection of Belgian Beers like this before. Even the collection of American micros is absolutely unparallel! The closest thing I have ever seen is Zeno’s in State College but this atmosphere is much more classy. This place has the seating spread out and a front bar and back bar so everything feels cozy but it’s capacity is larger than the eye would suggest. Still, it is not a large place and the homebrew club nearly filled the back bar.
What you see: Lots of wood. The floor and walls it is all rustic dark wood and paneling and lots of Belgian Breweriana. The real thing you want to see is their "Beer Bible" or the beer menu. Goodness! I had to bow my head and pray. It is ridiculous. AWESOME! But ridiculous! Bottles must number well over a hundred and a dozen taps, many Belgian. If only I lived close by …
This is my second experience with Monk’s though my first rip there. I met Tom Peters at the seminar in State College and sampled several of their dishes that are cooked with beer. The food may cost a little more than some other places but it is the best you’ll find, so it is still very reasonable. Try many dishes prepared with beer. The staff seemed incredibly knowledgeable and the helpful. So the service the selection and the food are all perfect reasons to visit. Not to mention everything is of the utmost quality. We had a cellared Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks) a beer that you can’t even find anymore. Not to mention the Russian River “Temptation!” There is not one reason, not to make it to Monk’s Café!

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of AdamBear
4.94/5  rDev +12.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I've heard so much about this place. I was finally able to visit Phily, and I literally went straight from the airport to here. I was not disappointed.

Atmosphere: small, cozy tavern in the city. dark. now I thought the small size would be terrible for such a popular place, but surprisingly on the 2 weekend night that i was there it was quite tame. there is no loud music, and the patrons are friendly and passive. its perfect.

Service: extremely knowledge and helpful

Quality/Selection: BEST. BEER. LIST. EVER. simply put, it has tons and tons of rare Belgians and American craft beers. The draft list is on the small size, but it makes up for it in quality. there were way too many beers here that I wanted to try.

didn't try the food, but heard its amazing.

Value: rare beers are nicely priced. really rare beers are really expensive, but thats expected.

p.s. russian river in the East coast....can't be beat.

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Photo of Yetiman420
4.94/5  rDev +12.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

In early June ’07 I was in Philly on business and had the opportunity to visit Monk’s (second and third times), Triumph Brewing, Eulogy, and City Tavern. This order is how I rank the tour and I’ve provided reviews separate reviews in BA for each.

It was a Sunday and Monday evening that I found myself at Monk’s for a second and third time. On Sunday, I visited the back bar and enjoyed a couple of tap Belgian’s and a bottled Russian Imperial Stout from a Nordic country. The $20 6oz bottle of 1993 Courage Russian Imperial Stout was so tempting I returned the next evening to pull the trigger in the front bar. While both bars have the same bottle selection, the front bar has a more domestic focus on the taps.

I give Monk’s a high rating for the following reasons:

- Well organized “beer bible.” With a ton of beers to choose from, they organize it by brewery and style which I find helpful.

- Amazingly knowledgeable staff. The bar back (young guy cleaning glasses) was able to tell me Grand Cru is not a style but the premier beer from a brewery. I questioned him on Russian Imperial Stouts and he gave me solid answers. He also said it was very hard to get a job there. A very modest guy who was a pleasure to chat with.

- Off-the-beaten-path means that the majority of people are there for a reason – the great beer

- Unisex bathrooms

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Photo of jhughes23
4.9/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Look, I'll keep this very simple....If you love beer and you have spent any amount of time on the East Coast then you have heard of this place...it is that outstanding.

I've been to beer dinners here that have blown my mind.

Their own sour beer will be the most intersting beer you've ever had...you may not know if you like it or not, but it will be damn interesting!

The Same staff for the past 10 years....got it'

Frog legs....got em'

The best hand cut french fries....got em'

The Beer Bible Book...got it'



I don't work here...but I sure sound like I do! And you will too once you've visited here!

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Photo of Poppypitbull
4.9/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Just a great all around place.
a really well informed waiter who knew his stuff guided us through the evening for selections when we wanted to experiment. A cool atmosphere, great tunes on the system, food was good but not awesome (it's bar food, just better cooked). A little pricey though, but it's to be expected with what they serve there. We got down to PA just in time since they banned smoking only 2 weeks prior and it made the evening that much more enjoyable.
Got to try a variety of things I'd never had before and even got a free bottle to take back to NJ the next day!

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Photo of JRak
4.9/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

An absolutely amazing beer bar. The draft and bottle selections are top notch and the food was great as well. I had Blind Pig from Russian River on draft (a first for me), as well as a local BBA Barley Wine. I saw at least a half dozen more I was dying to try but after the 26 oz barley wine I was about done but will definately go back later this week. A must see for any visit to Philly, you will not be disappointed.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.9/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I was lucky to visit on an empty Monday night, in that I got a personal tour and several beers with Tom Peters (owner of Monk's). He was generous and friendly, with loads of entertaining background about each beer I tried. The beer selection is all top shelf, about 15-20 taps and 1 beer engine (which snorted out the last dregs of Cantillon Monk's Kriek for me). The bottled list is insane, strong with Belgians of course but also including many great USA craft beers. I saw Older Viscosity but couldn't afford it in addition to the other beers on my must-try list, Ne Goeien Saison + Cantillon Monk's Gueuze + Klokke Roeland, topped of with Beatification to go. I'm sure my review won't shed any new light on Monk's, it's just a must-see if you're in Philadelphia.

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Photo of DannyS
4.9/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Went here with a bunch of my friends last Wednesday. They had all been there before when we lived in Philly before I turned 21, but now that I am of age, I was dying to go here.

The atmosphere was appropriate, to say the least. It was a dimly lit place with worn wood tables with two bars and a bunch of scattered tables. The perfect place to sit around and get nice and lubed up on fine beer.

The quality was fantastic. Their beer list was the largest I've ever seen, and carried so many different styles and unique and limited run beers that I had a hard time deciding what to have. No matter what you're jonesing for as far as beer will likely be there at Monk's.

The service was prompt and professional, with our server serving every beer we ordered just right, whether it was the Spaten Hefeweisen the giant pilsner glass or my Belgain pale in the appropriate tulip. If I were a normal person with no knowledge of how kitchens and dining rooms work, I might dock points for the slightly curt service by our waiter, but this guy knew how to work an entire dining room himself. He deserved the fat tip we left him.

As already touched upon, the selection is mind-boggling with their giant beer list. I give extra kudos to them for having the balls to completely trash American light lager on their list ('can you say CRAP!?' was the best thing I've ever read on a menu)

The food was also quite good, with an interesting selection of Burgers, sandwiches, and larger entrees. The prices were also quite reasonable for the portion size and quality of ingredients.

Overall, I stumbled out of Monk's quite inebriated, but satisfied like I've never been before. Hell, I even woke up the next morning feeling great, with no hangover. I'd move to Philly and go here every day if my wallet and my liver could tolerate it.

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Photo of akenethon
4.9/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I can't be not emotional about this place, this was the first place where I had my "initiation" to quality beer.

The atmosphere is superb, decoration is cosy and cleverly done. Just somewhat noisy in weekend evenings.

God quality, the people who visit it are decent.

Service is very good compared to the US average. They all know their stuff, which is VERY rare. one of my friends was actually a waiter there, he told me they test every time they get a new beer. They have some cute waitresses as well:)

Selection of beer is very large and good. They renew their stuff every month, and the owner tries his best to bring the rarest and tastiest beer both on tap an bottle. One of the waitresses told me he went several times to a Belgian monastery to get a keg of their beer. I would say if there was a term like "curator" for beer, this guy would be one of the top curators in the world.

Tasty food! Amazing fries with super sauce, solid burgers, outstanding mussels(rarely done so well outside france). The only thing I regret is that they had removed my favorite appetizer (the duck spring rolls) from the menu last time I visited them. Still, makes me overeat.

Pricing can be reasonable or high, depending on what you eat and drink. I remember getting below 15$ and above 30$.

I deeply miss this place, it is one of my dreams to get a franchise from them one day I settle down.

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Photo of mkh012
4.89/5  rDev +11.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Maybe my favorite restaurant. Go here if you get the chance. Small, cozy, good music playing quietly, usually a tame crowd. Can get pretty crowded on weekends, but the people are usually chill and courteous. The service is very knowledgeable but can be a little snippy/condescending (mostly when they're busy). The food is probably an 8/10 but a 9 or 10/10 for a bar. Amazing burgers. The mussels are pretty good as well. The beer list is just...almost intimidating. There are usually only about 20 beers on tap, but they're mostly hard-to-get gems like Pliny the Elder. The bottle selection is mindblowing. Yes, there may not be as many beers on tap here as there are at other places, but there are probably well over 200 different bottles of beer to choose from. I've had many of my favorite beers here for the first time. Dreaming right now about a bottle of Goulden Draak and a goat cheese burger...

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Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
97 out of 100 based on 341 ratings.