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The Monk's Kettle

Not Rated.
The Monk's KettleThe Monk's Kettle

72 Reviews
Reviews: 72
Visits: 115
Avg: 4.38
pDev: n/a
Taps: 24
Bottles: 180
Cask: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

3141 16th St
San Francisco, California, 94103-3334
United States
phone: (415) 865-9523

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @monkskettle

Place added by: NikStique on 12-07-2007

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Place: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 72 | Visits: 115
Photo of cmlindsay
4.93/5  rDev +12.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

My wife and I live in New York state, and have extensive experience with pubs and taverns in NYC and up and down the East Coast. I lived in California for eleven years some time ago, and we both looked forward to the chance to return again to the Left Coast, about which we both have many fond memories. In preparation for the trip I scanned Beer Advocates reviews of San Francisco's offerings in this respect and developed a list of very promising establishments to visit. This review concerns The Monk's Kettle, which topped my list of places to try. I can say with complete honesty that someone with knowledge and respect for beer need travel no farther in search of a full experience of what beer has to offer.

The atmosphere is perfect. Several reviewers led me to believe that the place was too small, but we found it perfect. It is dominated by a longish bar which seats perhaps thirty people and several tables for four and two along the walls, but it was just the right size for the lunchtime crowd that arrived during our visit. Two features dominate the room. One is a large glass window to the street which admits a lot of natural light into the bar, and the second is a gorgeous hand-carved wooden shelf unit that extends to the ceiling approximately 12 feet above the floor. The glass shelves hold a wonderful array of authentic glasses, mostly of Belgian brewers used by Monk's Kettle in the Belgian manner for particular beers of the supplying brewer.

The service, though we were total strangers, made us feel quite like regulars. Questions were readily answered with knowledge and good humor, comments and advice received with smiles, and sincere concern over our satisfaction with what was offered were all in evidence.

The selection was certainly the most complete we have ever seen. Though dominated by Belgian style beers, virtually all styles of beer were offered, both foreign and domestic craft beers. The draft beer menu consisted of two pages single spaced identifying the beer by name, brewer, and a certain helpful characteristics. The bottle list, usefully sorted by category into about a half dozen types covered about five more pages. Importantly, considerable effort is made to keep the menu current. Our printed copy was identified as having been updated two days ago, and even it contained several deletions done by hand in the ensuing hours since the last revision.

Lastly, the food was quite good. We limited ourselves to a pair of appetizers, a cheese plate with pickled winter vegetables with a pork terrine and some steamed mussels. Mussels were exceedingly fresh in a stock containing white wine, herbs and garlic served with fresh bread, and the cheese was a fresh goat cheese. The terrine was a bit dry and needed a bit more pork fat to give it the proper consistency. On the whole, however, Monk's Kettle is without a doubt without peer among the many taverns I have visited in America.

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Photo of jerrytodd
4.48/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.75

I'll start out this review by asking this question: Why do craft beer pubs in SF all need to be divey and seedy, with obnoxious music (Toronado) and disgusting washrooms? C'mon!

Well, all I can say is The Monk's Kettle is a very welcome departure from that. Tasteful simplicity aesthetically, with a combination of wood, granite and pleasing tones. Very nice.

Food was off the hook excellent. Way above and beyond what you'd typically find.

Beer selection was very good with a nice tap selection and really thorough bottle selection.

Prices were a tad high but for this experience and quality but I"m not complaining by any means.

Make this a must visit.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

This was the most memorable of the beer bars I visited in San Fran. A small place with a great atmosphere and great (and friendly) service.

The tap list here was excellent. About 20 taps with a great variety of breweries and styles. Tap list included a couple of Almanac beers (which are surprisingly hard to find on tap) as well as Aroma Coma and limited releases from Ballast Point among others.

The food here is AWESOME. Make sure you go here for dinner.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.25/5  rDev -3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Hit the Monk's Kettle twice on a recent trip to SF - very busy on a Saturday night (crowd-control) and then dead-silent at noon the next day for lunch. Nice array of taps including Supplication and Blind Pig, a few offerings from Golden Road and a variety of belgians.

The bottle list is pretty strong, but seems more shock-appeal oriented, featuring a variety of vintages and whales with hefty price tags.

All the food looked pretty good, and much utilized beer in its preparation. I went with the spent grain and chickpea burger, which was pretty good.

Cool place - dug the ambiance - in a city with border-line disgusting dive bars comprising the heavy hitters in the craft scene, it was nice to see a place with a little elegance. Very pricey though - too bad

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Photo of jalepeno4
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

The Monks Kettle has an excellent selection of hard to find California, national and Belgian beers.
The food is tasty, subtle and well-paired with the beer offerings.
My server was helpful and knowledgeable without being pretentious .
The only knock on the place is that it is tiny and packed.
Get there early or you'll have a long wait.

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Photo of nrb1
4.41/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Always a good selection of beers, both on tap and bottles. Also, pretty much always a wait to get in. Both American craft brews and imports are well represented. Lots of Belgian beers. Food menu is limited but good quality. Staff is friendly and knowledgable.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.38/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I am sure everyone says this when they walk in: but that's all the seats? The Monk's Kettle is great. It's like La Trappe, but a hard SoMa vibe. Selection is nice. Lots of different stuff from around the globe and around the neighborhood as well. Food was awesome. I loved the unique selection and stepping out there to do different kinds of things. This should be a must visit for anyone into beer. But might I suggest that you visit for lunch as it's going to be packed and difficult to get sat late at night.

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Photo of excalibur
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

An outstanding pub with a great selection of beers: Californian, national and Belgium. A comfortable place with booths and a nice bar. We visited in the early afternoon and it was quiet. We sat at the bar and had enlightening conservation with the very friendly staff. The sweet lady bartender even suggested a great pub in Occidental which we visited. We had an order of pommes frites which are large and very tasty. I highly recommend this pub and we will always make the effort to visit whenever we are in town.

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

Stopped here my last night in town on a bartenders recommendation. Glad I did. The food was top notch as was the service. Can be a bit of a wait after 5:00 as its first come first serve but grab a seat at the bar and eat there.

For the traffic in this place it was shocking how receptive the staff was and how they kept everyone filled and informed. With the sours in house not sure why you would try anywhere else. Fantastic

Oh and they open some rediculous large formats to serve by the glass with food pairings how great is that.

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Photo of doho95fu
4.55/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Stopped in for a few beers and a snack. Small lively place with a few tables and bar seating for 10 or so. It was President's Day at 3PM and it was packed. Had a seat at the bar and had Racer X on draft. Nice beer served correctly by someone who knew beers. Service was very friendly but not over the top. They give out a bound book which lists their selection which is medium sized and well thought out. Food was good, especially the pretzel roll and the burger. The location is good if you are in the Mission or can use BART, the 19th Street stop. Would stop here again.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
4.43/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

Stopped here after my flight landed on January 29th. I had avoided this destination because of its price reputation before, but I mustered up the funds this time around. *Cough* Business trip *Cough*

First impression: Tiny. Certainly not a knock on the restaurant, but if you're planning a visit, know this isn't a spread your wings place with lots of empty tables. It's packed, which I very much enjoy in my beer destinations.

Tap list quality was quite good. As expected, there was a good local selection (Reality Czech is a must have every visit to SF, IMO), as well as some Belgian kegs which is rare enough. Prices are 2 or so dollars more than other places for locals, St. Bernardus was a whopping 10.75 for 8 oz. That's more than a 750mL bottle, if you're keeping score. So the selection score gets dinged a bit. It's not really a selection if you can't justify buying the beer for that price, is it? I argue not.

My server was very good. Knowledgeable and patient. Talked me through the menu and paired my meal up with the aforementioned St. B (Business trip, remember?).

Which leads me to why you should visit this place. The food is fantastic. Truly delicious. I chose the Braised Beef Short Ribs over seasonal vegetables and potato puree. Meat falling of the bone, potatoes laced with a light (and awesome gravy)...yes, this is the food of Belgian kings. And the Abt/quad really brought out another level in the meal. 5.0 here and highly deserving.

So, get out your checkbook, forget to the check the prices, and enjoy. Recommended.

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Photo of tewaris
4.25/5  rDev -3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

I had a few hours to kill in San Francisco before heading off to other places, so I chose The Monk's Kettle. I had been warned (fairly so) about the relatively higher prices, but chose it anyway because of its proximity to the BART station.

The beer selection was truly great with multiple styles well represented, along with the right dose of rarity. I got to drink Beatification Batch 3 that the bartender was kind enough to hold for me as I waited for my friend (it was their last bottle!). I also had a couple pints of Reality Czech. There were other well known beers on the huge list but one can only drink so much.

The beers were served in the right glassware and the glassware shelf was impressive. Food tasted of high quality, not necessarily equal to tasty, but then there are limited vegetarian options so I didn't have much choice.

Monk's is a crowded place, as one would expect for a top notch beer bar. I am sure it is struggling to keep up with the demand as are the brewers, so expect to wait for a table/spot at the bar; and expect average service in terms of speed. However, I am sure that the staff was doing its best so I can't blame anyone but the demand!

I highly recommend this place, especially for someone out of town like myself.

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Photo of adsomers
4.65/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Came here a bit early and just barely beat the dinner rush. Our hipster waitress seemed to have a chip on her shoulder at first but she turned out to be a sweetheart. Beer selection is top notch. We had a Marin seasonal and a De Dolle oerbier. Food was outstanding. We had mussels, frites, Brussels sprouts, winter lettuce salad, and their absolutely fantastic hamburger. The vibe and decor is perfect for what it is, though I do think this place is too small. I heartily recommend Monks Kettle but would advise going mid day to beat the crowds.

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Photo of colonelforbin
4.38/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Excellent, if pricey spot for a beer in the Mission. Located only two blocks from BART, Monk's Kettle is very conveniently located, and worth visiting if you are in this part of the city.

Draught list is great, 20 or so beers on tap at all times, and always changing. I stop here from time to time and the selection is constantly rotating. I really like that about this place. The bottle list is very extensive but is honestly way too expensive! Stick to draught beer here, there will be plenty of great offerings.

Pricing is interesting, some beers are served in 8 oz. servings, others in 12, 16 or 20 oz. servings, priced accordingly. Some are priced reasonably well compared to other local spots and some are a bit expensive. Want to emphasize the the great draught selection though, one of the better places in the city for this because it constantly rotates.

Atmosphere is nice, but it's always crowded here, no matter what time of day. They have a small bar, and a few small tables. Also, a few spots to sit/stand to the left of the bar. Many times it can simply be too crowded because this place really is not too big. The owners are opening a new restaurant/bar a few blocks away very soon, so that may alleviate some of the space issues at Monk's Kettle, but we'll see about that.

If you're into beer and you're hanging out in the Mission, stopping by Monk's Kettle is a no-brainer. Check it out.

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Photo of dgilks
4.34/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

The Monk's Kettle offers a really nice environment to enjoy a beer from a wide and varied selection. The interior is really nicely appointed and welcoming while the staff make your time there enjoyable with their quality service and decent product knowledge. The selection of beers was high quality including a range of great local and imported beers. The locals included beers from breweries I didn't see anywhere else during my travels which was nice. I was also impressed by the service provided by staff when I left my bag behind. They found it promptly and had it ready for me when I walked in the door to pick it up. The only down side are the high prices (Pliny for double what it costs at Toronado).

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Photo of emerge077
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Rainy weekday afternoon called for refuge at Monk's Kettle. Wasn't crowded, only about half full.

A beer-zealous and enthusiastic bartender was tending the bar, he was very knowledgeable and offered us samples, all the while chatting with a few different folks at the bar. He suggested a "tiny Pliny" 10 oz. pour when I asked about smaller draft sizes. Several interesting draft options, Moonlight Sour Mash Wheat, Pliny the Elder, RR Temptation (unfortunately just delivered, and it hadn't settled yet). Drafts covered a range of prices, from an affordable $5 to an unheard of $15 (ouch).

Atmosphere was clean and modern, tons of assorted glassware behind the bar, with an eclectic row of curious vessels along the top shelf. Lambic pitchers, a copper Utopias bottle, and other curiosities. A row of wooden booths to the left of the bar reserved for dining patrons. There was a group of 6-8 that came in and made a big show over not getting a table for drinks, and left. More seats for the rest of us... It's a tiny place, not really designed for pub crawls of that size.

There was a very spendy "cellar reserve" list with some cellared stuff, nothing worth blowing a wad of cash over though. Food and bottle menu prices were also a bit higher than elsewhere in town, but there was quality to be had. Overall a great beer-focused place that deserves it's esteemed reputation.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
4.44/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

I came here this past weekend on a Friday night to a packed bar. The decor is nice, but it is a bit too upscale for my taste.

The service was great. The bartender was both knowledgeable and helpful. He made me feel very comfortable and offered suggestions. He even gave me a taste of a rare off menu beer that was absolutely delicious. Also, the host knew I was looking for a spot at the bar and came to get me when it came available. They go above and beyond and created a very enjoyable experience. It also helped that we spent plenty of money here. It's a bit expensive, but not unreasonably so.

The selection is impressive, but not amazing. I'd give it a 4.25 if I could. It had some very interesting tap and bottled beers, but the vintage list was a bit disappointing. If they expanded this list I could easily see them getting a 4.5. A more interesting tap offering would also help them out, though it was certainly good.

I highly recommend this place. It gets crowded, but has a great bottle list and a decent atmosphere. However, the service is truly exceptional.

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Photo of stupac2
4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

By far my favorite bar, mostly because it doesn't feel like a bar, it's more like a fantastic restaurant with a fantastic bar built in. Their food is delicious (and it's not merely good versions of pub food, though they certainly serve very good pub food), the selection fantastic, the staff knowledgeable and friendly. Service only gets knocked down from 5 because of the strange rules about tables (no seating while waiting for the rest of your party to arrive seems quite odd to me).

The only downside is the price, but it's worth it, at least every now and then.

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Photo of NorCalgrowler
4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Went to the Monk's Kettle for part of my birthday tour of pubs last year in SF. This place to me is spectacular. Just an awesome selection of Belgian beers on tap. Great atmosphere - building is on a corner and you can see a lot of people/foot traffic outside. Its very much a European cafe style. The food was really traditional and also excellent. We had mussels and a charcuterie plate (or cured meat plate, cant quite remember). It was on the 100 SF Eats list for a pint of Belgian beer. And it should be. Cant wait to go back

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

Visited during craft brewers conference 2011. Had an 09' 10' vertical of abyss on draft and cantillon fou foune. Ordered the mussels and a cheese plate paired with various fruits. Menu was full of things I would like to try on my next visit. I was blown away to see fou foune on draft. So much so I had multiple glasses. Speaking of glassware these guys are pro's at that as well. All future visits to San Francisco will include a stop here. Highly recommend any foodies or beer geeks check this place out. Pretty cool neighborhood as well.

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Photo of NorCalYeti
4.18/5  rDev -4.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Great beer bar/eatery located in the Mission. Street parking is available in the neighborhood. 16th St. BART is also within walking distance, which is a nice option. Arrived at 12p upon opening and was immediately greeted and asked whether I was there for food or drink. Sat down at one of 12 seats at the bar and was provided with a beer menu. The bartender was very friendly and helpful and open to pouring samples as requested. 24 beers on tap with two extras being poured off the list. A mix of Czech, American Pale Ale, English-Style Brown Ale, and Belgian-Style beers available on draught. And then the beer list...pretty much representative of every category you can think of. Major drawback is the price across the board...all the prices are inflated. Be prepared to pay dearly...especially for a big group. My choices were somewhat focused due to price. If you're out on the town and price isn't an issue, you've found your place. All beers poured in proper glassware with most beers poured a little cold, which is a drawback.

Plan to arrive early as the place fills quickly. We arrived at 12p on a Saturday and the place was full around 1:45p.

The place holds 49 people...approximately 12 seats at the bar and the remaining seats divided among eight, two and four tops. Rustic menu with snacks such as the daily pickle and elves on horseback, to small plates such as house salads, mushroom risotto, buttermilk fried rabbit, and mussels, and entrees like chicken paillard, duck confit, and diver scallops. Food coming out of the kitchen smelled great. Had a basket of fries that hit the spot.

I would definitely go back but would have to save my pennies ahead of time. Aside from the price, the other criticism might be the diversification of the beer list...while several beer styles are represented, only a couple of beers are available in each style, many of which aren't that rare or inspired. I would suggest they focus on fewer styles and have a deeper selection for the price.

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Photo of BrewerB
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I'm not a claustrophobic person but I do get the "this place is kinda small" feeling everytime I walk into The Monk's Kettle. Not sure if it's the guy at the door in charge of admission, the entryway, being immediately greeted by the end of the bar, or the lack of seating space. Like some other reviewers, I do wish this place were bigger.

The quality of beers you'll find here is first-rate. You won't find a single macro adjunct lager in the entire bunch.

Bartenders here are very knowledgeable, taking the same approach to beers that a sommelier would with wine. They're adept at recommending beers based off your tastes and palette, are attentive to your needs (empty glasses) and are good at remembering repeat customers.

The bottle selection is immense and well documented. Menus classify beers by style and you'll be hard pressed to find any beer style that isn't well-represented. For special occasions, they've even got a special menu of harder to get, small issue batches.

Though I've not been blown away by the small sampling of food I've had, I think more menu exploration would gain me a larger appreciation of their culinary treats.

Beers here are $1-$3 more than you'll find them around the city but I've never regretted paying a little extra for an hour or two at Monk's Kettle.

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Photo of hophopandaway
4.66/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

The biggest gripe I have with this place is that it is nowhere near big enough. it's so popular that by 6 all the seats at the bar and restaurant were taken and I saw dozens of people leave before they got in because there was not enough space for the poor unfortunate souls.
Bar tender was very helpful and service good. as is the style of this city beer is always slightly underpoured. The beer on offer was very tasty and I worked my way through the moonlight brews because it was meet the brewer night.
I met some really interesting people and the vibe was excellent.
They really do need to move though because they could have packed their small but homely and stylish bar out 3 or four times over, and I'd hate to get here and not get a seat.
It is a littel pricey and they have some beers that are $50 a bottle which I could never justify for a beer. If you're a visiting beerhead you absolutely must visit this place.

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

I passed part of my new year's eve here and enjoyed it immensely. The atmosphere is pretty low key. When we first arrived, we were told we would could be seated for dinner because the bar was full. We (myself and my date) decided to go somewhere else for a bit at this point. About an hour later we returned and got the same answer. This time we opted to be seated and she to eat something. We were immediately seated and there was the glorious beer menu right in front of me. I was partly looking for value and so opted for the Grand Teton Black Cauldron Imperial Stout and I was not disappointed. My date ordered a NB Frambozen; both beers were served in high quality, unbranded tulip glasses. The selection is top notch, focusing on Benelux and regional California beers that are not necessarily easy to find.

My date had an arugula and trout salad that was excellent. She said it was one of the better salads she had had in quite some time and I'd have to agree. The server was a hipster girl who was very friendly and attentive. I'll definitely be going back to The Monk's Kettle and I hope to sit at the bar.

The selection is amazing and is on the higher end of the price spectrum but with good reason. You're in San Francisco for goodness sake, it's all really good beer, and their vintage/rare bottle list is awesome. Batch 1 Consecration anybody? The final beer of the night was Russian River Salvation served in an oversized wine glass. Five to ten minutes before midnight the server passed around poppers for us to pull, which we did and cheered with everybody in the joint. I didn't get any overt snootiness from this place, it was fun and filled with great beer.

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Photo of CliffBrake
4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Worth two stops during my week in SF, once for lunch and an encore for dinner. Both times the staff was very friendly and eagerly answered questions, which was especially appreciated during dinner hour as they were packed.

The pub is friendly, clean, and tastefully decorated. The small size is a definite limitation and it was a little difficult to have a conversation over the lively noise level in the evening.

There was plenty to choose from on the tap list that seems to vary almost daily, and is kept up to date on-line. Pub-fare was excellent quality, with a good mix of typical and eclectic choices. The menu suggests beer parings for each entre.

Prices were a little high to this country boy, but not bad considering city standards. However, the selection, quality and friendly service made this a memorable experience. I look forward to visiting again next trip to SF.

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The Monk's Kettle in San Francisco, CA
96 out of 100 based on 72 ratings.