Monk's Café

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

350 Reviews
Monk's CaféMonk's Café
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Eatery

264 S 16th St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19102-3357
United States

(215) 545-7005 | map
monkscafe.com

Notes:
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PLACE STATS
Score:
97
Reviews:
350
Ratings:
524
Avg:
4.39
pDev:
8.43%
 
 
Taps:
20
Bottles/Cans:
218
Cask:
N
Beer-to-Go:
N
View: Place Reviews | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 350 | Ratings: 524
Photo of WunderLlama
4.73/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5

Drove three times around the block and finally landed a spot right in front

Belgian colors adorne the outside

Dark, word paneled interior

Very impressive beer bible , I had a de Molen / yards collaboration, delicious

I got to go back, I recommend you visit it as well

 273 characters

Photo of owenwood
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Two words come to mind: "as advertised"
We got there about 4:30pm on a Saturday and luckily got a table for 2 immediately. I started off with the RR Blind Pig, then the Monk's Flemish Sour and wrapped up with the Tired Hands saison. The Brussels burger & fries were above average and our waiter was outstanding. We've never had faster and more attentive service anywhere. The experience that we had at Monk's reaches far beyond the "check the box" mentality that so many folks have when they visit this place. We will certainly be back again.

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Photo of Biggiekrock627
4.97/5  rDev +13.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

AMAZING BEER SELECTION!! When I was there this weekend they had Hill Farmstead, Russian River, Lost Abbey(amongst many others) on tap. This is a great place to enjoy a great beer with others that like a wide selection of beer choices and rotating schedule of what is on tap.

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Photo of gholmes
4.88/5  rDev +11.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

To say that Monks is world-class is an understatement. They have an untouchable bottle list of mostly belgian beer. They also have consistent access to Russian River and others. There is a brewery in Belgium that makes a beer just for them which you can find on shelves in several cities. The atmosphere is beer focused, with no TVs, and the food is excellent. It is worth traveling to Philly just for this bar.

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Photo of KVNBGRY
4.26/5  rDev -3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Was there for craft brewers conference. It was way too crowded. I feel like there could've been either another bartender in the front (albeit small bar) or maybe a door guy with a limit on the number of patrons. May not the best tim to visit and rate on a normal night. But this is a huge event that could've been prepared for a little better. The menu had a few solid and really interesting beers on tap. Would like to try on a normal day and also the food.

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Photo of nickfl
4.06/5  rDev -7.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25

This place has a great vibe, provided it isn't ruined by being literally packed full of humanity. It is decorated nicely in what I would describe as "Belgian Pub" style, but it is kind of tiny. There is a second bar and some more seating way in the back, past the bathrooms which may be less crowded if the front is packed, but it is a small place and it seems like it may just get too busy to really enjoy at peak hours. When we were there it was too full and service was all but non existent, which wasn't really their fault, though they really could have had another couple of bar tenders on duty. The draft selection wasn't huge and some of it was pretty meh, but there were a couple of real stunners on there to make up for the "I can get that anywhere" kind of stuff. Didn't eat but it seems like it would be worth going back to try that aspect. Really not my best philly beer experience, but I'd like to give it a try again some time when its a little less crowded.

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Photo of glass_house
4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Wowzers. Taplist was impressive, the bottle list even more so. The duck salad sandwich was one of the best sandwiches I've ever had. Service was slow, but with the craft brewers conference in town, we fully expected that. And we were in no hurry. Incredible. I'll never go back to Philly without making a stop here.

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Photo of RLM15
5/5  rDev +13.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I am lucky to have been to fantastic beer bars all over the country. No matter how great the beer selection, food, or ambience, all other beer bars fall short of the mystic of Monk's. When you enter Monk's you are transported to another place and time and it is easy to spend the entire day, leisurely eating, drinking, and conversing with friends and new acquaintances. The beer, the food, the service, and the atmosphere simply can not be beat.

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Photo of Beginner2
4.36/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4

Visiting for only one night... so I didn't know how packed this place is in the evening.
Lucky to get a spot at the bar (two hour wait for a table!) and had Corsendonk's Noel on tap and bar food.
I bought "Monk's Beer Bible" and later found out that I had had over 150 of its 300 beers.
There will have to be another time for dinner... and make a dent in the rest of the list.

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Photo of mkh012
4.89/5  rDev +11.4%
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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Photo of THSmusicman
5/5  rDev +13.9%
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 mildlybitter75
4.64/5  rDev +5.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Monks is an enigma wrapped in a tight Pandora's box. My Oddessey began a few years ago on a cold winter night in Philly. Me and a few friends at the time were making our way to this beer Mecca. I had a wallet full cash and I was ready to drink. We entered this hallowed hall and made our way back to the back bar. No room at the bar so we grabbed a table and started to study the huge bottle beer list when all of a sudden a snooty waiter informed us, that unless we were ordering meals off the menu that we were not allowed to sit at the table. What a crock of crap! We walked out never looking back. A few years roll by and monk's myths of snooty waiters and bartenders have grown into legend. I had been to Philly about a hundred times since that visit and I never have given monks much thought. Well forward to November 2014. My father was getting surgery at Thomas Jefferson and my sister and I decided to step out for a late lunch and a few beers. We had checked out mcgellins ale house for sandwiches and a beer. We wanted something with more of a kick to take away the late fall chill. We decided to make the small hike to monks. Made the hike walked in, the place was empty. Made if to the back bar and sat down at the bar. The bartender was right on us. We both ordered a draft chimay white while we looked at the bottled list. We didn't really have much time, so we didn't get food just a few more beers. The service was great and we were treated very well. Monks is a great place when it works. Yes, when it works! To next time, well I might have to change this review.

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Photo of amano_h
5/5  rDev +13.9%
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.

 1,512 characters

Photo of fitzy84
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75

Decided to go here during my Philadelphia trip. Monks seemed to be a relatively small place with dining near the window, a bar to one's left, and more tables in a narrow restaurant space.

The space had a cool soundtrack playing across the evening of all my personal favorite bands which was a huge plus. It was not too busy on a Sunday night so I sat at the bar area. All the workers seemed nice from the interactions I had with them. The place was A bit dim with lit candles across the bar. I felt like one could enjoy a nice conversation with a friend or read while at the bar. This helped make Monks welcoming and laid back to me.

The draft menu was on a small piece of paper, but the selection was out of this world with mostly some Belgian style drinks. The bartender that evening was quite nice and responsive when I wanted another drink. He was also very kind when I accidentally butchered a Belgian drink's name! I definitely enjoyed a good selection of beers that evening.

I did not have food at Monks, but the couple next to me had an awesome looking mussels dish.

As a tourist, I am really glad I got to sample this bar in Philly. I would recommend it to other people I know and would go back whenever I visit the city again.

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Photo of KTCamm
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
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 RutgersBeerGuy
4.23/5  rDev -3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5

The legendary Monk's Cafe! A craft beer icon in both locally in Philadelphia and in the United States, if not the world.

We sat at the front bar. It was pretty crowded for mid-afternoon on a Saturday, but due to a party leaving right as we arrived, we managed to get three seats together. The space is somewhat cramped and the lighting features neon. It's a weathered aesthetic. A testament to the bar's longevity, perhaps.

The tap list is small, but incredibly well-considered. There is a focus on Belgian and Belgian-inspired brewing, but there is a nod of the head to the popularity of IPA, as well. The taps are split across the two bars. You can order from either, but it does mean waiting a little bit for your beer to be fetched from the other bar, as necessary. I had a Russian River Blind Pig and a dry-hopped Saison Dupont. The beer was in top shape.

We didn't eat, but the menu, like the beer, trends Belgian. There's an impressive range of mussel preparations that I'd love to sample.

The service is a bit stuffy. Our bartender wasn't unfriendly, but he didn't welcome us with open arms, either.

I can only imagine the oasis that Monk's Cafe must have been in, say, 1998.

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Photo of JArt
3.6/5  rDev -18%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 1 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Without question, this place has an awesome draft list! However, I feel that the bartenders are extremely pretentious and act as though you are bothering them when you order your beer.

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Photo of Sludgeman
4.43/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Visited on a Saturday around noon. Place was fairly empty. Sat at the bar. Have the bartender show you the bible.

Vibe – Knowledgeable crowd at the bar. Smaller than I expected, narrow, clean and fresh, probably very dark in the evening, single toilets but men or women. - 4.5

Ser - Good, proper distance, bartender was engaging - 4.25

Sel –Excellent, great tap and bottle list, had three Russian Rivers - Pliny the Elder (on tap), Supplication and Damnation. - 4.75

Q - Nothing to complain about, clean and proper glassware - 4.25

Food – The mussels were good. - 4.5

Price - $$$ - Reasonable for what we drank - 3.75

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Photo of PhillyFoodie
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
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 Madmartigan78
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

I am an out of towner, but whenever I am in Philadelphia I make time for Monk's. Incredible selection of drafts which usually include a few offerings from Russian River. The mussels and frites are also top notch. The crowd can get pretty big depending on the day/time but it is worth the wait.

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Photo of Mfbda1daonly
1.59/5  rDev -63.8%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 2.25 | service: 1 | selection: 1

My wife and I went to Monks Sunday on a whim. Their website, which I checked before taking the trip over said they had many beers on tap including Pliny the Elder. Once we arrived, it took the bartender about 10 minutes to emerge from the back area. He wasn't very helpful. Their tap list stunk. They only had Damnation on tap and the other selections were nothing special. My hopes were dashed and I won't be back.

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Photo of mattysuke
4.66/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Monks is part of our Mussel Fest annual event and should be visited not only for the incredible beer selection, but also for a pot of some of the best mussels in Philly. The Red Light, Ghent and Monks mussels are outstanding and taste even better being washed down with a glass of Pliny or Blind Pig. Excellent stop for beer and mussels!

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Photo of tonyrocknroll
5/5  rDev +13.9%

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.

 225 characters

Photo of Jacobob10
4/5  rDev -8.9%

Arrived at 1:30pm on a weekday and found on-street parking about a block away on 17th St. There were a decent amount of people sitting down grabbing lunch and two people at the front bar. I took a seat at the front bar and after a quick review of the draught list ordered a St. Bernardus Abt 12. The beer arrived and seemed a little under-carbonated, perhaps a bit cold as well. Still tasted great but not the world class beer I've had many times before. I spent some time looking through the impressive "beer bible" containing their bottled offerings. Surely something for everyone. The bar area was dimly lit and had a dark feel inside of it, with Halloween decorations and colored Christmas lights strewn behind in. I was into whatever music was playing, some sort of 70's funk fusion.

Next up, I ordered a Tripel Karmeliet, but after a quick trip to the back bar to retrieve it, the bartender told me the keg was kicked. I was disappointed as I really had my heart set on it, but decided to go with something I had not had in many years, La Chouffe, and got an order of Ghent mussels to go along with it. The beer and mussels were both excellent and lifted my spirits after the sub par Abt 12.

The vibe was a little gloomy but I went at an off time and I'm sure it is much less low key at night. Next time, I will check out the rear bar area as the front bar is small and very close to the entrance. Still, I enjoyed my time here and wouldn't hesitate to return to this mecca of beer.

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Photo of Shandycan
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Took long enough but I finally got to visit the esteemed Monk's after figuring out it was less than a mile from the concert venue I was attending... upon first entrance, I thought I might have been missing something... and I was right, because once we navigated our way to the 'back bar', there was far more room to operate! Semi-early on a Friday night, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowd. Super happy to sit down and order a Blind Pig! Tried out the house beer, Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale, which was solid.

I doubt I'll ever make a special trip to the city JUST to go here, but if I am nearby I won't hesitate to stop in for a few pints or possibly something from that vaunted Beer Bible!

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Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
4.39 out of 5 based on 524 ratings.
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