Monk's Café

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Monk's CaféMonk's Café
BA SCORE
4.44/5
Outstanding
553 Ratings
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

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Added by BeerAdvocate

PLACE STATS
Reviews:
362
Ratings:
553
pDev:
9.46%
 
HISTOGRAM
 
View: Place Reviews
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 553 |  Reviews: 362
Reviews by Spider889:
Photo of Spider889
4.53/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Stopped here for lunch on our way home from DE. I was extremely excited to check out Monk's.

Parking was a bitch. Monk's is located smack in the middle of downtown Philadelphia. There are some meters/spaces on the adjacent blocks, but even on a Sunday afternoon we had no luck. After circling for 15 minutes we begrudgingly parked in a garage that charged something like $15.

The building is rather small, and the signage doesn't stand out very well. We walked right by it without knowing it until we had to double back when the GPS couldn't find it.

When you walk in the place looks very small. A tiny bar up front and a handful of tables. We were seated in the back room though where the tables were lined with church pews on either side for seating. That's kinda cool, albeit maybe a little uncomfortable over time.

The draft list wasn't really standing out to me. A lot of really light beers and more common Belgians were on there. My wife got Urthel Saisonnaire and another saison.

I opted for bottles, and the huge cellar list was tough to sort through to make a decision. I finally picked out a Cantillon Iris 2004 and later a bottle of Smisje Calva Reserva.

The server was fairly attentive and very knowledgeable. However when he brought out my Iris he was a little perplexed at the bottle. There has been considerable wear (the label was half rotted off and I think there was a little slime around the cork). He quickly hurried away and come back with the bottle pre-opened. This annoyed me a little though the beer tasted fine.

Where Monk's truly shined for my wife and I though, was the food. My friends got rabbit stew and a really nice salad. I wound up with one of their Belgian sandwiches (which was very good) and we got an appetizer of streamed mussels.

GET THE MUSSELS!!!

These were the best steamed mussels I have ever had. They prepare them in a variety of broths (usually beer infused). We decided to get the ones with Classic Gueuze broth... hell yeah). The damn things arrive in a very large bucket (and we got the smaller of the two sizes). The bucket was something insanely cheap like $7.99 and contained roughly 30-40 mussels. The broth was amazing... we were scooping it up with the empty shells and dipping our bread in it.

Price: the draft beer was maybe a little high, but you expect that in the city. The bottle prices were very high in most cases though. The food is decently priced except for the mussels which were an amazing value.

If I ever return I am going to just feast on mussels. Seriously. Get them.

Overall what began as a frustrating day turned into a great experience. I'd happily come back.

 2,649 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of vfgccp
4.63/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of npolachek
4.75/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

This is likely the best beer bar I've ever been to. Tom is terrific, and every time I've gone, the bartenders have been able to recommend a beer a haven't tried that is fantastic. I love this place!

 198 characters

Photo of TTripp725
4.48/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.35/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Best Belgian bar in Philly, hands down. Very consistent. First visited back in 2003/04, before I knew all that much. Had my first Rasputin upon that first visit (got it take-out, all I could afford off the bottle list at the time). Been coming back periodically ever since. Sat at both front and back bar and have eaten in each of the three sections many times over. Not really a bad seat in the house, unless you can't get a seat. Prices have jumped considerably over the years, some favorite dishes now gone (trout saison, rabbit), but it's hard to stay away for too long. Frites are usually fantastic, and the mussels are more often on point than not. The main draw - the beer - is of course the constant lure. Despite prices, I do sometimes get a bottle, but the draft list is ever-changing and usually has more tempting beers on it than I could drink in one sitting. I have been to a few events here and they're great, usually bringing out an eclectic crowd, and often offering an eclectic, can't-miss tap list. Last visited a week ago. Great beer, great company. Always on my radar. Imitators abound, can't match.

 1,119 characters

Photo of brewme
4.5/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Went here recently while vacationing in the area. It has a legendary reputation. Somewhat small, cramped space. Epic beer selection (Lunch & Pliny on tap when I went!).

 172 characters

Photo of q33jeff
4.91/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Photo of Rubezahl
4.43/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Photo of dafla67
4.64/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

One of the originals and still the gold standard in Philadelphia. Wonderful food and always a varied and great selection of beers.

130 characters

Photo of Summer_Swelter_Beer_Fest
5/5  rDev +12.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Try the mac and cheese with ham and asparagus. Pairs really well with a nice Pliny the Elder. In Philly. Pliny in Philly. That alone has to get this place some major points. The staff knows beer and are really helpful with trying new styles. Really cool old school vibe that makes you feel like you're in a pub in Europe instead of a block away from the NJ train station.

 377 characters

Photo of jcb1130
4.97/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Photo of GregSemenza
4.86/5  rDev +9.5%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of pioneer13
4.35/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Loved the vibe here. Cozy on a chilly winter evening. Sat at the bar. Bar tender real pleasant and friendly. Had to try Pliny the Elder for the first time. Really enjoyed it. Only had one though as my bartender steered me to some other quality stuff that was overshadowed by Pliny. Glad he did. Food was excellent for what you’d expect at a bar known more for its beer selection. Loved the location on a relatively quiet block still only a few blocks from City Hall.

 471 characters

Photo of edthehead
4.78/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Photo of zbelair
5/5  rDev +12.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Photo of VABA
4.75/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

I went there for the Pliny the Younger day, and I was very impressed with the selection of beers on tap (7 Russian River beers!) as well as a decent selection of food. The place was packed and rocking! Well worth it!

 216 characters

Photo of Brianh427
4.5/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75

Popped in on a quiet Saturday afternoon and to my delight there was a bar seat open and Russian River on tap. It was a great experience to have their beer for the first time. Could stay long but will definitely be back.

 219 characters

Photo of ssato27
4.55/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Photo of oldn00b
4/5  rDev -9.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Went here for the first time on a visit to Philly. They did have a fantastic selection of things I have never been able to have on tap before - specifically Russian River sours. It really was a treat. I wanted to try a couple other things (Fou Foune) but at $60 for the bottle had to pass. Selection is great, but there are certainly some high prices on the menu. Worthy of a treat or celebration but I couldn't justify it this go.

It's a nice, old school dive bar vibe. It is definitely cramped and there is very limited space if you are only drinking. I understand that tables are reserved for people eating, at the same time if you're spending enough and there are open tables without people waiting that should be an option.

Service was efficient and not unfriendly. We didn't eat so can't comment on food. I would definitely go here again though. The location is very convenient and within walking distance of quite a lot.

 942 characters

Photo of daeds_714
4.41/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

Love the atmosphere of this place. Delicious food, knowledgeable staff, great selection of sours. Also, the only place in Philly I've found that has Russian River brews on tap. Just moved to the philly area, will be visiting again.

 231 characters

Photo of _nickg_
4.09/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Photo of jrfehon33
4.3/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Photo of FLBeerGuy
4.73/5  rDev +6.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Photo of Jlabs
4.6/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75

Photo of cjgiant
4.38/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

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Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
Place rating: 4.44 out of 5 with 553 ratings