Monk's Café

Monk's CaféMonk's Café
Monk's CaféMonk's Café
Bar, Eatery

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

(215) 545-7005 | map

View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 372 | Ratings: 572 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by dirtyfab:
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dirtyfab from New York

3.95/5  rDev -11.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

i've been here four times and i probably won't ever go back. don't get me wrong the place looks great. the food is fantastic. the beer selection is very good. but there are a couple of things that i don't like about the place. i guess they may be a victim of there own success. what i mean is there is a sort " we're great and we know it" anybody who has been there knows what i'm talking about. the two things that stand out are the puny generic glasses they serve many of the draft beers. i'm paying a premium for the beer, please use authentic glasses. (they use the proper glasses for bottled beer). lastly they don't let you sample a small taste of the beer. considering the fact that if you don't like beer your stuck with it is amazing. i've never been to a beer bar ( even expesive beligians) that did not let you taste the stuff first.

Aug 23, 2006
More User Reviews:
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OfficerKramitz from Pennsylvania

4.61/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Always stop by when in the city. Very nearly always have pliny the elder in tap which is great for the coast. Works class beer selection.

Dec 31, 2020
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Knapp85 from Pennsylvania

4.66/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Monk's is a staple visit when visiting inner city Philly. It's not the biggest place so sometimes seating is a bit tight or non-existent but I enjoy the vibe they have. The service it great and the selection is truly hard to beat. I highly recommend this place for anyone who's either just getting into beer or if they're a seasoned veteran in the craft world.

Jun 25, 2020
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slasich from Pennsylvania

3.85/5  rDev -13.5%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

May 16, 2020
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cratez from Canada (ON)

5/5  rDev +12.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

What I had: Russian River Blind Pig IPA, Monks Café Flemish Sour Red Ale, Russian River Pliny the Elder, and Dogfish Head Ta Henket on tap, Pan Seared Rainbow Trout for me, Caesar Salad, Roasted Chicken, and several glasses of sauvignon blanc for my fiancé.

What I liked: Wonderfully low key atmosphere in the front of the restaurant, no trouble finding seats on a Thursday night, extensive and carefully selected draft list, was elated to find two of Russian River’s best beers on tap, our waitress was warm, attentive and knowledgeable, we enjoyed all of our food and my partner liked her wine, couldn’t have chosen a better spot to celebrate our engagement.

What I disliked: I probably wouldn’t come here on a busy night if I just wanted to drink, since they reserve all tables for diners. Thankfully, though, that wasn’t an issue for us.

Would I go back? Absolutely. We had a flawless experience here and it’s clear that The Monk’s Café is a must-visit when in Philly.

Overall Rating: 100

Jan 30, 2020
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Sheppard from Virginia

3.75/5  rDev -15.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.5

I've been to Monk's a few times now, every time I've been in Philly lately actually, and the primary reason to go is the Russian River bottles and draft. The two bars are awkward and tight. The fact that there are two of them and if you order a beer from the other, your bartender has to go back and forth is a little awkward. The service can be a little slow in general and because of this. Monk's also relies on the old European style handwashing, but doesn't seem to have bar backs so that is also on the bartender. The place does get some rare out of town beers, but I would also say that there was a stark lack of local beers the most recent time I went. Nothing from the Philly area, which has a pretty good beer scene.

Jan 03, 2020
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gordavidson from Maryland

4.56/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Dec 27, 2019
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sjones5045 from Pennsylvania

4.56/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

Nov 19, 2019
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Sabtos from Ohio

3.03/5  rDev -31.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 1 | selection: 4.5

Good lord is this place legendarily overhyped or what! I understand, they brought a lot of hard to access beers into a big city that not many places in the country even cared to get a hold of at the time, but much of that is now old hat and they really haven't changed a thing since.

Monk's Café is a very quaint, excessively cozy, elbow to elbow "restaurant" that tries to be a bar, while both of the bars themselves are extremely short and tiny. The place smells of mussels and butter without end, which in and of itself isn't terrible, but it's also kind of weird and actually turns me off from ordering food in an unusual way, and I'm a big fan of mussels usually.

The draft list is still surprisingly small, and while the bottle list is pretty extensive, I can get almost all of it at local bottle shops these days. There's very little that's exciting, while the prices are pretty outrageous. Having Cantillon on the menu might be a big luxury in a voraciously consuming city like Philly, but there was nothing that I couldn't order online for cheaper, or get at the numerous special events hosted in Akron and Cleveland each year, (or in my cellar for that matter).

That aside, it really comes off like they have no idea what they are doing anymore. If they ever did in the past, that's gone by the wayside now. Clearly, they've had a strong love and passion for beer, particularly Belgian beer, but their hospitality and service has all but disappeared. It really wasn't that busy, but it gives the impression that it is due to the claustrophobic nature of the space. I mean, the place has like, what, 20 tables? So we had a 15 or so minute wait. Our wait turned in to 30 minutes, so what, okay I get it, it's popular. Here's the problem, as the wait drew on, I decided on a brew to order and stood at the bar, which had a few open spots but not enough for us both, so I didn't sit. After 10 minutes of leaning in and giving numerous glances and nods at the single bartender who wasn't actually very busy, our table was ready, so I said fuck it. We sat down and I placed my beer order there instead. 10 minutes later it was delivered, warm from sitting at the bar presumably that whole time, while our other beer was originally delivered to the wrong table. Does any of this sound like the service you'd expect at a place as renowned and revered as Monk's Café? Either way, $20 for two draft pours and you should practically be getting a massage with that.

Here's my problem with Monk's Café. We have bars in Akron that turn over 3x the amount of tables they do at Monk's Café, with the same amount of staff, and they do it faster and with better service. This is a landmark bar AND restaurant, in a major metropolitan area--wouldn't there be more competition in the area, and at least between servers, to do better? Don't they have a little pride in their work, or their business? This was a Saturday night, you'd think they'd be prepared to be slammed. And I wouldn't in any way call what I saw this evening as slammed. It was a pretty typical after dinner crowd to be honest, and a lighter one than I'd expected for Philadelphia. And they really couldn't handle it.

I can't for the life of me figure out why so many people fawn over or even patronize this place anymore. Just because you were told you are supposed to by the ghosts of beer past? No thanks. I'm not fan of tradition in general, but especially if whatever's good about something has faded to an unrecognizable degree. It's time to move on.

Sep 24, 2019
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TrojanRB from California

4.84/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

Sep 05, 2019
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Samnem from Georgia

4.73/5  rDev +6.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Aug 11, 2019
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Mikemcgrath4 from North Carolina

4.61/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Came to Philly just to come here. Different than expected, but did not disappoint.

Jul 15, 2019
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Noelito76 from New York

4.98/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Apr 05, 2019
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hozersr from Pennsylvania

4.69/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

The look of this place gives you a feeling like you are eating in your home. Not a huge draft menu,but, what they have on tap is world class, Russian River, Hills Farmstead, just to name a few. Their bottled beer is well into the hundreds.
Food is amazing, best mussels I have very had. A must visit place when in Philly.

Apr 03, 2019
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atlbravsrno1 from New Hampshire

4.5/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Mar 25, 2019
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Ampman69 from New Jersey

4.45/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

I'm in Philly almost every weekend. There's so many places to go. I try and hit a different spot each time. Came across Monk's this past weekend. They have a huge selection of beers from around the world, mostly Belgian. I was disappointed they didn't have my favorite, Nostradamus, but there was plenty to choose from there. It was quite busy, one spot open at the front bar so my girl sat there and I stood. Didn't venture to the back bar. We ordered a burger and it was really good plus some dessert. Definitely a good spot to hit if you like Belgian beer.

Mar 16, 2019
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RollTide7 from New Jersey

4.69/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

My go to place in Philly. Monks has an incredible selection with Russian River (particularly Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder) regularly on tap. Also great selection of hard to find bottles like Cantillon, 3F, and others though obviously you will pay up for them, they are for onsite only though.

Note there are 2 bars, one in the front and another if you walk all the way back then down the long hallway tot he very back of the the place, frequently its much easier to find a place at the back bar and its also much nicer in ambiance too. Food is good not great, I typically get a burger and frites. Full disclosure though this place can also be very crowded and difficult to get seating even at the bars, as others note they only give you a table if you are ordering food.

Mar 13, 2019
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Evan93 from Pennsylvania

4.55/5  rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Vibe- Nothing special. The bar was full and they wouldn't let us sit at a table without ordering food. Kind of crappy considering our table of 4 spent almost $100 on beer and weren't there longer than an hour.
Quality- The beer quality was great and the cheese board we got was very good.
Service- The server was good. Nothing special of note.
Selection- This is off the charts. This is where this place really shines. Not very many taps but what they have tapped is usually great. The bottle list is out of this world. Lots of Cantillon, Russian River, Tilquin, etc. Lots of hard to find items.
Food- Only got the cheese board, but the food we saw looked good.
Overall- good experience, great selection. I had a good time. My only 2 negatives were the having to order food to sit at a table, and they won't let you buy any of the rarer bottles to go. I don't live close and they have things i can't get close to home, so I would have spent quite a bit on bottles to go if they allowed it.

Feb 06, 2019
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CanConPhilly from Pennsylvania

4.63/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Jan 27, 2019
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JamFuel from Sweden

4.6/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

One of the most Belgian places I've ever been to outside of Belgium. Narrow room with a bar at the front and one at the back, with tables in between. Not a huge place, and apparently gets pretty packed. Fairly quiet when I was here.

Tap list is about 20-24 strong with a lot of European beers, especially Belgians, which makes sense. Since I live in Europe, I came for something else, namely Pliny the Elder. The list is very varied, and noone should feel unable to get something they like. Bartenders are very helpful if needed. They are also very friendly and laid back. The overall vibe at the bar was very upbeat and inviting.

Food was very nice, a take on European pub grub with a twist here and there. The pulled pork sandwich was excellent and worked well with the house Flemish sour.

Overall, a great spot that I will happily visit again when in town.

Jan 05, 2019
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vfgccp from New York

4.63/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Dec 15, 2018
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npolachek from New York

4.75/5  rDev +6.7%
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!

Oct 21, 2018
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TTripp725 from Pennsylvania

4.48/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Oct 14, 2018
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

4.35/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

Sep 25, 2018
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brewme from Massachusetts

4.5/5  rDev +1.1%
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!).

Aug 25, 2018
Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
Place rating: 4.45 out of 5 with 572 ratings