Monk's Café

BA SCORE
97
world-class

531 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

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate

PLACE STATS
Score:
97
Ratings:
531
Reviews:
353
Avg:
4.39
pDev:
8.43%
 
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 531 |  Reviews: 353
Reviews by donniecuffs:
Photo of donniecuffs
3.8/5  rDev -13.4%
vibe: 2 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 5

First, I'm not going to waste time repeating what most other reviewers have said already...the selection and quality of Belgian, Belgian-style, and even non-Belgian-style beers is tremendous. I honestly think that if someone has a problem with the selection, then that person, quite frankly, cannot be pleased at all. Let me instead focus on my 'atmospheric' experience as well as the service, as this is where I stray from the majority.

For a saturday night on Labor Day weekend, the Philly streets were understandably empty, but this place was PACKED. After waiting for 10min to get two seats at the bar, and then waiting another 10min before the bartender remembered to get our drinks, we were finally able to sit down and relax...if you could call it that. Since the bar area is very small, I found myself needing to shout over the din in order to speak with my wife...which is the exact opposite of what a Belgian beer cafe should be like.

Furthermore, it was annoying to continually have grad students and intellectual wannabe's pushing their way between us...to order a Chimay. And even further, I noticed that over a stretch of nearly an hour, most of the patrons to our left and right wouldn't even bother looking at the provided paper copies of the aforementioned great beer selection before ordering; they would simply default to Chimay, like the average American defaults to 'Bud Light'. As such I had no inspiration to strike up a conversation with anyone but my wife. Please don't misinterpret this; Chimay is an excellent beer, but ordering that, very readily-available beer, when you have access to so many other hard-to-find brews, is like walking into a gourmet ice cream parlor with 100 flavors and ordering vanilla. The culmination of this experience was when a grad student sidled up next to me while his date was in the restroom, spotted the bottle of Achel Brune in front of me, and asked, "Is that like Chimay?" Enough said.

As for the bartender, (a) she screwed up our order..twice, (b) I overheard her giving false beer descriptions to a few Chimay-ers, and (c) she wasn't friendly at all. The only reason why I didn't rate service a '1' was because I gave her a little leniency, given the size of the crowd that night.

In summary, I have mad respect for the fact that the Michael Jacksons of the world have been to this establishment and rate it highly. I would like to think that I had just hit it on a bad night, and I would certainly be open to giving it another shot...on an afternoon, though, as opposed to late-night. However, I think...and hope...that the picture that I have painted for you goes to show how TRENDY the whole Belgian beer movement has become with the non-beergeek crowd; to the point where it is maddeningly annoying at times.

 2,782 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of Jlabs
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75

Photo of cjgiant
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of DuaneL
2.75/5  rDev -37.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 3 | food: 3

My boyfriend and I went here with great expectations after all we've heard/read for years. However, when we asked the waitress to bring a few samples of various beers, she looked down her nose at us and said "We don't do free samples". When we asked if there was a flight option to purchase, she said there was none, and snootily recommended we make "an informed choice" about what pint to order! We left. I have been going to beer pubs and breweries about 5 years now, and they always give you a free taste, and most are happy to do it! This was the height of snobbery; boy, they have really let their great reputation go to their heads! What a turnoff. Really too bad. I know everyone else here loves this place, but we won't be going back, that's for sure.

 764 characters

Photo of heddar33
4.43/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

Photo of dwagner003
4.56/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Photo of cambabeer
4.94/5  rDev +12.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I'd go here daily if I had the budget. Great vibe, really cool bartender, amazing selection (belgian rarities, russian river etc). Everyone says the food is good, but I just had beer. Like I said, I don't really like spending $9+ for a pint, but it's the right price for what they're selling and right in downtown.

 314 characters

Photo of Gajo74
4.49/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

What a pleasure it was to visit this place. Dark but colorful, cozy, inviting; European/Belgian decor.
Friendly service, decent Belgian food and very good beer selection. I'm happy to report that you can find Russian River brews at this establishment; a rarity for the East Coast. I had a Pliny the Elder and a Blind Pig! I will definitely go back!

 349 characters

Photo of bigred89
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of 0_0
4.85/5  rDev +10.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of bmf5581
4.7/5  rDev +7.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

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.

 549 characters

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.

 274 characters

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.

 416 characters

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.

 458 characters

Photo of cadaugherty
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

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.

 978 characters

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.

 315 characters

Photo of Resuin
4.58/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Photo of Hitchcock
4.66/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

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.

 446 characters

Photo of metter98
4.3/5  rDev -2.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75

Photo of dbrauneis
4.79/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5

Photo of pagriley
4.83/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

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Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
4.39 out of 5 based on 531 ratings.
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