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Monk's Café

Your Rating: None
Monk's CaféMonk's Café
BA SCORE
4.44/5
Outstanding
535 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
Reviews:
354
Ratings:
535
pDev:
9.68%
 
HISTOGRAM
 
View: Place Reviews | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 535 |  Reviews: 354
Reviews by ithacabaron:
Photo of ithacabaron
4.63/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

What a fantastic place, and I'm lucky enough to make it almost a weekly stop. My opera company rehearses just down the street, so Monk's is a natural stop for a pint afterwards.

Atmosphere is fantastic -- incredibly dark, incredibly smoky, incredibly crowded, and every piece of dark wood furniture banged and bruised to a well-worn shine. A beautiful thing, and very much in the traditional belgian vein. Don't mess with the front bar. Go right to the back, babe.

Quality is very good. Sometimes things are served a touch too cold, but you shouldn't be in a rush hanging out here. Going to Monk's for a spell means a few long, lazy hours. Just hang out and let that baby warm up a bit.

Service is very nice, always interested in helping you out, and appropriately gruff and rude when they need to be. If you pester a waitress too often about a certain vintage (and this happened at the table right next to us), she'll turn right around and tell you to get off her back, to relax, and that she's still trying to find the bottle. Once she finds it, she'll be happy to tell you the history of it, her own feelings about the offering, and whatever else have you. So don't be a pain in the ass. You'll be gotten to when you need to be gotten to. These people are consumate professionals -- and sometimes that means giving a little verbal beat down back. Nothing wrong with that. Sort of charming, really.

Selection is just about the best you'll find, Belgian-wise, in the entire United States. No 5 from me, however, as a little bit too often there's bottles that appear on the menu, but no longer exist down in the cellar. Still fantastic selection, and some things (Cantillon 2002 vintages on tap) that you simply won't find anywhere else, anytime soon. Proper glassware is provided for everything. Other countries are well represented as well, and those beers are treated with the same respect.

Food is fan-freaking-tastic. Have any of the burgers, moist tender, and a little bit bloody. Have some mussels (I'll even break my rule and snag a few from a friend's plate here), have some pomme frites. Just have something to eat. It's surprisingly affordable, and very delicious.

In fact, everything here is pretty reasonably priced. Sure, you'll pay 15 dollars for a beer sometimes, but it'll be a 750 of a limited-run Saison from a brewery that doesn't even exist anymore. Things like that. Pretty much everything on draft, from the Hommel Ale, to the Delirium Tremens, to the Cantillon, to whatever else, you'll get for five dollars, and generously poured full into a nice tulip for five dollars at that. You'll never be shocked and horrified at the bill here, and that's a good thing. You will put out a little cash, but you get what you pay for -- and you only find the best here.

All in all, Philadelphia's finest beer bar, far and away. Make a special trip just to visit here, or just make it your new local, like I have.

 2,945 characters

More User Reviews:
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

Photo of DuaneL
2.75/5  rDev -38.1%
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 -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

Photo of StoutSnob40
4.56/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Photo of cambabeer
4.94/5  rDev +11.3%
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 +1.1%
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 +7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of 0_0
4.85/5  rDev +9.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of bmf5581
4.7/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Photo of WunderLlama
4.73/5  rDev +6.5%
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 +11.5%
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 +11.9%
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 +9.9%
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 -4.1%
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 -4.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Photo of nickfl
4.06/5  rDev -8.6%
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 -2%
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 +3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

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

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Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
Place rating: 4.44 out of 5 with 535 ratings
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