Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99! (Limited time offer, US delivery only)

Monk's Café

Your Rating: None
Monk's CaféMonk's Café
BA SCORE
4.44/5
Outstanding
536 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:
355
Ratings:
536
pDev:
9.68%
 
HISTOGRAM
 
View: Place Reviews | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 536 |  Reviews: 355
Photo of Caesar024
4.88/5  rDev +9.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

This was already know to be the first stop on our Philly adventure, to see if Monk's lives up to the hype. Let me say that this guy--a beer guy that still hasn't fallen in love with all things Belgian--believes that Monk's live up to the hype and then tops it.

I'm not sure who told me last week about the back bar, but I have to thank him/her because because I got to impress the boss with some insider knowledge about the bar. Also, the front looked cool, but not very comfortable with too much harsh outside lighting coming in. The back bar was cozy and felt like I was actually in a local Belgian pub.

I ordered their House Flemish Red (yeah, really!), which was not too sour and perfect for pairing with several items on the menu cooked with it: Grilled Scallops in a Flemish Red Buerre Blanc (Rouge?) and then a Spinach-Beet Salad with Red Onions and Spanish Bleu Cheese, also in a Flemish Red Vinaigrette. Both dishes were amazing, as were the Ghent Mussels and Pomme Frites that my friend ordered.

Service was friendly , knowledgeable and very personable. our bartender chatted with us about the beers, the overall craft scene, the Phillies (and how to get to the stadium), and even recommended another great beer bar when we returned that evening after the game.

Selection was, of course, impressively heavy on the Belgians with a solid list of other American craft beers and styles represented for balance. Pricing was very reasonable for what we received.

I will be back. If only to compare with Brewers Art for my all-time favorite Gastropub.

 1,559 characters

Photo of donniecuffs
3.8/5  rDev -14.4%
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

Photo of mbudner
4.08/5  rDev -8.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I think the atmosphere is great at Monk's. It's got that comforting, old-time bar feel that's very intimate and conducive to conversation.

I had trouble rating Monk's "quality" because there are certain things that I love and other aspects of the bar that really irk me, which I will get to...

The service at Monk's is hands down the facet of the bar that disappoints at Monk's. The waiters are attentive and bring out food on time, but as a renowned Belgian beer bar, they fall very short. I moved into center city about 2 months ago and have been at least 20 times. On numerous occasions, I have been talked down to or simply given incorrect information by bartenders and waiters. I understand that not everyone who likes beer is as into it as others and not everyone spends time on BA, but recognize the breadth of your own knowledge. These guys who know very little about craft brewing consistently give out incorrect information and argue with customers. One experience of mine involved a blatantly expired bottle of Hop 15. Before ordering, I specifically asked to make sure it was fresh and he assured me it was less than a week old. After arguing with me, he finally gave some to the manager who agreed with me and apologized. Another waiter brought me the wrong beer during a subsequent visit and began to tell me that I didn't know what the particular style of beer tasted like and that I was wrong. Enough said, this activity simply embitters me because of the simple fact that instead of only knowing certain information, these waiters rely on the fact that they work at Monk's and therefore no one can/will argue with them.

The beer selection is great, but bottle list is often out of date and the taps change very rarely. In two months, they have only changed about 5 of the taps, the others they keep replacing with fresh kegs of the same beer. Not necessarily bad because they do have great/rare beer on tap, but sometimes lacking excitement. Granted, they do have some of the rarest beers I've ever seen in a restaurant, which keeps them at a 5.

The food is simply phenomenal. Really great all around and worth the trip alone. Definitely a great all around bar, but I wish the waiters/bartenders would get off their high horses, admit their lack of omniscience and simply enjoy working at a great bar rather than trying to outdo patrons who, simply put, know way more about beer than they do.

 2,413 characters

Photo of madrivervt
4.6/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Got here at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon. Plenty of space to sit at the front bar. The draught beer selection is fantastic. The selections included St. Bernardis Wit, Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour, Chimay Blue, and Pliny the Elder.

They also had the Monk's Cafe Cuvee Cantillon Gueze on tap. Friday night, that was the best beer in America.

The back bar was lighted and loud, the front bar quiet and dark. Both had a good atmosphere, but I would have liked quiet and light.

Mussels steamed in Cantillon were the best I've ever had. Fries were a little short, but tasty dipped in Jalapeno Mayo. I highly recommed this place.

 620 characters

Photo of 666IPA
4.65/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Monk's never disappoints! The beer menu is called a bible with descriptions of not just beers and styles but also ingredients. for bottles they stock a ton of belgian ales, dubbel, tripels and five or six quads. they also have an extensive list of American craft brews. For the drafts they have about 20 with some of them rotaing out from time to time and they evan tell you what is coming up next. The monk's Flemish Sour Ale is a personal favorite. The lady goes for one of the quads they have on the bottle menu.

The burgers (veggie, beef or tuna steak) are all exceptional and the Mussel are always fresh and cheap ($9.99). In a city filled with great beer bars, Monk's is KING.

 684 characters

Photo of jgasparine
4.22/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

This is one of my beer destinations in the world. I only have the service a 2.5 because this place gets so packed with people on the weekends, that the lack of service is no fault of the bartenders... rather a function of the volume of people packed into a small space.

The atmosphere is incredible, reminiscent of an old Belgian pub. You'll never see anyone drinking a Coors Light here. As soon as you walk-in, you're surrounded by fellow beer geeks, and you're sharing beer and conversing with a complete stranger in no-time.

The selection of beer is largely Belgian, but plenty of other epic brews from around the world as well (I recently had a 1997 Thomas Hardy's Ale here). The food is ridiculously good. Try the grilled baby octopus, and make sure you don't leave Philly without visiting this place.

 808 characters

Photo of rfgetz
4.4/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Shoe-horned into an old Philadelphia row home is one of the best beer bars in the world. This place is all about the amazing selection of beer.
Its not the overall atmosphere or the type of crowd in the bar that helps makes this place special. Although, nothing beats a healthy serving of mussels and frites.

The beer selection is amazing with this place being the only location that carriers certian varities. During my last visit, there were 8 selections from Russian River, 7 from The Lost Abbey and 2-3 taps that are not available any where else outside of a bottle. Although not every country and style is represented (sometimes only 1-2 representitives of each), its the high end product that makes this place what it is.

The buliding is old and cramped (some may say its charachter). It gets very crowded and very touristy, in the bad way - it does annoy me when large groups roll in asking for Miller Lite, Blue Moon or want to know "whats on special". As an FYI, Sam Adams is the only "lite" beer.

Try to visit in during the day or in the summer if you dont like crowds. Or try its nearby sister location, The Belgian Cafe for a slightly larger overall selection with more in the $5 range and less of a crowd. This location wont have all the great high end stuff as Monk's but is almost as good. The food is also very similar, so grab some mussels and frites.

 1,371 characters

Photo of deapokid
4.18/5  rDev -5.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Reviewed from notes:

Stopped in for lunch with a co-worker on Wednesday, figuring I should give this highly-respected beer emporium another spin after February's hellish dining experience (brief snippet "We left thoroughly disappointed after a nearly 3 hour trip that only got us 2 beers a piece and empty stomachs.")

Rolling in at 1PM is definitely a better idea than 6 or 7, because this place was nearly empty and we could saddle up to the out-of-the-way back bar and thoroughly study that amazing beer menu.

I kicked things off with a Thisted Limfjords-Porter, which was tasty and intriguing despite its $12 price tag and my company grabbed a rum and coke, since he's not really a beer fan. Although I've previously stated this, the list is absolutely humbling and I'd say it may be the best I've ever laid eyes on.

The bartender was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, taking time out to talk beer even though he was obviously a bit busier than he could handle (I think they had him waiting tables and bar tending). He also spun some great tunes on his iPod (A Tribe Called Quest and Talib Kweli), which definitely set off a relaxed and casual atmosphere.

I gave the Thai Mussels a go and nearly devoured my small bucket (which was enough to fill me up) in about five minutes. The frites were also out of this world and my friend said that his burger was definitely one of the best he'd ever had.

I guess the lesson learned here is that visiting a hip and respected establishment like Monk's should be done at an off-hour, as to avoid massive waits and obscene lines at the bar. I think this may be a better stop for lunch than dinner and the overall character can be better appreciated without the massive crowd.

 1,726 characters

Photo of boatshoes
4.15/5  rDev -6.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Okay, so let me say that I've been to Monk's four times now and that on the whole I love the place. They've given me the opportunity to sample a wide variety of beers on tap that I would have never even dreamed of seeing in the bottle. But regardless, I'm going to base my rating off an average of the four experiences.

The place is small but cozy, with both a bar in the front and a bar room in the back. In between and in the front, you'll find seating areas with small tables. This really isn't a good place to go with a large crowd, especially when it picks up in the evening. Friday and Saturday evenings are killer crowded and even weeknights get pretty ridiculous sometimes. Now, the service really depends on the day and the timing. I've gone to Monk's and sat at the bar and had great discussions with very knowledgeable bartenders. I've also sat at tables twice and discovered on both occasions that the service then generally sucks. Albeit, the second occasion was a fairly busy Thursday evening, but it still didn't excuse the lack of attention from the waiter (he even forgot to bring the last beer I ordered and by the time he finally came back to our table, we had a train to catch!). That being said, the food is quite nice with some items being at a better price point than others. My favorite are the mussels with beer inspired sauces and the burgers.

On to the beer...the selection is simply world class. There is a huge variety of bottles available with an incredible selection of American micros and imports. I think that Monk's shines most in its imports, particularly Belgians as you may suspect. I've had Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek on tap, along with many other bottled lambics there. The taps are generally pretty special too, with about 15 or so in total. Last time, I had barrel aged Gonzo on tap along with St. Bernardus 12.

So, my suggestion is that you get to this place if you can, but do so in the early evening on a weeknight for the best dining/drinking experience. A great establishment with an even better beer selection.

 2,058 characters

Photo of TheFightfan1
4.35/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

My wife,myself,and cousin all went here last night for the first time. This is definetly a place for BA's. Parking is a bit ridiculous.I hate the city that's just how it goes. As I first walked in I said to myself this is it? A little bar area with a couple of jam packedtables around it and a couple of booth's in the back.We ended up having dinner there it wasn't all that great but the real treat is the amazing beer selection. i looked at the draft list and there it was Pliney the elder. Anyway I had two of these bad boy's and the monk's sour. my goodness the elder was amazing. It was an expensive little trip but it was very well worth it. I would definetly make the drive to come back here again.

 705 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
4.58/5  rDev +3.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Been coming here on and off for the past seven years. I've had excellent service & very shabby service depending on the time I went. This is based on my most recent visit for my B-day.

Monk's is a must if you have never been. This place is a Belgian beer mecca. Of the two bars inside I enjoy the one in the back a bit more, as it has more taps, and i always enjoy sitting right at the bar. Other than that there is table service as well. This visit was the 1st time I sat at a table. My server was very knowledgable.

The quality is up there with over 16 taps and hundreds of bottles. Some complain of dirty tap lines here, i really dont taste it, they seem fine to me. Monk's is a pretty dark place so I really cant tell how clean it is, but it seems up to snuff. Clean glassware and proper eating tools.

Im glad I got a attentive server. She was very nice and offered up some suggestions. Quick and knowledgable. When my friend asked for a Monk's flemish ale off the tap, the server suggested a bottle instead "because this batch is a bit off." That is a huge plus for me in terms of knowledge and honesty.

I've had numerous very hard to find on draft beers from here over the years. Exclusive beers from Cantillon and the like. The tap and bottle list is catered to Belgium and other countries, but over the years great american brews have been showing up. During this trip I got Monk's Cafe Cantillon Gueuze Cuvee, De La Senne equinox and a bottle of Older Viscosity. They even have RR sours from time to time. Pricy but worth it.

The food is also Belgian inspired and most of the food is cooked with beer. A lot of different styles of food. During this trip I got a bunch of frites with a pot of Monk's Mussels and some spring rolls with a banging apple type sauce. The food came out hot and fast.

In short Monk's is world class & is a go to spot from time to time. Just don't go on a friday or Saturday night and expect great service. Early afternoon and summerime nights seem to be a good time to accomplish an enjoyable trip to Monk's. The owner is a class act as well and the most knowledgable beer bar owner i've met. You can tell he enjoy's what he does.

 2,172 characters

Photo of GJ40
4.43/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

It just doesn't get much better than Monk's for Belgian beer. The atmosphere is exceptional. I especially enjoy the back room. The longer you stay, the more you think you're in Belgium instead of Philly.

The beer selection is pretty solid as well. They have quite a few on tap and tons in the bottle. Most are Belgians but they usually have a good IPA on tap such as RR Blind Pig or BR Racer 5. This place is all about the beer and nothing gets in the way.

I've eaten there on occasion and the food is good but it's not the reason you go. I have no complaints about the service. The crowds keep them pretty busy but they manage to keep your glass full. The prices are a bit high ($6 for a pint of Racer 5) but all things considered, it's worth it.

I always enjoy my visits to Monk's. It really is a must for Belgian beer fans.

 830 characters

Photo of zoso1967
4.39/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Despite some of the problems I have with this place (pricey, can at times be a little snooty) it is still the mecca for Belgian beer in Philly, and possibly the whole country. Great selection, hard to find stuff, lots of interesting taps and a very knowledgeable staff. Make sure to take a left right before the kitchen and go down the hall to the back bar, the atmosphere is way better back there than up front. This is a can't miss place for beer lovers in Philly.

I highly recommend coming here and ordering a draft while you look over the bottle list, then heading over to Nodding Head for the rest of the night.

 617 characters

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

Visited on Saturday afternoon over Memorial Day weekend. After a long tour at the Eastern State Penetentiary, I was a bit thirsty! We were seated in a comfortable booth near the kitchen, I would have preferred a table close to the big picture window towards the front but alas they were full.
We started with two Monk's Flemish Reds and a Racer 5. All beers were fresh and were hearty pours. Our meal included 2 pots of mussels and a pulled pork sandwich. The food was hot, fresh and all portions were nicely sized.
Our waitress was personable, attentive and offered educated suggestions as we paged through the massive beer list, which was Belgium heavy with a thoughtful selection of American crafts.
Beer prices dare I say was a bit steep but were offset by the food bargains. A pot of mussels, frites, and a rustic roll for $9.99 is a deal in my book.
An overall pleasant experience, the true brilliance of Monk's Café would definitely reveal itself after several trips; I left feeling a bit of jealously towards neighborhood residents that could make Monk's their go to joint. Good stuff!

GC

 1,101 characters

Photo of drtth
4.5/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

There is little to add to what others have said about Monk's, except to say that the initial impression on a first visit is a bit daunting. Could anyplace live up to the kind of reviews and reputation that Monk's has acquired? The answer is a resounding "yes."

We were seated for lunch within a few minutes of our arrival. The service was prompt and attentive and there was little or no waiting despite it being a relatively busy lunch hour.

Looking at the food menu it was a challenge to narrow down the choices to only one. So many things looked so good.

But what blows one away is the beer menu. There is a seemingly endless list of bottled beers that goes on for pages. But in the end what attracts are the lists of beers on tap. There are two lists, one for the front bar and one for the back bar. Both lists are filled with names of beers that can be had on draft in few places.

The food was served in a reasonable amount of time, was well prepared, and was imaginatively presented.

On the whole a wonderful lunch which I expect to repeat. Indeed, one could make a delightful habit of eating and drinking one's way through the menu here.

 1,150 characters

Photo of mhatters
4.75/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5

What can I say that has not already been said? Possibly the best bar in the US - great taps incredible bottle list, and a fantastic food menu. Service is good, sometimes overwhelmed. Back bar is tremendous, but the front bar will pour beers from the back if you ask nicely. They blend their own lambic with Cantillion, which is brilliant. Check the website for details - it gets crouded at night and weekend nights are a mess - go during the day when you can enjoy it

If I could drink one place for the rest of my life - this is it. I just wish they were open 24 hours a day 7 days a week!

 590 characters

Photo of Da1nonlyBD
4.35/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

This was my first time visiting the Philly area as my brother in law was staying at a local hotel there. My only plans when visiting was to eat a Pat's and go to Monks Cafe. Thankfully I got to do both.

Even though this place is small, this place had a GREAT selection of top notch Belgiun beers. Whenever my bro in law moves there permanently, I will visit just to go there....and of course check out the other beer bars in the area.

Since we were crunched for time, I had a Chimay White, and a Gouden Carolous Classic, which my wife kept taking sips from. The Frites were pretty good too. :)

 596 characters

Photo of shertz
4.15/5  rDev -6.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4

First stop of a pub crawl in Philly with Homebrew Club. Was here back in November during the evening hours and it was crazy packed. I felt I needed to go early and give this place a fair shake. I would suggest hitting this place for lunch instead of dinner.

Went to the back room where they had like 14 taps, all great Belgians or Crafts. The Monk's Flemish Red is awesome, and I was glad to get it here instead of elsewhere. The music was a little loud and weird, but we could still hold a conversation.

Only had the frittes, but friends had the mussels and said they were pretty good. The frittes are small with some kind of tasty sauce.

The service was lacking probably because they just opened. Bartender wasn't really attentive and didn't seem quite happy(how can you be when all that beers in front of you and you can't drink it!).

The bottle list was just down right daunting. It would take 5 minutes to go through the whole list. Unbelievable !!

Overall, this place is pricey, gets packed, and has questionable service. However, I dare you to find the selection of beer anywhere else. I'll be back!

 1,114 characters

Photo of iuhoosier336
5/5  rDev +12.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

What a great place. First off, the food is amazing, I had the trout sauteed in Sasion Dupont which was great. Every knows this place is the best beer bar in Philly and there's really no doubt about it. The have a very wide selection including some very good Belgiums, their specialty. The service is great, everyone is very friendly and knowledgeable. There are two bars which could be a little bigger but not much room here to complain. There's one in the front which a little more social and one in the back which is also usually packed on Fridays and Saturdays. There are some good beers for cheap there but for the ones that are hard to find you may be paying a bit more. All around a great great bar that can never really let you down. If you're looking for something new to try give Monk's a shot, its a great place.

 822 characters

Photo of tigg924
4.25/5  rDev -4.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

This was the third and final stop in my stay in Philadelphia and I was impressed here as well. I went for lunch and the crowd was a mix of locals and businessmen. I stayed mostly in the front of the restaurant which was cozy and had all sorts of memorabilia from mostly Belgian breweries. The waitress and bar tender were friendly and unintrusive. The menu was reasonable and the food I had was quality. I really did enjoy the fact that Monk's had a Beer Bible to read which had several facts about beer and definitions of styles. Excellent reading while trying to make a decision about which beer to try next--which as others have stated is hard from the excellent selection. Highlights include: a wide variety of Belgians, Bells, and Russian River. I also thought it was neat that they had a stack of Beer Advocate magazines displayed prominently by the bar. Next time I am in Philly I will be headed here.

 908 characters

Photo of tim9887
4.53/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

This was where my parents took me for my 21st birthday back in September and I've been back a few times. It's truly a wonderful place. Great food and service (very knowledgeable servers!), and an out-of-this-world beer list - both on draught & bottles. Most recently I had my first Ten FIDY, Pliny the Elder (on tap!!!), and Lindeman's Framboise there. I haven't gotten too fancy with the food yet - just stuck to burgers & steak sandwiches but both are quality & the frites are top notch. If you're looking for a beer that's hard to find - give Monk's a try, they probably have it or something like it (maybe even better!). Only one drawback...as most others have mentioned it gets pretty crowded - it's a small place too. But if you have to wait, it's completely worth it. The Monk's Flemish Sour Ale is wonderful too, I definitely recommend it. If you haven't already, check this place out. And if you have, well, go there again! I know I'll be there again soon...

 967 characters

Photo of Bobdope
4.8/5  rDev +8.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Nice experience. I was in the Philly area and heard rumors about this Heady Belgian Bar. I literally stumbled on this place by accident. What a sweet little joint. It was packed, I snuck into the back bar and hung out in a corner until a bar seat opened up. From that point I spent the next two hours acquainting myself to their 23 page beer bible. The food looked really good, although I did not eat. I wanted to make sure I was getting the most out of my beer pallet. Good fun. And what up Liquor Commissioner of Baltimore. Beer Mail me If you read this. Good Times.

What I liked best was some old dude came to the bar and ordered a Miller Light. Bartender says, "Sorry we don't have that here." It was so nice to hear. Any way he walked away with a Sam Light. At least it's a start. Hope you liked it old dude.

 814 characters

Photo of dsa7783
4.08/5  rDev -8.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Stopped at this Philly, Belgian institution during a day trip to the city of brotherly love.
The place was packed, and more cramped than I had anticipated....
Excellent draught and bottle menu...
Extensive Belgians, with just about everything under the sun in that department...
American bottled samples included an impressive selection from the Lost Abbey, Russian River, and other hard-to-find styles on the East Coast...
Would definitely try to go again on a day that wasn't so jam-packed...
Worth a visit...

 512 characters

Photo of BigBry
4.6/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

I could not be in Philly, staying only a few blocks away, and not go to Monk's Cafe.
Tried to go for dinner around 6 on a Wednesday night, big mistake - 45 min wait for a table, with several others already infront of me hoovering for an available bar stool. Luck for me, I was able to come back the next day in the early afternoon, and walked right in. The front bar was occupied, but I found lots of room at the back bar. Others have already described the location and interior, I can't add much more other than to say it was rustic and comfortable. Bartender was friendly and efficient, made sure I was taken care of. Printed beer list (alphabetical and by style)with 250ish beers, lots of seasonals and special releases, 10 taps at the back, all manner of glasswear. Heavy on the belgians (not that there is anything wrong with that), but also lots of imports and micros. I tried the Houblon Chouffe and Monks Flemish Sour, both very good. Didn't have time for food on this visit.
Pricey, but appropriate for the uniqueness and rarity of the choices.
I could easily spend more hours and dollars than I should, great place to experience.
I can see why it has been ranked so highly as a beer bar.

 1,197 characters

Photo of DannyS
4.9/5  rDev +10.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Went here with a bunch of my friends last Wednesday. They had all been there before when we lived in Philly before I turned 21, but now that I am of age, I was dying to go here.

The atmosphere was appropriate, to say the least. It was a dimly lit place with worn wood tables with two bars and a bunch of scattered tables. The perfect place to sit around and get nice and lubed up on fine beer.

The quality was fantastic. Their beer list was the largest I've ever seen, and carried so many different styles and unique and limited run beers that I had a hard time deciding what to have. No matter what you're jonesing for as far as beer will likely be there at Monk's.

The service was prompt and professional, with our server serving every beer we ordered just right, whether it was the Spaten Hefeweisen the giant pilsner glass or my Belgain pale in the appropriate tulip. If I were a normal person with no knowledge of how kitchens and dining rooms work, I might dock points for the slightly curt service by our waiter, but this guy knew how to work an entire dining room himself. He deserved the fat tip we left him.

As already touched upon, the selection is mind-boggling with their giant beer list. I give extra kudos to them for having the balls to completely trash American light lager on their list ('can you say CRAP!?' was the best thing I've ever read on a menu)

The food was also quite good, with an interesting selection of Burgers, sandwiches, and larger entrees. The prices were also quite reasonable for the portion size and quality of ingredients.

Overall, I stumbled out of Monk's quite inebriated, but satisfied like I've never been before. Hell, I even woke up the next morning feeling great, with no hangover. I'd move to Philly and go here every day if my wallet and my liver could tolerate it.

 1,820 characters

Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
Place rating: 4.44 out of 5 with 536 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.