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%
 
 
View: Place Reviews | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 531 |  Reviews: 353
Photo of mhatters
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%
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!

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Photo of Da1nonlyBD
4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
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. :)

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Photo of shertz
4.15/5  rDev -5.5%
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!

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Photo of iuhoosier336
5/5  rDev +13.9%
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.

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Photo of tigg924
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

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Photo of tim9887
4.53/5  rDev +3.2%
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...

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Photo of Bobdope
4.8/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

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Photo of dsa7783
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
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...

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Photo of BigBry
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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Photo of DannyS
4.9/5  rDev +11.6%
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.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.9/5  rDev +11.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I was lucky to visit on an empty Monday night, in that I got a personal tour and several beers with Tom Peters (owner of Monk's). He was generous and friendly, with loads of entertaining background about each beer I tried. The beer selection is all top shelf, about 15-20 taps and 1 beer engine (which snorted out the last dregs of Cantillon Monk's Kriek for me). The bottled list is insane, strong with Belgians of course but also including many great USA craft beers. I saw Older Viscosity but couldn't afford it in addition to the other beers on my must-try list, Ne Goeien Saison + Cantillon Monk's Gueuze + Klokke Roeland, topped of with Beatification to go. I'm sure my review won't shed any new light on Monk's, it's just a must-see if you're in Philadelphia.

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Photo of Cavalier92
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

The center of the Belgian Beer community in the US. Virtually anytime I am tipping back a Belgian in another part of the world and someone finds out i am from the Philly area, the conversation veers to Monk's Cafe.

They've got the standards on tap, like Chimay Tripel and the like, but they go in for seasonal beers in a big way. You can get some of the best selections of Belgian-style Christmas Aes here that you'll ever think about finding. 18 taps means lost of selection. There's sure to be something you like pouring.

If you're looking for a special bottle of beer that you've always wanted to try, chances are good they have it among the hundred of different selections from all over the world.

Oh and they have food too. Some of the best burgers and mussels around, paired with the best fries and mayo sauce in the business.

It gets insanely crowded at times and the place is looking a bit long in the tooth, but there if you're into Belgians, there is no other place like it outside Antwerp.

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Photo of jsanto
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

a - i love the cozy feel of the back bar, and even the front is ok.

q - the best you can find around phila. they always have alot to choose from.

s - very friendly and on top of it, but it was not alot of people in the late afternoon.

s - from dour to anyting, but stouts or porters, were not around at thid time. but i seen a porter on deck coming soon. but you ddon't go there for a dark one.

f - i was a little dissapointed in the berger/bun, but the fries were good.

v - a little high, but it was worth it.

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Photo of nchrist13
4.43/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

good atmosphere, visited on a tuesday night and it was pretty bustling for 2-8 pm. beers are of the highest quality but that is also reflected in the price. food seemed reasonably priced, obviously get the mussels. bar was inviting but tiny, i would imagine that if you can't get a table because you're not eating and the bar is full, it gets crowded real quick.

there is both a back and front bar. i believe that the special events (for instance there was a whiskey tasting for $60 the evening i was there) take place in the back bar, so you can still eat and visit the front bar even if you're not partaking.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Ah, Must-Go-To-Bar-In-Philly number 1: Monk's. First glance you probably won't even notice this tiny place... unless the many empty Belgian bottles on the windowsill on display catches your eye...

Walking in a narrow hall, I come to a dim room with a couple tables to my right (where the window was) and a bar to my left, extending deep into the building. It's cramped and crowded but hey, such is life in the big city at the most popular beer bar here. There is another bar in the back with more seating. But more is like adding about 25 seats to about 20 seats. Yes it's a bit crowded.

I'll talk about the food first.
We ordered chicken fingers and cheese fries... because we had a picky eater on our hands. No adventures there. Not bad, not phenomenal. Standard junk food, but it's tasty junk food.
We sat at the bar and the bartender was very knowledgeable about beer and how to correctly pour the different styles. Very good.

The important stuff:
The beer on tap was excellent and fresh. The bottles were excellent and fresh. The selection of Belgian beers available blew my mind. I haven't even heard of many of them. The bartender was extremely knowledgeable about the different beers as well. The majority of the beer menu was Belgian, although US craft brews were also listed, as well as some JW Lees and Thomas Hardys.

Overall, this is a nice place to splurge a little bit for some good beers. Don't even think about getting a table here on Fri or Sat nights unless you plan on arriving at 4 pm and claiming your table for the night.

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Photo of Keith238
4.06/5  rDev -7.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 5

FINALLY, I made it to Monk's. Unfortunately for me, my stay was short. Much smaller than I thought it was and it was filling up fast on a Saturday evening. The selection was mind blowing with Belgian breweries that I never heard of. Bartender was swamped with customers so my average rating may be a little unfair. Then again, as crowded as the bar was the owner should have put in a second bartender or at least a bar back to clean up the empty glasses and bottles that littered the bar.

Plenty of American micros on hand as well. I had my first and second pints of Pliny the Elder and tried to convince my girlfriend to let me get a hotel so we could stay in Philly overnight (vetoed!) Also on tap was Monks Flemish Sour Ale. Very tasty but not as sour as I thought it would be, it was actually pretty sweet.

Can't wait to get back in there and really run a muck with the beer selection. A definite must do bar in Philly!!

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Photo of Shaon94
3.68/5  rDev -16.2%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 2.5

This place is tiny, and by tiny I mean that if you stood in a bathroom stall you would have more room. The place is very long with two bar sections and both were mobbed. I could not even get to the back bar it was so crowded, and with that...

I found it very annoying that I could not find out what they had out at the back bar without going back there. The servers and waitresses were to busy to care and bring me a list for the back room and wading through the crowd was just not worth it. I recommend having both the front and back room tap selections at both bars instead of making the customer go to both.

Beer selection is the best that I have seen so far. So many bottles it makes your head spin with rare beers that you can get no where else that I have been so far. Monks Sour Flemish on tap was delicious. Other than that I had a couple of Belgians that I have not found anywhere else and they were VERY good. Our waitress seemed very knowledgeable about what beers were what and had recommendations which I love.

Service otherwise was about what I would expect considering how packed it was so no complaints.

The food was no where near as good as people had lead me to believe. I mean it was tasty enough, but average at best, the mussels were very tough but had a good taste. Their fries were soggy with oil.

This place is a great place to go and get really rare and hard to find beers. Other than that I will not be rushing back any time soon.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.88/5  rDev -11.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Stopped by here early on a Saturday night with fredandboboflo. Please trust these reviews people, because I heard that it was crowded and even though I arrived at 6:30, it was packed and there was not a seat to be had. I didn't get to see the bottle menu, but the tap menu was pretty good and included one or two rare kegs (it happened to be "stout night" when I was there and I was disappointed they didn't have Pliny or Blind Pig). I didn't order any of the food, but my impression was that it was expensive though if good, the selection would be worthy of the price. Overall, not really my kind of place. it was super small for such a frequented beerbar and the quality of taps was not quite up to the high standard I hold for such world-class rated beerbars. A good beerbar, for sure, though, as long as you get there early.

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Photo of mrandypandy
4.43/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Went to Monk's Cafe on my business trip to Philadelphia with some co-workers.
At first glance it's small hole-in-the-wall kind of place, but the glowing neon signs and numerous bottles in the window invite you in. Smallish dining room/bar area, but we didn't see what was in back or if there was an upstairs.

Pro's: The beer. It's all about the beer. They have a ridiculous selection of Belgian and other hard-to-find beers from Lost Abbey/Port, Allagash, Mikkeller, De Struise (just to name a few). Service was pretty spot-on and our server was always around before our glasses went empty.

Con's: It was fairly obvious to me and my co-workers that the food played second fiddle to the beer. Our meals were decent but I wouldn't go back for the food alone. Dining room was rather dimly lit and hard to really see the beauty of some of the beers.

Overall: If you are in Philadelphia, I highly recommend a trip to Monk's. As stated earlier the food is OK, and some of the beers can get a bit pricey, but the beer selection is phenomenal, and that more than makes up for it.

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Photo of gdfan47
4.03/5  rDev -8.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

i have been going here for awhile just now getting around to writing a formal review

the atmosphere is pretty cool, really cool and unique beer art and posters all over

the front bar is really nice, have 6 drafts
the back bar has 15 i believe
the back bar is where we usually go, more drafts and often a little less crowded

the service is usually good, last night was one of the first time we had a bartender that wasnt super friendly, the back bar was more or less closed due to a computer problem , my friends gf wandted a lindemens Framboise on draft, 3 Times my friend told him that they wanted a draft (which was in the back bar) , rather then going back there...he raced to get an opener and cracked open a bottle we were assured by the hostess and the front bartender that we were allowed to have anything from the back bar
rather than say anything, we just dealt with it b/c im sure he would have given us a hard time about it giving us some bs like he would have to pay for it...

I know its monday night, and its cold out. and you probably had a slow night.... but this isnt our problem! We were 3 very polite patient people who all tip well and dont need you to hold our hand while ordering.. We all try to make bartenders and servers very comfortable, we dont ask /need much

anyways every other time i have been there the service has been awesome! esp the nice man who always wears a kilt and "Eddie" who works there

the bottle selection is vast, I dont even know where to start a good amount of Cantillons, and other rare Belgians
a good amount of Local and wonderful breweries across the globe
the draft selections are both good, they had an emphasis on some XMas beers (all fantastic) they also had Bling pig and will have Pliny soon..

the food is very very good and reasonable..

the mussels are some of the best I have ever had, this seems to be their flagship food..

the burgers as well as everything I have had there has been excelent
they also serve food till one
def very responsible for springboarding the beer scene in philly
a really great place, but if you see an older grey haired bartender.. i suggest sitting at a table or ordering from another bar... I cant say enough how great the place is overall and how nice everyone that works there is for the most part

I will still go there, but the way we were treated left a slight black mark on the monks book in my mind.. i will not fault the place itself, but in such a tough economic time im sick of dealing with rude bartenders, there are enough nice people out there that need the work...

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Photo of rauchfest
4.65/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Yes its Monks cant say what has not been said not that I am hiding something, dont get there like I used too, great atmosphere, selection, food and crowd, the beer dinners are a must do if you havent and keep up with their calander because seats move fast. The crowdedness can be a fun thing because most people are there for a common element great beer and good food. Living around the corner would be great during a great snowstorm or to escape the superball or something like that because I think its great that the television only lasted a very short life and has not been replaced.

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Photo of corby112
4.47/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

One of the best beer bars I've ever been to. They have a constant rotating selection of Belgium and American craft beers. They have about 20 taps and a bottle lis of 300+. I've been able to get Isabelle Proximus, Older Viscosity, Cuvee de Tomme, Angel's Share, Russian River(Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig IPA, Supplication) as well as many other rare beers, especially for the east coast. Their focus is primarily on belgian beers offering rare Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen amongst others. The food again is focused primarily on Belgian cuisine. They have several Mussels options, Lapin a la Gueze, etc.. Their prices are a bit high and there is not a large enough focus on american craft beers. The service can be shaky at times but is always good at the bar. Nice atmosphere, excellent selection and amazing beer dinners make this the best bar in town.

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Photo of hopdog
4.28/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Hey, its Monk's Cafe, what can I say that hasn't been said already. I used to come here a lot more than I do these days, but sometimes its too much a pain in the butt to get downtown. Everytime I come, the crowds seem to be bigger than when I first started coming here. Nice tap list and bottle list (I've had some gems here over the past few years). They also put on some decent beer events that usually sellout pretty damn fast. Service can be spotty depending on when you are there and how busy they are.

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Photo of mltobin
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

It was a few years since I was last in Philadelpia, but I finally made it back. I had made a point of going to Monk`s and I am very happy that I did.

A very good selection of belgians with various broths for mussels and the solid selection of other beers is a winning formula. And the staff knows there stuff and is very friendly. Add that most of the clientele was in a cheery mood and you find yourself having a great time.

I believe that they opened back in 1987 and there is good reason they are still going strong, one of the highlights of my weekend.

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Photo of engisch
4.63/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Mmm... Mussels and Belgian beer. I went into Monk's as a first timer. Walked through to the back, saw the various taps (St. Bern 12 was supposedly on tap, and it was in the back) and that the back was very crowded. So the two of us moved up to the front bar and acquired two freshly vacated seats on the end. The beer selection is superb, and the prices were not bad considering it is in Philly. Several interesting/rare taps with tons of bottles to back them up.

We ordered the mussels, which are awesome. Gonna definitely go back for them. Also ordered the tuna steak, which was also great. We were happy that the bartender would get the many beers that were on taps in the back, as we did come for the St. Bern 12.

We were scouting the place, but we are heading back as soon as we can with our other beer friends. If you are in Philly, go check them out. It is a smaller place, but worth squeezing in!

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