Monk's Café

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Monk's CaféMonk's Café
538 Ratings
Monk's CaféMonk's Café

Type: Bar, Eatery

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

(215) 545-7005 | map

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Ratings: 538 |  Reviews: 356
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!


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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.

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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!

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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. :)

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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 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 +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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.9/5  rDev +10.4%
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 -0.9%
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 -0.9%
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 -0.2%
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 -0.9%
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 -8.6%
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 -17.1%
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 -12.6%
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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Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
Place rating: 4.44 out of 5 with 538 ratings
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