Taps: 20 / Bottles: 218
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 329 | Reviews: 312 | Show All Ratings:
4.5/5 rDev +3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Stopped in here on Black Friday during our beer excursion. I have been to Monk's a bunch of times, figured it is time to sit down and finally write a review.
Not the biggest place in the world to begin with but they make good use of the space. Small bar right inside the door with a few stools, a few tables all around the bar area help to complete the front bar area. A few bigger tables make up the dining room directly behind the front bar. Lots of awards and old bottles help to show the history of the bar. As you walk through the dining room you go through a small hallway and end up at the back bar, my favorite place to hide. Larger bar area than the front with a few stools and a few tables to sit at. My service has always been good but not great. When they are busy they can be really hit or miss but when they are kinda slow they can be really good.
The quality was top notch, as you would expect. From the beers to the food, no expense is spared. The food was excellent. I had a burger on my most recent trip and it was cooked perfectly and tasted great. The beer selection is second to none. I saw quite a few things on the tap list I would have liked to try but I ended up splitting a bottle of '04 Cantillon Lou Pepe - Gueuze, I know poor me. Prices are a bit high but it is Philly so that is to be expected.
Overall one of my favorite bars to visit anywhere, let alone in the city. From the food to the beer, you really can't go wrong.
11-29-2011 17:07:40 | More by orangesol
4.45/5 rDev +2.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Came to Philly for a business trip, and to my pleasure, Monk's Cafe was only 4 blocks away from my hotel. I came here twice in the 3 days I was in town.
This place is located in a long, narrow building. It's definitely pub themed throughout, with dark wood and not a terribly large amount of lighting. A bunch of rare-ish bottles line the front window and above the bar. I found the service to be very good. I didn't go on a night when it was completely packed, and had prompt service. The beer selection was exceptional. Wide variety, lots of great sour beers, vintage beers, and beers no longer brewed. I enjoyed each one I had. Each beer was served at appropriate temperature and in appropriate glassware. As far as food, I had the stuffed chicken breast with assorted vegetables. Everything was cooked about as well as could be done. It's pricey, yes, but I felt I got what I paid for and when ordering vintage bottles, priciness should probably be expected. Exceptional place to go have a beer. Next time I'm in Philly, I'm definitely making an effort to go back.
10-30-2011 00:04:58 | More by zhanson88
4.94/5 rDev +13.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
I've heard so much about this place. I was finally able to visit Phily, and I literally went straight from the airport to here. I was not disappointed.
Atmosphere: small, cozy tavern in the city. dark. now I thought the small size would be terrible for such a popular place, but surprisingly on the 2 weekend night that i was there it was quite tame. there is no loud music, and the patrons are friendly and passive. its perfect.
Service: extremely knowledge and helpful
Quality/Selection: BEST. BEER. LIST. EVER. simply put, it has tons and tons of rare Belgians and American craft beers. The draft list is on the small size, but it makes up for it in quality. there were way too many beers here that I wanted to try.
didn't try the food, but heard its amazing.
Value: rare beers are nicely priced. really rare beers are really expensive, but thats expected.
p.s. russian river in the East coast....can't be beat.
10-18-2011 00:49:28 | More by AdamBear
4.78/5 rDev +9.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
I've been to Monk's twice over the past two months. I cannot get the place out of my head.
I tend to gravitate towards louder bars - more people, more music, more laughing. Monk's is more of a temple to beer, the atmosphere borderline monastic in its solitude. I prefer the back bar to the front - if I'm going to drink in a quiet and contemplative environment, might as well go whole hog and sit in near silence. Plenty of dark wood and not too much light, the focus is on the beer here.
I fail to see how the selection could be improved upon. On my most recent visit, the tap list ranged from Blind Pig to Tilquin Gueuze, with a keg of Pliny on deck. The bottle menu is unimpeachably excellent. A few highlights I can recall off the top of my head: Cantillon Mamouche, Veritas 008, and Thomas Hardy's back to 1999. There are hundreds more, an incredibly diverse and well-curated collection. I cannot overstress how ridiculous this selection is.
Though I haven't spent too much time with the staff here, all of my interactions have been very pleasant. This past weekend, I had a great talk with one of the bartenders about Zwanze Day, various Cantillon minutiae, and beer trading. I've never had to wait too long for a beer or food, and that alone merits high praise in my book.
I've yet to order the mussels, mostly because I'm an idiot. I can say that the Monk's Burger is delicious, one of the better burgers I've had in recent memory. The fries are appropriately excellent. Moreso than other cities I've visited, seitan seems to be fairly ubiquitous in Philadelphia and makes many appearances on Monk's menu - though not a primary concern for me, I do always appreciate when beer bars make an effort to provide interesting vegetarian options.
Monk's isn't cheap, but neither is the beer sold there. I've found the markups - especially those on rare bottles - incredibly fair. The food prices are quite reasonable compared to Boston, which I swear is a compliment.
Monk's is a very special place, a mecca of beer and a model to which beer bars everywhere should aspire. I will never tire of drinking there.
10-12-2011 01:16:33 | More by amphion1065
4.15/5 rDev -4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
Visited 9.30.11 with some friends while in Philly, this was destination number one for beer and lunch.
This place is a lot bigger than it looks from the front...well, deeper I guess. We were seated at a table in the Back Bar. Immediately ordered a Tilquin Gueze (excellent) and perused the rest of this list. Some some classic Cantillons, some 3F, DDC, Allagash including limited draft offerings, some unique Swedish draft, a few Belgians I'd never heard of and a lot I had heard of in bottles, Stillwater was well represented too.
The selection by far beats the standard up-scale beer bar list, but I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed...this place has been so trumped up as one of the best beer bars on the East Coast, that I suppose I had too high of expectations. That being said, I'm a pretty jaded consumer (it takes a lot to surprise me at this point), so I still give them mad props! Especially on their selection of sours. (Any knock in this paragraph is directed at patrons of Monks who puff them up, and not at the actual experience.)
Our waiter/bartender was solid. Seemed to know some about the beers, but didn't proffer a lot of info. Very attentive though and kept our beers full.
I had the Seitan "Cheese Steak" with mushrooms and onions topped with St Nectaire cheese...pretty tasty. I asked for more info about the cheese but our waiter didn't really have any info other than how it tastes. Wanted details about its origins...oh well, have to look it up I guess.
All in all a very nice experience. Would recommend and would go again!
10-03-2011 03:43:30 | More by SFLpunk
4.83/5 rDev +10.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
I really enjoy stopping at Monk’s whenever I am in Philly visiting. They have an excellent ambiance for enjoying their beautiful array of Belgian beers! Although there tap list is relatively small, they always have an excellent selection of beers. The “Beer Bible” is an awesome addition to this wonderful place. The bottles are reasonably priced and you can purchase most of their options to-go, if you prefer.
The location is in the heart of Philly which adds to the fun of this place. Finding a place to park near Monk’s can be tricky depending on when you go; however, parking several blocks away and walking is just as well as you get to experience some nice history throughout the beautiful, historic atmosphere that Philly brings to all of its guests.
The folks working at Monk’s are uber knowledgeable and very helpful. You can always rely on them to offer a good recommendation for beer – helpful for the less-informed beer drinker. The food is a bit pricey for pub fare; however, I am use to paying less than $10-12 for a meal and beer in Colorado which is often unheard of on the East Coast. With that said, I do enjoy the variety of options their menu offers and they always have interesting things to try.
All-in-all I love visiting Monk’s and think it is a top-notch beer bar that every publican should set out to visit at some point in their journey of drinking beer.
09-23-2011 20:33:22 | More by spdyfire83
4.7/5 rDev +7.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Went to Monk's for Zwanze 2011. Outside of the fact that it is smaller than I expected it was great! Our waitress was very friendly and did a great job putting up with us for over 4 hours. The beers on tap were amazing ( Pliney the Elder, Lost Abbey Salvation and Monks Flemish Red) Once the back bar opened for Swanze we were also able to get Cantillons St. Lamvinus (Outstanding!)along with Zwanze 2011 and two surprizes from the owner, Zwanze 2009 and 2010 in the bottle! We also purchased a bottle of Lost Abbeys Avatar 2008 which completely wowed our taste buds! Unbelievable day all around. And the food..the Pommes Frites were really good and the bourbon Mayo for dipping went very well with the Pliney. Later we had the flat bread with dips which was also very good. For lunch we had the steamed mussels which were also very good and a large serving for the price. I cannot wait to go back as any true lover of Belgian beer and the craft beer scene should make this a stop on their list.
09-23-2011 16:18:02 | More by Geuzedad
3.7/5 rDev -15.1%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$$
stopped by Monk's Cafe again for the first time in probably five years. Hasn't changed much.
Great beer selection, high quality taps and bottles. Some stuff you can't get anywhere else.
Small, the place is the width of a row home. So if you don't have a seat at a table or at the bar, there is no place to stand without constantly being in the way of servers or other patrons walking by. The hipster bartenders seemed annoyed to have to serve you. Draft prices weren't too bad, but the bottle prices can be crazy. Double the price I can pay at a bar in the suburbs.
07-25-2011 21:12:56 | More by jmdrpi
4.53/5 rDev +3.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$$
Stopped here for lunch on our way home from DE. I was extremely excited to check out Monk's.
Parking was a bitch. Monk's is located smack in the middle of downtown Philadelphia. There are some meters/spaces on the adjacent blocks, but even on a Sunday afternoon we had no luck. After circling for 15 minutes we begrudgingly parked in a garage that charged something like $15.
The building is rather small, and the signage doesn't stand out very well. We walked right by it without knowing it until we had to double back when the GPS couldn't find it.
When you walk in the place looks very small. A tiny bar up front and a handful of tables. We were seated in the back room though where the tables were lined with church pews on either side for seating. That's kinda cool, albeit maybe a little uncomfortable over time.
The draft list wasn't really standing out to me. A lot of really light beers and more common Belgians were on there. My wife got Urthel Saisonnaire and another saison.
I opted for bottles, and the huge cellar list was tough to sort through to make a decision. I finally picked out a Cantillon Iris 2004 and later a bottle of Smisje Calva Reserva.
The server was fairly attentive and very knowledgeable. However when he brought out my Iris he was a little perplexed at the bottle. There has been considerable wear (the label was half rotted off and I think there was a little slime around the cork). He quickly hurried away and come back with the bottle pre-opened. This annoyed me a little though the beer tasted fine.
Where Monk's truly shined for my wife and I though, was the food. My friends got rabbit stew and a really nice salad. I wound up with one of their Belgian sandwiches (which was very good) and we got an appetizer of streamed mussels.
GET THE MUSSELS!!!
These were the best steamed mussels I have ever had. They prepare them in a variety of broths (usually beer infused). We decided to get the ones with Classic Gueuze broth... hell yeah). The damn things arrive in a very large bucket (and we got the smaller of the two sizes). The bucket was something insanely cheap like $7.99 and contained roughly 30-40 mussels. The broth was amazing... we were scooping it up with the empty shells and dipping our bread in it.
Price: the draft beer was maybe a little high, but you expect that in the city. The bottle prices were very high in most cases though. The food is decently priced except for the mussels which were an amazing value.
If I ever return I am going to just feast on mussels. Seriously. Get them.
Overall what began as a frustrating day turned into a great experience. I'd happily come back.
07-25-2011 06:17:55 | More by Spider889
3.48/5 rDev -20.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
Was pretty excited about making the trip over here, it was walking distance from our hotel. This review is based off 2 separate visits during my stay in Philly. At first it looks like a cool little bar, it's very long and narrow. The bar takes up most of the area of the front room with a few tables in the front and another few sets of tables in the back. There was a hostess at the front who doesn't really say much. A lot of Belgian beer paraphenalia all over the bar. Cool tin posters and plenty of empty bottles of rare gem beers. The place itself was very dark (dimly lit). When we went during the afternoon and sat at the bar it wasn't too bad, the lighting was ok and the crowd was people meeting up for a drink after work mostly. I got a couple of beers, my wife got a beer and we split an order of frites. The second time we went we had dinner, the music was so loud, we no exageration, literally had to yell to each other across the table just to have a conversation. The music was atleast decent music, but the volume was quite excessive.
The quality of the food and beer seemed pretty good. From what I could see they took care of their tap system pretty well. The beer was also usually pretty fresh for what we got. They aslo seemed to use quality ingredients in their food from atleast what was listed.
I really tried to look at this obectivly, but overall the service wasn't good, in fact, it was just bad. The first time we went it was ok I guess. Like I said we sat at the bar, but the bartender wasn't really that friendly. She was informative when we asked questions about the menu, but wouldn't go out of the way to elaborate and we really had to be specific. The only time she actually seemed friendly was when I left the tip and started to leave. The second visit was by far worse, we almost just left. As I mentioned before it was dark and very loud. There were a few open tables but I wanted to check with staff before just sitting down. The hostess wasn't in the front, so I kept trying to get the bar tender to look up, but she was a bit busy. I finally found a bus boy and I asked him if we could just sit at one of the tables. He said, "there's a hostess up front, go check with her" I said "no there's not" He just looked at me and walked away. We started to make our way towards the front just to leave but the hostess finally came to the front and caught up to us. She did apologize then seated us. The waitress was pretty much exactly like the bartender on our first visit. She would wasn't rude, but just wasn't pleasant either. But when we were leaving she went out of her way to thank us for leaving her a tip. So all in all I was extreamly dissapointed with the service.
The selection was certainly the best part of the visit. They have an expansive bottle list and a very carefully selected Tap list. Mostly Belgian style but a few IPAs and big stouts to keep everyone happy. I got to have some Abyss, their own special Sour, La Rulles Estivale, and some other Belgians since I was there. Very good selection, but the glasses weren't very big for each beer we got.
The food was pretty good, I wasn't blown away, but it was pretty tastey overall. We got some Frites the first visit, I got a chicken/apple sausage and my wife got a salad. Portions weren't really very big, but adaquate.
Value wasn't that great, not really big portions on food or beer. Which suprised me based on how many diffeent sized glasses they had. All the big ones were just upside down hanging from the bar. Also my wife asked for some goat cheese to put on her salad, they charged like $3 for a piece of cheese about the size of a sugar cube.
I'm glad I finally got to goto a place like this, but it really didn't live up to the hype. I wouldn't go back until I knew the tap list and there was something I knew I wanted (which is very possible). With so many great places to go in Philly to get a beer, I'd go somewhere else, but that's just me.
07-22-2011 21:57:10 | More by AndyAvalanche
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Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA
97 out of 100 based on 329 user ratings.