Taps: 20 / Bottles: 218
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 329 | Reviews: 312 | Show All Ratings:
3.28/5 rDev -24.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 1.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3 | $$
Monk's introduced Belgian beers to Philadelphia, and was instrumental in creating a demand for fine craft beer establishments. Sadly, Monk's has rested on its laurels on the beer side, and taken a step backwards in the quality of its food. Other establishments have improved on the formula and, for me, Monk's is no longer the best place to go in Philadelphia.
The Belgian bottle and tap list is quite extensive. Without doing an exhaustive count, the lists at Eulogy and Teresa's Next Door seem comparable. No other place I have been around here comes close.
The atmosphere is pretty cool, esp. when you make your way to the back bar.
The fries are good.
What's just ok:
The American craft brew list was a massive disappointment. Due to the owners' close relationships with the brewers at Russian River and Lost Abbey/Port Brewing, you could always expect to see something you could not find elsewhere. This was not the case last week. No RR except Temptation, nothing from the Port Brewing side of the house. Nothing from Bear Republic, Moylan's or Hoppin' Frog, which are all new to eastern PA and popping up all over. One choice each from Bell's, North Coast, Southampton, Avery.
The food other than the fries. Burgers and mussels used to be standouts here but not anymore.
What's not good:
Surly, inattentive service. We used to get good service here, possibly because we came often enough to be known by the day bartenders. But on Friday we got an up close and personal dose of the rudeness mentioned in so many other reviews. Also, i don't really get hung up on proper glassware but I was served Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout in a small pilsner glass and a Monk's Sour Ale in a small Hoegaarden style tumbler, firsts on both accounts.
This is the only beer bar I know of that will not give you a taste of a beer before ordering. Our bartender's rap was "our beer is too expensive to give a taste". Which probably also means it's too expensive to order blindly. Obviously, we all buy beers from recommendations on BA and other places. But if Teresa's Next Door or Eulogy will let me try Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek 2005 before buying and Monk's won't, where do you think I am going to go?
In the future, we will be happy to spend our money at Tria or Eulogy or North Third or Standard Tap or Johnny Brenda's or Teresa's Next Door or TJ's or the Drafting Room or the Grey Lodge or, well, you get the idea.
01-28-2008 17:03:08 | More by sholland119
3.3/5 rDev -24.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | $$
I have been to monks a few times, a great beer list and bible you can't go wrong even if you don't know a lot about beer. That said I think the place is a little to dark and table service is not all that great. Good bar staff when they are not goofing around but I guess you need some of that in the bar.
Dupont Avec les bons Voeux has to be one of my favs it feels light at 9.5%. Maybe the the next time I go back I will get there earlyer and be able to get to eat some mussels, I hear they are decent.
01-26-2012 20:59:18 | More by Antonion10
3.33/5 rDev -23.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 1 | selection: 5 | $$
Let me preface this by saying that prior to the pliny the younger event I had been here a couple times and it's generally awful, that said I will NEVER attend monks cafe for an event of any kind.
Nothing was organized whatsoever, a line halfway down the block rushing into the bar at once and nobody to help organize the sea of people. They only had one bartender working and the order in which she took drink orders was insane, having nothing to do with how long you waited, instead she seemed to take orders from the first person she saw when she looked up. This resulted in people walking in and getting a younger within a minute while others who were among the first in line couldn't get a younger at all. When I went to order a second beer (I wanted a supplication) I stood at the bar for 45 minutes before she took my order, and by this time the supplication had kicked. During that wait three people came up next to me and were all served supplications before she even looked at me, that's three people who I know for a fact hadn't been waiting as long as me. The person next to me was there before me and after half an hour gave up and left, something I would have done if I hadn't started a tab. While I ordered my second round (temptation instead of supplication) I asked to close my tab (no way in hell I was going to stay any longer) which she agreed to do when she handed me my beer. For the next 25 minutes I waited to sign my receipt and get my card back. During that 25 minutes in one of my futile attempts to grab the bartenders attention to hand me my card a waitress waiting for her order told me not to blame her and be patient and that I should have payed cash.
This was the most disappointing bar experience of my life, and to make matters worse I took my brother with me and had been hyping up how awesome this place was. I doubt he will ever go to monks again after that horrible first experience. They should have limited the people allowed into the bar if you can only serve x number of people you should only let x number of people into the bar. I would have been a lot less angry had they told me at the door that the bar was full instead of this fiasco. I'll be back to monks again but there is no way I'll go if they claim to have any sort of event because it's obvious nobody there knows how to run one.
03-01-2010 20:39:41 | More by burquedout
3.35/5 rDev -23.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4 | $$$$
I had very high expectations given the hype for this place and I was very disappointed. Only one Belgian beer on draft, expected more. Ok bottle list but nothing hard to find. Food was good and service was ok given the mob of people in the place for the aha conference.
06-27-2013 02:00:40 | More by BrianMChi
3.4/5 rDev -22%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 1.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$$
Bad service is a theme in the last reviews. We arrived with 4 out of 6 in our party. We asked for a table, and we are told we can't sit until the other 2 arrive. We mention they are 15 minutes away.
While I can understand this policy, think of the nonsense from a business perspective! At Monk's prices, we could have easily spent $75 in beer BEFORE the food order.
As we approached a 45 minute wait (with the other two in the party) we decided to talk to the uppity staff. At least 40 people have passed us by in smaller parties.
They tell we are "at the top of the list", and when we say we are willing to split into two groups--- to make it easier to seat us---one girl says "yes", and the other says "no".
We have a person in our party with a neck brace, who is experiencing severe pain due to the now one hour plus hour wait.
The entire evening was ruined by the treatment we received. I will never return, and will certainly stick with the recent reviews, and tell you to pass on by. Spend your money more wisely elsewhere.
03-29-2008 05:00:08 | More by ranchik
3.4/5 rDev -22%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3 | $$$
When I first moved to Philly, I thought this place was the last word on Belgian beer bars on the east coast. I have changed my mind since then.
Sure, the selection is pretty good, even great sometimes, but you will pay through your ass for it. The most recent outrage was a Bris Bon Bons from Fantome for $32.00 a 750. It was $20 at the Foodery. The draught list is often impressive, but Monk's is starting to face some touch competition from some of the better suburban beer bars. They don't get too many exclusives anymore.
And then there's the food. Many people have told me how much they love the food at Monk's, but I just don't get it. For an establishment that specializes in all things Belgian, they sure do have some lousy frites. I think it's because they have such a busy kitchen staff. Either they're overcooked, or they're salty, or soggy, or greasy...they're never consistent. The bourbon mayonnaise is alright, but it gets old fast, and the food menu never seems to change. The mussels are okay, nothing special. Again, I think this is because of volume.
Monk's is still a fun place to go on a Sunday night, when it's not busy, and you can actually sit at the bar.
The problem lately is the beer dinners. They will kick you out if they're going to have a dinner. They won't just partition it, or put it in a different room. The past few times I've gone in to have a beer, I have been immediately kicked out, because they were setting up for an event. I'm not usually the self-righteous bitchy customer, but if you spend alot of money in a place, as I have at Monk's, and then they kick you out in the middle of your beer with no warning, it's disrespectful, and shows no devotion at all to their customers. It's rude.
I don't think I will be going to Monk's again any time soon.
03-28-2008 04:50:58 | More by DaveHS
3.4/5 rDev -22%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 1.5 | selection: 5 | $$$
Visited Monk's on a Saturday night with my girlfriend. Upon entering the place the host made it very clear that tables were for only if you were eating and since I was there for the beer were directed to the back bar. It was very small in the back bar and way overcrowded, so I had to order at the end of the bar. While browsing the beer menu I was approached by a waitress who yelled at me that I would have to move out of her way. I was very put off the overcrowded atmosphere and unfriendly staff. I only had a couple brews and decided that this is not the beer bar I want to patronage. Unfortunately, the beer selection is world class but with such a poor staff I will ensure that I will not return to Monk's.
05-17-2010 00:16:05 | More by Wolfhausen
3.41/5 rDev -21.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
Monk's is one of the last of the east coast old guard beer bars and it shows. The bar itself is very dark and narrow. I would call it too dark, as it was impossible to read the label on the back of a bottle of beer, but some will probably disagree. The bar area is decorated with old beer bottles and breweriana.
The draft and bottle lists are fairly crudely printed and selections are signified as being out by being scratched out with a pen - that is on the draft list at least. The look of the bottle list makes you wonder if it has been updated recently but surprisingly all but one of the beers I ordered was in stock. The beer selection is good but definitely Belgian centered which of course is to be expected. I was expecting, perhaps wrongly, to find more American oddities but they did have plenty of russian river, lost abbey and some alesmith.
Service was friendly and efficient but indifferent which was fine with me.
Beers seemed to be poured correctly meaning the yeast was always left at the bottom of the bottle where appropriate but this could have been luck. They had a nice selection of glassware, however most of it seemed pretty hazy and not entirely clean.
Monks is worth a trip but it is definitely an older style of beer bar and so it can be a bit lacking in some areas.
07-09-2011 16:45:48 | More by bpfishback
3.43/5 rDev -21.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 1 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
Having read so many glowing reviews for this much-lauded purveyor of Belgian beer, and being in town to experience Philadelphia Beer Week, what better place to start? So, I chose a quiet Friday afternoon and settled in at the front bar.
In the front, there is a small, L-shaped bar seating about 10; additionally, the area has several tables with two prize locations at the windows overlooking 16th Street. If you pass the hallway and head to the left, you come to the larger back bar - also with different beers on tap. (I recommend checking this first.)
Of course, Monk's Beer Bible is an amazing read - and can be purchased for $3.00. And to describe the diversity of fermented culture would be just repetition; Monk's has many, many beers. However, being the beer perfectionist, I didn't find the available taps (a paltry 7) very impressive - the one that did intrigue me, Urthel Hop-It, was not available. Settling down with a bottle of Val Dieu brown, I enjoyed the Pulled Pork Sandwich and frites (with mayonnaise, of course). When the bartender wasn't busy chatting with her gay friend, I was able to induce her to serve me a bottle of Alvinne Gaspar, a hop monster possessing a head that took 10 minutes to settle! Therein lies the rub with Monk's: the service just sucks - on a quiet afternoon at that!
There are flaws in even the most valuable gems; with Monk's it was the indifferent service. What a shame, since I had really anticipated coming here. While, Monk's is a first-rate beer bar, it leaves a lot to be desired in the realm of hospitality, and since Philadelphia has so many similarly fine establishments from which to choose, why even bother. A great bar is more than a massive beer list; a great bar is one where a beer drinker feels welcome, one where he or she could just stay and never leave. Unfortunately, the "much-lauded" Monk's is not one of these. Great beer bar and a great disappointment.
03-18-2008 22:25:18 | More by jjboesen
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.