If you’re in Philly and you love beer, you must go here. Hell, if you don’t live in Philly, go to Philly and go here. I feel like a kid in a candy store every time I go and I’ve been there at least ten times and it has never disappointed me. It’s a great place for beer novices and connoisseurs alike. I have introduced good beer to almost every friend and family member I have. I highly recommend the pommes frites and the mussels.
Monk’s is fantastic. excellent bottle and tap selection. Cozy dank pub feel. Awesome food and great staff. One of the best beer bars i’ve visited...
auerbrau (307) Ithaca, New York | December 31, 2008| Updated March 8, 2009
No place in the United States is more heaven to the Belgian beer drinker than this place. It is now easily in my top ten of favorite, favorite places. Incredible. From the moment my gaze fell on the steps, with the swinging sign and the display of bottles, I knew I’d found a home. Entering through the door and first perching at the front bar, before retiring to the cozy, dark wood-paneled beer womb in the back, I sunk into a delightful beer trance. Selection was king and freshness was key. Scoring the last tap of Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela, I moved through classic taps, wishing I could sink into some of the rare bottles. Baskets of fries came and went and my companion and I whiled away a rainy afternoon savoring new beers, and enjoying conversation. Europe or heaven it must have been.
Rockin’ burgers, sweet sausage and cheese plate to start. Riidiculous beer menu. Missed the back bar though. A crap ton of belgian beer. Most are widely distributed so I headed to the American side of the menu to catch a Founders bottle I had not seen before. Also noticed a good lineup of Lost Abbey and Pizza Port bottles as well. Definitely check it if you are in town.
When I visited: Late September 2014.
What I had: Russian River Blind Pig IPA, Monks Café Flemish Sour Red Ale, Russian River Pliny the Elder, and Dogfish Head Ta Henket on tap, Pan Seared Rainbow Trout for me, Caesar Salad, Roasted Chicken, and several glasses of sauvignon blanc for my fiancé.
What I liked: Wonderfully low key atmosphere in the front of the restaurant, no trouble finding seats on a Thursday night, extensive and carefully selected draft list, was elated to find two of Russian River’s best beers on tap, our waitress was warm, attentive and knowledgeable, we enjoyed all of our food and my partner liked her wine, couldn’t have chosen a better spot to celebrate our engagement.
What I disliked: I probably wouldn’t come here on a busy night if I just wanted to drink, since they reserve all tables for diners. Thankfully, though, that wasn’t an issue for us.
Would I go back? Absolutely. We had a flawless experience here and it’s clear that The Monk’s Café is a must-visit when in Philly.
Overall Rating: 100
Have been meaning to get over here for years and happened to pick Beer Week for the first visit! Only about a twenty-minute wait in the evening, luckily, and validated by the experience. It’s another venerated institution, and yet another dimly-lit hole-in-the-wall, but lively and diverse, happy despite the cramp and bustle. Beer list is tremendous, an expansive survey of Belgium and a satisfying selection of local and upper-end American beers (one of the handful of places to reliably find Russian River east of Colorado, for example). They’re known for mussels and the like, but even my humble pommes and mayo-based dip impressed and, perhaps more importantly, reminded vividly of authentic Belgian/Dutch street food. Essential. [early June ’15: 94]
Next two visits: great bartending from the front bar (he was especially good at helping some customers who thought they knew a thing or two about beer, but really didn’t), great stuff on tap from Russian River, Hill Farmstead, De la Senne, Tired Hands, etc. Sunday afternoons a somewhat different feel from late night, at least for me -- very chill and relaxed rather than raucous, with friendly and attentive service. Great events, too! Hard for me to comprehend that some have had a bad experience here. [Sept ’15: 98]