Bar Review: Monk’s Belgian Café

Monk’s Belgian Café at 16th and Spruce streets truly is a beer-lover’s bar.

Monk’s Belgian Café
264 S. 16th St.

In the heart of Philadelphia, just a few blocks from South Street, is one of the world’s greatest beer bars. Monk’s Belgian Café, located at 16th and Spruce streets, is truly a beer-lover’s bar.

Inside, dark-wood paneling and large mirrors set off the glow from candles in Chimay glasses that line the bar. Copper-hammered bars in the front room allow patrons to drink and peruse copies of the Ale Street News and Mid-Atlantic Brewing News. Monk’s booths, reminiscent of old English monastery pews, add authenticity and warmth to the friendly ambiance.

You’re sure to see plenty of boxed-frame glasses on tight jean-wearing hipsters sipping various brews – all served in a type-specific glass – as they mingle with tattooed beer lovers of various ages.

Monk’s always features beer and brewing-related dinners that specialize in the tasting of rare liquors and beers paired with exquisite cuisine. Be sure to make reservations, as these events sell out frequently. As for beer specials, there are none ¬– the selection and quantity of rare beers is special enough.

Almost all Monk’s food is cooked in different ales, beers and wines. The menu has much to munch on, including lamb, award-winning burgers, Belgian beef stew and mussels. The fresh mussels are a house favorite, and crocks are available in nine different flavors. Be prepared to pay anywhere from $10 to $40 for dinner.

Since Monk’s specializes in high-quality beers from all over the world and offers more than 225 kinds, the prices vary. You can get a domestic beer for $4.50. Other beers range from $6 (Monk’s Flemish Sour Ale) to $99 (Chimay Grand Reserve Jeroboam), most coming in 22- to 25-ounce bottles. If you feel like splurging, try the Harviestoun Ola Dubh 30 for $30. This heavy, dank, almost syrupy beer is aged in a 30-year-old cask of Highland Park whiskey, served in a gigantic snifter.

Kali Wyrosdic can be reached at

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