We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“We go for the mussels”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Monk's Cafe

Monk's Cafe
Ranked #9 of 253 Nightlife in Philadelphia
Attraction details
Langhorne, PA
Level Contributor
82 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 163 helpful votes
“We go for the mussels”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 8, 2013

I'm not a huge fan of Belgian beer-- if you are, then you'll want to go here for that alone -- but we love to visit for the mussels. They are always a good size, properly cleaned (no pebbles of sand), properly cooked (tender, not chewy or falling apart), and flavorful. You have a choice of 8 different broth preparations. I haven't had one yet that I haven't liked, but our favorites are the Provence (leeks, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms and more in a light cream broth) and my new favorite, the Ghent (caramelized leeks, garlic, blue cheese and bacon). Before you're done, use every bit of the roll to dunk chunks of bread in the broth and soak up the yummy goodness.

Every bit the equal of the mussels are the fries that come with them. They're cut thin like shoestrings, but shorter, and taste great all alone -- but the highlight is the dipping sauce, which will have you scraping the bottom of the dish for every last bit. The sauce is actually mayo-based, infused with bourbon -- but has enough kick that you'd think it was mustard-based. Just trust me that the taste is better than it may sound.

And there's actually plenty more to choose from: they make a great burger (choice of toppings, but I recommend the eponymous Monk's burger, with caramelized leeks and blue cheese -- yum!), ad have some really good salads (the duck salad is our favorite). The problem is that we don't get here often, and the mussels & fries are the reason we come, so the other food options often lose out! On our latest visit, we shared a duck salad for appetizer, and then shared two pots of mussels, for a thoroughly enjoyable meal.

Do read the comments about how crowded this place gets. We were able to time this visit for an early dinner at 5 pm on Sunday, when there were empty tables and we could be seated immediately. We used to come at prime dinner times, but found the longs waits (and lack of adequate space to stand while waiting) less-than-optimal, so now we just come when we can time it for off-prime time visits.

And going back to the beer, the servers are very knowledgeable, and will help you find a beer you like. I find many of the Belgian beers too sweet, and I asked for something neither too hoppy nor too sweet, and got a very nice malty St. Bernardus that I enjoyed.

Visited April 2013
Thank Eric J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

50 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
1,096 reviews
603 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 558 helpful votes
“A beer-lover's heaven”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 1, 2013

Since I first went to Monk's, I have been to many other beer-centered establishments. But to my mind, they set the standard. For variety, they are just great. Their food isn't bad either. I've heard people gripe about the front room being better than the back room or vice versa, but have enjoyed myself sitting in both areas.

If you enjoy beer and want to increase your knowledge, or explore beer of a certain style or from a certain part of the world, Monk's is a great place to do it. Or you can just get a glass of their house ale, made for Monk's in Belgium. A real first-class Belgian red sour ale.

The one thing I am not into are their stringy frites. I much prefer the Belgian-style meatier frites. But my wife disagrees - she likes them better skinnier. Ah well, as my old German professor used to say, variety is the spice of life!

Visited April 2012
Thank Charming_Karl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Winnipeg, Canada
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 attraction reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 25, 2013 via mobile

Found the beer I had fallen in love with while in Belgium. Had the best chicken fingers ever! It was packed; surprising for a Sunday night. Fun place with entertaining knowledgeable staff. Check it out, but be pepared to wait for a table.

Thank luvholidays001
This review is the subjective opinion of an individual traveler and not of TripAdvisor LLC nor of its partners.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
30 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Great beer selection and a nice menu”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 30, 2013

I went to Monk's for the first time for lunch on a Saturday. It was quite crowded but we happened to get a table quickly because of the size of our group.

We did a round of beers from their excellent draft selection, then moved onto delicious pots of mussels as our appetizers. The seasonings were really good and a nice complement to the beers. For my main dish, I ordered a veggie burger with fried leeks and blue cheese, which came on a huge toasted bun. Generous portion and very nicely done.

I would definitely go back to Monk's -- it's casual, not too pricey considering the quality, and sells some excellent brews. Only thing I would change is having some more elbow room in there!

Visited January 2013
Thank wanderlust813
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, PA
Level Contributor
80 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“Mixed Feelings Based on Inconsistent Experiences”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 22, 2013

My husband and I have eaten at Monks several times over the past 10 years. We LOVE Belgian food, probably more than most cuisine out there (Cuvee Notre Dame is sorely missed by us). We LOVE Belgian beer and Monks' beer bible is beyond impressive, almost ridiculous. The older we get (we're barely in our 30's so we're not old old), but the older we get them more annoying the college crew gets. This place is PACKED on weekends. Forget it if you think you will not wait an hour for a table and they won't take reservations. Last visit was for hubby's b-day, which I called ahead to explain. Knowing they would not take a reservation I simply asked what time we could show up in order to avoid a crazy wait. They recommended 4pm for DINNER to avoid a wait. Whatever, we did the best we could and ended up getting there at 5pm, still had to wait about 90 mins for a table. Insane. Few experiences are worth waiting 90 minutes in a standing-room-only bar, being pushed and nudged by drunk kids trying to mack on one another. Would the hostess take our cell # and please call when the table was ready so we could catch some fresh air? NO. Really annoying. Former experiences have been good, food has been excellent at times, mediocre at others. Beer is always good, but I know a place in Mannyunk that is better for beer, cheaper, and has live music every weekend. So when you hit Monks at the right time it's a good meal and neat pub atmosphere. But unless you are a hormonal young single, I do not recommend a weekend.

Visited March 2012
Thank Boombafam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Monk's Cafe also viewed


Been to Monk's Cafe? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing