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Hopleaf

Not Rated.
HopleafHopleaf
BA SCORE
99
world-class

313 Ratings
Ratings: 313
Reviews: 184
rAvg: 4.48
pDev: n/a
Taps: 68
Bottles: 350
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

5148 N Clark St
Chicago, Illinois, 60640-2828
United States
phone: (773) 334-9851

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

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Ratings: 313 | Reviews: 184
Photo of emerge077
4.78/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

2012: New remodel, much more space. A true beer mecca in Chicago... try it again, you won't be disappointed. Many unusual beers, some only found here. Menu is as good as ever also. My main gripe about the crowds in the past wasn't a problem recently. Hopleaf is truly a Chicago institution.

http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2012/04/09/getting-to-know-the-hopleaf-through-its-regulars.php

03-30-2008

#1.) If you go on friday or saturday night, expect to wait. Don't complain on BA you had to wait for a table, or wait for service when you go at peak hours when everyone else does.

#2.) No table service in the front bar area either, order from the bar. During the week it happens to be a fine place to relax with a great taplist, definitely unmatched in the area. Best Belgian selection in the city.

I've been here over a dozen times, and will keep going back. It's not my 1st choice beer bar in the city, but it can be very cozy at the right time of day (early and late, weeknights), and they do have an amazing collection of breweriana throughout the place.

Hopleaf definitely is #1 for Belgian food and beer pairing, which is it's most unique aspect. The bottle selection is broad and especially deep if you are into Trappists, Saison, Gueuze, and other Belgian specialties. They are pretty well rounded for craft brew options, and other top quality imports as well. The US craft leans toward Belgian-style offerings such as Allagash, Ommegang, even a couple from Jolly Pumpkin. Their bottle menu is very well laid out into clear sections, with descriptions for each entry. Be sure to ask for the list if you are at the bar. My value rating reflects the high markup on 750s (3F for $45) and some high entree prices. Tap selections are about 80% standards, with roating seasonals, and specialties now and then.

Service at the bar has always been friendly, the same 3 bartenders for over a year now have always been quick and attentive even when under pressure. Table service may vary, but is usually adequate. Glassware is emphasized here, it never fails that there is a Kwak being poured here daily/hourly into it's ridiculous glass :)

The food is pretty good, the sandwiches and salads are the best value. The menu occasionally has seasonal specials. Quality is good, but be prepared to pay plenty for the entrees. Mussels and salty frites are fun now and then. The sausage & cheese plates are a favorite.

Really the only reason I tend not to go here more often are the crowds. It's popular among the trendy/foodie/yupster crowd, and practically every night it's packed to the gills. Almost every time someone is ordering Stella and asking why they don't carry it. Sometimes the crowd seems like they just got off a tour bus and treat the place like some precious novelty. In other words, not a beer geek crowd by any means. End rant. Go during the week, or late afternoon/late evening on weekends (hit or miss).

They host great beer events on occasion, such as release parties for Surly, Dark Horse, Lost Abbey, and a special tapping of unblended Lambic from Boon last year that was intimate and really fantastic.

All in all, a great concept here, and well-worth the experience.

Photo of Stoneman78
4.64/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Finally made it to Hopleaf last week on my trip to Chicago. I knew it was north, but it ended up being a $20+ cab from downtown to this Lakeview locale. The atmosphere was very chill with the bar in front and restaurant in the back. Moderate sized bar with a sprawl of tables and booths, closely packed but not quite cramped. Fair lighting and ambiance. The bartenders were both friendly and knowledgeable with quick service. No waitresses for our table so we had to shuttle our own beers back to the small table.

The selection was definitely the highlight with an impressive selection of belgians, regional craft brews, and a large bottle list. Among our table we sampled: DFH 90min, 2Brothers Cane & Abel, Surly Bender, Allagash White, Unibroue Maudite & Trois Pistoles, Ayinger Brau Weiss, & Rodenbach Grand Cru. I have had most of these beers before, so it was nothing too crazy different for me. But we all had a great time sampling all the fares.

We did not try the food, but have heard impressive reviews. Hopleaf gets bonus points for a beautiful, practical, and updated webpage, definitely check it out for their every-changing beer lineup before you go. The only downside is the distance from downtown (read LONG cab ride); I am not sure I would go out of my way to go again given the great bars that are closer proximity to the downtown hotels where I usually stay. However, I would recommend to anyone to try it out at some point in their Chicago travels!

Photo of semihobo
4.9/5  rDev +9.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

My fiancee took me out to Hopleaf for my birthday. It was pretty accessible by public transportation, which is a plus -- #147 north to #92 west put us right there. I'll skip the general scheme of the place as there are so many other reviews.

On a Monday at 7:15, the place was pretty full, but we got seated immediately at a table for two in the back. Our attentive server got our drink orders immediately, although we needed some time just to digest the tap list. We started off with a Maredsous 8 and a Tripel Karmeliet, both served in the branded glassware. I had the mussels for starters -- they were excellent. If you like mussels, don't miss them, cooked in beer, with sourdough bread to soak up the extra liquid. Comes with very thin, savory french fries. Unfortunately the two travelers eating next to us (judging by their suitcases) were bragging loudly about their toolish exploits while I was trying to enjoy my birthday dinner... thankfully they left early. All other patrons were pleasant.

The menu was not that long but it was certainly adequate, there were two major options for vegetarians, a sandwich and a squash/risotto combination. We both had the CB&J, cashew butter, fig jam, and morbier cheese. Definitely a winner there. The side of stilton mac-n-cheese was also delicious.

Dessert was the only place where the food didn't shine -- the blueberry almond crisp was mediocre, although it didn't help that we were stuffed to the gills. We finished with a Dogfish 90 Minute and an Allagash White, both of which were reasonably priced at $5 a pint. Selection was excellent -- roughly 20 Belgian and 20 other taps, along with a very long list of bottles, arranged by category with prices. Meads and wines are also available. See their website for lists.

The men's room is kind of funny, nice walls and fixtures but the dividers and stalls are made out of rusted old corrugated metal, it works nicely. They also have one of those high-speed hand dryers that blows the air so hard it distorts your hand.

A filling meal for two plus 4 good beers for $62? I think that's a reasonable value.

A must visit, I will definitely be returning soon.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.13/5  rDev -7.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2

Went to this place for the first time in December after hearing many good things about it. My wife had been there beffore and likes it better than the Map Room, so I was excited to give it a try. It's a good bit further out from downtown than the Map Room is, but its in a nice neighborhood and the place itself is quite a bit bigger and nicer inside than the Map Room. Don't get me wrong, this place is no fern bar, and I don't mind a little grunge- what I mean is that this place seems more comfortable than the Map Room while still having a lot of character. Nice long bar, lots of booths and tables, relatively open and spacious, and a nice back dining room with plenty of tables as well as a nice little upstairs area in back. It was cold so I didn't look, but there might have beeen a patio out back as well. We were there for drrinks at the bar 1st, followed by dinner in the back. We got there early enough that there was no problem finding stools up front or a table in the back, even on a weekend. The pourers up front were knowledgeable and friendly. The tap list was good, with lots of interesting regionals and Belgians, but I thought it slightly weaker than the Map Room's. Everything was fresh and served correctly.

We were really looking forward to dinner in the back, but I have to say that I was unimpressed. First, everything is quite pricey, especially the specials. Second, our dining partners, who are vegetarian, commented that for a year now they have had the same 1 vegetarian entree/sandwich on the menu and that they were going to be bummed if it was still the only substantial vegetarian offering. Sure enough, there it was. They had to make due with various appetizers. Third, my wife ordered one of the specials that evening, the skate. It was spoiled and smelled like ammonia yet was still served. Thee kitchen did the right thing and comped that dish- but they could have done more and comped the table the meal, if not the beers- spoiled seafood is no laughing matter. Lastly, my special of Venison Osobuco, while sounding good, was terrible. Gristly, fatty, and with a sauce that had been thickened like a gravy with flour or cornstarch instead of a reduction- and it was something like $22. My fault for believing all the reviews and treating this place like some species of gastropub- its not, but the kitchen is overambitious and thinks it is. Stick to something simple and you'll be fine. I'd say stick to the mussels, but after the skate experience I don't trust them with seafood.

Even though our dinner was a bit grim, the place overall is quite nice and a great place to go have a brew. I'd be more interested in the extensive Belgian list if I was a local- I can get the same back home at the Brick Store. The local options weree nice, but I ran dry of stuff on tap I hadn't had before after a couple of beers. I give an edge to the Map Room as far as beer selection goes, but this place is overall a nicer place to visit- but then again, its all about the beer isn't it?

Photo of Yetiman420
4.53/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

My wife and I made a stop at Hopleaf prior to dinner on a Saturday evening the first week of December. Based on other reviews, I was expecting the worst in terms of a crowd. We arrived a little before 7 and while it was crowded, it turned out that many people at the front bar were waiting for tables so we eventually got a seat (and then a table) in the front bar area. The rear bar opened around 7:30 and you'll know it's open because of a red neon sign over the entryway to the back of the restauarant. We stuck with beers and it appeared the mussels were very popular. We did the Map Room twice on this visit (before and after a concert at a venue around the corner from the Map Room) and we give the Hopleaf a slight advantage over the Map Room because it's nicer, in a *better* nerighborhood, and cleaner. Better is a subjective term - there was much more going on around Clark street by the Hopleaf. Both places have a world-class beer selection and are worth the visit. Hopleaf has the Belgian Flemish sour brewed for Monks in Philly which I thought was cool. We also learned Chicago will go smoke free Jan. 1 of '08. I can't wait!!!

Photo of zorandra
4.45/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Although we were told there would be an hour to hour and a half wait for a table in the dining area, we were not worried. Look at the size of the beer menu! So we hunkered down up front in the crowded bar area and dove right in. Just the tap offerings kept us occupied and entertained while we waited.

Once seated the food menu, while somewhat scarce by comparison, even for a pub, was still chock full of delicious offerings. The Belgian-style mussels for two was more than enough for our party of four as an appetizer. We got a bottle of Cidre Bouche Reserve to go with it; the smoky flavour was a good compliment to the seafood.

The wait for our meals did take a while, but seeing that their kitchen could not be much bigger than the one in my apartment, and it was the night before Thanksgiving, it was no surprise that they were so busy. But the waiter checked in on us and we kept the beer menu handy. The list of tap beers is nothing compared to the bottle list.

So go there to relax, have a good time, and do not have anywhere to be in a set amount of time. Because it will be busy, and therefore it will take time to get your drinks and food to you. Plus, you will want to be there for a bit once you see the offerings. I know I will be back there soon.

Photo of koolchas
4.78/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

hopleaf was the third "main" bar visit that i my wife and i did during our recent chicago trip last week.

getting there took some time since we took the 22 clark bus from downtown up to andersonville. we made some stops along the way (get off at the clark/surf stop for some awesome belgian zucker waffels!) the bus ride takes you through some great neighborhoods and you even pass the front of wrigley field for some good photo ops. on the way back we did take the "L" but, if visiting, it is worth taking the bus at least one one leg of this trip. plus, if leaving early, you'll need to kill time since they don't open until 3pm (we went on a thursday).

by far, the hopleaf was our favorite beer bar during our chicago visit. we arrived at 3:30pm they had an excellent selection of american craft brews and belgians. my wife's favorite beer, dogfish 90min, was there on tap. so of course she got that and i decided to go with a lucifer. within half an hour we noticed the place to start to fill up so, we moved from the bar to a booth. the bartender was really nice and offered up many samples and also struck up some good conversation. on my second brew, i got a some kind of belgian "grand cru" - sorry forgot the name and it's not the one on their website. the chef came out since food is served starting at 5pm (and we needed it bad!) and recommended a couple of sandwiches (the ham and the brisket) which were both yummy. for my third brew, i had to go with a dogfish 90min since this is the first place i've ever seen it on tap. needless to say after three very good brews, i was done! my wife only stuck with one.

we stayed there until almost 6pm. by that time, the front part of the bar was already packed out and the back end was starting to fill up with diners. as typical, you can smoke in chicago bars. luckily, nobody was really smoking around us.

what really sets this place apart from the other top rated bars here on the chicago beerfly is that it also offers solid food. with us, we like to have munchies or at least some access to food when drinking and hopleaf delivers that. their tap list was well balanced which i liked (not all craft, not all belgian) with some yummy suprises for us like dfh90 which we did not expect to get at all.

given all the fun stuff we were able to do by taking the 22 clark bus up to hopleaf, if back in chicago this is one place i would make the trip and do. a friendly bar, with great staff, and overall a great selection of beer with great food.

Photo of franksnbeans
4.7/5  rDev +4.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Was in Chi-town on business. A co-worker of mine lives there and wanted to meet for brews and grub. I hit the beerfly database and settled on this place based on the reviews and the draft menu on their website. It’s a little out of the way if you are in the middle of the city but I assure you its worth it. Upon entering I wasn’t overly impressed. Typical bar decor and average seating. People were smoking (which I especially can’t stand while eating) but hey, it’s more a bar then restaurant and I’m here for the BEER not atmosphere. I’m used to the smoking ban in my hometown. Any inhibitions that I might have had were obliterated as soon as we sat at the bar. I almost had to wipe drool off my face looking at the taps. I proceeded to order delicious Belgian after Belgian, then a two brothers, then a 3 F's then an Urthel Hop-it, all draft, then it starts to get a little hazy but I know it was good. We ordered the mussels which were over the top good and paired extremely well with the beer. Each delicious beer was paired with the appropriate glass specific to the brewery the beer came from. I must admit I was gluttonous on this occasion but when its on the company’s dime it’s hard not to be. Bartenders were very attentive and friendly and loved to talk beer. The place gets very busy as the night goes on but I understand why. A must stop in Chi-Town.

Photo of johnyeast
4.44/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Expanded since I was last there. It was usually crowded and now they have a back room and an upstairs. They also serve food although I haven't tried it yet. Really enjoy the Hopleaf. Nice atmosphere. Walking distance from the Fireside which is a great place to have food. Great selection. Dominitated by IPA's and Belgiums. Which is very convienant that my brother loves IPA's and I truely appreciate Doubles and Triples. Proper glassware and unfortunately the proper price. (Chicago prices.) The only thing that I don't like (I'm spoiled in Ft. Collins) is the smoking in the bar.

Photo of SiphonKing
4/5  rDev -10.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I've lived near the Hopleaf for about 8 years now and it has become an icon of the surrounding neighborhood. If you are looking for good Belgian beers on tap served fresh than look no further. As noted from other reviews the place can get crowded fast and is a tight squeeze for larger parties. They do have dining in the rear and another bar located upstairs for those busy times. The food is inspired by the Belgian tradition and the pommes frites served with a mayonnaise-style sauce is delicious, although a bit pricey. Be sure to order a Kwak and marvel at the unique glassware it is served in. However, if you are on a beer budget than this may not be the place for you.

Photo of manodepaz
4.35/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Hands down one of the best beer bars in the United States for anybody who drinks Belgian beer, The Hopleaf always has an outstanding selection on draft. As well as a wide range of American Microbrews and imports. I've had a wide array of Beligan's on draft including St. Bernadus 12, Maredsus 8, Kwak, Duchess du Burgeone, Leffe Bruine & Blond and the astonishing Cantillon Broucsella (1900) Grand Cru!!! The front part of the establishment is a bar with a fair bit of smoke and slightly boistrous atmosphere enveloping the tables, booths, and taps. The back, restauraunt is much more refined with brick walls and table service. If you get a chance try the balcony upstairs for a slightly more quite atmosphere and chance to look out on the restaurant. Excellent steamed mussels and frites. I haven't had a lot of their other food because I order that meal every time their attempt at continenta/Belgian fare is most praiseworthy. An excellent place to imbibe the finest from the low countries. Prices for beer run 6-7 dollars per draft glass which may seem expensive but really isn't when you consider the exchange rate & rarity of draft Beligian beers. Definitely a place to go for a beer savory experience.

Photo of dreadnatty08
3.18/5  rDev -29%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Visited in March of 07. Small bar in front with about 10 or so tables, very tight and crowded, difficult to navigate from bar to seat even sober. Visited late afternoon and bar area was full. Two bartenders were working, both took quite a while to acknowledge and serve me. Asked about a Bell's beer, told they were no longer sold in IL, but why the hell do they list about 5 or 6 on a chalkboard menu; maybe you can't erase it? Finally I chose a couple beers, then I had to start a tab on a piece of paper because at the Hopleaf they're reliving the 19th century with their cash register circa 1890s. This makes having a tab a pain in the ass as well as the $20 min. on using credit cards; my biggest complaint about this place. We ordered some fries served in a cone that were great and a nice piece of sustenence between beers. Ordered a few things on tap served in the appropriate glassware, often the breweries own. However, when I ordered a bottled beer, I was given not a pint glass but one that was only about 10oz.. so I could only pour about 2/3 with a nice head. I don't know why they did this when a pint would be fine. Anyway, the selection was the best I've seen, but the service was just awful, and alas I will probably never return.

Photo of nickfl
4.53/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Got there at about 6:30 on a monday night, had no trouble finding a couple of tables for 6-8 people, but if we were an hour later there would have been no chance.
Interesting tap selection, I have seen more taps elsewhere, but I have never seen such unusual things on tap. If you go here you will have the chance to try beers on tap that aren't even sold that way in Belgium.
Bottle selection is even better. Several things on that menu that you are unlikely to see again soon.
I was there with my class from Siebel for a Belgian style tasting which was conducted by the owner, Michael. He clearly has a deep knowlege of Belgian beer and loves not only the beer but the culture as well. His passion for Belgain food is apparent too; I was almost more impressed by the quality of the food than the variety of the beer.

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.47/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Last stop for me and my crew after the 2nd CTA Pub Crawl.

Packed. Ridiculously packed. Sardine can packed. Yet…I managed to get beers really easily. The staff must really know how to hustle.

Selection: One of the best tap selections I’ve ever seen. Great bottle selection especially for Belgians. I had a couple Jadwigas and a Oud Beersel Kriek. I probably could have tasted 5 or 6 beers that I’d never had, just from their tap selection if I would have had more time and sobriety.

Quality: The beers are all quality and served in the appropriate glassware.

Atmosphere: It was pretty blurry. There was an upstairs and a downstairs. I’m not sure about much else. There were lots of people everywhere. The place was really crowded. The rooms seemed to move a lot.

Food: I heard it was good but since I couldn’t find a seat let alone a table, I didn’t’ try any.

I need to go back for an entire afternoon to really take in some of their beers.

Photo of mynie
4.8/5  rDev +7.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Take the Metra from Harvard to Jefferson Park. Then take the #92 bus towards Clark. Total travel time from Palatine was right around an hour.

We got there around eight and the only word I can use to describe it was "packed." The upstairs AND the downstairs. Yes, it was prime time on a Friday, but damn this place was packed.

But the crowd was great. Not the hepsters you get at other beer bars. Mostly people in their 30s and professionals. Nice crowd. I got along with them just fine.

Best tap selection ever. Better even than the maproom. And the upstairs bar has bottles like you wouldn't believe. EVERYTHING comes in proper glassware. The bartenders were busy as hell but nice as hell, too.

Slightly better than the maproom, even when it's crowded.

Photo of MrMcGibblets
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

atmosphere was very nice, interesting signs/memorabilia on the walls, 2 different bars, smaller selection upstairs, also 2 dining areas, unfortunately visited on a friday night so it was packed to the gills, service was efficient despite this, selection not as huge as a place like the brickskeller but still a wide array to choose from, about 30 taps, this place is a belgian beer afficionado's dream, more than half the selections are belgian or belgian style. a few places may have even more beers but at this place it seems as if each beer is carefully selected, they don't have beers just to have them. the beer menu is well updated and accurate, nice descriptors on the menu including abv. proper glassware is used. i rated it inexpensive because i noticed great prices on several beers and nothing looked overpriced.
went back on a sunday afternoon, place packed again, managed to get a table in the dining room very quickly, had the mussels in belgian beer w/pommes frites on the side, dish was top-notch, lots of mussels, nice light sauce, good bread, frites w/mayo were great, very well-priced. i can see why literally everybody in there who was eating also had the mussels. alpha king on tap was great as well as the 120 minute ipa served via bottle.

Photo of tjdemon
4.45/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I've been to Hopleaf many times but was waiting for a bit of a special occasion to review it, although to twist the line from Sideways, a trip to Hopleaf is its own special occasion. This past Saturday I joined my roommate and his family there as his youngest brother turned twenty-one the day before. To have known about this place when I was twenty-one...

I was about forty-five minutes early (by design) so I enjoyed a Three Floyds Brian Boru on my own and reveled in the cozy bar atmoshere on a cold and windy Chicago afternoon. Arrive anytime after 5 p.m. or so on weekends and the bar is jammed and smoke-ridden, so caveat emptor. That said, if you go early (or plan to eat in the dining room and snag a table) the atmospere rivals any establishment I've been in.

Quality and selection have always been top notch in my experience and for a bar that prides itself on its Belgian beer selection, it's American/local micro selection also has few rivals. There are always good choices available from Goose Island, Three Floyds, and Two Bros.

Service used to be a toss-up but I have noticed quite an improvement in the past year or so. I used to witness bartenders who would purposefully avoid eye contact and then provide plenty of condescension when they were forced to deal with customers but, for the most part, I think that has subsided. The other day both bartenders and our server in the dining room were fast, courteous, and offered suggestions when asked.

As far as the food goes, everything I have tried has been excellent, but to be honest I haven't ordered anything other than the Belgian ale steamed mussels for over a year now. You won't be disappointed.

The best advice I can offer is to go early, stay late, and cab it or take the CTA.

Photo of Xadoor
4.63/5  rDev +3.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Soper2000 had been going on and on about this place and the fantastic muscles they serve ever since we planned our beer trip to Chicago. I was glad to find that it certainly lived up to his recommendation. Coming from a city which has a pretty limited beer selection at most bars, the variety and selection was fantastic. The beers all tasted fresh and were served in the correct glassware, if not the glass from the actual brewery. Although it was relatively quiet when we arrived early afternoon, the place was standing room only by the time we left that evening. We sat at the bar which ensured prompt and attentive service, although the bartenders were not the most talkative bunch. We did share an order of muscles and, as Soper2000 had promised, they were the best I have ever had. Certainly a great beer destination, but I would strongly suggest coming in the early afternoon to avoid the loud and smoky crowd that seems to fill the place in the evening.

Photo of soper2000
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

**2/13/07**
Ahh, my return trip to the superb Hopleaf. I must admit that this bar was the impetus for flying a thousand miles to spend a weekend in temperatures 50 degrees lower than in my hometown. We arrived shortly after the opening time of 3 p.m. following a 6 dollar cab ride from the Goose Island Wrigleyville. Saddling up to the bar, I had to start formulating my plan of attack. I decided that by starting with low alcohol and matching every beer to a glass of water, I'd be ok.

First beer out of the gate was a Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold. This beer is always a marvel when fresh and it did not disappoint. At this stage of the day the bar was nice and empty with maybe only about 8 people inside (3 of which were in my party), so service was nice and prompt although not very talkative (which can be a plus sometimes in my book). About 40 minutes later and I was ready for my second beer: 3 Floyd's Black Sun Stout. It was served on nitro but pleasant nonetheless. I followed that up with: a Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek, Rodenbach Grand Cru (very nice and accompanied with a split order of Mussels and frites), and a Saint Bernadus 12. All beers were served in appropriate glassware and service continued to beer very timely although the place was starting to crowd (standing room only) and it was now pushing 8 o'clock.

As we were feeling a wee bit lightheaded we caught a cab back to the downtown Rock Bottom (after waiting all of about 10 seconds outside). Our bar tab was far less than expected which is always a nice surprise.

The Hopleaf is absolutely a destination bar and I could've spent several more pints here if our hotel was a little bit closer. Beyond all doubts it's worth the ~20 dollar cab ride if you are staying near the loop. Great place, I'll be back.


** Original review 3-12-2005 - Original score 4.85**
Finally got to hit up the Hopleaf this past Wednesday. I was prepared for a little bit of a let down after reading reviews of spotty service, but thankfully the Hopleaf met all of my high expectations. Although the Hopleaf is quite a trek from downtown, it's easily accessable via the red line and the #55 bus (cabs take away from my beer fund). My non beer drinking girlfriend and I arrived absolutely starved at about 4:45. The backroom doesn't open up until 5 so we decided to stay in the bar area (which was free of smoke at this point) and I grabbed a pint of 3 Floyd's Brian Boru. Service at the bar was very prompt and friendly as there were only around 10 people in the bar. Grabbing my pint and heading back to a booth I noticed a lot of brewania on the walls, a few books and newspapers to read through and the immense chalkboard with bottle selections (look left when you enter). I love how every table had an updated draft selections card with small descriptions of the brews on-tap. Beers such as Duchesse De Bourgogne, St Bernadus abt 12, Bell's Double Cream Stout, Kwak, Delirium Tremens, Saison Dupont and many more were available. A lot of Belgian beer was on-tap as expected ,but I was surprised by the amount of non-Belgian beer as well.
5 o'clock approached and we were led into the non-smoking back room which was nice and airy and featured a wood burning furnace/fireplace. Our waitress was exceptional. Never had to wait for anything. Mussels and frites were excellent and very reasonably priced. We finally left several beers and glasses of wine later very content. I will definetly be back to the Hopleaf and it surely won't be soon enough.

Photo of
4.25/5  rDev -5.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Stopped in while on business in Chicago.

Atmosphere was nice, very low key, brick and wood interior. I suggest, if space available, going through bar area and getting a table in back. Additional tables upstairs.

Quality was fine, no issues with my two samples or my friend's IPA.

Service was prompt and friendly. They were doing construction that night, so no bottles were being served. I was less than excited by this, because I had specifically wanted to try the GI Bourbon. I ordered the Atomium, and begged the server to sneak me a bottle of GI. With very little fuss, a bottle appeared, and the server offered to buy my Atomium, since "I wouldn't have ordered it if I would have gotten the bottle in the first place". I said absolutely not, enjoyed both, and tipped well for the efforts. Service like that will bring you back.

Selection is very nice. Belgian focus, then a bit of everything. Check out their website for a complete listing. I enjoyed an Atomium and a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout.

Food was tasty as well. We had already eaten, but the frites and the boar stew were a nice finish.

They are a bit pricey, but the food and beer are quite good, the selection almost guarantees something for everyone, and I was highly impressed by the service. I would go back again in a heartbeat.

Photo of soulgrowl
4.53/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

It's just nice to know that places like the Hopleaf exist, even if it is so far away. A friend of mine took me there for the first time a few weeks ago, and let me just say that "wide-eyed" and "slack-jawed" don't even begin to express how excited I was when I saw the tap list.

I won't bother rattling off everything they had, because their website has the whole menu posted. I will tell you what I had: Cantillon Bruocsella 1900 Grand Cru, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Allagash White, Hennepin, Black Sun Stout (all on tap!), and Vuuve. They were all served in the right glass, with a fair amount of head, and none too cold (though a few should have been a bit warmer). Prices were very decent, ranging from $4-8, though some of the bottles did run a bit expensive.

The food was excellent, too. I had their Wit-steamed mussels with herbs (delicious) and double-fried frites with garlic aioli (also delicious), and was very satisfied.

This bar has something for everyone, with a lot of really awesome, obscure stuff, yet the vibe is laid-back and boisterous. You won't be disappointed.

Full review at my blog: http://iamaviking.com/2007/01/11/the-hopleaf-%e3%82%b6%ef%bd%a5%e3%83%9b%e3%83%83%e3%83%97%e3%83%aa%e3%83%bc%e3%83%95/

Photo of Fugazme
4.47/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Located in a great neighborhood... lots of shops and restaurants... a quick trip from downtown on the red line. Great directions on the website.

Arrived around 7pm on a Friday... place was extremely busy. Dinner was a two-hour wait so we didn't eat. Fairly small bar area. Tons of great beers on tap. Lots to choose from including many Belgian types... all fairly reasonable in price... and they have well-placed beer menus around the bar...

Service was great even though the girl in front of me was yelled at by the bartender... not sure what happened, but the woman said she was going to tell her friends "never to come here"... the bartender responded by saying, "Good... if they're like you then we don't F-ing want them here." Then she took my order with a smile.

I would love to go back and try the food... I saw some beautifully presented plates go by... it looked great.

Only drawbacks that I could see were the amount of space and it was quite smokey.

Photo of lpayette
4.86/5  rDev +8.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Stopped here while in town for a business trip with a friend living in the area. It was a Sunday night and the place was packed. We were lucky enough to get seats at the bar, but I'd be afraid of trying to go here on a friday or saturday.

The selection was very well thought out with good offerings from around the country and around the world. Plenty of rare and more expensive things too. An excellent representation of belgian beers in particular. The beer menu is broken down well and has good, accurate descriptions of each beer. Very impressive and professional looking.

The service was also much better than most bars I've been to in recent memory... but perhaps that's because we had good seats and were buying $20 bottles of beer too... anyway, on this occassion, the bartenders were quite attentive.

This place was a bit pricey, but not all that unreasonable when you look at the prices of some of these beers in stores.

Photo of amatuerbeerguy
4.22/5  rDev -5.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This is a nicely setup bar. Atmosphere screams beer, quaint, small, intimate. The quality of the beer is fresh as can get. They seem to rotate through the beer quickly. Service is top notch no slouches here. All seem to know the beer they serve. Are prompt to take and refill orders. Helpful towards food pairing. Selection is the best Belgian I have seen. On tap and off. They have like 200 bottles mostly Belgian, with over 15 taps. Again mostly Belgian. First time I had DuPont Saison on tap. Food is mighty good. Had Duchesse De Bourgogne Duck that was great. It is a little pricey on food, and some beers. Overall a must go to in Chicago

Photo of RedBeerchetta
4.53/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Hopleaf is a true Belgian treasure, and a place I will surely try to go back to the next time I'm in Chicago. I'll get the only downsides out of the way right now - the bar area is extremely smokey (ack!), and our dining room waitress was inattentive. Aside from those two things, this place is perfection.

The space is exposed brick with modern, metalic touches here and there, especially in the dining room (which is in the rear). The front room contains the bar, and the actualy bar is a quite old and well preserved. The belgian food was top notch, with the frites, fried in conola oile and served Belgain style with mayo, are delicoius! The Wild Boar stew was also delicious.

The beer selection is HUGE, with descriptions of every offering and the staff helpful if you're undecided. Belgian beers are their specialty, but they also have an exceptional selection of domestic beers, both on tap and bottled.

I was there on a Wednesday night, and it was packed; bar was capacity and there was a wait for the dining room, and just about everyone was a local out to have a fun time.

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Hopleaf in Chicago, IL
99 out of 100 based on 313 ratings.