Ratings: 263 | Reviews: 179 | Display Reviews Only:
4.3/5 rDev -3.2%
Having done our thing at Rock Bottom, we're heading back to the hotel when I call a call from Mark (the Connecticut kid), all lost, he, Geoffe and Mike. "We just passed Rock Bottom and...". "What? I just left there. Turn around and go back to Rock Bottom, we'll meet you there". So much for heading back to the hotel, we're cabbing it to Hopleaf...
It's a good room, with a "C" shaped bar seating upwards of a dozen and a half, 4 booths, and a half dozen tables here and there. Walls are wood lowers with beige uppers, pressed tin ceiling, drop lighting and ceiling fans, a large mirrored back bar, wood units, a great glassware rack taking up a good piece of wall space to the rear, and beer signs and foreign booze prints throughout. Three blackboards overhead list the gigantic bottled selection, with it's primary focus on Belgians, Belgians, Belgians.
30 taps, 3 towers pouring 10 a piece. Roughly a third of them Belgian (DeKoninck, Liefman's Framboise, St. B 12, Delirium Tremons, Leffe, Duchess, Kwak, Scaldis, Avec Les Bons Voeux, Tripel Karmeliet) and the other 2/3 are primarily American micros (4 Bells, Summit, Two Brothers, 3 Floyds, Great Lakes, Sprecher, Goose Island, 3 Sierra Nevadas, Anchor, Allagash, Dogfish Head, Victory). A nice showcase of micros, regional and beyond.
There's a back room with a dozen tables. It's all brick with high ceilings, a wood stove and wine racks. A mezzanine seating area above overlooks this room and there's also a 2nd floor party room.
Good service, good crowd (I was hanging barside with the Shelton rep and the drinking & writing kid). I would've liked to have had more time here to really take in that bottled list.
02-06-2005 19:37:20 | More by slander
4.78/5 rDev +7.7%
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.
#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.
03-30-2008 21:30:21 | More by emerge077
3.86/5 rDev -13.1%
Sopor, my visit to this place was in keeping with your characterization of the trip as a whole as gonzo. My plan for the day had been to hit Piece B. C., then The Map Room, and go back to the hostel to crash out in anticipation of the following days ride to St. Louis. While I was stilling at Piece, I struck up conversations with The Michigan Seat the seat directly to my left had a succession of people who all hailed from Michigan and the second guy put me onto an easy set of directions. Get off at the Argyle stop and walk three to four blocks west. Even to my insensate ears, this seemed doable, and so I was off to see The Hopleaf.
No vestibule! I walked in the door and the long, U-shaped bar was directly to my left. There were restaurant tables and chairs to the right, and against the right wall was a bank of booths. Above the left end of the bar, where I was sitting, were three chalkboards, each written on in three columns in colored chalk, detailing their bottle selection. The same selection was also detailed in a tall, fourteen page booklet, but I was somehow visually drawn to the blackboards, especially with that colored chalk being used.
The bar area had a 1920s-era European feel, from the antique back bar; the ceiling lights; the pressed-tin ceiling; the gently rotating ceiling fans; the vintage advertising, some framed, some tin signage; to, finally, the soft jazz playing in the background. It was almost enough to inspire me to pull out my F. Scott Fitzgerald Omnibus that I was reading on that leg of the trip.
Towards the right end of the bar was a bookshelf, then a short ramp leading up to the restaurant area. At the top of the ramp, to the immediate right, was the kitchen. The restaurant area was likewise festooned with vintage adverts. Off to the left, again at the top of the ramp, was a stairway, going both up to a mezzanine seating area (thats where I would want to sit since you can see everything) and down to the main washrooms. I wont bother telling you about the auxiliary washroom, since it is designated for Persons with Disabilities.
Beer: I drank Lindemans Pomme on draft; Point Pale Ale on draft; and Two Brothers Cane and Ebel on draft, the latter thanks to Sopors suggestion.
The wrap-up: I really coveted the Horlacher Angling Map in the stairwell leading to the lavatories, as well as one of their bowling shirts. The logo is based on a vintage sign from Chicha Simonds The Hop Leaf. Their easy accessibility makes it a no-brainer during a visit to CHI.
The Mom Test: Oh, yeah. Clean, nice restaurant, good ambiance. No problem.
10-03-2006 08:49:05 | More by woodychandler
4.43/5 rDev -0.2%
Stopped here while in Chicago on business in August 2005. The beer selection is extremely wide, and they have an incredible number of Belgians (in bottle and many on tap).
The main thing I appreciated was that each beer I ordered (and the orders of my neighbors) was served in the appropriate glassware from the actual brewery. I started with a Westvleteren 12, served in a Westvleteren chalice. This was my first one after months of searching, so Hopleaf is an important landmark for me... My second beer was Tripel Karmeliet. It was served in the brewery chalice, and was floral and strong.
The service was pretty good, but nothing outstanding really. No one was rude, there just wasn't very much attention...
I'll be coming back next time I'm in Chicago. But I do want to try the MapRoom also.
08-27-2005 14:06:01 | More by TurdFurgison
4.38/5 rDev -1.4%
I finally made it into Hopleaf...I grew up in the Chicago area (grant it, pre-beer times), live in Madison, and spend at least 10% of my year in Chicago but have never been to this bar.
I guess the main reason for this is that it's a neighborhood joint and it's in a neighborhood that isnt really that close to anywhere i spend time...its a hike from downtown (a bit north of wrigley even) and is a good 6 miles off the interstate.
That said, it's easy to find...take the lawrence avenue exit off of i-90 if driving, and hang a left on clark street and you're there. parking is pretty easy with metered spots and free street parking in the area
the taps are extensive (40-50ish) and so are the bottles, with a strong focus on belgians. theres no point in me listing them here - just go to www.hopleaf.com for up-to-date beer and food menus
service was just fine...food was served promptly
i found the selection to be nice and interesting but there wasnt anything on tap that just knocked be backwards
the food was fantastic...i had muscles and frites (belgian style of course). This was a fantastic dish for 11$ (the frites were damn amazing). There was also dishes featuring duck, rabbit, and other french/belgian staples that all looked great.
prices were on the high end of fair (5-7 per tap, but given the quality and imported nature, this was no biggie). No macros present whatsoever
cool joint for sure...the food presence really makes this worth the stop.
once you get past the fascist doorguys (every bar in chicago would card a 114 year old woman if she tried to enter), the interior is quaint and wooden with plenty of restaurant space and some outdoor space for smokers
07-23-2008 04:08:41 | More by dirtylou
4.53/5 rDev +2%
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!!!
12-04-2007 14:15:30 | More by Yetiman420
4.5/5 rDev +1.4%
So, i'm in chi-town, down on my luck, with some personal problems, and a hole in my heart. It was just like an f'in Tom Waits song off of Swordfish Trombones, and combined with my chain-smoking, el-riding escapades it was like some freaked out version of High Fidelity that John Cusack would be scared to touch with a ten foot pole....So I tried to go to Clark street earlier, but than I remembered that the windy city is like Brooklyn and some good bars don't open until 4pm on a weekday! Anyways, this place opens earlier, and I found out the map room opens at 11:30 in the afternoon (soon, in a week or two i'll be back!). So, this place, what can be said. Well Atmosphere is killer, dark, with all dark wood and a dreary, shadowy speak-easy feel that makes this place feel 20's gangster, more than some of the oldest pubs in Philly or NYC. Service is to the point. Beers are filled quickly by some gruff-looking tenders. They arent the prettiest bunch, but they take care of you and keep your glass full. Selection is good, draughts are varied and unique, but not insane, bottled list is insane, but mostly imports, and when I go to a pub I like drinking draught beers 99% of the time anyway...why? Well I don't have draught at home, but I do have bottles, and most likely I can get anything the bar can get cheaper! Unless we're talking brewpubs, which I ain't. I did have a glass of 25 year old Polish Jadwiga mead though (the best mead ever?) a nice sized glass for $6 was quite reasonable. I than quaffed some draught two hearted and alpha king, before eschewing beer all together and hitting up some russian vodka and camel lights on this bender night. Food looked kick ass, but I did not try any, as I was on hunger strike at the time. I only had one night in Chicago on my first visit, and the full day I spent here was fucked up and insane. I met some great people, got my heart broken, went on a true bender in a great pub, and didn't make it to any others as well! But hey, this is life, and sometimes beer isn't the end all and be all of ones self....with that said, however, I will be back in chi-town in a few weeks...I will hit 2 other bars, and I will not go on a bender this time...I'm gonna kick Chicago in the ass when I get back..watch out clark street and map room (and maybe even goose island...) as it is, take it or leave it...the hop Leaf is a bar....and it is a damn good bar at that!
05-31-2005 21:38:16 | More by francisweizen
4.3/5 rDev -3.2%
I have always liked this bar. Even in the early 1990s, They were bringing in beers that that few folks had seen.
The selection is great, they have knowledgeable servers and the crowd is friendly. What more can you ask for?? This is a beer lovers bar and you can get some truly interesting beers here.
It is a little off the beaten path (for some people), but it is well worth the journey. This is a nice place to spend an afternoon or evening, you will not be disappointed!
Tends to get very crowded, so go early or at off hours to avoid the crowds.
02-03-2003 17:03:55 | More by Redrover
4.47/5 rDev +0.7%
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 Ive 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 Id 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. Im 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 couldnt find a seat let alone a table, I didnt try any.
I need to go back for an entire afternoon to really take in some of their beers.
03-19-2007 17:35:31 | More by DaPeculierDane
4.33/5 rDev -2.5%
A couple hours hanging out, starting around 5pm...20 April, 2010.
After a stop up the street at Charlie's for a couple pints and some gut-filling grub, we worked our way back to Hopleaf, our main reason for the unplanned jaunt into Andersonville. Housed in an unassuming mid-block two-storied brick building, Hopleaf opens into a cozy daylit room with warm, dark floors and a stout wooden bar to the left. Vintage bier and liquor signage covers two walls; the third is concealed behind the bars backdrop and a row-upon-row collection of empty bottles that showcases the dozens, nay hundreds, of domestic and international offerings. Seating is mostly at squat tables; a few booths line the right wall and 10 or so stools line a bar (kept on this day by the affable and capable 'Slim') surrounded by clusters of tap handles.
We chose a table for two right in the front of the bar, tucked into the front nook just left of the door. Those shelves of empties hovered ominously above my head; I tempted fate every time I stood, since an inebriated misstep could have sent the whole thing crashing down. From the list of 50+ taps and 16 pages of bottles (pints/bottles generally $4-6 to start, more for rare/vintage) we ordered a first round consisting of a pint of the Two Brothers Long Haul (a very tasty dark mild/session ale) for me and a hefty goblet of Tripel Karmeliet (proper glassware) for the lady. As we reflected on the excellence of the day and the wonderful vibe of the place and neighborhood (touristy camera shots and facebook updates ensued...), we started to get hungry. When I ordered my second round (a Goose Island 'Green Line' - a draft only local; also sampled the robust and fruity Metropolitan Alt), we added a pot of steaming Belgian Mussels. They were a bit on the small side, but were tasty enough and swimming in a divine witbier-based broth.
Twice we had reason to check out the rest of the facilities (i.e. bathrooms, unremarkable but for a low-ceilinged approach down the stairs to the basement - watch your head!); the spacious back room, full of light and surrounded by high brick walls filled up by 6pm. An overlooking balcony was stuffed, too, and an unoccupied but at-the-ready secondary dining room/bar looked to be just as inviting as the rooms downstairs.
After 2+ hours, we figured it was time to depart for dinner, but not before partaking of the magical elixir that is Surly Four. My review will support the fact that this was among the finest beers either of us has tasted in a very long time. A terrific way to end our time at a bar we thoroughly enjoyed and would love to re-visit. Any plans to open a Hopleaf in Portland??? :)
04-23-2010 03:57:56 | More by msubulldog25
Hopleaf in Chicago, IL
98 out of 100 based on 263 ratings.