Hopleaf

BA SCORE
98
world-class

351 Ratings
HopleafHopleaf
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Eatery

5148 N Clark St
Chicago, Illinois, 60640-2828
United States

(773) 334-9851 | map
hopleaf.com

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate

PLACE STATS
Score:
98
Ratings:
351
Reviews:
191
Avg:
4.43
pDev:
6.77%
 
 
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Ratings: 351 |  Reviews: 191
Photo of slander
4.3/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

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.

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Photo of emerge077
4.78/5  rDev +7.9%
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... if you haven't been lately, try it again you won't be disappointed. Many unusual and unique beers, some not found elsewhere in town. Menu is as great as ever also. My main gripe about the crowds in the past has been resolved with the remodel and expansion. Hopleaf is truly a crown jewel of Chicago's beer scene.

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

03-30-2008
#1.) Expect to wait for a table if you go on Friday or Saturday night. Don't complain on here if you had to wait for a table or service at peak hours when you didn't know any better.

#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. Due to the crowds, 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 charcuterie & cheese plates are a favorite.

The crowds are the only reason i'm not here more often. 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. Tourist groups treat the place like some precious novelty. In other words, it's 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.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.86/5  rDev -12.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

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 day’s 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 1920’s-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 (that’s where I would want to sit since you can see everything) and down to the “main” washrooms. I won’t bother telling you about the auxiliary washroom, since it is designated for Persons with Disabilities.
Beer: I drank Lindeman’s Pomme on draft; Point Pale Ale on draft; and Two Brothers Cane and Ebel on draft, the latter thanks to Sopor’s 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.

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Photo of misternebbie
4.26/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.43/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

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.

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Photo of Yetiman420
4.53/5  rDev +2.3%
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!!!

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Photo of Redrover
4.3/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

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 lover’s 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.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.38/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

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

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Photo of nickfl
4.53/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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Photo of yemenmocha
4.53/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 5

Visited on Saturday afternoon right at the opening. Quiet place with amazing selection on draft, and bottles were quite nice as well.

Too many servers on staff, so they ended up talking to each other rather than give great service, but the service was tolerable so I didn't complain.

Typical beer bar atmosphere.

Did not sample the food so I cannot comment here. Several good Med restaurants nearby.

Hopleaf is always on my list for "must see" places when I visit Chicago periodically. Daytime patronage is recommended for getting the most out of your beer tasting here.

 574 characters

Photo of Canada_Dan
4.75/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of orangesol
4.47/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Photo of francisweizen
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

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!

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Photo of mynie
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

EDIT:
Knocking the scores down just a little bit. The place is still very nice and worth stopping by, but it's not as great by 2016 standards as it was by 2007 standards.

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.

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Photo of Bung
4.1/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

In an obviously alternative part of the town. Walking from here to the Red Line is then a more questionalbe part. A little small, a little crowded. This has the most impressive selection of Belgians I've seen. Unfortunately, I could care less about Belgians. Good selection of others, locals and hard to find out of state, like Surly. Seasonal nature lended toward summer brews, so many lighter styles not all that different from the large Belgian selection. Didn't have any food, looked rather unique/trendy. Prices were fine for Chicago. Service was good and knowledgeable. Worth visiting, but if you have some conservative friends the area may not be to their liking.

 670 characters

Photo of spointon
5/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

I have only visited the Hopleaf once (it is WAY north on Clark Street) but I was very impressed with that visit.

The main bar room is not very big and is dominated by the bar and all of the empty bottles covering the walls indicating what beers they have in bottles. For the size of the bar, there are a staggering number of beers available in bottles and the draft beer list is quite good too. My tastes run toward Belgian ales and the Hopleaf did not dissappoint me. I saw almost every Belgian ale I have ever had and a few I had never heard of in this place...

While I didn't have any of the food on my visit, I was sitting next to others enjoying mussels and pomme frite which looked and smelled delicious.

Service was solid and the prices were fair for the quality and rarity of many of the beers available. Definitely on par with the Map Room for a fantastic Chicago beer destination!

 893 characters

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.47/5  rDev +0.9%
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.

 966 characters

Photo of spycow
4.2/5  rDev -5.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I went to Hopleaf for the first time last night. I've heard so many stories about it over the last couple of weeks I had to make my way there this weekend. The atmosphere was typical of a North Chicago bar focused on beer. With over 40 beers on tap from Belgian favorites and specialities to local favorites provides quite a variety for the beer connoisseur. In addition they carry over 250 beers in bottles again with a focus on Belgain styles of all kinds. The staff is extremely knowledgeable of beer and can help match up a beer to an individual's taste. In addition, they have the beer glass collection to match many of the Belgian favorites.

The food is also unbelievable. They specialize in Belgian fare from their appetizers to desserts. Mussels is their speciality served for one or two people with bread, frites, and aioli.

We arrived around 8:30 on a Friday night and the bar was already packed. The wait for dinner was up to 2 hours but worth it. From my understanding this is not uncommon due to the high demand for the food, beers, and the service.

I wish I would have found this place sooner especially with my love of Belgian beers and mussels! A place I will be frequenting often with friends. Highly recommended for any connoisseur of Belgian beers.

BTW - They carry Leffe Brune on tap as well. In traveling all over the US, this is first bar or store I've found that serves or sells Leffe Brune. Always can find the Blonde but never the Brune. Only place I've ever drank it was in Europe on many visits.

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Photo of ZEB89
4.06/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Photo of BeerOps
4.53/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4

Photo of BarrelAgedG
4.6/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Photo of markgugs
4.75/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of Sparky44
4.25/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of Kurmaraja
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%

Photo of fredmugs
4.37/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

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Hopleaf in Chicago, IL
4.43 out of 5 based on 351 ratings.
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