Hopleaf started out as a tiny, dark tavern reminiscent of those in Ghent or Bruges, Belgium. Although they’ve added a restaurant and patio, the main entrance still opens to the original tavern, with a dark wood bar, little stools, low tables, and a few wood booths. I enjoy sitting in the old tavern most, though there is a potbelly stove nestled among the tables of the dining area that maintains Hopleaf’s coziness and charm in the larger restaurant space.
No matter where you’re sitting, you can be guaranteed warm aromas tinged with an addicting mixture of malt, frites, and the buttery broth served with some of the best mussels in Chicago. Hopleaf’s beer list is extensive, and while they specialize in unique Belgian brews, they have something for everyone. I also really appreciate that their menu includes a description of each beer, in addition to the usual notes about glass size and alcohol content. If beer isn’t your thing, or your just feeling too full, definitely try some of their wines on tap, which you can get by the glass, half or full carafe.
You’ll probably notice on each pint glass is the Hopleaf logo, which actually says “Michael & Louise’s Hopleaf Tavern.” They’re still the owners, support the neighborhood, and are very likely to be seen around the place on any given day. Hopleaf is their baby. Speaking of babies, leave yours at home. Hopleaf remains a 21+ bar, a tradition maintained since its tavern beginnings.