Classic Tables: Hopleaf

21 years in, Andersonville's beer joint keeps evolving

Hopleaf entered its twenties with a bang.

The past year has been marked by big changes for the Andersonville restaurant, which remains one of Chicago's best destinations for craft beer.

An expansion into the space next door added new seating and a second bar, and quadrupled the size of the kitchen, allowing the restaurant to open for lunch.

Thanks to the new bar room and expanded kitchen and staff, waits at the perpetually busy restaurant are shorter, and service speedier. This is a boon, because its lengthy charcuterie menu and hearty but refined dishes merit impatience. Start with a trio from the list of house-made charcuterie ($14), which has lengthened since Hopleaf hired City Provisions' butcher after the deli closed.

On a recent visit, we paired 5 Rabbit's hibiscus-scented Huitzi with spring-y dishes, including asparagus-and-potato salad with dill vinaigrette ($8), and bone-in roasted lamb saddle with pea spaetzle, spring onions and fava beans ($26).

The beer list hasn't changed: It's still over 400 deep. But drafts are running through brand-new tap lines, which hold a substantial assortment of kegged wines, too.

Which means there are nearly 500 ways to toast to Hopleaf's next 21 years.