So many beer bars aspire to be the Hopleaf. The pretenders boast about their deep brew list, their food, their lack of snobbery. But none manage to get the alchemy right—they lack the globe-trotting drink selection that’s heavy on Belgian ales, the smartly sourced (and far above average) food, the savvy bartenders, and the spark that’s turned it from a just another watering hole into an institution.

Who’s there:Parents on a kid-free date—and maybe Aleksandar Hemon
What to order:Tripel Karmeliet beer ($8)