A Quick Word:
Belly Shack is a unique sandwich joint located in the bucktown/wicker park neighborhood. The restuarant combines both Puerto Rican and Korean cuisines. From kimchi to the famous chicago jibarito sandwich, the chef brings together some incredible flavors that I would never expect to work. Unfortunately, some of those combinations don't work too well... and are definitely a stretch at best. In fact, some items I wouldn't come back for ever. When regarding the atmosphere, the one word that describes it is chill. There is an open air kitchen allowing customers to watch all the madness take shape in the back. Everything is help yourself... so make sure to grab some water, chopsticks, and napkins before grabbing a seat. And, don't forget to clean up after yourself. Because of just OK food and strange restaurant location with no parking options, I decided on giving it a 3.0 mile for now... with room to grow once I try some other options.
What I Ate:
I thought starting my jibarito quest during lent would be difficult. But I stumbled across this vegetarian option at Belly Shack. The Boricua was originally made vegetarian, but has adapted to offer meat options as well. Anyway, this spin on the jibarito is built with the same fried plantain base (substitutes for bread). It is filled with thick cut marinated tofu, a sweet hoisin sauce, brown rice, and a vegetable combination that I believe included mushrooms and bok choy. The brown rice was a great addition to give the vegetarian jibarito more substance and also an earthy flavor. Unfortunately, the tofu does not work. It was mushy and just kept falling out of the sandwich, taking the veggie mix with it. The sandwich was very juicy probably because of the vegetables making the plantains soggier as you eat the sandwich. I will definitely not be back for this sandwich, but I am interested in trying some of the other options.
The kimchi at Belly Shack is supposedly a family recipe and it is honestly amazing. The veggies were perfectly fermented with each bite containing an amazing crisp to it. There wasn't much spice to it unfortunately. I personally like spicy kimchi. Definitely add some to the jibarito to make it a little bit better. And for $4.00, it was an awesome addition to my meal. I recommend this side for sure.
- Just some tips on ordering... after ordering at the cash register, grab your number and take any seat. Then head over to the area with water jugs and help yourself to some ice water and your own silverware and napkins. And after you are done eating, just bus your utensils and plates to the bins near the water jugs. I guess there is no reason to tip here?
- There is literally NO parking around this location. It is underneath a train stop and all the side streets are permit parking only. Be prepared to circle around a lot or for a short trek from wherever you do find parking.
How far would I walk for this food?