Urbanbelly Restaurant Review – Reopens For Dine-In And Patio

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Urbanbelly is back open for in-restaurant and patio dining! Chef Bill Kim’s popular fast-casual restaurant has made a name for serving its signature dumplings, booze and bowls since 2008, all of which travel via delivery and takeout extraordinarily well, but with Chicagoans craving time outside of the house, the Wicker Park mainstay is here to safely fill that void. Urbanbelly is located at 1542 W. Damen Avenue in the heart of Wicker Park. 

Inside dining area of Urban Belly

Dumplings, booze and bowls are the draw at urbanbelly. Established in 2008 by award-winning Chef Bill Kim, the restaurant is Asian and American. Joyously creative yet curiously familiar. Neighborhood comfort with Kim’s Seoul-to-Chicago soul. 

Urbanbelly ordering counter

Open for lunch and dinner daily, the Cornerstone Restaurant Group team is ensuring the utmost safety precautions for staff and guests. Guests are required to wear a mask while ordering and in line, maintaining safe social distancing throughout. The patio along the south side of the restaurant remains open for seating, flanked by its colorful jungle mural backdrop.

Jungle murals decorate the walls of Urbanbelly

In addition to Kim’s signature items like gluten-free coconut curry pho, a variety of new, seasonal items include:

Chilled Peanut Noodle Salad is the perfect transition for ramen-lovers for summer. It features chilled ramen noodles tossed in a peanut sauce with pickled cucumbers and onions, bean sprouts, cilantro and Korean chili flakes, available on its own or with shrimp, tofu, lemongrass chicken, Katsu chicken, pork belly or “phat-style.”

Our delicious variety of dishes for dinner at Urbanbelly

Pretty Cool Ice Cream pops from local pastry artisan Dana Cree, Canned Cocktails and popular Vietnamese Cold Brew Iced Coffee are all offered. 

Urbanbelly is also offering a new Tuesday special of two urbanbowls for $20, available for dine-in or takeout with choice of tofu, lemongrass chicken or Katsu chicken, and a new sampler platter with bao buns, dumplings and kimchi.

Kim’s beloved take on the classic American hot dog with his signature twist, the Belly Dog, was available July 13-23 to kick off the start of baseball season. 

Urbanbelly has been on my Chicago foodie bucket list for as long as I can remember. With the city’s Covid-19 Phase 4 reopening restaurants for outdoor dining, I jumped at the chance to safely dine while finally experiencing the legendary and popular eatery. 

The cuisine and drinks surpassed my high expectations. My guest and I were seated just inside the restaurant next to the patio window, with nicely socially distanced tables. We were the only ones seated there, which was nice. The process inside: wait in line, order, and then pay for your food at the counter. Our order was then brought to our table. 

Our drinks were delicious. My guest had a refreshing and summery frozen Kirin Ichiban Frozen Beer. It was an unusual yet interesting sipping experience. As for myself, I ordered the mint matcha ice tea. The deep, jade green if the tea was lovely to look at in my cup. I drink matcha daily but have never paired it with mint; the subtle mint flavor added a satisfying flavor to the drink. 

Kirin Ichiban Frozen Beer
Mint matcha ice tea

Urbanbelly showcases creative and delicious dishes for the hungry palate such as delicate pork and cilantro, chicken red curry and sea salt flecked edamame dumplings. Dip the dumplings in a garlic, soy glaze and you are all set. 

Delicious Urbanbelly dumplings

Everything the diner consumes at Urbanbelly will fill up the stomach quite nicely. It is a huge guarantee that you will bring home leftovers. This was evident when we could not finish the huge portions of our ordered food. My carnivorous guest gobbled up what he could of his trio of the Phat Style Bowl (fried rice, scrambled egg, lemongrass chicken, pork belly & pineapple, shrimp). He enjoyed the balanced mixture of the culinary components of the dish. The meat and seafood were all well cooked and seasoned. My main dish was the Tofu and Pea Shoots Bowl with udon noodles, scrambled egg and kimchi, which was a perfect variety of textures and flavors.

Phat Style Bowl
Pea Shoots Bowl

We both shared the highly recommended summer dish of chilled ramen noodles tossed in a peanut sauce with pickled cucumbers and onions, bean sprouts, cilantro and Korean chili flakes. It had a nice, spicy kick to it but was not over the top. It was perfect for summer and a nice, light dish.

Chilled ramen noodles tossed in a peanut sauce

Dessert included Urbanbelly’s selections from Pretty Cool Ice Cream, which were displayed in a retro-style cooler at the order counter. We sampled PB&J and Dreamsicle. Other offered flavors included Rainbow Chip, Ricky’s Pretzel Toffee Coffee and Passion Fruit Hibiscus. The Dreamcicle bar was a bit too sweet, but the PB&J was a hit for the tastebuds. It tasted just like a PB&J sandwich on a stick (minus the bread). I loved how the flavors of the peanut butter transitioned to strawberry jelly on my tongue. 

The Pretty Cool Ice Cream Cooler
Pretty Cool Ice Cream (PB&J and Dreamsicle)

Urbanbelly is your kind of neighborhood restaurant that offers diners that “wow factor” when you eat there. The menu is constantly changing, which keeps the dining concept fresh and in the moment. If you want a casual, yet upscale food experience with amazing flavors, textures and service, head on over to Urban Belly. I guarantee that you will leave with a full “urban belly!”

Photos: Jennifer Lunz 

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Delivery and takeout are still available through Caviar, Doordash and Ritual.

Part of Cornerstone Restaurant Group, Urbanbelly is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

For more information, visit the website or follow on social media @urbanbellychicago.

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