Ema

4.7
2173 reviews
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$31 to $50
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Mediterranean
Mediterranean & California-inspired restaurant featuring small plates & light style cooking in Chicago's River North.

What Insiders Are Saying

The Infatuation
7.7

_ma is a small plates Mediterranean restaurant in River North, and it's good for a lot of occasions.

Ratings 7.5-8.0:These are restaurants that are reliable, tasty, and particularly good for whatever we have deemed them “Perfect For.” Hit up a 7.7 for Date Night with confidence, as long as you don’t need the restaurant to be the most interesting thing that happens that night.
What 2173 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.7based on recent ratings
4.7
food
4.5
service
4.6
ambience
4.4
value
Noise · Moderate
93% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
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OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food. Everything fresh.

KH
Grand Rapids
8 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Excellent food and service !

J
Chicago
27 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Very good food...generally attentive service although it seemed that there was either a shortage of staff or a need for a bit more training or support.

RB
Washington DC
23 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 2food 3service 2ambience 4

I had a bad experience at this restaurant but would be willing to try it again.

I arrived a half hour for an 8:45 pm reservation and was told they could not seat me earlier. Instead of waiting for a table I chose to eat at the bar (I was alone).

I didn't recognize any of the white wines on the menu so the bartender let me sample several - one from Greece and another from Italy. They were almost identical in flavor but the Greek wine has a slightly smoother finish. Both were good values at $13 per glass.

I ordered the Gazpacho soup plus the grilled cauliflower and the roasted octopus. The woman next to my was eating the cauliflower dish and said it was tasty (and it looked tasty).

My soup arrived and was ok, not great. It was a bit too thin for my taste and the portion was really small but as an appetizer it was acceptable. I looked forward to the other two dishes I had ordered. They never arrived. After waiting almost one hour I gave and cancelled the rest of my order and left. I left a 10 percent tip, which was probably not justified.

I would be willing to give EMA another try as the food did look good and the prices are moderate. But if I return I will make clear to my server that I will not wait more than 30 minutes for my main course to arrive.

FF
Chicago
8 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Love everything about EMA!!!

o
Chicago
40 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A delicious range of fresh and original flavors in combination with a clever and adventurous wine program makes this a worthy culinary destination. Meat optional!

KW
New Orleans
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Super fresh and tasty. Great vibe. The dip sampler is a must. The labneh was something that I wish I could recreate at home.

R
London
7 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food as always and great service. Love the stracciatella. Great place for an occasion.

OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 2ambience 5

slow service but they comped food

C
Chicago
21 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Celebrating a birthday lunch/brunch on a gorgeous Sunday.The whole table was impressed with the delicious and quality dishes we were served.Greek salad,corn risotto, pita/hummus and chicken kabob were just right serving size-not likely the average diner will have enough left to take home.No cocktails were had other than mimosas.I highly suggest giving Ema a try!

DD
Pittsburgh
1 review
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Great restaurant. I would likely come back.

We did 5 plates for 2 people and it was perfect sadly they were out of one of the items I ordered (short rib) after some plates had been delivered. Also some plates were delivered alone some in pairs (or delayed pairs) without much consistency. The dishes we ended up having were the spicy hummus, romanesco cauliflower, corn risotto, pan seared salmon (sub for the short rib), and the chicken kefta. If I came back I’d sub the chicken for the lamb kefta, and the risotto for another vegetable (and obviously the salmon for the short rib).

Size was good for 2.

I also had the smoking jacket cocktail. Highly recommend.

MG
Chicago
1 review
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Loved Ema and can't wait to come back! Best Humus ever!

MG
Chicago
10 reviews
Dined on August 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We sat on outside patio and tried several of the small plate. All were delicious, the service was great and it was a very enjoyable evening.

AT
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on August 9, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 4

Worst service (by far) and food of any restaurant we went to while in Chicago during our long weekend here. We came here around 3pm on a Friday when there were literally more wait staff than patrons and yet it took forever for anyone to acknowledge us.

Also took forever to take our food order, bring a simple glass of wine, and to come back after our food came to check in case we wanted to spend more money with them by buying more wine.

This place did excel in having plenty of employees making awkward eye contact with you but unwilling to help. All in all, no one working there really seemed to care.

The only thing we liked were the “spreads” with hummus. The octopus was nothing but brutally astringent, intensely acidic. Couldn’t taste anything but lemon and brine. The chopped salad was overpriced with hardly any flavor or toppings besides lettuce.

We even spotted what looked like the owner milling about, totally oblivious to how apathetic the wait staff was at serving customers or making edible food.

To top it all off, they marked us a “no-show” on OpenTable only a few minutes after we left having spent nearly $100 during happy hour for 2. And yes, we checked in with the host telling them we had an OpenTable reservation, but it didn’t make a difference.

Rewinding a sec, I almost forgot to mention that the first thing that greeted us after the hostess took us to our table were multiple chairs absolutely covered in nasty looking food debris from whomever sat there before us. Gross! Nearly lost my appetite. The host only though they needed to wipe off one of the chairs but left the other right next to me still covered in food.

They also don’t advertise that they had happy hour 3-6pm M-F. I only knew about it after overhearing someone else ask for a happy hour menu. Problem was, they won’t serve you the happy hour menu unless you sat 5 feet away in the bar area. Makes no sense whatsoever.

Very disappointing for a restaurant on Yelp rated 4.5 stars out of 5.

m
Chicago
14 reviews
Dined on August 9, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

good place but noisy when full....go @ an off time....

OT
Los Angeles
7 reviews
Dined on August 8, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 3

Super slow service this time & everytime I dine here. They’re always busy but maybe always understaffed as well?

JU
Chicago
11 reviews
Dined on August 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Second time dining at Ēma and it does not disappoint. It was so good my guest planned another dinner for the next night on the spot. The food here is outstanding; I look forward to getting into Aba sometime soon for just a wee uptick on ambience. I hear it's great too. ;)

TL
Chicago
5 reviews
Dined on August 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always a great night! Amazing selection of fresh foods. Drinks are fun and delicious. Staff is friendly and top-notch! Never disappoints.

i
Phoenix
7 reviews
Dined on August 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Lovely place for dinner before a show! Service was efficient, friendly, and well-paced. Small plates had good-sized portions and a lot of variety. My wife and I are both pescatarians and there were plenty of options for vegetarians and other non-meat eaters. Salmon kabobs were excellent, but I even hate to single them out because everything was well-prepared and tasty. The good wine list was not exhausting.

V
Chicago
16 reviews
Dined on August 7, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 3

“Underwhelming” sums up our dinner at Ema earlier this week. Some items were good, others just OK (like octopus), but nothing was really fantastic. No comparison to Aba (which we love)! Service was especially disappointing... Too bad, we are huge Lettuce Entertain You fans and were looking forward to trying another one of their restaurants.

OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on August 6, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Lower the sound level

NW
Naples
2 reviews
Dined on August 5, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 3

Booked table but still had to wait for 40 minutes before table was ready. Ordered chicken which arrived again after long wait. It was cold/warm - asked for it to be reheated. Waited another 20 minutes before dish returned by which time wife had finished her food and was ready to leave. Told waitress to take dish back - paid bill and left vowing never to return!

OT
Chicago
6 reviews
Dined on August 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I love their food and all lettuce establishments

L
Chicago
7 reviews
Dined on August 4, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 2ambience 5

Ema was a beautiful setting for sunny day in Chicago. Our server suggested sharing since plates came out at different times. This worked very well.
We tried 3 hummus platter which was delicious and the pita toast yummy! I wish they would have served the different flavored hummus In different bowls though.
Next we had the drop biscuit. Good not great. I wish it would have had strawberries mixed in the batter.
Proteins of salmon and chicken very good, but server was not good about bringing server spoons with dishes. This meant constant asking and annoying.
We finished the brunch with the blueberry clafoutis. OMG heaven. The coffee and bloody Mary’s were very good. Reservation seating very timely. Would come back just for the summeriness of the setting.;)

OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on August 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Can never go wrong with Ema! Fantastic food and ambiance!!

CA
Chicago
1 review
Dined on August 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Absolutely delicious food, wonderful service, great cocktails and ambience. We will be back!

OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on August 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went for brunch here with my friend. The food was amazing, service was wonderful, vibe was great. Try their Levant coffee, labneh, falafel sandwich.

OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on August 2, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 2ambience 5

Great food. Service was slow

AS
1 review
Dined on August 2, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 3

Any place that has grilled octopus on the menu is going to get a visit by me! While it was very good, the noise in the place was a real turn off. The service was a bit off.

B
Chicago
42 reviews
Dined on August 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food was great. They were accommodating for my husband who is on a low salt diet. We took friends who are visiting from New York and they loved it

KB
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined on August 2, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 4

it was fine, but honestly nothing to rave about. I have had better Mediterranean food and att a lower price at that.

EH
Chicago
1 review
Dined on August 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food and service.

KK
1 review
Dined on August 1, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Super cute restaurant. Good wine. Fun how the food comes out at shareable. The asparagus risotto was fabulous!

OT
New York Area
4 reviews
Dined on August 1, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 2ambience 4

Food is overpriced and specially the short ribs that were mostly fried onions with a minuscule amount of meat. Decent food but small proportions for the prices. Would not recommend!!!

OT
Chicago
30 reviews
Dined on August 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

My friend brought me to Ema two weeks ago and I couldn't wait to return, so I brought my daughter for dinner before the theater. Everything was absolutely delicious. The roasted brussels sprouts with pumpkin seeds are a new favorite, as well as the smashed potatoes and chicken kefta. My daughter had the falafel and loved it. I can't say enough about how much we enjoyed every aspect of this meal, including the friendly and efficient service!

JF
Chicago
8 reviews
Dined on August 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Perfect seat by the open wall. Service was excellent: attentive and friendly. Food was delicious. Server was knowledgeable with wine selections and food choices. Very nice gluten free menu.
I’ll definitely come back.

M
Chicago
9 reviews
Dined on August 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great spot for a lunch with many vegetarian options

LG
Pittsburgh
3 reviews
Dined on July 31, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Awesome, awesome, awesome! Food, service and ambiance are great! We wished we lived in Chicago!

OT
Chicago
3 reviews
Dined on July 31, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Just as wonderful as always! Ordered all my favorite dishes - lamb rague hummus, Greek salad, octopus, and beef/lamb kefta. Always so fresh and delicious. Top 3 favorite places in the city and you MUST order the frozen Greek yogurt, quite possibly the best thing on the menu!

PL
Miami
10 reviews
Dined on July 29, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

Was expecting a lot more after the hullabaloo from friends. The salmon was overcooked. The Hummus was way too salty. Labenah was good Overall meh

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