Ema

4.7
2040 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 2040 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
95% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OT
1 review
Dined 4 hours ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food and quick service!

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c
Nashville
9 reviews
Dined 8 hours ago
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Wonderful options on the menu for all eating lifestyles. Very creative menu.

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J
Chicago
31 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our favorite place for a birthday celebration. Service is always great, as well as the food.

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R
Chicago
33 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

The various dishes that my wife and I split were varied and exceptionally delicious. Your taste buds will be treated to a wonderful array of great flavors and textures. If you like sharing a number of small dishes you'll love Ema.

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MR
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

My second time visiting Ema in the last 3 months -- both times, the experience was wonderful (great food, great ambiance, attentive service). Definitely plan on returning! The Brussels sprouts were especially good.

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M
Chicago
14 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Loved visit to Ema! Lunch with a friend, where we shared 3 spread sampler, mediterranean salad and Lentil salad, glass of rose from Lebanon and the most amazing amazing date cake! Loved every bite of meal and anxious to go back and try some more.

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LP
Miami
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I have been here twice in two weeks if that says anything! You will leave here stuffed! I managed to save room this time for dessert and was quite pleased to discover that the desserts were as good as everything else. We ordered a grilled chicken dish that wasn't as melt in your mouth as good as other dishes but still was great. The braised short rib here is the garlic and almond appetizer spread. You have to be careful not to fill up with each dish to leave room for the next!

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LB
Tampa
18 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Brought 3 new people.. not same service at 930 as I have usually had dining there. Not a lot of check in, etc.. just rush to order before kitchen closed

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

Delicious shareable food. The grilled octopus and the short rib were my favorite. Like others I recommend the brussel sprouts and crispy potatoes. We were fortunate to sit near a window - which was open on a wonderful summer evening. Also helped tap down the noise

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

Excellent service and tasty food! You can definitely enjoy without guilt! The ingredients are high quality and the ambience is perfect for a family celebration

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on June 16, 2019
Overall 2food 4service 2ambience 1

The food was delicious. Our server was great. Our issue was that we asked to be seated at an empty table for four by the window, but we were told no because that was reserved for a bigger party and we were a party of three. That table sat empty for an entire hour and two more tables by the window became empty during that time. Then a party of three came an hour later and as they were going to be seated elsewhere they asked for the table by the window we had asked for and they were seated there. The other tables by the window remained empty. We have been dining at Lettuce Us Entertain You restaurants since 1979 and have never experienced this. We will not return here.

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TB
Chicago
4 reviews
Dined on June 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I love Ema. The food is incredible. The flavors are subtle and vibrant. The menu changes from time to time and I’ve always enjoyed every dish. Everyone that I have brought to Ema for the first time has been extremely impressed. They are able to accommodate dietary restrictions like wheat/gluten/dairy free. The staff is attentive. I will go back. I always do. It great for business lunch, evening with friends and special occasions.

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ML
Chicago
9 reviews
Dined on June 16, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 4

Service was full of mistakes and food was overcooked.

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MB
Chicago
12 reviews
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 1ambience 2

Service was lacking. 2 hours for a meal without drinks means the wait staff is ignoring you or so busy that they can't keep up. Either way the fantastic food was tempered by the horrible service.

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OT
1 review
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Father’s Day. Great with our 13 month old!

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a
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined on June 14, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 4

I had a 10:15 reservation which I booked last minute. The restaurant was fairly full but did not seem to have enough servers. We were seated quickly and given water but it took the server about 10 minutes to come over to get drink orders. The food was good but they were out of many popular dishes. I had a much better experience dining during normal dinner hours. The worst part of the meal was while we were waiting for our check a bus-boy shattered a glass on a man behind us and glass was at our feet.

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h
Chicago
33 reviews
Dined on June 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Interesting middle eastern cuisine- well - seasoned with unique flavors. Pretty outdoor seating& wide open windows for indoor accommodations. Excellent wait staff.

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n
Chicago
31 reviews
Dined on June 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We made a reservation for Ema, after dining at Aba (sort of a sister restaurant, with a similar menu). The food was outstanding, small plates basically consisted of a humus appetizer, an erstwhile Caprici salad, Mozzarella, fresh, juicy tomatoes, basil and olive oil, reminiscent of Buratta, (sp?) Our entrees were a delicious pepper shrimp dish (some spiciness) and a grilled salmon skewer, and roasted potato. Every dish was prepared perfectly, served professionally, our waiter, Tyler, was attentive but not overbearing or intrusive. We'll be back with friends.

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OT
1 review
Dined on June 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Anniversary

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CB
Limerick
5 reviews
Dined on June 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

What a wonderful experience at Ema!
Great " vibe" there, table service was perfect, drinks delicious, ( had the Last Don, made with tromba tequila. Letherbee besk and grapefruit) and the food (shared 3 happy hour apps) was superb! Roasted eggplant, hummus with crudite, and crispy Brussel sprouts.. Yum
Highly recommend this restaurant!

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UC
Chicago
4 reviews
Dined on June 14, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

There were delays with our food but the manager handled it very professionally and made it right which was very appreciated and made up for the service hiccups.

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OT
Columbus
3 reviews
Dined on June 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The service

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AS
Dallas
14 reviews
Dined on June 13, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

I would recommend Ema but with reservations. Our first visit was terrific. All the dishes were wonderful. Our only mistake was over ordering. But this time we enjoyed the dips as much as last time and the cauliflower was great but the seafood dishes were over salted and the dish that we hadn’t ordered (and so returned to the kitchen) ended up being on the bill at the end. There’s room for improvement.

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XA
Miami
10 reviews
Dined on June 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Spectacular! The food, drinks, service and ambiance was excellent.Definitely try the brussel sprouts, the grilled octopus and the chicken kefta. I wish I would have tried more but I just couldn’t eat anymore. The Fog over Rio was awesome - well balanced and refreshing. I’ll definitely be back when I’m in Chicago again.

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KB
New York Area
6 reviews
Dined on June 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious!!

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FD
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined on June 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very delicious dips and small plates- really tasty and clean food. Calm decor - wonderful service as well!
Would return anytime!

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AK
1 review
Dined on June 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Come for the pita and spreads: both are fresh and delicious. Quick service, beautiful interiors.

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OT
Chicago
3 reviews
Dined on June 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Outstanding food! Great waiter!

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S
Chicago
1 review
Dined on June 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great place great price. The place was easy to get in and make reservations.

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DA
Chicago
6 reviews
Dined on June 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We’ve been here several times. The food is consistently good. Brunch was excellent. Refreshing drinks. Eggs were done exactly the way I asked. The honey Aleppo bacon was delicious, much more meat vs. fat than typical bacon. I loved the many crispy bits in the potatoes. Reasonable prices.

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OT
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 4

We were recommended to order 2-3 shareable plates per person. The timing of the arrival of the dishes were way off. It was a busy Saturday dinner, and everyone seemed to try to help and be attentive to the customers. We ordered chicken and their fish of the day. Since I’m pescatarian, I was filling up on pita and spread while waiting for my food. When my fish finally did arrive, it was cold. I thought about sending it back but figured it would have taken longer.

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B
1 review
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Great place, small plates are perfect size for 4-6 for two people. Drinks were very good as well. Service was good, food comes out fast after you order it. No complaints at all, good value for downtown.

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F
Chicago
58 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

If this place were anywhere but Chicago, it would be a find. But with so many other choices, it is just very good, not excellent. Service was just OK, ambiance is nothing exceptional. I wouldn't avoid this place by any means, it is very good and creative enough. But I wouldn't go out of my way to go back, either...just one more in a long line of very good restaurants in Chicago!

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P
St. Louis
13 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Food experience was mixed. The spread trio was very good (spicy hummus, eggplant, honey almond labneh) but the pita bread was not fluffy but rather hard and seasoned too much. Grilled octopus, lamb shashuska and green falafel sandwiches were all just very average dishes. Crispy Brussels were good. Cocktails were all very tasty. Service was not too attentive for sat brunch.

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 5

Most dishes were good but we think they forgot to slice the octopus and they forgot our last course completely and instead offered us the bill before it came. We barely saw our waitress.

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k
Detroit
9 reviews
Dined on June 6, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

This was our first time at Ema and we enjoyed it. Our server helped with recommendations from the menu and we were happy with his suggestions. The spicy hummus with lamb ragout and the Greek salad were especially good. Energetic place with creative, healthy Mediterranean cuisine.

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MF
Chicago
7 reviews
Dined on June 6, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

We went for dinner and started with the hummus, pita, and stracciatella. The hummus competes with the pita, imho. The pita is not plain--which is nice on its own--but we felt it competed against the flavors of the hummus. Both are good, we just didn't fully enjoy the combination. The stracciatella, however, was extraordinary. A must for your table. We moved on to the Tuna Carpaccio----fantastic. We had a Cypriot at the table, so we had to have the halloumi--a Cyprus cheese--and while it was nice and creative, the aleppo honey also distracted from the natural flavor of the halloumi. A simple grilling might be a nicer alternative (ie, Ema is not open to modifying the chef's choices. He wants it the way HE wants it!) We also had the grilled octopus (the least enjoyable dish we had); the tenderloin kebab (the server raved about the salmon, though); and accompanied that with the Crispy Potatoes (after the stracciatella, our favorite choice). All-in-all a most enjoyable outing. The server (who was present and happy to provide input) recommended the Moroccan La Ferme Rouge which was an excellent choice of red wine. We plan to return and enjoy another time!

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KP
Richmond
1 review
Dined on June 5, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Had Wednesday 8:45 reservation. Had to wait another 20-30 minutes to be seated.
Some of the dishes really didn't work - haloumi cheese was just not a match with tomatillos for example.
Wait staff was good once we got in.
Food presentation tended to be okay for the price range - just enough to get by.

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T
Chicago
12 reviews
Dined on June 5, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

We had a 45 minute delay in being seated for our 7:15 reservation. Jordan, the manager, was very apologetic and bought a round of drinks. We would come back, but we hope the restaurant learns to manage reservations better.

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PF
Chicago
1 review
Dined on June 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Loved it. Great food friendly service. Inviting and comfortable atmosphere

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