Ema

4.8
1321 reviews
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$31 to $50
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Mediterranean
Top Tags:
  • Good Vegetarian Options
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Tapas
Mediterranean & California-inspired restaurant featuring small plates & light style cooking in Chicago's River North.
Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Cuisines
Mediterranean, Californian
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Hours of operation
Lunch: Monday - Friday 11:30am - 4:00pm
Dinner: Monday - Thursday: 4:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 4:00pm - 11:00pm, Sunday: 4:00pm - 9:00pm
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Phone number
(312) 527-5586
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Payment options
AMEX, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
CJ Jacobson
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Cross street
Clark & Illinois
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Parking details
$15 with restaurant validation. Parking available with Hyatt Place hotel located at 66 W. Illinois.
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Public transit
Red Line Stop at Grand / Blue Line Stop at Clark
Additional
Bar/Lounge, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Late Night, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Wine

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 1321 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.8based on recent ratings
4.7
food
4.5
service
4.6
ambience
4.3
value
Noise · Moderate
95% of people would recommend it to a friend
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5.0Dined 2 days ago

The standard fare of this Mediterranean restaurant was excellent. Also, two of the party were vegan and they found some equally excellent choices.

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5.0Dined 3 days ago

Celebrating a birthday and loved the setting. Convenient valet, friendly servers and great vegetarian options. Only disappointment was that they ran out of the fish special at 7:45. Still I enjoyed my second choice, lamb meatballs. Would definitely return.

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3.0Dined 4 days ago

The food was decent, but very salty. There were some interesting takes on traditional Middle Eastern dishes, but some were too complex instead of being delicious. We also thought that instead of flavorful ingredients, the chef over-salted and over-seasoned. Even the pita bread, which is supposed to be mild in order to go with the various dips and sauces, was super salty.
On the plus side, there were some delicious drinks and the service was fast and friendly.

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5.0Dined 4 days ago

I love the food! It is healthy and delicious and you can find many vegetarian options.

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2.0Dined 4 days ago

I have eaten here before, and thought it was great, which is why I brought my wife here when we came on vacation. This time the service was atrocious. We were there at about 4:30, so it was relatively empty, and the waiter rarely came to check on us. It is essentially like small plate/tapas; we ordered 4 dishes, and the waiter brought one then 20 minutes went by, then brought another, rinse and repeat. We were there 2 hours mostly, because everything was so slow. I only had 2 drinks during that entire time frame, mostly because my drink sat empty for long periods of time.

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5.0Dined 4 days ago

Ema continues to be a favorite restaurant in the city. While there are so many places in our neighborhood, we make special trips to Ema because the food and the service are phenomenal every single time. We love to share many of the small plates! Highly recommend Ema!

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4.0Dined 4 days ago

Loved the food and service. Good selections of food choices.

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2.0Dined 5 days ago

All of the food was drenched in lemon, taking away from the taste of the food. Even after looking at the menu online before we made a reservation, it wasn't clear to us that it was tapas. Even by Chicago standards we felt it was overpriced for what we got. All 4 of us eating there left feeling disappointed in our meal. We will not be returning, not would we reccommend it to anyone.

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4.0Dined 5 days ago

We would not have stayed, probably, had we been seated inside. Too loud and felt very much like a hotel lobby restaurant. The bar and host staff were helpful, however, and it was a beautiful night to be seated on their sidewalk. Our server was OUTSTANDING. I feel terrible that I can't remember her name now. The wine and cocktail selection was fun and unique and diverse enough to make most anyone happy. The food--from the lamb ragu hummus to the pork belly--was terrific. Highly recommend. Just didn't love the inside ambiance...

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5.0Dined 5 days ago

Service was great and food was wonderful. The ambiance was so cozy and inviting. We spent 4 hours laughing, talking and enjoying great food and atmosphere. I'd absolutely recommend Ema to friends and looking forward to my next visit.

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5.0Dined 6 days ago

Slow service but excellent food. That hummus with lamb ragu was delicious and I don’t even like lamb!

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5.0Dined 7 days ago

Amazing light meal. Can’t wait to return

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4.0Dined 7 days ago

Thought that some of the small plates were very small for the price. Overall, food was delicious.

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5.0Dined on August 8, 2018

Absolutely excellent. The food is delicious, healthy, and presented beautifully. The restaurant is lovely. I would suggest this restaurant to anyone looking for excellent food.

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5.0Dined on August 8, 2018

One of the best meals I've had in Chicago. Everything was so good. The garlic hummus, brussel sprouts, and stracciatella were all incredible.

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5.0Dined on August 7, 2018

I went with my mother while in Chicago on vacation per a recommendation from a coworker. We ordered a glass of wine each, an order of garlic hummus, charred egg plant, lamb meatballs, falafel, and seared salmon. It was plenty of food, we probably could have done one less dish. My favorite was the salmon and my least favorite was the falafel. I would absolutely go again.

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4.0Dined on August 6, 2018

Was too hot in the restaurant. Food excellent as always...

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5.0Dined on August 5, 2018

Food was fresh and delicious. Interesting combinations, extraordinary. Great, knowledgeable service.

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5.0Dined on August 4, 2018

Absolutely wonderful!! From making a reservation, changing it and eating a fabulous meal it was amazing. Server was helpful great sense of humor and a pleasure.

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5.0Dined on August 4, 2018

Food was amazing. Drinks were amazing. Thanks so much again for everything !

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5.0Dined on August 3, 2018

Amazing, fresh, authentic food. The staff is super friendly and knowledgeable about menu options. One of the best meals I’ve had in Chicago!

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5.0Dined on August 3, 2018

Came here for lunch on a sunny Friday and were seated next to the large open windows which was lovely
Food was fantastic, service was great
Would definitely come again

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4.0Dined on August 2, 2018

Really wanted to love it, but felt that all the food we tried was over salted and/or over seasoned.

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3.0Dined on July 31, 2018

Went for anniversary celebration. Host stand acknowledged and said they’d let waitress know. Waitress had zero personality, seemed to be unhappy serving us and ignored Anniversary even after my sister said she brought a special desert for the celebration.
Found the food to be very salty.

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5.0Dined on July 31, 2018

I was very impressed !!
The food was amazing - we ordered about 6 tapas, 2 main courses and 2 desserts and all of them were amazing!!!
You can tell that there was a lot of thinking behind any selected dish
The flavors were spectacular!
I normally don’t pay so much attention to prices on the menu because I restaurants are my hobby and I like to enjoy a good food, that’s why I was surprised when I recieved the bill and it was la little bit over 200$
For 4 people who really like to eat and drink - that’s not bad at all!
Highly highly recommend!

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4.0Dined on July 31, 2018

7/10 overall

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5.0Dined on July 30, 2018

We ordered 5 courses and shared each per our waitress’ recommendation. Courses served one at a time. Food was excellent, prompt and hot.

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5.0Dined on July 30, 2018

Amazing in every aspect. We will be coming back here again and again!!!

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5.0Dined on July 29, 2018

Very good Israeli/Mediterranean tapas.
We tried the lamb ragout hummus, the stacciatella, the scallops, the chicken kefta, and the honey pie...all really tasty.
A funky wine list with low level eastern Mediterranean selections primarily. Fortunately, we found a bottle of Rose from Provence.
Friendly service.

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5.0Dined on July 29, 2018

I went with a friend who is vegetarian and my husband who is doing a low carb diet. Both were very happy with the menu choices and we all loved the flavor. The garlic hummus as well as the eggplant along with their hot bread are fantastic. It would have been nice if they offered a plate of raw veges, but if you want you can get gluten-free crackers instead of bread. My husband gives two thumbs up to the pork belly and the lamb meatballs.

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5.0Dined on July 29, 2018

The best Mediterranean food I have had in the US. Very clean cut interior design with huge open windows.

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5.0Dined on July 28, 2018

Delicious food and good service. We had a good time.

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5.0Dined on July 28, 2018

My favourite restaurant experience in Chicago so far! Great service, lovely location and wonderful food packed with freshness and flavour. The brunch menu was difficult to choose from as there was so many items we wanted to order. We'll be back!

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4.0Dined on July 26, 2018

Fantastic food. Great ambiance. Both the host and the server we're condescending and dismissive.

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3.0Dined on July 26, 2018

Very trendy, bordering hipster feel. The food was absolutely incredible! Great spot for a fresh, healthy lunch. We were greeted slowly, but then service was fair to good.

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4.0Dined on July 26, 2018

I took a friend out to celebrate her birthday. I had clicked the birthday button when checking my reservation on OpenTable. At the end of our meal, without even being reminded, the waiter brought out a delicious piece of chocolate mousse cake and comped it on our bill. Nice touch!

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5.0Dined on July 25, 2018

Great food. All dishes were excellent.

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5.0Dined on July 25, 2018

Always in top of my list for dinner . The food is fresh and ALWAYS on point ! The wine list is an eclectic mix of local and overseas . Have yet to be disappointed. The frozen greek yogurt dessert is insane!

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5.0Dined on July 24, 2018

Ema's starters are authentic Mediterranean fare, filled with fresh ingredients and beautiful presentation. The spreads are outstanding, the fresh, warm pita is delicious and they automatically serve veggies with it, which are picture-worthy.

The service is attentive, but not overwhelming, and the drinks are creative without going overboard.

Love this place.

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5.0Dined on July 24, 2018

Delicious!!! We really enjoyed our meal. Our favorites were the octopus, Brussel spouts, potatoes, and watermelon salad. Fabulous food.

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