Ema

4.7
1459 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.
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 1459 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
4.3
value
Noise · Moderate
95% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
2
1
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TI
Indiana
5 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

LOVE THIS PLACE. I have never had such amazing hummus

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delightful small plate menu. Excellent presentation. courteous staff, and deliceous meal.

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F
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 5

Restaurant is beautiful on the inside. It’s important to note This is a tapas restaurant. Waiter instructed us to buy 3 to 4 dishes. The food was good but there was simply not enough. Each plate is $13-15 .... overpriced for tapas and for the amount of food you get. Unless you are a bird, 3 to 4 plates is not enough for two people. The chicken plate has four tiny pieces of chicken, how can you share that ? We all went home hungry still. I won’t be back .

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R
Central Coast
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

Very good meal. Food was fresh and delicious. Went on a Sunday evening and it was slammed. A bit noisy but overall a great meal. Service was excellent.

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

Excellent service and the food was wonderful! Glad we left time to walk to the theater from there so we could work off a few of the bites!

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SS
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

My boyfriend and my experience at Ema was great! Very interesting menu, great food, and a friendly and helpful waitress. Ambiance is also very inviting a nicely lit.

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

The Restaurant was very nice. Staff is very friendly. Food is Amazing!
We had a great time!

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F
Chicago
29 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 3

I had a Saturday brunch with Ema. I arrived on time and waited for 10 minutes to be seated while other folks who arrived later than I were seated right away. My drink arrived together with food. The waiter did not asked if I’m interested in a desert and just brought a bill to me. And I needed to ask for a desert card. Overall pretty mediocre experience for Chicago.

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OT
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

The food and service was all excellent. We loved every single dish that we got!

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OT
Chicago
3 reviews
Dined on October 11, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Younger crowd, but if you enjoy a tapas type experience with very good food this is an excellent choice

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BB
1 review
Dined on October 11, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

We absolutely loved Ema! I went here on a date and we split 5 vegetarian dishes and a couple cocktails. Our favorite dish was the Charred Eggplant spread (sounds weird, but was delicious), but we really enjoyed everything we got. I am a vegetarian and the options were plentiful for me!

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a
Des Moines
1 review
Dined on October 11, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious! A friend and I enjoyed trying 6 different small plates, which included an amazing dessert. Nice list of wines by the glass. Full on a weeknight, but not overly noisy. Attentive service.

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J
Seattle
356 reviews
Dined on October 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We had nice lunch at Ema. Has a definitely middle eastern cuisine. Lots of hummus choices. My guest had the ice and lentil salad which was excellent. I had the grilled octopus. It was perfectly done and came with nice bed of greens. Perfect meal.

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on October 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful experience!

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F
Adelaide / SA
13 reviews
Dined on October 7, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Food and service very good.

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N
New York Area
1 review
Dined on October 7, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 3

It was just ok...kind of pricy for tapas. I didn't find the food to be outstanding to justify the pricing. There are other Lettuce restaurants that are a better value. We went because we had a gift card...I would probably not go back.

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BT
Chicago
3 reviews
Dined on October 7, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food at Ema is delicious. The spicy hummus is the best hummus I have ever had and the brunch menu has a wide variety for any taste buds.

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CT
Chicago
39 reviews
Dined on October 7, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Everything we had was stellar! Keep in mind the portions here are smaller, meant for sharing. I recommend coming to spend a little more $ for a delicious meal. The kebabs are juicy with a nice char, hummus (extra bread, please!) is divine, and the brunch entrees are fun with a Mediterranean twist. Next time we'll have to make it for dinner, since all my friends have been raving about the menu.

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MD
1 review
Dined on October 6, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 4

We brought an out-of-town visitor to Ema’s for lunch. We have been to this restaurant twice before and loved it. The service on Saturday was awful and as it was my recommendation I felt responsible!! My guest asked our server THREE times for Splenda for her tea which was cold before the sweetener arrived. It also took THREE requests for more pita for our appetizers. I was so disappointed to not be able to show off this restaurant as I’d hoped. The food BTW was only fair.

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D
Chicago
13 reviews
Dined on October 5, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 2

Table wasn't ready even 15 minutes after our reservation time so we sat in the lounge, which was the lobby of the adjacent hotel. Not great atmosphere. Food was ok, but not especially tasty. Fish was not well seasoned. Greek salad was good, nothing special. We had cauliflower and potato sides, both of which were deep fried. Again, nothing special.

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DP
Chicago
4 reviews
Dined on October 5, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 3

The food was good, spicy hummus was our favorite. One thing we did not enjoy was receiving our salad and seeing a hair in there. The waitress took the salad away and we just requested another hummus so she brought that out instead. Kind of killed the mood but the food was otherwise fine.

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m
Chicago
46 reviews
Dined on October 4, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 2

We absolutely loved the food at Ema, and appreciated the vegetable-forward emphasis. Service was also excellent. However, we were terribly disappointed in the ambiance. The place was noisy beyond belief, with rock music booming and making conversation almost impossible. The chairs were horribly uncomfortable. I sat in what looked like a plastic garden chair. On a chilly evening, the restaurant was also chilly and uncomfortable. My wife and I never removed our jackets. The decor was nice, but lacked color, which contributed to the chilly feeling of the room. Because of these negatives, we would hesitate to return to Ema. We would rather pick-up the delicious food and take it home.

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AF
Nashville
30 reviews
Dined on October 4, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Well-Informed serving staff to guide you through an interesting, creative menu, attentive management checking on guests’ overall well-being, fabulous food, beautifully-served. A great add to the “Great Restaurants in Chicago” list. Look forward to any opportunity to return. And so should you!

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RS
1 review
Dined on October 4, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

A bit noisy for a business lunch discussion, but great after 1:15pm. Excellent Mediterranean style menu and service.

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d
Philadelphia
14 reviews
Dined on October 3, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Excellent meal for dinner. We had a large table so we were able to share many of the selections. Great for tables of 4 or more so you may try many things.

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DS
Chicago
16 reviews
Dined on October 3, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Airways so yummy and just love the atmosphere here!

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h
Chicago
6 reviews
Dined on October 2, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 5

We loved everything about Ema. We were only two people, so wish we could have tried more of the menu. We loved everything we ordered. The frozen yogurt dessert is amazing!

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MV
Chicago
1 review
Dined on October 2, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

I’ve brought clients here multiple times and it’s consistently a great choice for work lunches.

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J
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined on October 1, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 3

Ema is a great place for a casually classy lunch. The food leaves you feeling full but not weighed down because it is clean and delicious.

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on October 1, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 3

The group I was with will not go back. The food was good and our waitress was the best part of the meal. We were sat 45 minutes late and the hostesses were rude and condescending. The manager was also very rude and tried to make it up by sending us an appetizer. He didn’t seem to care about anything except money.

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OT
Chicago
8 reviews
Dined on September 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We love this restaurant. Food is always good and the service is great. Highly recommend.

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on September 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I had a great time at EMA.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on September 30, 2018
Overall 1food 5service 1ambience 5

Hostess and seating staff were rude. Our party simply inquired about our seating arrangement and their tone was completely dismissive. Really disappointing considering how great the food was.

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OT
1 review
Dined on September 29, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 5

It was my birthday. All around good experience!

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OT
Atlanta
89 reviews
Dined on September 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I made a reservation for 4 of us many months in advance! Popular place. We ended up being near the restaurant an hour before our reservation. They were booked solid but said they’d try their best to seat us when they could. We ended up being seated 20 minutes early which was great! The manager, Jordan, was GREAT and so friendly! Our server was perfect and the food was absolutely delicious! Tapas style really good! Jordan was so friendly to us - we were 4 women who had not seen each other for 39 years and this was our 2nd reunion trip. He loved our story and was super friendly and welcoming to us!!

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on September 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Highly recommend Ema to anyone living in/visiting Chicago. The food is spectacular and the service/ambiance is great. Perfect for a date night or just dinner with friends.

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CF
Phoenix
1 review
Dined on September 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 2ambience 5

The Service was just bad. Took forever to get hummus.

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S
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on September 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Really cool spot. Love the lighting and the food was spectacular for my vegetarian family

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G
Chicago
26 reviews
Dined on September 27, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

I did not find the staff to be that friendly. They did what was necessary, but they did not make any additional effort. The food was just ok. I love middle eastern food and I did not find this to be exceptional. I may try it again. Everyone is allowed an off night.

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on September 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great ambiance for a group - not too loud and the shared plates bring everyone together

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