Ema

4.7
2192 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 2192 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
93% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OT
Detroit
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

My mom and I enjoyed our time here. Everything was great, especially our server.

H
Chicago
11 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

The food is delicious, small plates for sharing. Great for a group but also works for two.

CB
Chicago
26 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a party of 6. Got great recommendations from our server. Just the right amount of food and all delicious.

JG
Chicago
6 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 5

One glass of wine each and some small plates added up to almost $200 with tax and tip for 3 people. Yikes. Very pretty interior and conveniently located.

OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Open windows on a very warm night made restaurant very warm which we found uncomfortable. Service was friendly but seemingly overwhelmed and not as attentive as would have liked. Food started arriving before our glasses of wine which were ordered before food! Our second glass of wine didn’t arrive until we were finished with our meal. The food runner was brash and literally just dropped dishes without explanation and dirty dishes were left to sit on table as we dined. Just seemed understaffed.
Overall we were happy with the quality, taste and presentation of food but won’t likely return.

CS
New York Area
6 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious Mediterranean fare, great service, A+.

A
Chicago
4 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Quality service - quality food - food fit atmosphere - easy place to go with clients

PL
Chicago
11 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 4

Awesome food. Awesome restaurant. Not fabulous service given it was so early and not busy...

J
1 review
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A perfect lunch! Lovely service, delicious food, fantastic cocktails, and wonderful cappuccino.

JK
Milwaukee
19 reviews
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Delightful small plate selection! Felt like we ate healthfully, yet deliciously! Even the ambiance feels "fresh." We'll be back.

K
Detroit
7 reviews
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 2ambience 3

We were told that food would be served tapas style, not a problem! With one child in the party, we did not expect that the child’s meal would come out whenever they got round to it though. My husband and I had 4 dishes served in 30 minutes whilst the child meal had still not been served. The child meal appeared 10 mins after reminding our server. By this time it had been 50 minutes since seated. Not happy about that at all.
A manager was alerted and she assured us that she would make sure that staff would work on this .
Good food overall apart from a raw salmon kebab served. I was not offered a top up on water the whole tome although tables around me were refilled almost constantly. I think our waitress was overstretched.

LG
1 review
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food taste excellent but a little bit pricey for the quantity.

ES
Birmingham
7 reviews
Dined on August 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went with my husband to celebrate the Jewish Valentines Day
This was the first time we sit on the high top seating and were served by the bartender. Everything was more than amazing!!
We ordered mostly appetizers since we do not eat non-kosher meat, had a few Mojitos and for a dessert tried for the first time the honey pie that was recommended by the bartender and was one of the best desserts I’ve ever tried in my life, along with their homemade frozen yogurt which never disappoints (:

OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on August 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food. Everything fresh.

JK
Chicago
1 review
Dined on August 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Our food was fantastic. This is a great place to come with friends to share a few small plates and enjoy a cocktail or two. Don’t skip over the whipped feta or the crispy potatoes— both were delicious. We also got the honey nut Greek yogurt for dessert!

C
Chicago
47 reviews
Dined on August 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We loved our food and our server was fantastic! We will be back.

KH
Grand Rapids
8 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Excellent food and service !

J
Chicago
30 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2019
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 on August 13, 2019
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 on August 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Love everything about EMA!!!

OT
Chicago
4 reviews
Dined on August 12, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

Drinks were great, food and value were less so.

o
Chicago
40 reviews
Dined on August 12, 2019
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 on August 12, 2019
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 on August 11, 2019
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 on August 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 2ambience 5

slow service but they comped food

C
Chicago
21 reviews
Dined on August 11, 2019
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 on August 10, 2019
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 on August 10, 2019
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 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great place. Always impressed with ema

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

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