Ema

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4.7
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2029 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 2029 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
4.6
service
4.6
ambience
4.4
value
Noise · Moderate
94% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined 21 hours ago
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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ML
Chicago
9 reviews
Dined a day ago
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 4

Service was full of mistakes and food was overcooked.

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MB
Chicago
12 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
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 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

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

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a
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
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 3 days ago
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 3 days ago
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
Chicago
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Anniversary

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CB
Limerick
3 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
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 3 days ago
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 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The service

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AS
Dallas
13 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
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 5 days ago
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 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious!!

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FD
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
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 6 days ago
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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FB
Chicago
4 reviews
Dined on June 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food , our wonderful man Cody provided great services.
Planning to go back ASAP.

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OT
Salt Lake City
4 reviews
Dined on June 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Absolutely loved this place. This was a random find while wandering downtown. Everything we ordered on the menu was fantastic. Definitely will be coming back.

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on June 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went here for my weekday birthday dinner with close friends and had a wonderful time. Ema’s has excellent service and superb food. 10/10 recommend.

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A
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

What a genius chef!! I loved everything brought on the table.

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SB
Tampa
13 reviews
Dined on June 4, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 5ambience 4

The salads we ordered were missing ingredients. No attention to detail.

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AM
Miami
21 reviews
Dined on June 3, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 2ambience 5

Somehow the restaurant had that my reservation was 30 min earlier than my OpenTable-confirmed time. So despite being there on time (early actually), it was cancelled. I expected some delay anyway because we had to shrink our party from 8 to 5 on the same day, but an hour wait without even an offer of a drink was a little excessive. Luckily the food was incredible as has been the experience of everyone at the table every time. So this review reflects the reception rather than the food. The food and drinks and atmosphere are hard to beat.

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DD
Chicago
20 reviews
Dined on June 3, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Ema's healthful selection of food isn't only good for you, it's tasty and artfully presented. Additionally, Its light and airy ambiance makes dining there a pleasure.

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HB
Chicago
5 reviews
Dined on June 2, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 1ambience 4

This was our first time but coming to EMa well we somewhat enjoyed the food and one of out dishes was delivered cold and we asked if the meet was supposed to be cold and it wasn’t but they did replace it it took us many attempts to try to find somebody to help us at all times. Our waiter was horrible. When I spend so much money on dining out I want the whole experience to be fabulous and I’m so disappointed that service was horrendous. It ruined the whole experience.

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RS
1 review
Dined on June 2, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

I wish the food would have been hotter and not luke warm.

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j
Raleigh
48 reviews
Dined on June 2, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food and service. Greek salad is outstanding. You can’t go wrong.

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ES
Birmingham
5 reviews
Dined on June 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Celebrated with my husband our first anniversary and everything was delicious and great like always!
We had the eggplant spread, Labane and grilled hallumi cheese for appetizer and we shared the special fish of the day and the homemade yogurt with olive oil and salt for a dessert!

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