Light, bright and oh so right, Ēma is the friendly eatery in Chicago’s River North neighbourhood that will always put you in a good mood. Maybe it’s the warm, wood-lined interiors, all-raw timber feature walls, tables and floors, dotted with simple wood-and-white contempo chairs and hung with woven basket pendants. Perhaps it’s the wall-to-wall windows lining the space, allowing the sunshine in while letting you people-watch to your heart’s content. Then again, it could be the surprising living green ceiling, starring upside-down plants in a kooky indoor garden…
Gorgeous, summery and elegant, this new restaurant from chef CJ Jacobson (formerly of Chicago’s lauded Intro) serves up hyper-seasonal Cali-meets-Med spreads, seafood and other fresh, feisty things, washed down with crisp glocal wines. Head here for dips and mezze, greens and ancient grains, and signature dishes including spicy hummus, lamb kefta kebabs, and housemade stracciatella with vine-ripened tomatoes. Healthy, light and making smart use of spices, the menu also offers gluten-free options. Swing by for lunch, dinner or just a sneaky dessert and drink.
Quick casual counter Rotisserie Ēma whips up six flavours of hummus, falafel, rotisserie chicken, chef-prepared salads and house-made frozen Greek yogurt to grab and go. CJ’s cooking style is rustic yet refined, celebrating local ingredients and foraging finds. He once made the US National Volleyball Team so it’s no surprise Ēma is scoring culinary points.
Ēma / 74 W Illinois St / River North / +1 312 527 5586 / 11am-10pm Mon-Thu, 11am-11pm Fri, 4-11pm Sat, 4-9pm Sun / emachicago.com