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The Best Mediterranean Restaurants in Chicago

According to our out inspectors, these four restaurants are the best for Mediterranean cuisine.
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Encompassing not only southern European countries but also those in Northern Africa, including Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, and the thousands of islands in between―the Mediterranean offers incomparable fish, produce, and meat as well as extraordinary diversity in serving them.

These four Mediterranean restaurants in Chicago are deemed exceptional by our inspectors. Ranging from family-style to elegant, they’re fit to accommodate a variety of reasons to dine out, seaside-style, in the Windy City.

A substantial spread at Avec. (Photo by Derek Richmond/Avec.)
A substantial spread at Avec. (Photo by Derek Richmond/Avec.)

Avec

West Loop

Designation: Bib Gourmand

What Our Inspectors Say: “Fans have been clamoring for the dinner plates at this West Randolph mainstay for more than a decade―and now that lunch is on the menu, it’s official: Avec is a non-stop hangout. It’s a fun vibe, as diners are tightly packed at a long counter and communal seats in the chic wood plank-encased room; servers do a good job attending to the crowd. Mediterranean flavors factor prominently in the kitchen's stimulating creations, like a kale and carrot salad dressed with delightfully herbaceous and spicy green harissa as well as sunflower seeds for crunch. A thick slice of excellent whole grain bread spread with walnut-beet muhammara is the foundation of an open-faced roasted salmon sandwich. Other delights―there are many―come and go with the seasons.”

Ēma

River North

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “Cross the threshold into this breezy, elegant space all whitewashed brick, wood-slat windows and lush greenery―and prepare to be transported to the shores of the Adriatic. The menu boasts an array of fresh, healthy Greek and Middle Eastern dishes, like smoky charred eggplant spread, tempting cold mezzes and a variety of kebabs. And it should come as no surprise that these items taste as though they were prepared in a cozy home kitchen, as Ēma translates to "mother" in Hebrew. Dig into the lamb and beef kefta, a plate of perfectly grilled, skewered meat served alongside tasty zhoug, a spicy herb and chile pepper relish. Then cool off with a few spoonfuls of delightfully tart frozen yogurt before booking your return ticket home to the Midwest.”

Duck Bolognese at The Purple Pig. (Photo by Haas and Haas.)
Duck Bolognese at The Purple Pig. (Photo by Haas and Haas.)

The Purple Pig

Magnificent Mile

Designation: Bib Gourmand

What Our Inspectors Say: “No matter the time of day, this is a fave among groups craving first-rate Mediterranean cooking with drinks and a setting to match. Everything is tasty, fun and great for sharing, so go with a posse and get a communal table all to yourselves. The bar is just as nice for solo dining, thanks to the chatty staff. The menu covers a range of specialties from the Med, from panini to a la plancha. But, don't miss starting with the incredibly smart take on cannolo filled with whipped burrata, mixed with candied, puréed and ground pistachios, as well as a minty herb salsa and butternut squash. Also try tender and nicely charred octopus with green beans, fingerling potatoes and salsa verde. Finally, delve into their selection of top-notch cheese and charcuterie.”

Travelle

Downtown

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “This contemporary Mediterranean dining room shares its home—a landmark Mies van der Rohe tower completed in 1972―with The Langham hotel. Floor-to-ceiling windows on the second-floor space offer views of Marina City, but with its stunning kitchen displayed behind gradient glass panels, the scene inside is equally dramatic. Creative add-ins bring flair and flavor to flawlessly executed and gorgeously composed dishes. A perfect, toothsome Champagne risotto is enlivened by juicy, barely pickled grapes and toasted Marcona almonds, while a thick, creamy tranche of seared salmon rests on "healthy" fried green farro, finished with a tangy drizzle of spicy soy-mustard. Raspberry coulis and meringue shards are an ideal garnish for a fresh and zesty citrus tart.”

Hero image by Haas and Haas.

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