The vibrant, colorful vibe of Emilio’s Tapas in Hillside makes it a great place to enjoy shared Spanish small plates in a casual environment. Here, you can taste hot and cold tapas inspired by both Mediterranean cultures and the New World, meant to be accompanied by offerings from an extensive wine and specialty cocktail menu. This is the original location, where Emilio Gervilla started the restaurant that bears his name. Enjoy your meal in lively dining rooms, eat on the patio during nice weather, or take a seat at the bar. Gervilla, who is well-known in the media as “the Tapas King,” developed all the original recipes here to be fresh, simply-prepared, simply-cooked masterpieces that are full of complex flavors.
Emilio’s Tapas regularly hosts events, including flamenco demonstrations, wine dinners, tastings, and live Spanish music. Happy Hour tapas are available on weekdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Specials change daily. The restaurant, located at 4100 Roosevelt Rd., was named one of Chicago Magazine’s 10 best new restaurants in 1988, and has continued to win awards and recognition from Zagat’s, Chicago Magazine, Food Industry News, and other publications. Private dining and special events can be accommodated, and off-site catering is available; delivery is offered through grubHub.
Visit Emilio’s Tapas online at www.emiliostapas.com or call 708.547.7177 for information.
Meet Chef Emilio
Chef Emilio Gervilla, a native of Granada, Spain, has long been known as Chicago’s “Tapas King.” He’s responsible for putting Spanish small plates on the map locally, and he continues to oversee daily operations at his two Emilio’s Tapas restaurants, in Chicago and Hillside.
Emilio comes by his love for Spanish cuisine honestly. He spent an idyllic youth nurturing his passion for cooking at his grandfather’s Granada-based bakery and tapas bar. His early love for food developed into a lifelong career path; he completed several chef apprenticeships throughout Spain, adapting recipes from each region to create his own unique take on tapas.
In 1973, Emilio brought his enthusiasm for the flavors of his homeland to the United States. Between 1980 and 1988, he blended Spanish flavors and American tastes for several restaurants under the ownership of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. Under Emilio’s influence, LEYE opened Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba in 1985. As chef there, he introduced Chicago to its first Spanish tapas bar and became directly responsible for the concept’s growing popularity. In doing so, Emilio achieved his personal dream - to head his own restaurant, where he could introduce people to his personalized style of Spanish cooking.
In 1988, Emilio took his dream a step further by opening the first tapas bar with his name on it. Emilio’s Tapas Restaurant in Hillside was soon packing in the crowds with simply-cooked small plates that feature complex Mediterranean- and New World-inspired flavor profiles. The buzz surrounding the place was so positive that in April 1999, Emilio opened a more centrally-located eatery, Emilio’s Tapas Sol y Nieve, in the Streeterville neighborhood. His restaurants are still consistently listed among the best in the city.
Today, the Chicagoland culinary scene is rich with Emilio’s influence. But that doesn’t affect his food and restaurant philosophy. The chef remains dedicated to providing guests with fresh, delicately-blended flavors, even after 27 years of continual operation. Both locations offer entertainment and culinary excitement, with dishes that meet every dietary need from vegetarian to gluten-free. Naturally, the food must also meet Chef Emilio’s high standards for quality, freshness, authenticity, and taste. He always offers city-sophisticated dishes at country prices, and his restaurants provide a pleasant and upscale ambiance, indoors or out.
Nor does his high profile affect his love of his daily routine. You’ll still find Emilio working the line, and you may see his wife, Ann-Marie, engaging with guests in the dining room.
Emilio continues to do what he loves best, and he’s all about sharing - both his food, and his passion for the food.
CRITICS CHOICE, TOP 25 RESTAURANTS OF CHICAGO