With his latest concept, Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman only had one goal in mind: to cook the food he wants to cook. “There are a lot of things I enjoy eating, mostly, and cooking secondarily, that don’t really make sense … in the context of fine dining,” he says of his original restaurant, Sepia.
The only problem? His list of favorites encompassed flavors from a number of cuisines that may not otherwise go together. Zimmerman embraced the variety, using an open-fire cooking style to unify his “global street food” concept. “Eating here is, in some ways, by proxy travel,” he says, referring to a play on the restaurant’s name. “You can eat things that aren’t readily available unless you get on a plane. It affords you the opportunity to see and try different things.”
Here’s what else to expect at Proxi:
Sweet spot: Zimmerman and managing partner Emmanuel Nony looked at roughly 30 venues before settling on the West Loop location — which was right under their noses all along: Proxi is next door to its Michelin-starred sister, Sepia.
On the street: The chef’s idea of “street food” is manifested best in the elotes: Mexican corn off the cob, tempura fried into crispy cakes ($8). It’s one of the most popular dishes, but if Zimmerman himself were to sit down to eat, “I’d order the bhel puri [$7] and the fish collars [$16],” he says after some deliberation.
Family style: Dishes are meant to be shared — you’ll want to try just about everything — and a few large-format options round out the menu. Don’t miss the Indonesian pork jerky ($8) or the coal roasted oysters with ssamjang butter (above, $16), and try the Slagel Farm pork porterhouse ($30) or the bone-in rib eye ($65) for a hungry table.
Final sip: Beers are sourced from around the world and wine from a region that rotates seasonally — right now, available varietals come from the Loire Valley of France — but mixologist Josh Relkin’s libations stand out. We love the Don’t Chouette It ($14) with aperol and blood orange; Champagne ice cubes keep the cocktail from getting watered down as you sip.
565 W. Randolph, (312) 466-1950; Proxichicago.com