Using street food as inspiration, the West Loop’s Proxi celebrates global flavors and ingredients through a thoughtful American lens. Guided by traditions but not restrained by them, Proxi travels the world one boundary-blurring dish at a time.
At Proxi, the world is Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s oyster — literally and figuratively. Using iconic street food as a jumping off point, Zimmerman creates dishes that honor those signature bold, funky flavors while instilling his own culinary style. His menu freely wanders through Asia, India, the Middle East, and Mexico and beyond but feels completely at home in Chicago.
The menu’s 27 meant-to-be-shared items, which get larger and heartier as you scroll, range from the signature elotes (a beloved Mexican street snack that Zimmerman transforms into a Japanese-style deep-fried fritter) and coal-roasted mussels to northern Thai sausage with chicharron.
Proxi’s beverage menu follows a similar globetrotting approach. Cocktails veer towards the exotic but always with a balanced hand. Spanish-style gin and tonics are a focus as well with four different ones to choose from. The beer and wine list take a similar far-flung approach, while the wine menu sticks closer to home, spotlighting California gems. Spirit-free drinks are available as well, including kombucha on tap from a local purveyor.
Proxi recently added brunch on the weekends. But in sticking with the restaurant’s focus don’t expect typical dishes. Instead, the menu offers a variety of bold sweet and savory items influenced by cuisines from world. Small dishes include a doughnut stuffed with Vietnamese coffee pastry cream and shrimp toast. On the larger side, you’ll find griddled corn bread with Tasso ham and poached eggs, kimchi fried rice and congee. Those looking for a more traditional start to their weekend can opt for the Old Fashioned: two eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes and grilled sourdough. Creative brunch cocktails are available, as well as Vietnamese coffee.
A few years in the making, Proxi’s inspiration grew out of a desire for what Zimmerman and business partner Emmanuel Nony didn’t have at neighboring sister restaurant, Sepia, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. That means at Proxi, you’ll find an open kitchen with a huge custom-built wood-burning grill. That’s where, on most night, you’ll find Zimmerman, manning the flames and chatting with customers lucky enough to snag one of the eight cushy bar stools. But no matter where you find yourself in the beautiful 150-seat space inspired by midcentury American brasseries, it’s easy to sit back, relax and keep on ordering.
Formerly occupied by a printing company, Proxi has been transformed into a stunning restaurant, complete with a barrel-vaulted ceiling, whitewashed oak paneling, and custom-made light fixtures and furniture.