One of our favorite parts of the New York food scene is how food cultures evolve and blend in this deliciously diverse city. Chef-owner Akhtar Nawab felt distinct similarities between the cuisines of Mexico and India—his parents’ native country. Having grown up learning to cook with his mother as his culinary inspiration, for Alta Calidad he created a marriage of the two cuisines with exciting flavors and satisfying standout dishes.
Located in Prospect Heights, the bright and airy space is ideal for both lunches and brunches, only to transform into a dimly-lit intimate neighborhood locale at night. On a recent Wednesday night, every seat at every wooden table and the petit bar was full as diners clinked their mezcal cocktails.
Before we dive too deep into the food, we obviously have to talk about the guac. Whole fried corn tortillas are served with a bowl of perfectly spicy guacamole and a rusty smoky salsa that will force you to order more chips to make sure you take down every last drop.
Past starters including the predictably delicious queso fundido (a cast iron of melted cheese with fried yucca chips), lie their tasty tacos. Freshly griddle corn tortillas are filled with charred steak and tomatillo salsa or crispy shrimp tempura with chorizo. Both were authentic in flavor profiles yet a unique expression of the chef’s mission to bring a new perspective to Mexican cuisine.
The mains continue this expression with Mexican Coca-Cola lamb ribs or a chicken-fried steak torta served in a shallow bowl of tortilla soup. By the time you’ve finished your meal, your lips will be tingling from chilies and your stomach will be truly content, a tell-tale sign that the spice was right.