Alta Calidad in Brooklyn set to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, pulling inspiration from other cuisines

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, May 3, 2024
Alta Calidad in Brooklyn prepares to celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Alta Calidad in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn offers Mexican food with flavors from across the globe.

PROSPECT HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- In this week's Neighborhood Eats, we're celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a unique Mexican restaurant that pulls inspiration from everywhere.

Located in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, the restaurant tries to stick to the meaning of its name "Alta Calidad," or high quality, with everything they serve their customers.

"Alta Calidad was created to be a Mexican restaurant. We play we other flavors here, notably Indian, and some of my Mediterranean style background, but it's first and foremost Mexican," said Akhtar Nawab, the head chef and owner.

We play we other flavors here, notably Indian, and some of my Mediterranean style background, but it's first and foremost Mexican.
Akhtar Nawab

He explained his inspiration behind the menu.

"Most of my training was really in French and Italian and the Mediterranean world of flavors. When I got to New York I was still doing a lot of New America stuff at Gramercy Tavern and Kraft, and then afterward I tried to figure out what I wanted to do next and Mexican presented itself," Nawab said. "You found the same level of interest and excitement from me that a more refined style of cooking may have and I found that the soul of Mexican food is really meaningful."

I found that the soul of Mexican food is really meaningful.
Akhtar Nawab

It's all about the flavor and how it's presented.

"It's the simplicity. Honestly, it's like the same simplicity from all the Mediterranean cooking I was doing really, it's just here too. It's just about making those flavors pronounced and big without a lot of manipulation and I think that's really beautiful," he said.

The pandemic forced a change at Alta Calidad.

"When we first opened the menu was much more chef-driven for many years and then when the pandemic kind of attacked everybody, we were kind of forced to figure out what we could do to change our offering," he said. "So, we really shifted to a taqueria-type menu and now it's really hard to get away from the tacos because they're such a prominent part of the menu."

Nawab showed off their crispy shrimp with chorizo salsa seca.

"A few different things happening at once obviously, it's a crispy tempura style shrimp that has a remoulade, except we make it with chipotle mayonnaise, and then we take all the fat from rendering out some chorizo and mix it with a maltodextrin and make like a salsa seca, and it's like a powder almost but then when you squeeze the lime it melts back into a salsa almost," he said.

If you enjoy some spice, their octopus could climb to the top of your list.

"We're also going to have the octopus a la plancha with a peanut salsa macha which is a very spicy salsa, but we treat it very differently with fermented black beans and a lime crema which is going to be interesting," Nawab said.

Sometimes their veggies are the star of the show.

"We're going to have some crispy Brussels sprouts with a tamarind salsa. So again, it pulls from a lot of that Indian inspiration when I was young my mom used to make tamarind chutney and it's kind of a version of that," he said.

You won't want to miss the opportunity to try their drinks and pair them with their food.

"So they use a lot of food ingredients at the bar too, they're using rhubarb right now and mango and poblano peppers but also there's extensive tequila and mescal," he said.

Nawab said that they hope Cinco de Mayo helps some new customers give them a try.

"Us as well as every restaurant is very busy on Cinco de Mayo, but I think it's a good way for us to reach people who haven't been here before," he said. "So, it's a good introduction for some."

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, Alta Calidad is opening a sidewalk cantina on the holiday with a special edition steak nacho dish, using Waygu strip.

Reservations for Alta Calidad can be made at:


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