Akhtar Nawab may have come to New York to cook New American food with Tom Colicchio at Gramercy Tavern, and later Craft, but he’s made a career out of tacos. Now the chef, who cooked at La Esquina and is a partner in the fast-casual Choza Taqueria, will build on that with Alta Calidad, which opens tonight at 552 Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights. Here, Nawab will take more liberty with Mexican cooking than at Choza, where the food is more straightforward breakfast tamales and carnitas tacos. The menu is divided into a few basic, familiar sections, like “chips etc,” which includes a queso fundido “complicado” with artichoke, chorizo, and poblano; botanas or snacks like pig’s-feet carnitas and Coca-Cola ribs; and tacos like a Veracruz fish-taco riff made with stripped bass, “olive veracruzana,” saffron, and crispy onions. There are also platos to share, including a grilled rib eye with chimichurri, and greens like a winter-squash salad with sunflower seeds.
Atla Calidad, 552 Vanderbilt Ave., at Dean St.; 718-622-1111