Akhtar Nawab is chef and owner of Alta Calidad, Alta Calidad Taqueria in New York and Otra Vez in New Orleans, and advisor at Prather’s on the Alley in D.C.

Akhtar’s Story

 With nearly 25 years of experience in the kitchen, the Kentucky-bred chef of Indian heritage has embraced Mexican cuisine, connecting the layered, complex cooking and ingredients of Mexico with the Indian food he grew up eating.

Nawab’s ‘less-is-more’ style of cooking has earned him critical praise throughout the years, beginning with his experience in the kitchen at acclaimed restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, Craftbar and Craft, the latter of which received three stars from The New York Times and won the James Beard Foundation’s “Best New Restaurant” Award during Nawab’s tenure. Nawab moved on to serve as the executive chef of East Village gastropub The E.U., for which he received StarChef’s “Rising Star Chef” award before striking out on his own as a partner at Elettaria. Moving towards Mexican cuisine, Nawab took the helm at NYC hotspot La Esquina, and went on to open Alta Calidad in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn in 2017. There he serves his smart and creative take on Mexican cuisine in a vibrant neighborhood atmosphere, earning a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2018. The same year, he opened Prather’s on the Alley in Washington D.C., a modern take on a classic American restaurant with a focus on local ingredients.

In April 2019, Nawab opened his innovative Mexican restaurant Otra Vez in the South Market District in New Orleans. Much like his own culinary style, Nawab has long admired the diverse cuisines and gastronomic influences represented in New Orleans. At Otra Vez, Nawab continues to build on his refined style of cooking, with dishes rooted in the big, classic flavors associated with Mexican cuisine incorporating the ingredients of Louisiana. In June 2019, Nawab opened Alta Calidad Taqueria (ACTQ), a fast casual version of Alta Calidad serving tacos, tortas and roti at Time Out Market in downtown Brooklyn.

Building on his vast food hall experience having operated seven businesses in different states, Nawab will open the Inner Rail Food Hall in Omaha, NE in late 2019.  His wide-ranging and intimate knowledge of food halls makes Nawab an expert in the field of operations management.

Nawab has been featured in various publications, including Food & Wine, Bon Appétit and Eater, and has appeared on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.” He was included in acclaimed cookbook Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs (Phaidon, 2009) and will release his first cookbook Good For You, all about his unique take on healthy food, in 2020.

Consulting projects


  • “Good For You” – coming soon


Chef / Owner, Alta Calidad, Otra Vez, Alta Calidad Taqueria, Prather’s on the Alley


Meet the NYC Restaurateur Who Should be on Everyone’s Radar | EATER NEW YORK
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I want Indians, Indian Americans to start consuming more Mexican food | NEWS INDIA
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How an Indian-American chef from Kentucky found peace cooking Mexican food | NBC NEWS
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Three generations of the Nawab family gather in Louisville | FOOD & WINE
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Akhtar cooks with Ming Tsai | KCET
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