The long anticipated grand opening of Paradita Eatery at the Emeryville Public Market will finally take place today. Paradita is the sixth venture by Peruvian Chef Carlos Altamirano. “I am thrilled to open Paradita; it embodies the welcoming, cheerful and authentic spirit of a street market, which is an integral part of daily life in Peru,” Altamirano noted.
Altamirano’s success story is an inspiring one. A story that started as a 19 year old immigrant and now has him overseeing a Bay Area Peruvian restaurant “empire”.
Born in the mountainous coastal region of southern Peru, Altamirano discovered his passion for food while working alongside his mother in her Lima food stall. After immigrating to the U.S., his first restaurant job was at Restaurant Lulu in SF’s SoMa neighborhood (which sadly shuttered earlier this year after 24 years).
Altamirano credits James Beard Award winning chef Reed Hearon for mentoring him and nurturing his passion. “He saw something in me and he promoted me. I was ambitious, but to be a great chef, you have to grab the opportunity.” Carlos also credits his time cooking in New York for preparing him for the ruthless criticism of being a top chef. “They are really tough out there. They are honest if they don’t like your food.”
In 2004, Altamirano made the jump from the kitchen to restaurant ownership by opening the doors to Mochica in SoMa. Altamirano admits that he could never have done this alone and he describes his wife as his confident and his businesses advisor. “She’s always been by my side. She told me, If you want to grow, you have to delegate, you have to trust your employees.” This trust allowed Carlos to step away from the day-to-day operations of Mochica and expand his Peruvian flavors to his second restaurant Piqueos in 2007.
Public Market’s ownership approached Altamirano back in 2013 about bringing a new concept that fit their vision for a renovated Public Market. Altamirano’s 2015 Walnut Creek restaurant Parada was doing well, and he ultimately opted to leverage its success by opening a “fast casual” sister counterpart. Emeryville fit Altamirano’s logistical map because of its central location to his home in San Francisco and his other establishments.
Altamirano’s restaurant vision extends beyond just the menu and the interior of his establishments compliment his dishes. “If I’m opening a new restaurant, I want it to be a place I would go to.”
Paradita was designed by ASD | SKY and Crome Architecture under Altamirano’s direction. The interior feature’s a mix of steel and recycled/reclaimed oak furniture from Berkeley’s Wooden Duck. The walls feature pops of vibrant colors throughout and are further accentuated by custom murals by Bay Area artists Letty Samonte and Bridget Moser.
Paradita Eatery’s menu will offer a selection of classic Peruvian sandwiches, grilled anticuchos (meat skewers), pollo a la brasa (traditional Peruvian rotisserie chicken), organic salads, a variety of bowls, and an assortment of sides. For dessert, Paradita will offer “alfajores” which are popular Latin-American artisanal cookies.
Paradita will offer a full bar and their drink menu will feature a variety of traditional Peruvian pisco cocktails. Wine and beer selections will be a curated selection of California and South American wines as well as a host of bottled and draft beers on tap. All will be chosen to complement Paradita’s modern Peruvian flavors.
“Fast-casual Peruvian food is a relatively new concept, but we are excited to lead the charge and expand our offerings in the Bay Area,” Carlos concluded. Peruvian food has some flexibility, and Carlos noted he intends to try new things at Paradita. “You can experiment, but don’t lose the flavor. That’s the key.” Altamirano is already working on his seventh concept titled Barranco in Lafayette.
Paradita’s capacity will offer open seating for 32 inside, and an additional 30 on their patio area. They will also offer pre-paid pick-up and delivery options, as well as a complete catering menu.
Open Seven Days: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
5959 Shellmound Street
Emeryville, CA 94608
(All Photos: David Escalante)
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