Margaritaville

Tepito treats margaritas right in the East Village

Margaritas this good are always promising.

So we said to ourselves as we sipped the house cocktail at the new Tepito in the East Village. Made with El Jimador blanco tequila, fresh lime juice and agave nectar and served on the rocks, this margarita ($8) turns on a nontraditional formula that highlights the drink's bare-bones ingredients.

The same approach courses through Adrian Ramirez's menu of what he calls modern Mexican cuisine. His cocktel de camarón ($14) is modeled after the shrimp cocktails of his hometown, Mexico City. At Tepito, the shrimp are poached and drowned in a soda-fountain glass satisfyingly full of a mix of tomato juice and ketchup and chunks of cucumber and avocado.

Much of Ramirez's food is newfangled in an irresistible way. One standout: fried oysters lain on minuscule yuca chips ($10), which stand in for the classic corn tortilla tostada. Bolstered with slaw and honey-habanero aioli, they are a mess to eat and well worth the inevitable splatter.

Still, we also found ourselves veering toward the traditional. The chorizo con papas tacos ($11) are a homey staple too rare in New York. Here, they are served with lashings of Chihuahua cheese and charred, zippy tomatillo salsa.

The same salsa is served with orders of tortilla chips–an ideal foil for Tepito's noteworthy margaritas.

Tepito, 228 First Ave. (at 14th St.); 212-777-7980 or tepitorestaurant.com