Twisty Tex-Mex

“There’s no party without salsa.”

Chef Hugo Orozco says this as he places a colorful array of various salsas in front of us. There’s chile de arbol, salsa roja, morita salsa, salsa verde, creamy avocado, salsa borracha and mole negra. Each is unique, but all are perfect for piling atop the blue and white masa tortillas here at Evarito’s.

Opened last summer, Evarito’s marks the latest eatery from restaurateur Christian Burns and his company, SKAL Restaurant Group, a group that also owns Cask Republic in New Haven and Stamford and Ginger Man in Greenwich. The name for his latest venture, Burns says, was inspired by a loving moniker his family has used for their son, Everett, since he was a child.

Inspired by Burns’ various trips over the years across Texas and Mexico, the South Norwalk newcomer at 16 Main St. stands out from the crowd with turquoise blue plush seating, a 30-foot wooden bar and intricately-designed tiled walls. A rooftop bar is set to open just in time for Cinco de Mayo, offering views of both SoNo and the Long Island Sound.

“We want to make this different from your regular Mexican restaurant experience,” Orozco says. “We’re really trying to transport people as much as we can.”

Our evening starts with a cactus salad, where a sliver of scrumptious grilled cactus joins an onion charred on one of the restaurant’s pair of wood-fired grills, and jicama root, garnished with a watermelon radish and cilantro cream.

There are plenty of seafood options, including a raw bar with oysters or clams on a half-shell, shrimp aguachile with cucumber and a fresh-catch ceviche.

A standout is corn-on-the-cob topped with cotija cheese and chili powder, paired with a roasted shishito pepper. We were feeling a bit adventurous, so we sampled one of the restaurant’s unique options — a garnish of crunchy crickets. Orozco says this Mexican delicacy has proved a polarizing offering, with some guests cringing at the thought and others begging for more. For our part, while we enjoyed a small sample, it’s likely not something we’ll make a habit of ordering.

Closer to home and better suited to our taste, Hudson Valley-raised duck breast is cooked to perfection and tops an Oaxacan black mole in another of our favorite dishes of the night. The traditional quesadilla is given a new spin at Evarito’s, with cheese covering the outside of the corn tortilla, while the inside is filled with chorizo and a spicy enchilada sauce. Juicy Mayan pork ribs pair with chicharrones (pork rinds) and a Xni-Pec salsa. Wood-grilled Pacific grouper is served alongside a vegetable empanada, fresh greens and mole verde.

Those hoping for tacos won’t be disappointed by the variety at Evarito’s, with options ranging from beef, chorizo and carnitas to cauliflower mole and lamb barbacoa.

For dessert, we nibble on crunchy churros with a rich chocolate sauce, bite-sized pieces of chocolate flan and chocolate cake.

The restaurant’s logo, the face of a cunning fox, can be spotted at various spots throughout the restaurant — the glass doors at the entrance, in a wooden wall-hanging near the bar. The fox’s face is both sleek and daring, much like Evarito’s itself.

“We’re not trying to cook like our mothers or grandmothers,” says Orozco. “We’re trying to do things in a different way.”

For more, visit evaritos.com.

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