There are many delicious Mexican restaurants throughout the city of Philadelphia.
However, no one is talking about Camden, New Jersey, the town just over the Delaware River.
One restaurant in particular is La Ingrata, a brand new family restaurant whose owners, Carla Torres and Ernesto Ventura, opened as a tribute to their upbringing for Torres, who was born and raised in Mexico City.
Upon entering the restaurant, people can smell the vibrant flavors in the air that represent Mexico. The restaurant’s television still plays black-and-white Mexican films that Torres always watched as a kid.
There are even pictures of old actors from glamorous Mexican films on the walls, like Dolores Del Río and Pedro Infante.
Torres describes her menu as dishes her mother and grandmother made for her family as a child, including one of her favorite dishes to make: pozole.
“I love making pozole, it’s so rich in flavor. It’s a pork-based soup, it can be green, white or red,” Torres said in an interview with News AL DÍA. “The red version is the one I like the most. I just think it has more flavor.
Pozole is a hearty dark red soup, often made with thick chunks of pork, hominy, and two different types of chili peppers sprinkled with cabbage.
Torres said the dish can take between 4 and 6 hours to cook.
She and her husband’s affairs received much attention; however, it took a lot of hard work and long hours in the kitchen to realize the restaurant of their dreams.
Torres and Ventura worked in the restaurant business in Center City for many years; however, in 2020 their hours were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This industry was hit the hardest because we were supposed to be closed and then six feet apart; It was just a lot of things that happened where we couldn’t work our regular hours,” Torres said.
She said she’s the type of person who likes to work and can’t sit still, so she decided to start making traditional Mexican bread – a lot.
“Making bread is something I’ve always loved to do, so I said to my husband, ‘Why not make bread just for fun?’ And he agreed,” she said. “I like bread, I think all Mexicans like bread and coffee, that’s our culture.”
They also started playing in the kitchen and making Mexican desserts and pizzas. she said her husband loves making pizza.
“We started doing a little more for our family,” she said. “When the pandemic hit there was a lot of free time, obviously we were following protocols and trying to limit what we were doing outside.”
Torres ended up making different types of bread, like conchas, which she grew up eating and started giving to her family and friends.
One day, Torres received a call from a store owner who asked if he could place a large order of bread. She started selling her pastries.
While delivering an order in Camden in 2021, Torres found space that was up for rent. The neighborhood was perfect.
They decided to call the owner and with the money from their savings and the money from the bread orders, they were able to open their dream restaurant.
“My husband and I love to cook and create, it’s something we both love to do,” she said.
Their restaurant is the perfect place to prepare their delicious staples such as mole, a thick green sauce made with delicious vegetables and spices and served over chicken, with rice and beans.
On the menu, they also have Arabic tacos, made with shawarma-style chicken. Ventura grew up eating them as a child. The tacos are a nod to the Lebanese immigrants who migrated to Puebla from their homeland of Lebanon.
Torres has also experimented with desserts, his favorite to make is a churro sundae.
“Mexican cuisine isn’t just food, it’s an art, and I take it seriously,” Torres said. “I love my culture and my traditions and I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t translate to that.”
Check out La Ingrata in Camden this weekend!