La Ingrata in Camden offers family recipes from Puebla and Mexico City

There are many delicious Mexican restaurants throughout the city of Philadelphia.

However, nobody talks about Camden, New Jersey, the city located right on 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 dedication of their upbringing to Torres, who was born and raised in Mexico City.

Upon entering the restaurant, people can smell the vibrant flavors that represent Mexico in the air. On the television in the restaurant there are always black-and-white Mexican movies that Torres used to watch as a child.

There are even photos of glamorous former Mexican movie stars on the walls, like Dolores Del Río and Pedro Infante.

Torres describes her menu as dishes her mother and grandmother made for their family when she was a child, including one of her favorite dishes: Pozole.

“I love making pozole, it’s very rich in flavor. It’s a pork soup, it can be green, white or red,” Torres said in an interview with AL DÍA News. “The red version is the one I like best. I think it has more flavor.”

Pozole is a hearty, deep red soup, often made with thick chunks of pork, grits, and two different types of chile peppers sprinkled with cabbage on top.

Poloze, a heart soup is one of Carla Torres’ favorite dishes to make. Photo Courtesy of La Ingrata.

Torres said the dish can take 4-6 hours to cook.

Her and her husband’s business has received a lot of attention; however, it took a lot of work and long hours in the kitchen to achieve the restaurant of her dreams.

Torres and Ventura worked in the Center City restaurant business for many years; however, in 2020, their hours were reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That industry was the most affected because we were supposed to be closed and then we would be two meters away, there were many things that happened that we could not work our usual 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.

“Baking bread is something I’ve always liked to do and that’s why I said to my husband, ‘why don’t we make bread for fun?’ And he agreed,” she said. “I love bread, I think every Mexican likes bread and coffee, that’s our culture.”

They also began to play in the kitchen and make Mexican desserts and pizzas; she said that her husband loves to make pizza.

“We started doing a little bit more for our family,” he said. “When the pandemic hit, there was a lot of free time, obviously, we were following the protocols and trying to limit what we were doing outside.”

Torres ended up making different types of bread, such as shells, which she had grown up eating, and began to distribute them among family and friends.

One day, Torres received a call from a store owner who asked if he could place a large order of bread. He started selling his baked goods.

While delivering an order in Camden in 2021, Torres found a space that was for rent. The area was perfect.

They decided to call the owner and with the money from their savings and from the bread orders, they were able to open the restaurant of their dreams.

“My husband and I love to cook and create, it’s something we both like to do,” she said.

Their restaurant is the perfect space to prepare your delicious staples like mole, a thick green sauce made with delicious vegetables and spices and served over chicken, with a side of rice and beans.

On the menu, they also have Arab tacos, made with shawarma-style chicken. Ventura grew up eating them during his childhood. The tacos are a nod to the Lebanese immigrants who immigrated to Puebla from their country of Lebanon.

Tacos arabes are one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant.  Photo Courtesy of La Ingrata.
Tacos arabes are one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant. Photo Courtesy of La Ingrata.

Torres has also been experimenting with desserts, her favorite to make is churro ice cream.

“Mexican food is not 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 something that doesn’t translate into that.”

Visit La Ingrata in Camden this weekend.