A celebration of their country and community: Newark’s Ironbound district a melting pot of Hispanic culture
Tucked away in New Jersey’s largest city is a few square miles making up Newark's Ironbound district, where Hispanic culture is on full display.
It’s a neighborhood comprised of immigrants, with generations to follow. Ferry Street is lined with restaurants, and inside one brick building is one of the Ironbound’s Spanish eateries – Mompou, a trendy and creative take on traditional Spanish dining.
“So the menu has a lot of fun, we take a lot of liberties, and we're a bit whimsical,” says restaurant owner Tony Martinez.
Martinez was born in Spain, and moved to the Ironbound at five-years-old with his family.
“We lived right on Ferry Street, just a few blocks from where the restaurant is,” says Martinez.
Steven Thomas Yglesias is Mompou’s original owner, creating Mompou as a way to appreciate Spanish culture in a new way.
“What I decided that I wanted for Mompou was a take on the traditional, but with a twist,” says Yglesias. “Everything with a twist.”
Less than a mile away on Warwick Street is Casa D’Paco. Owner Angel Leston opened the restaurant with his father, modeling it after everything he cooked back home in Galicia, Spain.
“So, it's funny because a lot of people would call it peasant food, but we kind of took that idea of peasant food and made it our own,” says Leston.
Both restaurants share one message, and it isn’t about the food.
“The food, even though is important, is somewhat secondary to the social gathering,” says Martinez.
It's about a celebration of their country and community, and sharing it with others too.