Pedro Camargo, a third-generation butcher who has brought his expertise and secret family recipes all the way from Moroleón, Guanajuato, in central Mexico, jokes that he should put up signs on the corners of Center and Meredith Streets that say “Follow your nose to Carniceria Camargo!” And it’s true—once he starts cooking each morning, the delicious aromas draw savvy locals into the butcher shop and deli located at 207 Magnolia Street.
While a few businesses have come and gone from this spot over the years, Camargo has been running his successful and growing family business here since February 2015. He’s justifiably proud of his products and high standard of freshness. Carniceria Camargo is also well known for the chorizo made right there on the premises with a recipe Camargo’s father created 33 years ago. “We continue to make and serve it and perfect it further,” he says.
Camargo lived in Anaheim, California when he first came to the US in 2001 and then moved to Pennsylvania, where he found an opportunity to open his butcher shop on Magnolia Street. He calls Carniceria Camargo “a family affair,” and his sister, store manager Martha A. Camargo, is often behind the counter with a welcoming smile and helpful explanations (in her very good English) of Carniceria Camargo’s offerings. “Like most immigrants who come here,” he says, “we want to work hard and make something of our dream to run a successful Mexican-style butcher shop here.”
What’s distinctive about a Mexican butcher shop? “It begins with the style of cuts,” Camargo explains. “The Hispanic population prefers a thinner cut of steak, about half the thickness of the one-inch American style.” But it’s also about flavors like the spicy chorizo and typical snacks like pork rinds, or chicharrónes. While Camargo offers these authentic tastes of home to his loyal Latinx customers, he’s also eager to introduce the wider community to these different foods. “When new people come into the shop we love to introduce them to our products and give them small samples so they can explore the flavors and try new things they might not be familiar with so they can see what they like,” Camargo says.
Carniceria Camargo also carries many products that are more familiar and popular with American customers, Camargo says. His marinated meats—steaks, short ribs, chicken, and pork chops—are all crowd pleasers and great for grilling, particularly as the barbecue season kicks off. “The marinade flavors are mild, not spicy, and appeal to all tastes,” he says. “Our carnitas (seasoned, slow-cooked pork) are also a favorite with many of our American customers, and of course our chorizo as well.”
Lorenzo Merino, VP Director, Government Lending at True Access Capital and HKS Board member, says he loves both styles of steak—American and Mexican—and he and his family are regulars at Carniceria Camargo. “It’s a true Mexican butcher shop, where you can pick up your meat as well as salsa and all the sides for your meal—it’s so convenient to grab everything you need right there.”
It’s important to Camargo to deliver the freshest products possible, and the shop is so busy, he says, “Our products sell as soon as they come in so nothing sits there and loses flavor.” Camargo distributes his products to local restaurants as well. He laughs. “It’s hard to believe that all of this can happen in such a small space!” He’s grateful for his many loyal customers who come in throughout the day for meat, snacks, and grocery items as well as for takeout food.
Carniceria Camargo is also known for their freshly made “Mexican sandwiches” including huaraches (literally, “sandal”—masa dough filled with your choice of meat, cheese, and other fillings), tacos, tortas, quesadillas, and more. Again here, freshness and flavor are the operative words. “When you order, you see us throw the meat on the grill in front of you. We have a smaller menu than some places, but you know everything is fresh. It may take a bit longer because we’re cutting up the vegetables and making everything from scratch to give you the best food possible, but you can always call us with your order and we’ll have it ready for you,” Camargo says.
If Camargo hadn’t followed in his father’s footsteps to become a butcher and entrepreneur, he might have had a musical career. His magnificent voice has wowed and entertained local audiences at Third Thursdays, the Cinco de Mayo festival, and Saint Rocco’s Parish. It’s important to Camargo to give back to the community, and he’s supported many Casa Guanajuato events with both his delicious food and his beautiful voice.
Magnolia Street, which runs parallel to State and Cypress Streets, is only a block off the beaten path. A visit to Carniceria Camargo is well worth the slight detour—just follow your nose to discover one of Kennett Square’s hidden gems for yourself.
Carniceria Camargo is open 8am to 7pm, 7 days a week. You can always call ahead to place your takeout order: 484-731-4177 and follow them on Facebook
Photography by Dylan Francis for HKS
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