Tony’s Tejas Salsa (Mobile)
The Maker: Anthony Lamar Ingram, aka Tony Tejas
For Anthony Lamar Ingram, creating the world’s best salsa is a labor of love.
“People don’t make salsa the way I make salsa,” Ingram said. “All handcrafted, all fresh vegetables — people don’t make it because it’s not easy.”
Ingram is the creator and owner of Tony’s Tejas Salsa, a Mobile-based company providing fresh salsa to stores, hotels and restaurants all over the Southeast United States. Ingram created his salsa more than 10 years ago to replace the store-bought bottled salsa a restaurant was serving on its fajita salad.
“I channeled my inner Southwest and whipped up some salsa,” Ingram said. “People just kept ordering it. My buddy told me it was the best salsa he ever had.”
Ingram, who was born in Mobile and grew up in Texas and Arizona, says his roots heavily influence his recipes.
“I did some market research and found out I had a very unique product,” Ingram said. “The big craze is handcrafted, small batch, because people want something that doesn’t taste mass-produced, and that’s what I have.”
Ingram says the key ingredient to all of his salsa recipes is fresh tomatoes. He says the result is a product that goes well with lots of foods and drinks that one might not expect.
“I’ve won a chili cook-off in Huntsville with my salsa as the base,” Ingram said. “It even goes good with coffee.”
In 2014, Ingram started selling his salsa at farmers markets in Mobile and around the Gulf Coast. A year later, with the help of Tanner’s Pecans and Candies as a co-packer, Tony’s Tejas Salsa made its first retail store debut at Bebo’s Springhill Market in Mobile, quickly followed by a host of local grocers. Since then Ingram’s salsa has been added to more than 100 retail stores across eight states, including dozens of Whole Foods locations.
“Whole Foods is really great,” Ingram said. “I wouldn’t be a regionally recognized brand without them. They let me scale at my own pace. A lot of retailers don’t let you do that.”
Ingram also wholesales his salsa to restaurants and hotels.
“I love it because it’s a way to get the product into lots of people’s mouths,” Ingram said. “Even though they may not recognize the brand, they’re still getting good quality food, and this is my challenge to all Alabama restaurants: If you care about what you are serving to people, serve ‘the world’s best salsa.’ I’m not hard to find.”
Ingram says he’s just as proud of the way his salsa is made as he is with what he makes.
“It’s a truly an Alabama-made product, from the tomatoes we use, to the people who handcraft it with love,” Ingram said. “Upgrade your salsa, people. Don’t eat that junk in a jar.”
The product: Original Medium, Beverley Ann’s Mild Blend and Caliente Spicy salsa.
Take home: 12-ounce container ($5.99).