Casa Juancho: Caldo Gallego, Gambas al Ajillo, and Huevos Rotos
Casa Juancho is one of Miami's oldest Spanish restaurants. The brainchild of the Valls family, the same folks behind La Carreta and Versailles, Casa Juancho looks more like an attraction than a dining establishment. There are waterfalls, water wells, low wooden ceilings, medieval lighting, and servers channeling matadors.
Photos by Carla Torres
Casa Juancho is a tribute to la madre patria set right in the middle of Calle Ocho. Perhaps that's why it's so popular with tourists and locals alike.
It's been nearly 15 years since I visited this restaurant often, and it seems like time has had little effect on the place. Piernas de jamón serrano still hang from the ceiling, roaming guitarists still serenade patrons with old-school Spanish tunes, and the bathrooms still have the coolest toilets in town -- they have automated plastic wrap.
Casa Juancho evokes a sense of nostalgia.
The caldo gallego tastes the same as it did when I was 7. It's a perfect marriage of white beans, collard greens, potatoes, and ham in a bowl ($7). If I could have one Spanish soup forever -- well, besides gazpacho -- this would be it.
They also serve other traditional Spanish soups, such as fabada ($12), garlic soup ($7), lentejas ($7), and sopa de pescado ($7). The mixed seafood and fish soup has shrimp, fish bits, and calamari, in addition to fennel. It's not nearly as delectable as the caldo gallego, but it will fulfill what you're looking for in a fish soup -- a sturdy fish broth and mouthfuls of shellfish.
Casa Juancho proffers two menus -- a tapas menu and a long and extensive tapas and entrées menu. Many of the tables around us were indulging in main entrées: paella valencianas, cochinillo segoviano, and zarzuelas de mariscos. However, we opted for a tapas-like dinner.
Gambas al ajillo ($12) sizzle in olive oil and garlic. Soak your bread so that nothing gets left behind.