By Daniel Ochoa
Two years ago, Eduardo Chavez dreamed of offering the same kind of authentic Mexican food that has been a lifelong mainstay of his cultural heritage. And thus was born La Casa de Juana, a brightly decorated tribute to the cuisine—and the history—of Chavez’s native country, home of our south-of-the-border gastronomic inspiration.
Fast forward to 2016: Chavez’s Tempe location, settled into the busy Pollack Cinemas center, has flourished and, within the last month, has expanded into southwest Mesa.
Specializing in authentic Mexican platters with, as Chavez describes it, a “motherly” touch, La Casa de Juana seems to have found a perfect home. Patrons can enjoy the restaurant’s salsa, which is prepared from scratch, and indulge in a Mexican Fiesta Platter that offers a combination of tacos, enchiladas, tamales, tostadas, etc.
“When people stop by we want to create an atmosphere so that they feel at home,” Chavez said. “The meaning of our name is home, and that’s what we try to offer here.”
In addition, the restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner options such as huevos con enchiladas, steak ranchero and shrimp ceviche tostadas.
There are also vegetarian plates to choose from, such as veggie tacos, Mexican veggie sopas and veggie tostadas.
“Our recipes come from dedication, time and the love that comes with making a dish, and that to me is authentic,” he said. “We strive for all our dishes to have a sense of being prepared in a Mexican home.”
The décor of the restaurant consists of vibrant and colorful furniture, painting and sculptures that capture the essence Mexican culture.
Expanding La Casa de Juana was always in back of Chavez’s mind, but he was focused on doing it the right way, he said.
That meant never losing sight of the restaurant’s fundamental commitment of providing each patron with Mexican cuisine and a friendly, family atmosphere.
“We want to keep our identity as a small business and continue to grow. We don’t ever want to lose our identity or the way we prepare all of our food because that’s what our customers expect from us.”
Chavez said he was a bit leery about expanding into Mesa, considering the city has experienced a bit of an economic downturn in recent years.
However, he’s confident Mesa will garner positive economic acceleration within the coming years.
“I like to think about the possibilities of the good that’s to come for La Casa de Juana being in Mesa,” he said. “I think in the past Mesa has been an excellent place for restaurants to flourish. I see potential here for us.”
Construction in the area is currently being completed in front of the store and elsewhere along Southern Avenue. The fact that business has been affected (considering the restaurant opened in mid-April) has been somewhat disappointing, but Chavez isn’t complaining. He was told it wouldn’t be completed until July.
Nor did road construction, barricades, prohibited turns and general disarray seem to bother the crowd on a recent Friday, when virtually every table in the place was filled.
Chavez said the past two years have been a success not only due La Casa de Juana’s food, but by the restaurant’s loyal customer base.
“When you are doing things with dedication, people are going to sense that and they appreciate it,” he said.
“That’s what we have strived for at the Tempe location, and will continue to do in Mesa.”
La Casa de Juana’s new location is located at 1976 W. Southern Ave., in Mesa. The Tempe location is in the Pollack Tempe Cinema Center, southeast corner of Elliot Road and McClintock Avenue.
Information: www.juanashouse.com or 480- 820-0837.