How to survive Casa Bonita, the world's weirdest Mexican restaurant

Categories: Cafe Society

Casa_Bonita.jpg
I recently visited Casa Bonita for the first time, and I'm still trying to recover. No, that's not an indigestion joke about the food, sub-par as it may be. Actually, my mind was blown in a good way. As I'd been told, there's no easy way to describe the Lakewood institution, which bills itself as "The World's Most Exciting Restaurant" - a pronouncement that very well might be true. The multi-story, Mexican-themed behemoth includes a 30-foot-tall waterfall, cliff divers, fire jugglers, strolling mariachi bands, a pirate cave, magicians, puppet shows, skee-ball machines... you get the idea. As one of my colleagues put it, it's like Disney had sex with Tijuana and left the goofy-looking bastard to fend for itself in a random strip mall on Colfax.


I loved every insane second of our trip there - except for the fact that I felt like those kids in the movie SpaceCamp who were accidentally launched into space and had no fucking idea what the hell to do. There was just way too much stuff going on at Casa Bonita and no helpful little robot named Jinx (yes, that's a second SpaceCamp reference) to help me figure it all out.

With that in mind, we here at Westword decided, as a community service, to create a Casa Bonita survivor's guide. Follow these rules and you'll have a hell of a time -- who knows, you may even live to eat again.

7) Avoid Black Bart's Cave. Of course you want to make the most of your time at Casa Bonita. By all means check out the puppet show, the magician, the arcades and everything else. But whatever you do, avoid Black Bart's Cave. That place is scary - and we're not referring to the stupid cackling, glowing plastic skull on the wall. We're referring to what gets left all over the cave when the ten-year-old who's had one too many tacos loses his shit because of the stupid cackling, glowing plastic skull on the wall. Take it from us: You don't want to go home smelling like the curse of Black Bart.

6) Don't tip the strolling mariachis. These guys may seem cute in their adorable wide-brimmed hats, but really they're as single-minded and debilitating as suckerfish. Slip 'em a greenback and they'll never leave your side until you're hemorrhaging dollars to their merciless, unending tunes. Then again, maybe it's worth the dough to have your own Mexican theme music wherever you wander, especially if the musicians take requests. It would be pretty sweet to stroll by some hotties as your personal band plays a mariachi version of the theme from Shaft. Better yet, convince them to perform the Benny Hill Show music while you get chased around by the guy in the Chiquita the angry Gorilla suit.

5) Order beer by the bucket. Just like how characters in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy need to eat lots of peanuts to make up for the salt and protein they lose from going through matter transference beams, your best chance of making it out of Casa Bonita without losing too much sanity in the process is to drink beer. Lots of it. Unless, of course, you already dropped acid in the parking lot.

4) Demand a table by the waterfall. Casa Bonita employees are like the Navy SEALS of waitstaff. The place is a well-oiled machine, a perfectly calibrated cadre of maître d's, busboys and margarita servers, so it's only natural not to complain when they sit you in the mine shaft or spooky forest or some other forlorn corner far away from all the action; they seem to know best. But stand strong. You came here for the flame-juggling, the cliff-diving, the inappropriate shenanigans involving make-believe natives and a guy in a gorilla suit, damn it, and you're not going to take anything less than a table by the waterfall, where all the good shit goes down. Yes, they'll make you wait a bit for a table to open up, but since you've already been waiting in line for an hour, a few more minutes won't hurt.


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168 comments
Anthony Shaeffer
Anthony Shaeffer

Whoever wrote this article is a complete idiot. Worst food ever and spells of old gym lockers. Food comes out like your in prison. I'll never go back a 2nd time.

Phyllis Greenhouse
Phyllis Greenhouse

i ate ar casa bonita once and was never so sick in my life! DYuk!

Patti Huffman
Patti Huffman

Casa Bonita--If you crave the smell of Alpo Dog Food, Dine with Us. Cool venue, crappy food.

Julie Cool
Julie Cool

The last time I ate there, a cochroach ran across our table. My entire family saw it! Need I say more?

Laura Duque
Laura Duque

Bianca Steven Tiffany Alton Damien Kevin Jessica Isaac

Judy Kirkham-Beville
Judy Kirkham-Beville

You pay for the food and drink, and dump it all in the garbage, if you're smart.

David Durant
David Durant

I have eaten at this restaurant several times of the last 15 or 20 years. The sirts time was lots of fun...the divers put on a great show...the food was not so note-worthy. It kinda got to be a little tacky the last couple of times I visited Denver...actually surprised it's still around.

Jonathan Steele
Jonathan Steele

A correction to a detail in this article: Cartman did not try to kill Butters, he simply hid him in Carl's bomb shelter & told him that the world was overrun by zombies and he was mankind's last hope. ( just saw the episode last week)

Matthew Nelson
Matthew Nelson

i went for the first time last wednesday after walking 7 miles and sat down by the waterfall to a skit between two people with cowboy hats on who couldn't decide whether to shoot each other or kiss

Liz Lemonds
Liz Lemonds

It's really hard to articulate just how bad, how really really bad, the food is there.

Dylan DeSpain
Dylan DeSpain

I think it's a underground tunnel for the cartel... And Casa Bonita Is a store front.

Bill Watson
Bill Watson

Christ - just burn it to the ground already.

Lindsey Scott
Lindsey Scott

Take your pesto bismuth before you eat. It'll help later.

Steve Simmons
Steve Simmons

I applied for a job there as the gorilla after they turned me down as one of the cliff divers. Never did hear back from them... Hmmm

Chris Bailey
Chris Bailey

They would pull so much more money if they had decent food. How hard could Mexican food be?

Cassandra Gutierrez
Cassandra Gutierrez

A group from New York bought the strip mall they plan on changing what is there but they are leaving casa bonita there

Chris Heller
Chris Heller

I went for the first time in 75 and again in 91 so i suppose I need to pay a visit sometime in this century. I survived it twice.

podunkboy
podunkboy

so, that's great, a 4-year-old blog post and no mention of the changes at the strip mall...well done job, once again, WestWord...

Nina Rossi
Nina Rossi

Lived here my whole life, and I still never been there!!

Travis Wilson
Travis Wilson

Desiree Coscia, we should have a fun night at casa bonita sometime!!! :)

Nathan Embree
Nathan Embree

Uhm...read the whole article, and it says not one word about changes at the strip mall.

Seth Schurman
Seth Schurman

After they hand you your prison tray, you get to watch your slop dispense through a hole in the wall by a sweet old lady

Doug Hubka
Doug Hubka

Isn't this just a rehash of a previous bit from Westword

Sean Hamilton
Sean Hamilton

There's only one thing you need to know....DON'T GO!!!

Jim Mayes
Jim Mayes

Sopapillas are the best!........i don't know if that's how you spell sopapillas

kjprovince
kjprovince

well the article is about Casa Bonita, not the strip mall... 


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