There is a restaurant in Lakewood, a bit west of Denver, called Casa Bonita. It’s a restaurant with a theme-park atmosphere. We’d heard fabulous things about the decor and horrible things about the food. They all turned out to be true.
To get the bad things out of the way first, it’s best to start with the food. We went with a friend who used to work at Casa Bonita, and he warned us away from anything with meat, recommending the cheese enchiladas. The emphasis definitely was on the cheese:
Or rather, cheeze. It had the consistancy of powdered cheese with liquid added, which it undoubtedly was. The small amounts of real cheese in this dish were quie thoroughly disguised by the mounds of cheeze. The refried beans were similarly powderey, and we were warned away from them as well. Seems that one day each week, they make the beans, via dumping powder into the sort of vat that one has to climb into in order to clean out. This vat of beans lasts for the entire week. Fearing that we were nearing the end of that week, I edged around the beans, though I did salvage the cheese that sat on top of them. The rice was harder then I was hoping. Considering the volume of people that go through that restaurant, I would have expected the rice to be a bit fresher, but maybe it’s also made in giant weekly vats as well. Who knows?
The one good thing about the food was the dessert – the sopapillas. They were light and delicate and tasted delicious with honey. To get into Casa Bonita, you have to buy something, and once upon a time there was the option to just buy all-you-can-eat sopapillas (for around $5). Unfortunately, the is no longer the case. Quite unfortunately, really, as that was the only tasty thing I managed to eat there. Extremely unfortunately, since my meal before coupon was $12.99. It was all you can eat, but if almost everything you have the option of eating tastes bad, why would you want to eat all you can?
It seems people don’t go for the food. The main area is centered around a stage of sorts, a platform set above a body of water with a waterfall beside it. There’s a cliff diver (shown above), plus a cowboy skit. Roaming about the main room is a mariachi band, plus a person in a gorilla suit. You can eat in the main area, or a variety of offshoot areas, each with their own unique decor. This can range from super-fancy rooms with chandeliers to weird theme rooms.
Here’s some booths with a “mining” theme:
And here’s a booth in a room with a “cave” theme:
Speaking of caves, there is also a “scary” cave you can walk through. It’s more cheesey then scary, but then I’m also about 2 decades older then it’s target audience. Nearby are two arcades, though not a huge selection. Great for those who like skee-ball or Ms Pacman, at least. Or who like some of the odder games, like this one:
Finally, there’s a gift shop, which mostly consists of the sort of stuff you can find at any gift shop in Colorado, but with “Casa Bonita” slathered on.
So Casa Bonita was an interesting experience, but I doubt I’ll be going back. If they could only notch up the quality of the food to “mediocre” at least, I might reconsider.