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August 16, 2012

Our Trip to the Kitschiest Restaurant on Earth……Casa Bonita in Lakewood Colorado

By Sara In AZ

One night, a long time ago, Mike was flipping channels and landed on an episode of South Park. It just happened to be an episode where Cartman does ANYTHING he can just so he can go to his “favorite place in the whole world”……..which just so happens to be Casa Bonita.


Picture copyrighted by South Park Studios from southparkstudios.com

Check out this South Park clip which shows Cartman racing through Casa Bonita trying to enjoy all of his favorite things at the restaurant. Let’s just say… heeeeeee-larious!

Normally when you watch a cartoon you’d think all of the stuff was just made up. I mean seriously who would think a huge pink castle full of cliff divers, Mariachi bands, and Mexican food REALLY existed right in the middle of a strip mall??? Oh, but I knew better! You see, when I was a young girl back in the 1970s we had family that lived out in Denver and when we went to visit you can only imagine where all of us kids were begging to go……that’s right, Casa Bonita! We’d practically cross off the days on the calendar until they took us there and once we got there you could hardly drag us out. We surely would have brought our sleeping bags if they would have let us stay the night in the place!

As soon as I heard the words “Casa Bonita” on South Park my ears perked up. When I saw all of the stuff they were showing and that it was REALLY like the REAL Casa Bonita I was kind of freaking out. I swore to Mike up one side and down the other that it WAS real, that there REALLY was a Casa Bonita just like South Park was showing, but he was having none of it and would not believe me. I told Mike that I would prove it to him one day when we went to Denver, I’d take him to Casa Bonita and we’d just see who was right! hee!

Well, Mike finally did have to own up to the fact that I was right and there really was a Casa Bonita just like I said! We made it to  Casa Bonita a few years back when we were visiting family there. Now it’s a tradition that we go to Casa Bonita every time we are in Denver!

So come along with me on our most recent visit to Casa Bonita, you are sure to have a blast!

Oh yes, it really is a big pink castle in the middle of a strip mall.


Casa Bonita is billed on the menu as “The most exciting restaurant in the world” and you know what – I think they are probably right!


Unlike a traditional restaurant where you get seated right away you line up as soon as you walk in the door, kind of like a buffet line. The line is not as bad as it looks and it did go pretty fast when we were there on a Saturday night.


Still in line……


One picture I did not get was the ordering station. You decide what you want to order and they enter your order into the computer and give you a receipt. You pay later at your table. After you place your order you proceed along and pick up your trays and then finally your food and drinks. This place is a well oiled machine I tell you!


We ordered the Deluxe Chicken Dinner.


Anytime you need service you just raise the little flag on your table!


The inside is pretty elaborate, it’s almost like walking into a Mexican Village. They have dinner seating pretty much everywhere throughout the restaurant, those are people dining behind the white columns on the left and to the extreme front right.


It’s like a complete different world in here!


Yes, they do have Mariachi Bands too! Sorry some of the pics are so dark, this place is huge and cavernous so sometimes the pictures came out darker than I would have liked.


You can even eat up in that little tiki hut…which we did when we were little!


They have a bunch of fun little shows centered around the waterfall area in the restaurant. This one was kind of a damsel in distress skit.


And oh yes, they DO really have Cliff Divers!!!


Here the Cliff Diver was kidding around.


Oooohhhhh, we are just getting ready to go into Black Bart’s Cave. Maybe we’ll get some of that gold treasure this time! hee!


Darn, foiled again! I couldn’t get my hand in there fast enough to get some of that gold. Oh well, maybe next time!




Yes, you do have to walk through a big snake/dragon/lizard mouth on the way out of Black Bart’s Cave!


And lastly, here is one of Casa Bonita’s famed gunfights.


Casa Bonita really is a blast. I know it’s meant more for kids, but I promise that any adult would have a super fun time too. If you are ever in the Denver area be sure to check out Casa Bonita!

Next Thursday – my finds from the road trip!

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20 Responses to Our Trip to the Kitschiest Restaurant on Earth……Casa Bonita in Lakewood Colorado

  1. RetroRuth Reply

    August 16, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I LOVE this! How wild and how totally kitschy! So, was this place buit in the 70’s, or is it older than that??? And yes, I remember that South Park episode. And I did NOT think that Casa Bonita was a real place!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 16, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      You would go completely bonkers for this place Ruth! It is hilarious! The Lakewood location in Colorado was built in 1974, so as a kid I probably went to it for the first time in 1977-ish. HA! Now you know that Casa Bonita REALLY does exist!!! 🙂

  2. Silvercat Reply

    August 16, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    So nifty! It’s like Disneyland in a restaurant.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      You are SO right Silvercat – it IS like Disneyland in a restaurant!!! 🙂

  3. Christy - OrWa Designs Reply

    August 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I so have to go there! That looks like the best place on earth combined with my favorite type of food!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 16, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      YES!!!! Christy!!! You MUST go there one of these days…I super-duper promise that you are going to love it!!! 🙂

  4. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    August 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    That place looks AMAZING! We should move there and get jobs!!!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm

      You would REALLY love it there Eartha, I just know that you would! OMG!!! Jobs at Casa Bonita…..I’m totally in girl!!! 🙂

  5. Stephenie Reply

    August 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Oh, and they have amazing sopapillas for dessert…it is also one of MY favorite places and only about an hour away from my home, yay!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 17, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      OMG Stephenie!!!!! You are SO right, those sopapillas are to die for good aren’t they!!! Casa Bonita really is the best!!!

  6. Laura Reply

    August 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Mr. Man Friend grew up in Ft. Collins, and Casa Bonita was the high point of a trip to Denver when he was a little bos. And this episode of South Park gets him every time. He can NOT stop laughing!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 16, 2012 at 8:33 pm

      I can totally imagine Casa Bonita being the high point of any trip for a kid….I lived in Tennessee at the time and I wished and wished Casa Bonita was WAY closer to me after my first visit there!

  7. Andrea Reply

    August 17, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Casa Bonita looks fantastic! I’ve seen that episode of South Park, I had no idea that was a real place!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 17, 2012 at 2:14 am

      It’s REAL Andrea, it is really real…I promise!!! 🙂 And you’d love it too!!!

  8. Timothy Reply

    August 17, 2012 at 9:55 am

    It actually was a chain. They had locations all over although Denver is about the only one I know of left. There was one in Tulsa and we had one here in Little Rock. The little rock location is still there in the strip mall across from the university I work for. In the early 90’s it changed its name from Casa Bonita to Casa Viva, just under local ownership. Sadly it closed around 2001 or so. There has been tons of talk about someone reopening it which I think would be awesome. This area of Little Rock was the hub of shopping and stuff in the 70’s and 80’s, but as things moved farther west it went into decline, but with the university growing it is really making a come back.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 17, 2012 at 11:46 pm

      Yes Timothy, I saw in Wiki that there were other Casa Bonita locations – though I only knew of the Denver one until recently.

      Was the Little Rock location pretty much exactly the same as the Denver one, from what my pics show anyway?

      I really do hope that they can re-open it sometime soon, as I am sure a great many people there have very fond memories of it!

  9. Tasha Reply

    August 17, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Good grief, that looks AMAZING! The sign is so enticing, too, when you enter. Monkeys and cliff divers? Sign me up!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 17, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      I promise you that it is even more amazing in person Tasha!!!

  10. Mary Toodles Reply

    August 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I never watched South Park but, It reminds me of Poncho’s (a chain buffet Mexican restaurant) goes Broadway. How neat is that. So many things going on at the same time…

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm

      Mary – Yes, I know Poncho’s…the little flag is there too! It is like a Poncho’s gone Broadway! 🙂

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