If you watch South Park regularly, you've probably seen the Casa Bonita episode. If you haven't seen the episode, Cartman comes up with a ploy to kidnap Butters so he can go to Casa Bonita in Butters place for a birthday party, and the cops end up chasing him through the restaurant. Cartman escapes and goes rushing through the restaurant while attempting to sample every attraction and food in the minute he has left. The real life experience isn't too far off from the cartoon depiction. The place is packed with attractions to experience. Both of us had been there as kids, and it had probably been almost 20 years since either of us visited Casa Bonita. Most things were as we remembered, and some things were just plain better since it was slow during the day, and we had the run of the whole place! While we sat at our table, we were singing "Casa Bonita, Casa Bonita... lalalalalalala!" like they did on South Park. :)
I finally guessed where we were going for the afternoon once we were far enough west on Colfax to not be going anywhere else. We arrived at the "pretty house", which is located in a strip mall west of Denver, and were greeted by the pink and white stucco facade. Instant childhood memories! We were both pretty psyched to enter, but also anxious to eat the food. If you've been there you know what I mean. Casa Bonita is not known for delicious Mexican food, but rather for the experience and all of the entertainment. You have to purchase a meal to enter the inside of Casa Bonita and get a chance to see the cliff divers. So basically you pay for a meal made with cheap ingredients instead of paying an entrance fee to see all of the attractions. After debating and trying to remember what the reviews said to order, I settled on the taco salad and Nate ordered the nacho salad. (Pretty much everything was $12) Warning: do not order the taco salad. We decided the only safe bet was to order the nacho salad, and sopapillas are included in every order.... those are pretty delicious!
You can see a picture of my taco salad above. See that little white dish, with onions on the top, to the right of the main plate? That's the "chicken" that I ordered on my taco salad. Thank goodness they put it in a separate dish on the side. It's almost as if they knew I wasn't going to touch it, and if they mixed it with my taco salad they probably would have had to make me another one minus the chicken, haha!
On a better note, the nacho salad (see the pic below) that Nate ordered wasn't too bad. The queso (cheese) drenching the whole meal made it edible. For the most part you could identify all of the ingredients on this plate. Except for maybe the "taco meat" that the menu mentions. I didn't know that meat came from tacos. I thought that's what cows were for? So there must be chicken, beef,.... and taco meat?! Who knew. Needless to say, I ended up sharing Nate's meal. We didn't finish either meal... I think we were way too excited about the cliff diver who was diving from the rocks 3 feet from our table. Yeah, that's why we couldn't eat it all. ;) That and we were saving some room for the sopapillas, because those are the best part! Sopapillas, sopapillas!! We ate them so fast that I didn't even get a picture of them.
We were lucky enough to have been able to visit on a weekday afternoon, so we had a table right next to the waterfall. Prime seats for the cliff diving shows! We both remembered the place being packed when we visited as kids, but we really were one of the few people there. I clapped extra loudly for the cliff diver, because I felt sorry for him and his lack of an audience.
"Black Bart's Cave! Black Bart's Cave!" It's actually "hideout" but on South Park it was "Black Bart's Cave", so of course I was shouting that as we entered the "cave". I'm glad I make myself laugh.
The inside of Casa Bonita is pretty dark and not great for picture taking... maybe for a reason? But here's a picture of the cliff diver scaling the rock cliffs next to our table. We couldn't help but wonder if they ever fall off of the rocks while trying to climb for their next dive! We also wondered how people responded when this guy tells them he works at Casa Bonita as a cliff diver... we think the responses might be entertaining.
While eating lunch, we saw that the schedule for the day included a "Gorilla Show" so I made sure we stayed for that one. The schedule also said "substitute pirate on weekends", so that had me very curious. I'm thinking we may need to make a weekend trip there sometime soon. Pirates aaaarrrrrr cool! That aside, the gorilla show was cheesy and fun! We even had a close encounter with the crazy gorilla. :)
Needless to say, we had a pretty entertaining afternoon at Casa Bonita. If you visit, have an open mind and a partially full stomach. It also helps to bring with you an ability to make yourself laugh. I'm looking forward to our next visit, but I think I'd like to go when there are more visitors. A girl can only cheer so loudly for the cliff divers... I'll be in need of more help next time. Casa Bonita lalalalalalala!