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Casa Bonita makes Willy Wonka look Amateur

Tuesday August 09, 2016


Casa Bonita with Local Legend, Andrew Novick, as our guide


Casa Bonita is one of Denver’s most enjoyable and bizarre nights out. It heralds itself as the ‘Greatest Show’ in Denver.

Not quite a restaurant. Not quite a theatre or venue. Casa Bonita is an entertainment destination.

40 years young, Casa Bonita takes dinner and a show to a new level. Literally, 3 levels….as in there is a 30 foot waterfall inside of the ‘restaurant’ / fun plex.CasaBonita_TourPinkRoom

Although Casa Bonita’s main draw is as a ‘Mexican Restaurant,’ nobody goes for the food itself. Rather, it’s more the food experience. Just raise the small flag at your table, and one of what seems like hundreds of servers scattered through the restaurant will promptly appear to make all your refill wishes come true. Two more tacos ? More sopapillas ? Refill on that drink ? No problem. No additional charge. Kind of like a buffet on demand.

The food is mostly variations of tortilla and cheese, so it’s challenging to take too much advantage of the free refill system unless you’ve decided “health be damned.”  The fun of having your server as a real live genie trumps any concern for waist lines. Your wish is their command (within the bounds of the policy). Some menu items don’t apply.

My recommendations pre-Bonita: Don’t research. Just Go. I’ve already revealed too much! So the rest of this article will be more experience than logistics. Really…Casa Bonita is a real life mystery fun house. Tacky. Tropical. Perfect.

As we were being seated, I overheard someone ask a server/ genie: “How do we get out of here?””

Not frantically like:
‘ We’ve. GOT. TO. GET. OUT. OF. HERE.” but like

‘a little confused.
sweating behind the knees
a can’t-remember… kind-of-timid question
with genuine concern:

Actually though. “How do we get out of here?”

According to the server, “Where’s the exit?” is the first most popular question of Casa Bonita just ahead of “Where’s the restroom?”


I understand the need for these answers. Directions are not obvious when inside Casa Bonita. I myself was lost behind the waterfall for what seemed like days.

One could exceed their “FitBit” expectations just trying to casually grab something from the car.


Once you wind through the entry turn stiles and cafeteria style food line, you are in the belly of the beast…That is, unless you know the ‘Secret Birthday Chamber Hallway’ & the security guards who know the ‘Secret Birthday Chamber Hallway’ to buzz you through.

Once you are in. You are in . Unless you’re ready to add some more steps to that FitBit and loop back through start to finish.


If you’ve already seen the South Park episode on Bonita, it’s still a surprising trip through Willy Wonka’s factory. Just replace Wonka with whoever envisioned Casa Bonita, someone much wonkier than a glorified sugar industry profiteer.

The Willy Wonka of Casa Bonita for example belongs to no existing industry. A real pioneer of potential in the poetics of human existence.

Casa Bonita is it’s own market and it’s demographic is you. Everyone. One and All.


A venetian parade over Crooners in the dust of artificial plants and put-put style aqua blue ponds. Swoooooon and swooon. Casa Bonita is the stuff of legends…if legends had a gift shop, arcade and magic show.


By close, everything drowns under the deafening sound of vacuums preparing for the next day’s fun fair.


Andrew, our guide: “My last wallet was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich”

“I can’t believe that kid calls it chocolate shakes” They are Chocolate Banditos.

Let’s go look around before they close the place.


A palm tree Romeo and Juliette meets Rapunzle, if she woke up from a dream in which she was a dolphin performing in the 4:50p.m. aquarium #4 showcase.

The parade at Casa Bonita happens everyday at 5:30.


The 3 Story high dive is (what seemed to me) every 28 min in (what I think of) as the banquet hall.

Though open early, don’t expect Breakfast Burritos. Bonita is 1 menu. 1 magic.


Pro Tips:
1.The Puppet Show stage is not an invitation for your latest work
2. Watch out for the sleeping miner
3. Hope for seating in the magic show

4. Vegans: You’re looking at Taco Salad hold cheese and sour cream, otherwise known as iceberg lettuce in a tortilla bowl. Steal some rice and beans from your friends’ plate. Worth it.


Whitney Moore

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