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Fargo, North Dakota
October 2, 2005
The food is awful, it really is. If you‘re a vegetarian, just eat later, or fill up on chips and sopapillas. Upon entering the restaurant, you grab a menu and decide from about 10 options what you want to eat. The only vegetarian option is a bean burrito with a green chili sauce, which actually sounded pretty good. That’s what I ordered, but not what I actually got. You order and pay at the cashier and then continue through the Disney-style rope lines until you grab a tray. Then you get to the person who gives out the food.
We showed her our receipt but still got the wrong dishes, and we couldn’t actually tell from the receipt if we’d been rung up for the wrong stuff or if the food-giver screwed up. There was no time to complain, though, because the line just keeps moving. You grab a drink (alcohol is brought out once you’re seated) and get taken to a seat.
We were in a room that looked like a princess room. It was pretty enough, kind of like a carousal, but we couldn’t see the cliff divers at all, and some small child kept shoving his sticky hands in my purse. Since the food was so awful and mine had meat in it, we didn’t sit there too long. We didn’t go for the food anyway.
There are traveling mariachi bands, stage shows, cliff divers, Black Bart’s Cave, (whoever Black Bart is) an arcade, and all kinds of other stuff. We took a trip through Black Bart’s Cave, which was scary, because you don’t know when you’re going to trip over something. One of the stage shows with Chiquita the Angry Gorilla ran past us as we made our way to the arcade. We left a lot of money in the skeeball machines; that’s always fun.
My one disappointment was the fact that I only got to see one cliff diver, and he did more of a roll than a dive. They were hiring cliff divers I noticed on my way out, so maybe that had something to do with it. We did get there kind of late, which was nice because there were fewer screaming children, but the live entertainment was winding down.
Casa Bonita is just surreal. I would go again because the seating area is so huge. I think every time you go it’s going to be different. The food is really nothing to seek out (I’d rather eat Taco Bell), but the experience is unparalleled. If you are like me and seek out the truly strange, or if you have kids, you have to go to Casa Bonita.
From journal Visiting Denver
by Foxboro Marmot
April 5, 2003
In a shopping mall that's seen better days on the west side of Denver is a Mexican restaurant that serves food one step above Taco Bell and one step below most other restaurants. The all-you-can-eat "deluxe dinner" costs $8.99 with unlimited refills and you'll wait in a cafeteria-like line to order it. Then someone will show you to your table.
And that's where the fun begins! Nothing seems to go in a straight line. There's a maze of passages and dining spaces, ranging from a mine to a cave (plenty of stalagtites... and stalagmites, too!), to the governor's dining room to a tropical garden overlooking a waterfall... and more. Jaunty high schoolers perform as cliff divers, act their hearts out as gunfighters on the cliffs above the pool, or do a bit as pirates walking the plank, all ending with someone diving or falling into the water below--to the extreme joy of kids who try to stand close enough to get splashed. Strolling musicans might wander by. There's a regular schedule of puppet shows and once we saw kids bashing a pinata full of candy. Those mature enough to handle their fears might explore Black Bart's cave, but it could be too intense for really little kids--especially when they have to pass through a dragon's mouth to get out!
No one minds if you wander around to check the place out... and there's lot to see. Usually, parents hold a position at a table while the kids scout around from room to room, periodically coming back to announce what amazing thing they've just discovered. When it's all done, you've amused the kids and fed them too, topping off with all the sopapillas and honey anyone would want, for about $12-13 per person--meal, drink, tax, and tip.
From journal Passing through Denver
Greenwood Village, Colorado
October 14, 2001
As the name implies, this is a Mexican resturant, and if you're hungry, you can choose one of the all-you-can-eat menu selections. Casa Bonita has indoor cliff divers, strolling mariachi bands, and even Black Bart's cave.
Black Bart's cave is a great diversion for the kids after you've eaten dinner while watching the divers and Mexican dancers for some rather unusual dining entertainment. The cave has fairly low ceilings, which makes it perfect for the kids, and it quite dark just as a cave should be. When we took my nephews to visit, they couldn't get enough of the cave and I ended up chaperoning them through it about three times. So, it can definitely be fun for adults as well.
It is impossible to get bored as you walk through the immense restaurant. There are theme dining rooms such as the Palace Room (lavishly decorated for a king), the Mine Shaft (harkening back to the old mining days in Colorado with mining lanterns to dine by), and even the Vineyards Room (grape vineyards, of course).
It is almost impossible to see it all in one visit and not have your senses become overloaded. There is a puppet show, a gift shop, and even more that I have failed to mention here. Take the family and enjoy Casa Bonita!
From journal A View of Denver from an Almost Native
Santa Barbara, California
August 10, 2000
From journal Rocky Mountain NYC
by Mona McCoy
December 28, 2007