Every time we pass through Denver, we stop at Casa Bonita, one of the odder dining experiences available today. Is it a restaurant? A low budget indoor theme park? What?
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.