Immersed within the heart of Lakewood, Colorado, Casa Bonita, an iconic Mexican restaurant with an intricate history and substantial cultural impact, is on the brink of resurrecting its doors to the public after a hiatus spanning over three years. The cherished eatery, initially shuttered by the inescapable clutches of the 2020 pandemic, has been under a cloak of silence until recently, when local media were invited for a tantalizing preview of the restaurant’s extensive refurbishment on Friday.
In September 2021, Casa Bonita found its saviors in the personas of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creative masterminds behind the hit show “South Park.” The duo injected $3.1 million to acquire the restaurant, subsequently fuelling over $12 million towards comprehensive renovations that have, in essence, breathed fresh life into the establishment. The long-standing Mexican eatery, esteemed for its extravagant interiors, captivating cliff divers, and irresistible sopapillas, is now on a steady trajectory towards a grand reopening slated for May. However, the precise date remains shrouded in mystery, with the month’s end drawing close.
The renovation mantra for Casa Bonita was indeed paradoxical, ‘alter nothing, enhance everything.’ Visitors will be instantly struck by the improvements beginning from the entrance itself. The erstwhile twin cashier stations, erstwhile epicenters of lengthy queues, have now been replaced by a standalone hall that houses eight efficient ticketing counters. Patrons can conveniently pay their admission and place food orders here.
Despite adhering to the traditional cafeteria-style serving system, significant enhancements have been implemented. A notable addition is the windowed area, a vantage point from which diners can observe their soon-to-be-consumed food items being freshly prepared, including delectable tortillas. Meanwhile, away from public view, a sizeable, well-appointed kitchen resonates with the bustle of staff attending to Rodriguez’s culinary designs, chopping fresh tomatillos and other vegetables as part of the overarching aim to prepare all food from scratch.
Although Casa Bonita’s core aesthetic appeal remains unaltered, it is now amplified by a plethora of strategic improvements. The entire establishment now complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, featuring accessible railings and elevators. The hauntingly distinctive scent of chlorine and sewage has been successfully exorcised, while the eternal crowd-pleaser, unlimited sopapillas, retains its pride of place.
Casa Bonita’s revamped menu now brims with culinary delights like enchiladas, carnitas, chicken adobo, picadillo, calabacitas, camarones, their signature mole, and an enticing taco salad.
Earlier this week, Casa Bonita signaled its grand return with conspicuous billboards on West Colfax Avenue in Denver, audaciously declaring itself as “The Greatest Restaurant in the World.” The anticipation heightens as employees have been spotted frequenting the restaurant, presumably to ensure flawless final preparations. The establishment also updated its Facebook profile and cover photos on Thursday, discreetly removing the May reopening sticker, further fueling the suspense surrounding the highly anticipated reopening.