A Cavernous Cantina Returns to Denver, Cliff Divers and All

Colorado’s hallmarks include glorious mountains, vibrant seasonal colors, skiing, and a pervasive obsession with exercise and eating well. But for generations of Colorado kids, perhaps the most commonly shared experience was with Casa Bonita. Casa Bonita is a sprawling, filthy, poorly lit basement restaurant that many of its patrons considered barely edible.

With over 52,000 square feet of sprawling grounds in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, Casa Bonita served a buffet of steamed refried beans, tacos and enchiladas to thousands a day. Entertainment at the dinner included waterfalls, cliff divers, black barts caves, gold and silver mine faux pas, puppet shows, people in gorilla costumes being chased by sheriffs, and occasional cliff diving. It was a dream Casa her Bonita’s curious childhood appearances are chronicled in an episode of “South Park.”

After that episode aired, show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were regularly questioned if such a place actually existed. “Oh, that’s the place,” Mr. Parker would reply, he recently said. “It’s crazy.

Then in 2020, a pandemic-induced recession hit and Casa Bonita went bankrupt. The place was already in disrepair, crumbling due to postponed maintenance, electrical hazards were rampant, the ventilation system was covered in grease and the carpet was covered in something like concrete. A joke about food earned it the nickname Casa NoEata. Still, its death was mourned.

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