By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media
I don’t think I have ever seen so much media in one place for a local event. Not any press conference or other happening. Especially not for a restaurant opening. But the much hyped re-opening of the 49 year old dining establishment is finally here, almost. The opening for the general public still has not been announced. 106 media outlets showed up May 26th for a sneak peak of the refurbished Casa Bonita restaurant located at 6715 W. Colfax Ave. in Lakewood, Colorado.
Add in their photographers, videographers and there were close to 200 people there. I have never seen sopapillas, also spelled sopaipillas, receive so much attention. It was like paparazzi at a red carpet ceremony for a famous movie star.
We were taken in groups of ten for a guided tour through the restaurants various paths that took us first to the new ticketing area. Instead of single admission area, a new zocalo, has been constructed. Photos were not allowed. Meant to look like a town square in Oaxaca it can handle up to eight customers at time at the eight pay windows that are located there.
From there it was off to the kitchen which we were also not permitted to take photos of. Designed to the specifications of Executive Chef Dana Rodriguez. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Rodriguez has opened three restaurants, Super Mega Bien, Work & Class, and Cantina Loca. She is a three-time James Beard award nominee. The kitchen has been completely reconfigured and is huge meant to handle the masses expected to partake in a unique dining experience that is expected to be much better than before in regard to food quality.
The selection is limited but includes four selections for kids (see menu below). Prices have not been disclosed. The food will be made fresh daily with all fresh ingredients. There is even an area where you can view a lady making fresh hand made tortillas.
Then we were taken to where hungry patrons line up cafeteria style to select or view their food options. Kind of a buffet style set-up. No photos either. I was a bit confused by that. Not sure if you slide a tray along the aluminum rails in front of the glass partition, select what you want and your plate is given to you at the end of the line or if you can order from a menu.
From there it was off to the dining areas. Just like in the past there are many dining areas that can accommodate parties of a dozen or more to just a table for two.
All in all Casa Bonita is very much the same as it was before. Everything has been given a facelift including new entry doors designed to look just like the ones that were there in 1974. The pink and white exterior has been given a fresh coat and the fountain has been completely rebuilt but looks just like the old one.
That was the intention of the new owners Matt Stone and Trey Parker who purchased the restaurant for $3.1 million. While they are the creators of the “South Park” there are no references to South Park anywhere in or outside the restaurant. (See part of the South Park episode about Casa Bonita below.) In the episode, Kevin, one of characters is celebrating his birthday at the opening of Casa Bonita. It just so happens that at the preview opening on May 26th was also Matt Stones’ birthday.
Lines and wait times are expected to be long but for now the only way to get in is by signing into the website at CasaBonitaDenver.com. No walkins, no reservations accepted.