A First Look at Dana Rodriguez’s Casa Bonita

The enthusiasm surrounding the reopening of Casa Bonita appears to be reaching a fever pitch. Its neighbor, Westfax Brewing Co, has released a celebratory lager, and even small signs of activity are being deemed newsworthy.

The iconic venue, originally opened in 1974, became famous for its cliff divers and sopaipillas along with its sprawling themed interior. The cafeteria-style food eventually became a point of derision or a longstanding joke amongst locals who knew better than to eat the stuff even as they gulped margaritas and enjoyed the pageantry.

So, when the news hit in 2021 that South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were taking over ownership of the place with Work and Class and Super Mega Bien’s Dana Rodriguez behind the wheel, fans quickly became ravenous for what was to come.

They should be.

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“We changed nothing and improved everything,” said Rodriguez, who is now in charge of a nearly 500-person staff. The dishwashing apparatus alone takes 15 – 18 people to operate, with everything, including chips and tortillas, being made fresh in-house. “Consistency, quality and customer service. That is my goal with all my restaurants. This one is no different.”

Meals are still picked up on the way into the venue and carried to tables by way of a tray. Though this time, the food alone warrants a visit. Patrons can choose from eight options, including enchiladas, carnitas, Camarones, picadillo and calabacitas — a delightful blend of roasted corn, squash, cauliflower, roasted poblanos and queso fresco. “It’s very clean food, very simple, but flavorful,” said the chef. “I have a little bit of everything, without it being a bible.”

While there’s still no firm opening date, the team has announced that it will begin selecting guests who sign up on its email list to be the first through the doors. Folks have every right to be more excited than ever.

Casa Bonita is located at 6715 West Colfax Ave., Lakewood. 

All photography courtesy of Casa Bonita.