Some would say that it had nowhere to go but up, but the menu at Casa Bonita is about to get a very big upgrade.
Dana Rodriguez, the chef behind Denver's Work & Class and Super Mega Bien, has just been named the executive chef at the South Park creator-owned version of Casa Bonita, which has been closed since the start of the global pandemic.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone recently bought Casa Bonita, one of Denver's most iconic restaurants that most residents would agree served some of the city's worst food. By naming a three-time James Beard award nominee to take over the menu with full creative control, the three partners have the biggest piece in place to “change nothing and improve everything" at Casa Bonita.
Rodriguez told 5280 Magazine, "I want people to get excited about the food... Obviously the food wasn’t great, and that’s something we all remember... We’re going to make everything one thousand times better, keeping the same essence. How to bring all my flavors from Mexico, that is the most exciting part to me."
So far, it looks like the menu will sound the same in name, but it will be completely different in taste and presentation. For example, the infamous enchiladas will still be on the menu, but they'll be made with tortillas and sauces from scratch. The plan is for people to order things that they think they know, but have their minds blown once they take their first bite.
While the menu is going to get a long overdue upgrade, the cliff divers, mariachis, Black Bart’s Cave—everything that made Casa Bonita what it was—will still be there for the reopening.
They'll just be cleaner.
Rodriguez explained, "It’s an iconic place people go to for entertainment and to spend a day with your kids. [Parker and Stone] don’t want to change what Casa Bonita is. Just think clean and perfect and elevated—you’re still gonna see the gorillas walking around there. They just might smell better."
For now, Casa Bonita is undergoing a major upgrade from the inside out. With a new kitchen redesign with new equipment on the way, Rodriguez plans for Casa Bonita to have the same standards as Work & Class and Super Mega Bien, which will forever change how people experience all that is Casa Bonita. It will still maintain its bizarre character, but the jokes about its food may not be long for this world.
Casa Bonita plans to reopen sometime in the second half of 2022, making it Denver's most anticipated restaurant (re)opening of next year.