Casa Bonita is the world’s largest Mexican restaurant. It’s been around since the early 70s and is located near Wadsworth on Colfax west of Denver.
If you have seen the Casa Bonita episode of South Park, that is pretty much 100% accurate. Complete with cliff divers, live stage shows, mariachi band, arcade, caves, underground mines, and of course unlimited sopapillas, Casa Bonita is loved by children, but feared by adults as apparently the food is horrible.
My first trip to Casa Bonita was in diapers (convenient) so I don’t remember much. But we continued to go several times a year throughout my entire childhood. When I got into high school that turned into weekly visits and I fell in love with the cheese enchiladas. Now I’m not sure what exactly is really inside them, but they tasted like Velveeta Mac and Cheese which I LOVED but we never got because it was so expensive.
Once I started college, I would take anyone who hadn’t experienced the Casa down there to show off my old stomping grounds. No one was ever impressed by the food but everyone was impressed by the decor, ambience, and all the activity going on.
As an adult, it’s more of the same. We take visitors, nieces, nephews, anyone who’s game to check it
out. I even celebrated my 39th birthday there. All in all, I probably hit the Casa about 3-4 times a year.
Up until this year, the cheese enchiladas were one of my rare dairy foods I still ate, but this year as my priorities changed and my commitment to a plant-based diet grew stronger, my Casa Bonita experience
was about to change.
Last night I went there with my mom, my cousin and her kids, and a friend and her kids. I posted a few pics on social media and was surprised at the messages and comments I got this morning. So far I have received 6 messages basically asking “what exactly does a vegan eat at Casa Bonita?”
It got me thinking about how simple and easy eating a plant-based diet is, but how few people actually know that. And maybe that is what keeps some of you from giving it a shot.
That is exactly what prompted me to write this article today.
***Since this article was written, it has been brought to my attention that the guac at CB DOES have mayo in it, so for my future visits, I will NOT be ordering guac. I may BYO because I’m a rebel like that!!***
Casa Bonita is no different than any fast food Mexican restaurant or many American food chains in the US. The majority of the meals are loaded with meat, cheese, lard, and other animal based products. If you are picky about your diet, you do need to ask some questions or do a little research in advance to successfully navigate your meal.
Since I have been going to Casa Bonita for years I knew the basics of the menu. I just wanted a few specs. I went to their website and they have a link for special diets. Most big restaurants do these days.
It shows which meals contain major dietary restrictions such as gluten and dairy. If you can’t find all the info you need you can always email or call them.
In the past I have always had the Taco Salad and then I made my hubby get the All-You-Can-Eat platter to hook me up with a few cheese enchiladas. As I started eliminating more dairy from my diet, I asked for the salad without cheese and sour cream. I know I was still eating the enchiladas, but if you know anything about me, it’s all about the baby steps!! The last couple years I even started eliminating the salad shell and just got it on a plate.
When we took our annual Xmas family Casa Bonita outing this past year, I eliminated the cheese enchiladas for the first time, but still had honey on my sopapillas. I still wasn’t sure I was ready to know what was actually in the sopapillas, but I was ready to take the next step and find out.
When I knew we were going to be eating at Casa Bonita this time, I checked the website and called to confirm that my final meal plan had no animal product in it at all!
So last night this was my order…
Taco Salad minus shell, sour cream, and cheese with extra extra guac. This was basically a plate of lettuce, tomato, and onion smothered in guac. I also had some chips and salsa mixed into the salad and I had sopapillas…sans honey this time!
So that’s how I ate vegan at Casa Bonita!!
Even though you may never have the privilege of dining at CB, you can apply this same process to any restaurant you want to go to. This is especially helpful to those who like to eat out with friends/family but want to maintain whatever mail plan you are following.
Whether it’s vegan, paleo, gluten-free, low-fat, or no-sugar, you can always find stuff to eat anywhere you go. Don’t be afraid to call in advance or ask your server lots of questions when you get there. These days they are used to annoying picky people and are happy to oblige as long as you reward them in your tip!!
And here is a link to hundreds of vegan (and most gluten-free) recipes you can make at home if you don’t want to bug the server…
See you super soon!!