Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Casa Bonita Isn’t Even Open, and It’s Already ‘The Greatest Restaurant in the World’

There aren’t enough Michelin stars to award the ‘South Park’-adjacent eatery, according to travel podcaster Scott Gairdner
Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Casa Bonita Isn’t Even Open, and It’s Already ‘The Greatest Restaurant in the World’

If you want to get a taste of the Mexican food and live entertainment megaplex that travel podcasters are already calling “the greatest restaurant in the world,” you’ll have to get in line and take a number. But don’t be surprised when that number is 600,001.

I’m no food historian and I don’t care to become one, but I’m willing to bet that, in the entire history of fine dining, no single restaurant has generated more hyperbolic hype, more media adoration and more Tribeca Film Festival documentaries before it even announced a grand opening than Lakewood, Colorado’s Casa Bonita. Long after the towering pink temple to dinner entertainment became a tourist attraction for South Park superfans when series creators and longtime patrons Trey Parker and Matt Stone made Casa Bonita the subject of a 2003 South Park episode, fittingly titled “Casa Bonita,” Parker and Stone purchased the restaurant in 2021 after struggling financial health forced Casa Bonita to close its doors.

Three years and $40 million in renovations later, Casa Bonita still isn’t fully open to the general public, and the waitlist to get into the advanced, soft-opening, dinner service previews is nearly a year long. However, comedy writer and podcast host Scott Gairdner recently managed to secure a table for himself and his family, and, on the theme-park-themed Podcast: The Ride, he described the experience with fanatically religious phrasing, boldly calling Casa Bonita “the greatest restaurant in the world.”

“This place fucking rules. It was so great,” explained Gairdner of his and his family’s experience at Casa Bonita just minutes into the podcast episode. “Part of the reason I want to get that out right at the top is that it’s very complicated to get into Casa Bonita, as I discovered,” Gairdner explained of his inability to create suspense while reviewing the restaurant, acknowledging the Casa Bonita website’s dreaded waitlist that currently has more than 600,000 hopeful patrons in line and an average wait time close to a full calendar year. 

Gairdner advised his listeners, “If you have any thought that you want to go to Casa Bonita, get it going right now,” telling them not to bother listening to the full two-hour Podcast: The Ride episode before putting their name on the list, lest they delay their Casa Bonita trip by a similar amount of time.

Gairdner called Casa Bonita “exemplary” and “wonderful,” saying that the sopapillas that Cartman scarfed down in the aforementioned episode were the highlight of the menu from award-winning chef Dana Rodriguez. However, the actual cuisine is just one small part of the allure of Casa Bonita, and Gairdner spent most of the episode gushing about the style, pageantry and entertainment of Parker and Stones passion project, lavishing praise on the famous cliff divers who perform their aquatic show “every 20 to 30 minutes” during dinner.

“Its just this cascade of glowing and amazing theatrical light,” Gairdner said of the painstakingly refurbished interior of Casa Bonita. “And then the twinkling stars all over the ceiling, which I know they didnt have before. Lighting: incredible. Sound: incredible. They pumped Broadway stage money into this place. It is so Disney-level. Its insane.”

Comparing Casa Bonita against Disney parks, Gairdner said that Parker and Stones extravagant entertainment complex “is somewhere between (EPCOTs) Mexico Pavilion and Pirates of the Caribbean.” Gairdner further praised the famous duos ambition, saying, “I cant believe they pulled that off. It sounds like nonsense when they say in South Park: Its the Disneyland of Mexican restaurants! I bet at that time it was said kind of in jest. But now it just is. It fully is that. Its incredible."

Though it may be a long time before any of us get to experience Casa Bonita, it certainly seems as if the hype is justified — its worth both a year on a waitlist and two weeks in juvie.


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