Star Crossed Lovers

When I made the reservation for eight of us at Cafe Star, it sounded like they might have trouble tabling that many people on a Friday, they took the reservation anyway. When I arrived with only two others they seated us immediately not once asking when the rest of the party will arrive. They quickly took our drink orders and we had full glasses of delicious Cheapskate Cabernet and a bottle of bubbling Vino Verde (not Prosecco) waiting for everyone when they showed. When the other six people arrived, they accommodated our extra arrival without rancor and quickly had another place set before she even reached the table. Our waitress, the dear Andrea, whom I had already fell head over heels for, answered all of our questions patiently and knowledgably. And trust me, we bombarded her with questions about everything on the menu! My wine glass was never empty, nobody attempted to take my plate before I was done (a common occurrence with a slow eater like me), we were rarely bothered during our meals, and wholly taken care of. On top of all that, Andrea didn’t include gratuity in the bill, she knew full well that her performance would do the correct math. Amazing! Was there really this kind of service in a Denver restaurant? How completely refreshing. If this meal were based solely on service it would have been incredible.

Instead, Rebecca Weitzman, made Cafe Star top itself with menu that continues to amaze me. The menu changes to evolve with the season’s freshest produce and meats. Our table started off our meal with three flatbread pizzettas appetizers, all of which were unique and flavorful. We worked the kitchen over by each ordering a unique dish (doubling up on only one plate) and every one of them was delicious. Portions seem small at first glance but are rich and intense with unique flavors. Our buffalo steak was returned because it was a little undercooked, but it came out three minutes later seared to perfection and was promptly devoured. I ordered the lamb which was heaven on a plate and a perfectly sized portion for such a rich cut of meat. There was no problem finding dishes for the vegetarians in our party (and not just pasta with vegetables) though the pressed eggplant was probably the only dish not to my liking. In my opinion the best dish on the table was the lobster-and-rock-shrimp pot pie riddled with tarragon, as comforting as comfort food gets, yet as luxurious as anything. My girlfriend ordered the crisp gnocchi with truffle oil and escargot, which I finished without question. Don’t miss the soft-sweet beets with pistachio-crusted goat cheese or the crab-filled potato ravioli with white truffle sauce. The desserts were good too, though no match for the entrees. You won’t be disappointed with the Chocolate and Chili Pot d’Creme.

Cafe Star is hip, without attitude. Somehow, the entire room feels like both a trendy hot spot and low-key neighborhood hangout. It’s colorful and creative. Flavored and textured.

Now if there were only more restaurants in this town on the same level of excellence as Cafe Star. Have any ideas?

Casa Bonita

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure/displeasure of eating at one of Denver’s – scratch that – the Nation’s landmark restaurants: Casa Bonita.

Casa Bonita opened in 1974. It is over 52,000 square feet with seating for 1,100 guests and took one year to build. Since the Casa Bonita in Tulsa closed in September of 2005 (which I’m incredibly disappointed in never having had the chance to visit), Denver’s Casa Bonita is now one of a kind – with the exception of the soon to be open Casa Viva and The Mayan (which was sued by Casa Bonita). Casa Bonita achieved national recognition recently with it’s appearance on South Park.

I think it’s easily described as the offspring of a broken down Disneyland, less than stellar Taco Bell, long airport security lines, the Las Vegas Strip, Chunky Cheese, and good liquid acid.

Nearly everyone who has lived in Denver, for any amount of time, is going to know what casa Bonita is. And most of those people are going to gag at the mere mention of it’s name. In fact, the reputation of the food at Casa Bonita is so poor it has been deemed “Casa Don’t-eat-a” by many Denverites. Casa Bonita is not for the week of heart or the week of stomach. It is just as plastic as Vegas (maybe more). And the food is some of the worst I’ve ever had. For reals.

The lines to get into the Casa can be horrendous. Go on a weeknight, less screaming children and little-to-no lines. If you decide to make a weekend night out of it you can expect lines up to an hour long to get in. And often a 30 minute line can form just to get the hell out of there. You’ve been warned. Trust me, this is one of the last places on earth you want to feel trapped.

After you have made your order and paid (you didn’t think they’re going let you see what’s on your plate before you paid did you), you are ushered to another cafeteria style line were you get a tray and wait until a young lady asks, “wachoo order?”. Soon your meal comes sliding out of a mysterious hole in the wall were it waits for you under the heating lamps. I love the fact that you never see where or by whom your food is made – it just appears through a hole!

Mystery Slot

I can only harsh on Casa Bonita for so long though. I personally, have spent many a childhood birthday at Casa Bonita. It will forever hold a nostalgic place in my heart, no matter how many times I end up puking in the fountain on the way out.

And so the fun begins. After getting your slop you’ll be lead to your seat. Everyone asks for a seat by the waterfall. Don’t. The smell of chlorine will get your stomach upset before you have a chance to drink your first coronaita. And they won’t seat you there anyway. One of the coolest things about Casa Bonita is all the cool rooms they can seat you in. There are gazebos, waterfall seating, mines, cave rooms, “open air” seating, and the governors mansion.

Miners Booths

This particular time we were seated in the magic room. This room had a cool chandelier and stage complete with red velvet curtain. There are magic shows every hour. The magician seemed like the saddest man on the planet but actually produced quite a few laughs.

Chandalier

In addition to magic shows, Casa Bonita has all kinds of other entertainment including pupppet shows, flame jugglers, a wishing well, a roaming mariachi band (which reportedly can’t play anything other than ‘happy birthday’), Black Barts cave, an arcade filled with 80’s video games and ski-ball, a souvenir store filled with absolute shit – and t-shirts, “authentic” Mexican dancers, a wishing well, piñatas for the kids, and all kinds of other stuff. Casa Bonita is great to go exploring in. Go thru a door your not supposed, search around, there is cool stuff to be found.

The Alley

The Puppet Show Is Closed

But by far the main attraction at Casa Bonita is the thirty-foot waterfall. Everyone seems to fall into the waterfall. If it’s not the regular divers doing flips, it’s Black Bart being shot by the sheriff and falling into the pool, or Chiquita the gorilla running around it escaping her captor and harassing the patrons. It’s the waterfall that makes Casa Bonita really unique. The diver’s at Casa Bonita even have there own blog featuring Chiquita.

Mariachi

Here are some Southpark screen caps and sounds.

Here are Casa Bonita My Space and Friendster accounts.

Go to Tiki Boyds and get a drink called the Casa Bonita. Refreshing!

Her reminiscing about Casa Bonita really hit home with me.

This dude made a video of his Casa Bonita experience.

Jeffery Sward has some great phtography of Casa Bonita.

The death metal band Carrion Crawler once did a short show on the Casa Bonita stage before getting kicked off.

Some more Casa Bonita photos can be found here.

This is a decent post about the Casa.

Casa Bonita at Night :: Denver

Please share you favorite / nostalgic / least favorite stories about the Casa. Or, just comment on how absolutly jealous you are of not being able to go here every weekend!

It Was So Good It Tasted Like My Birthday

It has been really nice having my brother’s birthday on Monday because the parental units have been taking us out to dinner per the bro’s preference the past couple of nights.

On monday mom took us out to Little India out on 6th avenue (there’s Little India downtown too but I’ve eaten there and there is a difference). Now I’ve been hearing good things about this place for a while but I wasn’t expecting what I got. It was completely astounding. I loved it. I got the shrimp biryanis. But everything everyone ordered was good. The saags, the masalas and curries were all turbo-delish. The service was great too. But if you are in Denver I recommend you get your ass out there. Now.

On Tuesday we went to and old stand-by. Sushi Heights (Colfax and York under the Free University). I used to go here all the time back in the day. However, I discovered last night that my brother and Pandy have turned it into their own place last night when our waitress not only recognized their faces but called them by name and joked about the being regulars. I have to admit I felt a tinge of jealousy. Sushi Heights is a perennial favorite and didn’t fail last night by serving us some of the best sushi in Denver and definitely the best in downtown. I tried a couple of new things last night. Tiger Eye is salmon stuffed squid and was really good. I also tried the white tuna for the first time (go now, it’s on special and isn’t very common in these land locked mountain states) which melted in my with pure deliciousness.

Sketchy Clubs & Rings

On Friday, before the movie, we went to the (relatively) new Cajun place down on Colfax (I can’t remember the name of it right now but I’ll erase this and put it in when I find out). The food was pretty good, not spectacular, but decent. For most of the meal, we were the only ones in the entire restaurant which was surprising for a Friday night and it being only a block away from one of the busiest intersections in Denver. I had the gumbo, which was pretty good, but it’ll be the fried crawfish po’boy that I get next time. The coolest part of the place was that there was a secret dance club filled with seedy characters in it hidden on the side of the restaurant. You would never know it’s there from the outside because there was no sign and no windows. Only after you enter the restaurant can you hear the music pumping in from the back of the room. We were in a hurry so we didn’t get to grab a drink there but we did peek in and the whole place looked delightfully suspicious. I’ll be sure to go back sometime and let you know what it’s all about. I’m very intrigued by its fantastic sketchiness. Later, I went to see The Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the King with my brother and his girlfriend. It was as good as I expected and I’m glad I saw it in the theatres. Besides that, there is nothing I want to say about it that hasn’t been said by a million people already. Though, my brother farting, Pandy spilling her popcorn, and the lady behind us cussing up a storm did raise the entertainment value.

Thanks Mr. Sushi

Last night, my father, my brother, his girlfriend and myself all went to Mr. Sushi in order to celebrate Thanksgiving early because some of us will be out of town on the 27th. We ordered way too much food as is Thanksgiving tradition (or so I’ve been told). I walked out of Mr. Sushi filled to the gills (heh heh). We were the only ones in the restaurant. My father said grace before we ate and I think this is the only time I’ve ever said grace in a public place. Our family always says grace before X-mas and Thanksgiving dinners. We don’t go to church though. Dinner was a real good time and the sushi was decent. Everyone was in a real goof-off mood: joking, mocking around and laughing. One of my more enjoyable Thanksgiving dinners.

Bizzarre Love Triangle

A funny thing happened at lunch today. I was sitting in the little fast food restaurant eating my naked burrito. To my right, on the other side of the restaurant about 30 feet away were an EMT and his girlfriend (poor girl, doesn’t she know her man’s gonna get all/is all fucked up on human tragedy and access to free pharmaceuticals). Now the EMT and his girl were really enjoying each others company – feeding each other, reaching across the table and caressing each others lips and faces, and eventually leaning across the table for long soft kisses. And they did it with no shame, aware that everyone knew what they were doing.

Next to the couple about 15 feet away were three girls in their early twenties. The one in the middle could not stop staring and the affectionate EMT and his equally affectionate girlfriend. I couldn’t quite tell from her face whether she was revolted, turned on, or simply intrigued by this display. So I stared at her.

As soon as I got her attention (which took a while cause she was so involved with this other couple) I made a little smirk. She stared at me for a second probably ashamed/wondering about how long I had been watching her for and thus knowing how long she had been watching the couple. I made a quick glance at the couple and then back at her and flashed a big knowing smile. Meanwhile the EMT realized what was happening. She then shyly smiled, blushed, and kind of flustered her hands around trying to find something to do. Her two friends who had noticed the couple and me, but hadn’t been blatantly staring, then caught on then and started laughing at her. With embarrassed giggles they quickly picked up their stuff and left.

The EMT the leaned over to his girlfriend. Having her back to me, she turned her head over her shoulder to look in my direction. When she realized whom her boyfriend was talking about she made a big smile towards me and the EMT leaned over and gave me a huge thank you smile. I laughed out loud and then buried my head in my book wondering how six people had such a full and awkward conversation without actually saying a word.
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Next To Me

Last night I went to a local bar grab some dinner (shrimp quessadilla) and a drink (bourbon and coke). Next to me at the bar was a couple on a dinner/bar date. The women was above average looking, very well-built with pretty, long, brown hair. The man was also well-built, expensively but smartly dressed, and very metropolitan looking. Things I learned from him:

  • Send back your meal cause you don’t like the way it tasted. This shows your date that you’re able to take control and be decisive – you knows what you wants and you knows how to get it *wink*.
  • But then keep on saying that you aren’t picky, that you usually eat anything, you hardly ever send stuff back.
  • Then proceeded to talk about what all of your ex-girlfriends thought of you.
  • Stare at the TV above the bar the whole time.
  • Start smoking before she is done eating dinner.
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  • It Was My Fault

    Just some quick updates cause I don’t feel like writing much.

    We lost our first game of ultimate last night. It was my fault. I wasn’t playing tight enough D. The guy I was covering scored the winning point. Oh well.

    I had lunch with Sabrina today. We went to my favorite mexican restaurant: La Fiesta. I like going there to show off cause I’m kind of a regular. I know some of the wait staff and they have a hubs burrito (super burrito, beef & been, extra cheese, green chili, no tomato). Mmmmmmmm. Me and Sabrina touched on some issues of our past and such. She still seems a little bitter toward me and I know I’m still a little bitter towards her. And you can tell we both have some things we want to say but are not sure how. But, at the same time, it’s really nice being able to hang out together.
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