Civilization has just collapsed. You are a survivor of a global catastrophe, and now you are dining at Mad Rex, the world’s first post-apocalyptic restaurant, which happens to be conveniently located right here in Philadelphia. If this is what the post-apocalyptic era is like, bring on the apocalypse!
I knew I was at the right place when I saw a boom truck glowing in the middle of Columbus Boulevard, reminiscent of a Mad Max set piece. As I entered the restaurant, I was greeted by a fog machine emitting smoke and the fuselage of a jet crashing through the roof. The commitment to the theme continued as I admired the post-apocalyptic mannequins and read their corresponding “war hero” stories. As one of the owners, Michael Johnigean, put it: “How many times do you look around a restaurant and people are on their phones, lost in the cyber world? I wanted to create something where they can be lost in another world of entertainment.”
Mad Rex is not only the world’s first post-apocalyptic restaurant, but it’s also the first virtual reality-equipped restaurant in the country. You can use the open VR lounge for $1/minute or the closed-off VR chamber for $2/minute, all while sipping on drinks served from camelback bags made to look like IVs. The VR menu includes everything from skydiving to watching the sunrise on a beach to sitting front-row at a live sports game to overcoming fears through exposure therapy techniques.
But the Mad Rex experience is not only out of this civilized world – the food and drinks are out of this actual world. The meal started off with complementary carrot-flavored hummus and pita – Mad Rex’s version of a free bread service. Then, you choose between dishes cooked in the kitchen or on a black lava tray, which is part of the “Survivor Menu.” Similar to a hibachi package, the “Survivor Menu” allows you to pick your own protein and any other side dishes, such as vegetables or rice, to grill on the black rock burner, giving everything a delicious, smoky finish. On the happy hour side of things, the drinks menu features crowd favorites infused with an apocalyptic-twist: “The Gryphon,” a light up fishbowl drink; the “flame thrower,” which comes out with a flaming lime on top; and the “smoking gun shot,” a shot that emerges from a smoky cage. The drinks are guaranteed to make a positive impression on both your taste buds and your Snapchat story!
With it's post-apocalyptic theme, virtual reality lounges, and delicious menu, Mad Rex provides a full dining experience, living up to its namesake ( the “Rex” stands for “Restaurant Entertainment Xperience”). It’s great for any type of function, with large tables that comfortably seat ten and booths to accommodate smaller groups. Mad Rex can also host events that match almost any budget, providing food, access to the VR lounge, a photographer, and a live DJ.
Technically, I finished my dining experience at Mad Rex as a “survivor.” However, I’d like to think that I not only survived but also thrived.
TL;DR: Post apocalypse, Mad Rex has it all – from delicious food, to Instagram-worthy drinks, to cool virtual reality experiences.
Location: 1000 Frankford Ave Suite 1
Monday-Thursday: 4 p.m.–12 a.m.
Friday: 4 p.m.–2 a.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m.–2 a.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.–12 a.m.
Price Range: $$