Venue Spotlight: Mad Rex Restaurant & Virtual Reality Lounge

I’ll be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect when I walked into Mad Rex. As someone who can’t even sit through a child’s haunted hayride, and cringes during the zombie scenes in The Walking Dead, I was more than a little skeptical.

I read about the venue when it first opened; a post-apocalypse themed bar that serves drinks from an IV drip and specializes in virtual reality. I quickly dismissed it as “not my thing.” Last week, I had the pleasure of attending my first networking event with Philly Man/Jersey Man Magazine’s Young Professionals Group, the Infinity Club, and it was held at Mad Rex.

Mad Rex is located in Fishtown on 1000 Frankford Ave, Suite 1, across from SugarHouse Casino and adjacent to Revolutions Bowl and Punchline Philly. When I walked in to the venue, I was pleasantly surprised.

The thing with themed restaurants, venues, or events, is that you have to commit to the theme and go all out. Otherwise, it feels contrived rather than purposeful. Lauren Westerman, who works with the venue on their events side, informed me that all of the props within the venue are carefully sourced—some of which came from a specific movie. This made sense, because it, in essence, felt like a movie set. The bar contains weapons hidden behind glass, some of the high top tables are makeshift “fire barrels,” and the ‘wine cellar’ houses axes and armor. A large “Survivor’s Kitchen” sign hangs to the right of the cellar, and you can see the chefs preparing your meal. The centerpiece of our semi-private event space was a 'crashed plane' custom tagged by Alloyius Mcilwaine.

A friend of mine ordered one of their signature cocktails, the Mad Mehmet, which came in a glass with a bullet in the side (how on point)! In addition to the clever details within the glassware, their menu has hints of the theme throughout. The “Survivor Menu” allows guests to ‘cook’ their own protein on either a black lava or Himalayan salt block. The fish and beef is served rare (sliced for convenience), so the flavors of the blocks are perfectly surrounding every bite as they cook. They even have Himalayan Salt ice cream, for the sweet-and-salty fans out there.

They are also equipped with Virtual Reality amenities, including their VRex Lounge. Attendees from last week's event competed in a 3-minute Zombie Shootout challenge for prizes, and it definitely added to the experience.

I would imagine Halloween to be just a blast at this space, between the decor, the virtual reality components and the employee attire. I’m told that they have an indoor/outdoor space for up to 75 people that makes it great to host events in the spring and summer months, as well.

Mad Rex is a great place to take a group for a unique, fun experience. Though it would not be my bar of choice to be a ‘regular,’ it’s a Philadelphia-only venue that really brings a theme to life and is perfect for a once-in-a-lifetime event with a large or small group. No wonder it was packed for the Big Game this past Sunday!