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This T-Rex Cafe review may not be what you think. Take my word for it when I tell you that I’m not typically a fan of themed restaurants. So when I was asked to visit T-Rex Café at the Legends Shopping area of Kansas City, KS, I was a bit hesitant. However, my opinion quickly changed.
To say the T-Rex Café is impressive would be an understatement.
The structure itself seems to take up an entire city block and the exterior is carved out of rock with exposed fossils and massive dinosaurs guarding the entrance. Immediately upon entering we were greeted enthusiastically (one of the first things that helps me decide whether I’m going to stay and eat somewhere) and our experience just kept getting better from there.
Before we even tasted our first bite, the kids were whisked off to the “Build-A-Dino” experience located in the retail area of T-Rex Café. A division of Build-a-Bear, kids can choose from one of 15 different dinosaurs to stuff, bathe and dress before naming them and taking them home in their own habitat-shaped box (complete with holes for their heads, wings and tails to stick out of, if applicable J).
Again, my skepticism was at a peak high, but as soon as Kayla entered the scene, my icy heart melted away, much like the winter warlock in another childhood favorite, “Santa Claus is coming to Town”. This wasn’t just another shopping experience. Kayla’s knowledge, enthusiasm and kid-friendly tone impressed me right away and put my kids at ease to follow her lead. After having each of the different dino options explained to us by Melissa (another enthusiastic member of the T-Rex team), Kayla guided our kiddos through the process of choosing a heart for their new friend, being sure to rub it on their head for wisdom, cheek for cuteness and arms for hugs before placing it into their bodies. While I had always thought it was a little disturbing to take an empty shell of an animal and watch it get stuffed, going through the process and hearing the story they weave made it much more endearing. Plus the fact that my kids were completely glowing made me realize just how special this experience was.
When Kariss’ triceratops and Britton’s Terranadon were bathed and brushed, we found suitable outfits for them for dinner (it should come as no surprise that my daughter chose pajamas for her friend while my son outfitted his in a superhero costume). From there they went over to a computer where they chose a name for their new friends which led to printing out a birth certificate.
After our Build-A-Dino experience, we were escorted to a clamshell booth in the Shark Bar, one of the 6 areas of the café (the others include the Aqua Room, GeoTech, Ice Age, Fern Forest & Sequoia). Seated beneath a 5,000 gallon aquarium, it’s a wonder we got our kids to sit and eat anything at all!
Marcia, our explorer guide, promptly welcomed us and quickly impressed us with her warm smile, knowledge of the menu and eagerness to match our tastes with one of their many offerings.
We let the kids start out with a treat – a dino bone shaped glass filled with a red, blue and white icee. At the manager’s suggestions, we tried their appetizer sampler platter with ribs added on (it is Kansas City after all!). Everything was hot and fresh, but the unique part of it was the coconut chicken with a sweet coconut curry sauce. Not typically a fan of any of the components I just mentioned in the prior sentence, I actually enjoyed this unique offering and was truly impressed with this part of the dish.
They have two different soups on the menu, Tomato Basil & French Onion, which happen to be favorites of both my husband and myself respectively. While the crouton in the French Onion soup was a little too heavy for my taste (I’m not a fan of croutons in general), they were both delicious and a warm start to our meal.
For our main course, it was hard to decide between the highly recommended Ravioli with lobster, lasagna, Reuben and strip steak, but we ended up with an omnivore salad and the Predator Platter – and boy am I glad we did.
Though these choices may seem basic and bland, that could not be father from the truth. The omnivore salad was a delicious blend of greens tossed with amazingly fresh goat cheese, strawberries, pecans, & dried cranberries, tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette and raspberry glaze. More often than not I’m disappointed by restaurant salads, but even when I got full, I couldn’t stop myself from continuing to dive into this one!
Our other selection, the Predator Platter, had the two items we wanted more of – the rotisserie chicken we passed in the Fire Bar while walking to our table and the Kansas City ribs we got to sample on our appetizer platter. It also came with 2 side dishes – we chose the mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. Beautifully presented on a square plate with a large sprig of rosemary standing tall, you would hardly expect presentation or taste like this at a chain.
But this isn’t what I would call a chain restaurant. T-Rex Café chose the Legends Shopping Mall in Kansas City, KS as their flagship restaurant because of the amazing growth in the area, the commitment to family-friendly attractions there (it’s also home to Schlitterbahn, minor league baseball, Speedway, Nebraska furniture mart and future home of KC Wizards soccer team) and the proximity to so many states (less than a day’s drive for MO, KC, NE, IL, KY, TN, among others). The only other T-Rex Café exists in Downtown Disney in Orlando, so this is truly a unique experience to write home about!
Though we could barely eat another bite, we hear we had to experience (yes, experience) the Explosion for dessert. Little did I know a huge tray of brownies layered with caramel, vanilla ice cream topped with whip cream, hot fudge and toffee pieces would arrive amidst an erupting cloud of smoke. Though it was too much even for our family of four to finish, I loved how it was divided up into portions on the plate so everyone could dig into their own brownie and ice cream.
With meal prices ranging from $9-$22, it’s a great value considering this is so much more than a restaurant – it is a family dining experience. If you’re looking for an even better value – head over on Wednesday nights when kids’ meals are only $2.99 from 4pm-close and entry into the Paleo Zone is only $.99! In the Paleo Zone, kids can…. There are also all-inclusive packages for birthdays and other special occasions that include the Build-a-Dino experience, Paleo Zone, meal, and other party accessories.
If you make it out, don’t think of this as a quick stop. You’ll want to take time to take in the full experience, including the real fossils in the restaurant and each of the uniquely themed rooms in the café (not to mention the surrounding shops at the Legends Outlet Mall!)
I’d say the kids had a good time, wouldn’t you?
Have you tried the T Rex cafe? If so, do you think it’s like other themed restaurants you’ve been to?
[…] T-Rex Café: a family dining adventure. The original (and one of only 2 in the country) is here and includes a Paleo-Zone where kids can visit the Discover Dig Site as well as a Build-A-Dino experience (think Build-A-Bear with a prehistoric twist!). On Wednesday nights kids eat for only $2.99 after 4pm and pay only $.99 for the Paleo Zone. Read more of my TRex Cafe review… […]