We were looking to take a day long road trip during Labor Day weekend. I have family that had been here to eat and they recommended it, so we loaded up and drove nearly 200 miles. Yes, you read that right, we drove about 200 miles to try this place. It's not the most accessible restaurant. Once you get off Highway 7 onto the county road, it's mostly rock & dirt/mud with short sections of pavement. You park in their lot and wait for the van to take you up the hill to the restaurant. The rock access road is very bumpy, but the driver does warn you of this. He was also very informative on the history of the property. I fully understand that such rough conditions are hard on their transport vehicle all day, every day, but first impressions do go a long way and the van could stand a thorough cleaning inside.
The driver drops you off at the gifts shops, which are located on ground level below the restaurant. We couldn't go into the shops after we left the restaurant, so I can't comment. One was locked (the employee stepped away) and the young lady wouldn't let us in the candy/candle shop because she said she was "spring cleaning." The restaurant doesn't open until 11:30, they should have cleaned before opening. The cave restaurant entrance is about 30 ft. off the ground, so you either take stairs or an elevator...we tried both. The grease bin holding the old, used cooking grease is placed right under the stairs, so once you reach above it, it smells horrible.
Once inside it's like no other restaurant you've ever seen. If you're expecting a cold cave, don't worry, the temperature is quite comfortable. It's decorated with stuffed animals and equipment used by the original owners to excavate the cave, as well as old photos documenting their progress. Our waitress, Debbie, was phenomenal. She's sweet, personable, informative about the history, and funny. All the girls there at that time seemed very nice. We wish Debbie luck on her upcoming knee surgery. Our food was very good. The chicken fried steak was large and the gravy on it & the mashed potatoes was great. My family had chicken strips and the tilapia, which they really enjoyed. The price is high...we paid $50 for a meal we probably could have gotten at Applebee's or Red Lobster for around $35, but you're here for the novelty of eating in a cave. The unique atmosphere accounts for higher prices. Good food, a great atmosphere, and one of the nicest waitresses we've ever met made our 200 mile trip well worth the journey. We may not make the long drive just to eat here again, but we do vacation at the Lake of the Ozarks often, so if we're ever in the area, we'll definitely return.