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Review: Cap’n Jack’s at Downtown Disney

It’s time to talk about a restaurant that hasn’t yet been on Disney Food Blog! (GASP!!)

Time to try out lunch at a Cap’n Jack’s! I’ve been to this spot twice now, and even though it will likely disappear at some point in the next few years with the Downtown Disney / Disney Springs renovation, I still need to tell you about it so that you can run over and get in a meal before it’s too late! :-)

Looking every inch the waterside Florida seafood restaurant, Cap’n Jack’s is located at Downtown Disney Marketplace and sits right atop a pier overlooking Village Lake. You’re so close to the water that you’ll feel like you’re floating!

Recently, I stopped into Cap’n Jack’s for lunch with a friend. My previous visit wasn’t great, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Will it be hit or miss? Time to find out!

Atmosphere

If you have ever been to a waterside seafood restaurant in your favorite beach resort town, Cap’n Jack’s will at once seem a bit familiar. Housed next to the Downtown Disney Marina, it’s a classic seafood spot!

Captain Jack's Sign

And that sense of history that you feel isn’t purely Disney magic. This restaurant has actually been around since 1975 when Buena Vista Shopping Center — now Downtown Disney Marketplace — originally opened. In Disney terms, that’s a seriously long time!

Within the restaurant, you’ll find fairly standard seating, low ceilings, and wooden floors. This feels like the family-owned seafood restaurant that you’ve been visiting for years.

Wide View of Seating

One thing you typically won’t find at Cap’n Jack’s is a large crowd. That means you can usually find a table without a reservation or much of a wait. The bar is a comfy spot to relax for a bit while taking a break from the busy shopping scene at Downtown Disney.

Bar Area

And if you love a room with a view, you’ll enjoy the sweeping panoramas of the surrounding shops.

Seating by the Water

But don’t forget — you are in a Disney restaurant. Be sure to keep a weathered eye out for Hidden Mickeys!

Pirate Hidden Mickey

After I scoped out the restaurant a bit it was time to dig in to lunch. Let’s check out the menus!

Eats

We started with a quick look at drinks. We were greeted with many of the choices that we see everywhere, courtesy of the standard Disney cocktail menu.

The Strawberry Margarita has apparently been an option here since Cap’n Jack’s beginnings.

Specialty Drink Menu -- Click to Enlarge

You’ll find the same list of options on the beverage menu, in addition to a small offering of wines.

Beverage Menu -- Click to Enlarge

A couple of non-alcoholic special beverages top the regular menu, which also highlights available appetizers and entrees. The menu is small, but offers a good variety of seafood options. And don’t fear — there is a good selection of dishes featuring chicken, pasta, and beef, too, as well as a vegetarian option.

Main Menu -- Click to Enlarge

If you are dining with the Captain for lunch, there are also a few selections exclusively available for midday meals.

Lunch Specials -- Click to Enlarge

Nothing on the beverage menu grabbed our attention on this particular day, so we went straight for the food. My friend began her meal with a bowl of Clam Chowder. She was really pleased with the selection, saying that the soup was just the right creamy consistency without being too thick.

It had large pieces of tender clam meat, and the potatoes were cooked perfectly. This was definitely a win for her.

Clam Chowder

The day we visited, the Chef’s Recommendation, or daily fresh catch, was a Lobster Roll. Again, my friend was very pleased with the quality.

The lobster roll was surprisingly light but the perfect serving size. The roll itself was soft and grilled just a bit, and the chunks of lobster were sweet and lightly dressed — there really wasn’t a mayonnaise taste at all. It was all about the meat and a light dressing.

Chef's Special Lobster Roll

When it came to my turn, I chose Jack’s Clam Bake, served with a wedge of focaccia. Isn’t it just about the best presentation, ever? The “bucket” was sized for one person. I though it was great!

Clam Bake

The dish is the restaurant’s rendition of a classic seafood boil, with steamed shellfish, chicken, sausage, corn, and potatoes, all served in a seasoned beer broth.

Clam Bake -- Up Close

Here, you can really see the fresh parsley and the vibrant color of the just-right boiled corn.

Clam Bake with Corn and Potatoes

While I contemplated how to go about eating the boil from the bucket, the cast member manning the bar — who also took the time to share all sorts of awesome Disney dining details with us since he’d been working in WDW for many years –  took matters into his own hands! He presented the dish tableside for me!

This made for a fun touch and a much less messy meal!

The Clambake is Served Tableside

The finished product made for a beautiful presentation! (Don’t worry; there’s plenty more seafood still in the bucket — I just wanted to give you an idea with the pic.)

And, even better, I loved the dish. The beer broth was super flavorful, and the spicy sausage added another awesome flavor “texture” to the mix! I would totally go for this meal again!!!

Clam Bake After It's Placed in the Bowl

With our entrees deliciously behind us, it was time to take a look at the dessert menu.

Dessert Menu -- Click to Enlarge

I was glad that I had saved some room, because the Key Lime Pie was calling to me (as it always does)!

You know how much I love a good amount of pucker when it comes to key lime pie, but this was a little too sweet for my liking. The portion was also a little on the small side. But overall, it did provide a nice note of “something sweet” to end the meal, so it wasn’t a complete washout.

Key Lime Pie

Overall

After hearing mixed reviews of Cap’n Jack’s for years, and after having a relatively bad experience my first time, I really didn’t know what to expect. However, I can tell you that our meal was awesome. My friend even remarked that it was one of the best lunches she had ever enjoyed at Disney — and she’s eaten quite a few meals there, let me tell ya!

With that, I would definitely recommend Cap’n Jack’s. It’s an especially good choice if you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing spot for lunch away from the noise and chaos of a park lunch. And because it’s rarely busy, this is also a great spot to have in mind should you find yourself with a big appetite and no Advanced Dining Reservation.

Have you dined at Cap’n Jack’s? What’s your favorite dish on the menu?

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12 Comments

  1. SusieBea says:

    Our party of 9 had dinner at Capt. Jack’s in January because that was the only place we could secure a reservation. I was concerned because of the many negative reviews I’d seen, and it had been several years since our last visit. We, too, had a good experience! Our server was not particularly friendly but was efficient. I had the pot roast which was excellent. Based on that visit, we would also return.

  2. Diane says:

    Since you mentioned that the cast member who served your clambake gave you awesome dining info…now I’m curious. What sort of things did he tell you?

  3. Jan says:

    I will miss Capt. Jack’s when it closes. it was tradition for my husband and I to have lunch here on our last day at Disney. Sadly, my husband passed away about two years ago, and now it looks like Cpt. Jack’s will be passing too.

  4. NT3 says:

    Sadly Cap’n Jack’s is going to be a casualty of the Disney Springs project, if recent reports are correct.

  5. Claire says:

    I will be saddened if Capt Jack’s disappears as we have eaten here since our first trip in 1978. I have such fond memories of eating here with my family and grandparents, we always looked forward to going there for a meal. Back in the day, their claim to fame were the peel and eat shrimp, we would order LOTS and enjoy everyone (while we got my grandmother tipsy on pina coladas), good times, good times. We ate there last November and enjoyed our lunch. I too had the “bucket”, which was good.

  6. Essie says:

    Capt. Jack’s can’t disappear; it’s actually holding DTD together! LOL It’s been anchoring the Market in place forever, or so it seems. Their strawberry margaritas are so delicious and my mouth is now drooling for the lobster roll (although the clam bake also looks tempting)!

  7. AJ says:

    SusieBea — Thank you so much for sharing your review! Cap’n Jack’s would be a great option for large parties and no dining reservation. Great idea.

    Diane — Ha ha! He told us that there’s a huge tank under Ariel’s Restaurant in the Beach Club that houses all of the fresh lobster flown in each day!

    Jan — I’m sorry to hear about your husband, but I’m so glad that you have so many wonderful memories with him! Thanks for sharing them with us.

    NT3 — Yep; I alluded to that a bit in the first paragraph. It’s unfortunate since I’ve found something I really enjoy there! :-) Are you a fan?

    Claire — It’s so difficult to lose a restaurant that’s been such a big part of your Disney memories! LOVE the story about your grandmother and the pina coladas! ;-)

    Essie — Ha ha! It seems like that, doesn’t it?!? It’s such an institution! The building will remain, but it looks like a different restaurant/shop will take Cap’n Jack’s place with the new renovation.

  8. mary says:

    we had lunch at Cap’n Jack’s many years ago, don’t remember exactly when, but noticed a couple of the chairs at the bar had been decorated and had names on them. We were told that a couple came in every day for lunch and had their own reserved seats with their names. Were they
    pulling our leg or was this really true??

  9. Amber says:

    Unfortunately, after reading this review, I sent Guest Relations an email. They called me back and confirmed that Cap’n Jacks will be closing late this summer or in early fall, around August or September. I’m extremely disappointed because the food has always been delicious and the staff has been very kind. Thanks for the review!

  10. Laurence says:

    Thanks a lot for your review! You made me curious so during our very recent trip to Disney (end of April), I took my mother in law there and boy, was I glad I did.
    She had a lovely time, loved the food and I loved the clam bake.

    We were both seated at the bar and we talked with the same cast member you met. He was really great, had loads to tell us on Disney downtown and explained why the restaurant is going to disappear: they’re going to build a bridge instead.

    A great pity, as the location was ideal (we had taken the boat from Port Orleans Riverside, it’s stop is just next door), the food was good and the service very nice.
    Thanks again!

  11. kimberly says:

    mary the story is true. I worked there fulltime and we did that every sat for larry and his wife. they’ve been coming for years. they are sweet and larry used to work in the boats next to jacks. we would reserve two bar seats for them and they would have there own license plate with there names on it.

  12. Glenn says:

    BTW, Just got to work today and learned Capt J’s is scheduled to close on Aug 17th… we are planning an office outing to give it one last try before it goes into the history books!

    (Going for the Bucket!).

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