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Review: Beef Nachos and Vegetarian Burrito at the Magic Kingdom’s Tortuga Tavern

AAAARRRRRR ye ready to grab some food with yer fellow Pirates at Tortuga Tavern?!

If you AAAARRRRRR, you should know that Tortuga Tavern falls under the “open seasonally” category of Quick Service restaurants, so you’ll only catch it during the busiest times of year such as the holidays, spring break, and peak weeks in the summer.

With summer upon us, and especially busy weeks such as the 4th of July holiday week soon approaching, you may have more of a chance to catch it open in the coming months. We thought we’d take a look now in case you should find it open during your vacation, so you can decide if this is a place your inner Pirate needs to visit.

Tortuga Tavern Sign

Tortuga Tavern Sign

Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern

Please join us for some Grub and Grog in this ever-elusive spot…

Grub & Grog here!

Grub & Grog here!

… if ye be brave enough to enter under the Jolly Roger, that is!

Jolly Roger Flags

Jolly Roger Flags

Atmosphere

Tortuga Tavern sits directly across from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Adventureland. The thing about the Tavern is that, since it is only open occasionally, there isn’t much in the way of detailing.

Juuuuuust kidding. Thar’ be plenty of treasure here, mateys! (Okay, I’m almost out of Pirate-speak, I promise… almost. ;) )

Proprietor, A. Smith, welcomes you to this Pirate hangout!

A. Smith, Proprietor

A. Smith, Proprietor

And he offers plenty of fine dinnerware for the crew.

Platters and bottles

Platters and bottles

Mugs for Grog

Mugs for Grog

Though Blackbeard makes his presence known above the Toppings Bar…

Blackbeard guarding the Toppings Bar Treasure

Blackbeard guarding the Toppings Bar Treasure

Captain Jack Sparrow’s “Black Pearl” has the largest Crew in the Roster, even over Blackbeard’s “Queen Anne’s Revenge.”

Window looking towards the courtyard

Window looking towards the courtyard

Closeup of Crew Rosters

Closeup of Crew Rosters

Although, Captain Jack’s Roster also includes the parrots (second column), so that’s something to consider ;) .

Bullet holes in the outside courtyard are signs of a scuffle… because, you know… Pirates and all!

Courtyard

Courtyard

Bullet holes

Bullet holes

Wondering what the rules are at Tortuga Tavern? Fret not, me hearties… just follow the Code of Conduct!

Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct

I’m grateful to the Cast Member who kindly pointed out something I may have otherwise missed: the retired sign for El Pirata Y El Perico (the previous name for this location) up in the rafters.

El Pirata Y El Perico Sign

El Pirata Y El Perico Sign

Even the utensil dispenser gets it’s own special font… I kind of love that :) .

Utensil Dispenser

Utensil Dispenser

By the way, you can enjoy some of the details of Tortuga Tavern almost anytime, even if it’s not in operation. The room with the Toppings Bar also serves as a spot for those playing the “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” game (as identified by the “Sorcerers” symbol on the floor in front of the fireplace).

"Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom" game spot

“Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” game spot

Because this is a busy-day spot, one of its purposes other than grub is seating — and plenty of it! After receiving your food at the counter, it appears as though there is seating in the area just in front of you. But you’ll find that the table areas go on and on…

Tortuga Tavern Seating

Tortuga Tavern Seating

Tortuga Tavern Seating

Tortuga Tavern Seating

Tortuga Tavern Seating

Tortuga Tavern Seating

… and on.

Tortuga Tavern Seating

Tortuga Tavern Seating

So when you see one of these, grab it! :)

Tortuga Tavern Table

Tortuga Tavern Table

Notice that pretty much every other table is full? We arrived at noon… high lunch time, which is something I don’t recommend, especially during these busy seasons. But — and I’m sure many people who’ve traveled with hungry family members can relate — sometimes the day just shakes out that way.

And it’s a good thing we finally found a spot, ‘cuz a Pirate’s gotta eat!

Eats

The Tortuga Tavern menu offers five entrees with a focus on Mexican fare (did you know Caesar Salad was created in Mexico by an Italian restauranteur? They serve it at San Angel Inn as well… and the only reason I know that little fact is because the story is written on their menu ;) ).

Tortuga Tavern Menu

Tortuga Tavern Menu

My husband ordered the Beef Nachos.

Beef Nachos

Beef Nachos

I’ve already briefly mentioned the Toppings Bar, but these first pictures of the Beef Nachos show how they come to you: ground beef over tortilla chips topped with black beans, roasted corn, diced tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion, and… plastic cheese!!!

Closeup of toppings

Closeup of toppings on Beef Nachos

I should mention that we each received a packet of Sour Cream with our order.

Sour Cream

Sour Cream

Now, if you’re accustomed to the Fixin’s Bar at Pecos Bill’s, you may be expecting something much larger. At Tortuga, the Toppings Bar is pretty simple, really… just lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa (both red and verde), and diced tomatoes.

Diced tomatoes and yellow peppers

Diced tomatoes and yellow peppers

Cheese at the Toppings Bar

Cheese at the Toppings Bar

So, if you’re looking for plastic cheese to top your dish, you won’t find it here. Good thing it comes on the Beef Nachos!

While the Nachos came topped, my husband did visit the toppings bar to top his cheese-covered Nachos with… more cheese.

Beef Nachos with more cheese

Beef Nachos with more cheese

Oh, and some lettuce.

I stole more than a few of my husband’s Nachos, so I can verify that they were plenty tasty! The ground beef is very finely chopped and well-seasoned. If you’re familiar with the Taco Salad at Pecos Bill’s, this is the same style of meat (Tortuga Tavern serves the Taco Salad as well).

We both enjoyed the chips, too. They were thick and hearty enough to stay crisp underneath the mountain of toppings.

Chips

Chips

For my entrée, I went with the Vegetarian Burrito (you can also choose a chicken or beef burrito). The flour tortilla, as you can see, is GIGANTIC – bigger than the plate it comes on, for sure, and it was pleasantly soft and fresh.

Vegetarian Burrito

Vegetarian Burrito

The filling is simply black beans and cilantro rice.

Vegetarian Burrito

Vegetarian Burrito

Black Bean and Cilantro Rice filling

Black Bean and Cilantro Rice filling

I would’ve liked to have seen a bigger serving of black beans, but I happily filled up any “empty” room with every topping from the bar.

Vegetarian Burrito with toppings

Vegetarian Burrito with toppings

By the time I was finished, it was no longer a “lift-able” burrito, so I went forward with a knife and fork.

Vegetarian Burrito post-topping

Vegetarian Burrito post-topping

Aside from more beans, I also would have preferred a stronger presence of cilantro in the rice (sorry, AJ, and all you other non-cilantro folks out there! ;) ) . Still, even though the flavors were simple, the Vegetarian Burrito offers a really nice change of pace as well as a filling meatless option.

Overall

Be prepared for the potential to do some serious seat-hunting at Tortuga Tavern (during the busiest times of year, though, that can be said of just about everywhere in the parks). If at all possible, aim for an 11:00-ish arrival, or a 2:00-ish one.

Even if you do have to search for a spot, for little Pirates who can’t get enough of the attraction, this Pirate’s “pub” is a fun way to extend the experience.  And I, for one, will totally stop in for a dish of those Nachos whenever I see this spot open from now on – they make me wish it were open all year.

If you can manage to find it open, a stop at Tortuga Tavern offers a nice bit of variety to your Quick Service choices in the Magic Kingdom!

Have you had a chance to eat at Tortuga Tavern? Please let us know with a comment!

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13 Comments

  1. Chrissy O. says:

    Bless the toppings bar! Nachos at Tortuga were one of my favorite things we tried on my last trip to WDW. I love that they give you sour cream and you can load the veggies on yourself. I think I was just real surprised at how good they were because my parents always ordered the soggy pre-made ones at the cantina. As for the burrito, it’s tough once you’ve had Chipotle, isn’t it? It’s hard to live up to the glorious burrito baby all wrapped in tinfoil.

  2. Mike Venere says:

    I am a usual mid to late August visitor so sadly for me this place is usually closed.
    I do not know what it is about it though but it’s a place I always wish WAS open when I ma there.
    The 3-4 times I have visited not in August and (at that time) El Pirata was open and loved the food!!!
    Doing an end of July visit this year….just maybe I hope!

  3. Kelly D says:

    I haven’t been lucky enough to find this location open in over 20 years. I do love the quiet seating, however, and have been known to sneak a burger from Pecos Bill’s or a citrus swirl over for a peaceful meal. During my visit last September I was surprised by the loud and frequent playing of the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom message from the fireplace. Still, it was better than perching on a stone bench while my citrus swirl melted in the Orlando sun!

  4. matt says:

    Very often closed when we go ( end of Oct – start of Nov ) which is a massive shame

    as Veggies we love the Vegetarian Burrito

  5. Bob A says:

    I always look to eat here and wish it were open more often. Like the nachos, beef burrito and taco salad. Hopefully will get there again soon and it will be open.

  6. Essie says:

    I’ve never eaten here either (I love to go in the Autumn or just after Thanksgiving), but I would love to try this spot as I love Mexican food. The plastic cheese looks wonderful, but I’m really surprised that they don’t have it in their toppings bar. I really would like to eat here sometime, especially after riding on POTC!

  7. Karen says:

    I’ve never seen this place open either sadly, we are usually there in October :( Shame though as we would love that as a preference over burgers etc.

  8. V says:

    I doubt it will be open when I go in Nov but I’ll ask anyway. If I get a burrito and request nacho cheese on the side do you think they’ll comply?

  9. V says:

    Even though I doubt this will be open when I go in Nov I’ll ask anyway. Do you think they’ll object to me asking for the plastic cheese on the side if I get a burrito?

  10. Ashley says:

    I was photographing this spot the other day when CM Ed from Orlando pointed out a few details for me (most of which you mentioned above). In addition to the bullet holes along the wall by the staircase, he told me that the building housed ‘ladies of the night,’ and you can see a customer’s hat hanging on the rack outside the room, as well as a bell to ring for ‘service.’

  11. Wendy says:

    Hope each of you get to check out this great spot at some point (and I’m glad you got to, Chrissy and Ashley)! Mike, you said it well… there is just something about it :).

    V — since they have it available for the nachos, I think it’s definitely worth shot to ask!

  12. David says:

    Yea I used to work here during summers. It is rarely open but it is a nice break from the standard fare for QSR such as Pecos or Cosmics. If it is open and you pass it, eat there. The food is really good and is made with much more care then many other locations for QSR in the park

  13. Jeremy says:

    My daughter and I ate here just this past weekend, and ordered the beef nachos and the strawberry lemonade slush. Both were very good…much better than I expected. I was surprised by the the cucumber, but I really liked the fresh flavor it provided. These nachos were much better than those we ordered from La Cantina de San Angel, which had very stale tortilla chips. I would definitely stop in again next time I find it open.

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