AHOY, me mateys!
Are ye ready to join us for some grub and grog while we check out the updated menu over at Tortuga Tavern?
We let you all know a couple of months back that a new menu was being introduced at this seasonally-open spot in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland. Granted, it wasn’t a huge surprise at the time, considering that Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café had also debuted a new Mexican-based menu of its own that greatly resembled the Tavern’s previous menu.
These days when you find the Tavern open, you’ll instead find barbecue options. Which makes total sense because everyone knows that pirates love nothing more than feasting on brisket and Texas toast or veggie salads while taking a break from all their pirate-y adventures. (I know, I know, there IS some great BBQ in the Caribbean. ;-D)
Either way, it’s time to step back into this hangout for land-bound pirates once more. Goodness knows it’s rarely serving, so we need to get it while the gettin’s good!
If you’ve spotted the sign for Tortuga Tavern and thought, “Hey, this place with the big ol’ sign decorated with vintage ship mastheads looks kinda cool…” only to find it closed, you’re not alone.
Tortuga Tavern is open seasonally, which means you’ll find it in operation during peak times for the parks such as the just-finished holiday season, or the upcoming weeks surrounding spring break. Basically, it’s open whenever you REALLY don’t want to be in the park! ;-D
When it is open, operating hours are typically lunch-only for this quick service spot located directly across from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.
Be sure check out (and abide by!) the Code of Conduct after entering under the Jolly Roger.
(Sorry, Captain Barbossa. No monkeys allowed!)
In terms of detail and atmosphere Tortuga Tavern is very well-themed, especially when you consider that it’s only open on occasion. It’s one of the reasons we make sure to stop in whenever we see it’s operating.
The beamed ceilings are decorated with colorful glass lanterns, but overall the lighting is dimmed. We understand this is the preferred style for the pirate clientele.
The expansive outside dining area is partially covered and offers a great view of the walkway through Adventureland.
Again, because it’s open on peak days, you may have to do some serious pirating of your own to find an open spot!
The limited indoor seating area pays homage to the infamous pirate, Blackbeard.
Even if you’re sitting outside with the vast majority of the crew, be sure to take a peek indoors to check out the nautical elements and sure signs of pirates in the vicinity, right down to the hats on the walls.
A. Smith, the Tavern’s Proprietor, is kind enough to let the pirates hang up their beer steins while they are busy out at sea.
And Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom fans will recognize the fireplace, which acts as one of the magic portals for the game. (That’s right; even when the Tavern isn’t open, you can check out at least some of the details).
The mantelpiece above the portal holds plenty of knick-knacks including candlesticks, lanterns and pictures.
Make sure you pay attention to the bathroom signs, which are themed as well — just like those you’ll find nearby the Pirates attraction.
One of my favorite details of the room is the Pirate Roster book on display. And you can tell that Captain Jack Sparrow himself has seen it as well!
Whew! That’s quite a tour! But like I said, we can’t get in here too often so when we do, it’s time for some pretty serious exploring.
AND some pretty serious eating! Time to check out that updated menu I mentioned…
Like most other quick-service spots, you’ll line up and order at the registers then grab your grub at the appropriate window counter.
Barbecue-inspired plates have taken over this pirates’ haunt; and overall it’s a pretty simple menu featuring three Barbecued Sandwiches, which vary by your choice of meat: pork, chicken, or beef brisket. A Roasted Corn and Vegetable Salad rounds out the offerings, with options to add beef brisket or barbecued chicken to top it.
Kids’ Meals are also fairly limited. It’s either a Smucker’s Uncrustable or Macaroni & Cheese for the lil’ pirates. The specialty grog of the house remains the Strawberry-Lemonade Slushy.
The previous toppings bar is no longer available. Instead you’ll find Texas Pete Hot Sauce as well as balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. Buuuuuuuut, since Pecos Bill’s and Tortuga are SORT OF connected through seating areas, I’d bet nobody would bat too many eyes if you trotted your tray over to the Pecos toppings bar. What you’re topping I’m not sure, but there you go.
So let’s get to eating! I decided to try the Barbecued Beef Brisket Sandwich, which is served, like the other two sandwiches, with Baked Beans and Coleslaw.
Served on two thick slices of Texas Toast (again, just like the other sandwich options), the portion is definitely decent.
I thought the brisket was well-prepared and tender, with the barbecue marinade lending a nice smokey flavor.
The generous portion of meat paired with the thick bread is definitely enough to fill you up!
So on to the standard barbecue accompaniments: Coleslaw and Baked Beans. Unfortunately, the Coleslaw was very heavy on the mayo, making it waaaay too soupy.
But the Baked Beans tasted great, making up for the coleslaw debacle.
I also decided to try the Roasted Corn and Vegetable Salad. Though you can add meat to it, I was all set from the brisket so I went without. For the basic salad, you’ll receive mixed green lettuce topped with lots of corn, black beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions.
In terms of size, I didn’t think the portion was too big (especially in contrast with the sandwich), but the fresh flavors were definitely appreciated! And the (estimated ) TON of shredded cheese on top sure didn’t hurt.
While I really enjoyed the veggie components, I was a little thrown off by the red wine vinaigrette. I didn’t think it worked well on a southwest-style salad such as this. They did have a regular vinaigrette on the condiment bar, but generally I would’ve preferred a ranch.
One thing that hasn’t changed at Tortuga Tavern is the dessert menu, offering two choices: Triple Chocolate Cake (the standard version you’ll find at quick service spots all over Magic Kingdom)…
…and the Tavern’s very own Cookies & Cream Gelato.
The vanilla gelato has crushed Oreos mixed throughout.
Like most Disney gelato it is absolutely delicious and the Oreo twist offers a fun alternative to the other desserts and gelatos offered around the park. Why this version isn’t served in the other quick service spots offering gelato (like Pinocchio Village Haus), I’ll never know. I just take it when I can get it!
So with a “Yo Ho Ho” and an “AAARRRGH” thrown in for good measure, it’s time to wrap up our time at the Tavern until it opens its doors once more.
Oh, Tortuga Tavern. Seriously, I wish this place was open more often. The attention to detail and decor is one of the best in the park for quick service, and though the menu is certainly on the simple side, things are typically well-executed and fresh. If the Tavern happens to be open during your next trip to the Magic Kingdom, it remains worth checking out… if ye be brave enough to hang your own hat among the pirates, that is!
Will you be trying the barbecue fare at Tortuga Tavern? Let us know in the comments below!
Contributors to this review: Tina F., Wendy, and AJ