Review: Lunch at Magic Kingdom’s Tortuga Tavern (Updated BBQ Menu)

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)

Tortuga Tavern Sign

Tortuga Tavern Sign

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!

Atmosphere

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 Sign

Tortuga Tavern Sign

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.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirate Flags Outside of Tortuga Tavern

Pirate Flags Outside of Tortuga Tavern

Be sure check out (and abide by!) the Code of Conduct after entering under the Jolly Roger.

Tortuga Tavern's Code of Conduct

Tortuga Tavern’s Code of Conduct

(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.

A. Smith Proprietor Sign

A. Smith Proprietor Sign

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.

Tortuga Tavern Lighting

Tortuga Tavern Lighting

Tortuga Tavern Lighting

Tortuga Tavern Lighting

The expansive outside dining area is partially covered and offers a great view of the walkway through Adventureland.

Outside Seating

Outside Seating

Again, because it’s open on peak days, you may have to do some serious pirating of your own to find an open spot!

Seating

Seating

The limited indoor seating area pays homage to the infamous pirate, Blackbeard.

Blackbeard Painting

Blackbeard Painting

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.

Tortuga Tavern Decor

Tortuga Tavern Decor

Tortuga Tavern Decor

Tortuga Tavern Decor

Tortuga Tavern Decor

Tortuga Tavern Decor

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.

Beer Mugs Hanging

Beer Mugs Hanging

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).

Fireplace Playing a Magic Portal

Fireplace Playing a Magic Portal

The mantelpiece above the portal holds plenty of knick-knacks including candlesticks, lanterns and pictures.

Decorated Mantel

Decorated Mantel

Make sure you pay attention to the bathroom signs, which are themed as well — just like those you’ll find nearby the Pirates attraction.

Caballeros Room Sign

Caballeros Room Sign

Damas Room Sign

Damas Room Sign

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!

Roster Book

Roster Book

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…

Eats

Like most other quick-service spots, you’ll line up and order at the registers then grab your grub at the appropriate window counter.

Counter Service

Counter Service

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.

Tortuga Tavern Menu

Tortuga Tavern Menu

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.

Tortuga Tavern Menu

Tortuga Tavern Menu

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.

Condiments Area

Condiments Area

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.

Barbecued Beef Brisket Sandwich

Barbecued Beef Brisket Sandwich

Served on two thick slices of Texas Toast (again, just like the other sandwich options), the portion is definitely decent.

Barbecued Beef Brisket Sandwich

Barbecued Beef Brisket Sandwich

I thought the brisket was well-prepared and tender, with the barbecue marinade lending a nice smokey flavor.

Beef Brisket

Beef Brisket

The generous portion of meat paired with the thick bread is definitely enough to fill you up!

Barbecued Beef Brisket Sandwich Cross-section

Barbecued Beef Brisket Sandwich Cross-section

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.

Side of Coleslaw

Side of Coleslaw

But the Baked Beans tasted great, making up for the coleslaw debacle.

Side of Baked Beans

Side of Baked Beans

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.

Roasted Corn and Vegetable Salad

Roasted Corn and Vegetable Salad

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.

Roasted Corn and Vegetable Salad

Roasted Corn and Vegetable Salad

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)…

Triple Chocolate Cake

Triple Chocolate Cake

…and the Tavern’s very own Cookies & Cream Gelato.

Cookies 'N Cream Gelato Ingredients

Cookies ‘N Cream Gelato Ingredients

The vanilla gelato has crushed Oreos mixed throughout.

Cookies 'N Cream Gelato

Cookies ‘N Cream Gelato

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.

Overall

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

Comments

  1. Crysta says

    Not a fan of Coleslaw in general but that did look pretty soupy lol.
    However I do love Texas Toast, so I don’t think I would mind either of the sandwiches mentioned (though meat has to be very well cooked and seasoned for me to enjoy it!)
    The salad however? That definitely piqued my interest!! Looks delish! (And it has tomatoes in it, so I’m all for that!)
    Not that this is related directly to the review, but I went to Pecos Bills back in Oct 09 for a day trip for lunch and I had the Taco Salad from there, which was AMAZING. However I’m sad to hear that it has been removed from the menu?? Is that true? I know in a recent review it was said it was removed?? But can someone confirm because I loved it and would totally get it if I get to go back again.

  2. Kevin H says

    Barbecue is actually from the Caribbean and the term Buccaneer, which is now interchangeable with pirate, refers to people who used to set up smoking rigs on the shorelines and smoke meat.

  3. CraigInPA says

    One nit-pick about this review (which I enjoyed) is that the BBQ sauce on the brisket would not be considered a “marinade”. Marinades are put on before and during cooking. Brisket doesn’t really absorb marinades, which is why you’ll see nearly every BBQ brisket recipe calls for a dry rub. The BBQ sauce, had it been used as a marinade, would have burned off while the brisket was being cooked. Not that a nice char on the outside of the brisket isn’t desirable, it is, but the burnt BBQ sauce would have not imparted any flavor to the rest of the brisket. A “finishing sauce” is put on at the time of presentation. So, the BBQ Marinade should have been referred to as a BBQ sauce or a Finishing sauce.

    The cole slaw looks very soupy, indeed. That’s likely a result of them finely chopping the cabbage using a food processor and not allowing it to rest and drain before putting it together with the other ingredients. That’s why you’ll find most BBQ places serving cole slaw that contains rough chopped or shredded cabbage. Rough chop and large shred doesn’t expel as much of its water, and the result is a drier cole slaw without the soupy-ness you see in the Disney variety.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Disney doesn’t know what real BBQ is. They’re making strides getting there, but no choice in the finishing sauce and a soupy cole slaw put them right around “back yard chef” in terms of BBQ professionalism.

  4. Betty McCommon says

    We ate there in early November, now I’m really glad they were open when we were there, I had no idea we were that lucky. The line was crazy long but the only place we could all eat and have something we liked. Finding a table really wasn’t too hard, we even got to eat inside, it was very hot so shade felt good. We all had the brisket and it was good but a little tough (should have either smoked longer or put in foil in the oven for a while to tenderize some, at least that’s what I do when smoking one) but we enjoyed it nevertheless. The cole slaw the day we were there was pretty good, the beans were pretty watery that day so I guess the sides are hit and miss. But the portion sizes filled up 2 very hungry men who only like beef. We ate at the Pecos Bill area a few days earlier and that was pretty good, like you said, the topping bar is amazing.

  5. Keith says

    CraigInPA nailed it…although it is odd that someone in PA would know so much about BBQ. They believe sloppy Joe’s are BBQ.

  6. Sandra says

    Crysta, they have changed the menu at Pecos Bill’s and we loved it on our recent trip! Fajitas and salads rule now, plus they’ve added back a burger. My son and I had dinner there in November and enjoyed the flavorful chicken fajitas with black beans and rice. The toppings bar now features things like guacamole, shredded cheeses, sauces, etc. appropriate for customizing your meal. I also found packets of salsa on tables around the seating area and thought the product inside was pretty good for packaged. We had mini-churros with chocolate dip for dessert. Having avoided Pecos Bills for years after a really boring meal there, we are happy to put it back on our list for MK.

    The food courts at the All Stars show a big taco salad at lunch; wonder if it is the same or similar to the one you remember?

  7. Jane says

    I was very unhappy when Disney changed the great burrito menu to these sandwiches. Unfortunately, I can’t anything that’s on the current menu due to the high carbohydrate count. Guess I won’t be going there.

  8. Sheri says

    We were lucky enough to eat there in May of 2015. The park was not overly full, no idea why they were open. But we loved the themeing of the place.

  9. Essie says

    I don’t know why people think that good BBQ only can be found in certain areas of the country. We have several excellent award winning BBQ restaurants right in Philadelphia, Pa. There are also top rated restaurants with world class iron chefs who have clientele from all over the Northeast, Mid Atlantic and beyond. Point is, we also have fast food spots all over the city and Tortuga Tavern is just that, a fast food spot. I’m sure the atmosphere and food is just fine, like you said and I would love to enjoy eating there, but again, it’s always closed every time we go!

  10. Beth W. says

    Hey now…easy on us Pennsylvania peeps! LOL! Pittsburgh was rated Zagat’s #1 city for dining this year! And…we have the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates. Pittsburgh rules! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *