“Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.” You got that right, Jack! If there’s one thing the DVC Duo hunts for – it’s great food. We’ll search far and wide, some may say there is no mountain high enough, no ocean wide enough, that would stop us from a great meal. After many years of seasonal operation and several menu refreshes, Tortuga Tavern in Adventureland is once again open daily. Jack – save us seat, we’ll grab the grub!
A Pirate’s Tale
Every great story has to start somewhere, and there’s no better place to begin than the beginning. Originally opened as El Pirata y El Perico, the quick serve location served Mexican food – tacos, burritos, and nachos – seasonally (open only during the busiest times). In 2016, the restaurant was refreshed as part of the overall update to the Pirates of the Caribbean area. With the addition of Jack Sparrow to the attraction, the restaurant was renamed Tortuga Tavern to mesh with the films.
For the first few years the quick serve location was still only open seasonally, serving a confused combination of both BBQ and Mexican inspired dishes. That is, until a recent, more focused, menu change. Currently, Tortuga is open daily, starting at 11 am.
Hidden on the back side of Adventureland, across from A Pirate’s Adventure, is Tortuga Tavern. The quick serve location is an open air restaurant, offering both patio seating and a variety of covered areas. It’s the perfect place to grab a seat and relax in the sun on the patio, or enjoy people watching from one of the covered tables.
Why We’re Here
Food, it’s always about the food. As we like to say in the DVC Duo house, if the food is good people will come. Tortuga Tavern has been testing different menus over the years looking for it’s gold. At the beginning of 2019 the quick serve restaurant went through another menu change adding new items influenced by the flavors of the Caribbean. What we have now is still a bit confused but there are some beacons of light shining through,let’s dive in, Matey!
The captain of this ship is the chipotle BBQ short rib. Disney is serving up the sweet-spicy, tender as a marshmallow, short rib two ways: a sandwich topped with citrus slaw or on top of a juicy classic hot dog. The all-beef hot dog can also be served plain but we obviously prefer ours topped with that rich short rib and a crisp and tangy citrus slaw which provides a cool refreshing balance – arrrgggghhh we’re sold like the chickens in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride! Could we have another contender for the famed Casey’s Corner hot dog crown? We’ll have to wait and see, but this is a serious match!
On this day, we went with the full monty – the chipotle BBQ short rib sandwich. So tender you don’t even need a sword to cut it and oozing with flavors. The meat is dressed, not drenched, in a tangy, slightly sweet and with just the right amount of Caribbean spice BBQ sauce, and served atop a brioche bun. For us, there is nothing worse than poorly chosen bun for a sandwich – no one wants soggy bread. The brioche bun was surprisingly the perfect choice, sturdy enough to not fall apart but soft enough to soak up all the chipotle BBQ sauce and juicy goodness. Finishing off the sandwich was that citrus slaw that adds the change in mouthfeel you crave in an otherwise uni-textured sandwich. If you enjoy short rib and BBQ, then this is the dish for you!
Other menu items include the famous turkey leg and black bean chips served with your choice of dips: Pineapple Jalapeno, Mango Sriracha, or hummus. To us, this is where we lose the theme. If this is Caribbean food, let’s ditch the blase turkey leg and make some jerk chicken! Black bean chips would be much better served as a jerk black bean burger for our vegetarian and health conscious friends. We would suggest making the black bean chips the side dish (instead of the Lays potato chips it currently comes with!) and let folks choose between the pineapple jalapeno or mango sriracha sauce!
The other thing to try is the meal/snack option: the pepperjack pretzel. If you’re looking for a flavorful twist on a usually straightforward snack, give this cheesy, spicy, doughy delight a whirl. This baby is stuffed with ooey gooey melted pepperjack cheese – thank you Disney! It’s Serena approved.
Passholder Insights: As part of Mickey and Minnie’s 90th Birthday Celebration, Tortuga Tavern is serving the Mickey confetti pretzel for a limited time. The pretzel is topped with a marshmallow creme and candy confetti. We’re also told there’s possibly salt on the pretzel as well which makes this a sweet/salty combo that’ll send you on a sugar rush for days!
It’s great to see Tortuga Tavern open on a more regular basis. With the recent menu change and the addition of limited time snack offerings, it may have finally set a course for success. We think with a few navigation corrections on some of the aforementioned erroneous menu items, the theme finally seems to fit and there’s a lot of room for creativity. The chipotle BBQ short rib could be the next hidden treasure of the Magic Kingdom!