Tortuga Tavern Review
Tortuga Tavern is a Magic Kingdom counter service restaurant at Walt Disney World, serving a limited menu of BBQ. In this WDW dining review, we’ll share food photos, a look around, and best menu options at this open air eatery located around the corner from Pecos Bill and only open seasonally. (Updated August 29, 2021.)
After being closed for over a year, Tortuga Tavern recently reopened. Normally, it would open at the start of summer and close around the time it just returned, but Magic Kingdom is still recovering from the closure and staffing up in preparation for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. Consequently, Tortuga Tavern returned for the off-season with a few new menu items.
Over the years, we’ve done two different menus with variations of Mexican cuisine here (more like Taco Bell than real Mexican food) along with the BBQ on Texas Toast iteration of the menu before the current scaled back BBQ version of the menu. The revolving-door menu has typically been uninspired, until now…
Before we dig into the bulk of this review, let’s cover the basics, which are the same for Tortuga Tavern as every other counter service restaurant in Magic Kingdom.
In normal times, Tortuga Tavern participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 1-credit counter service restaurant, but does not accept the Tables in Wonderland card. It’s not a good use of a DDP credit.
In terms of ambiance, Tortuga Tavern is Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired, although you probably wouldn’t notice upon casual inspection. At quick glance, it’s like a slightly pirate-y version of Pecos Bill.
Tortuga Tavern is actually one of the newer additions to Adventureland’s Caribbean Plaza, having replaced the former quick service restaurant El Pirata Y El Perico around a decade ago. The pirate flags above the door are the first sign of this, followed by the ‘Code of Conduct’ (although, personally, I think Tortuga Tavern could use some roaming monkeys to spice things up) inside by the ordering kiosks.
These are the obvious things that most guests will see, along with decor scattered about that’s reminiscent of what’s in the Pirates of the Caribbean queue, plus books used to sign up pirate crews and a large mural of Blackbeard.
Then there are the details most people will miss, me included. It turns out that the proprietor of Tortuga Tavern is “A. Smith,” which refers to Arabella Smith, a character from the Young Jack Sparrow books. A. Smith is a teenager whose father runs a tavern in Tortuga called “the Faithful Bride.” A sign for this establishment is visible outside Tortuga Tavern.
As the backstory goes, Arabella Smith returned to Tortuga in 1673 to take over from her father as operator of the renamed Tortuga Tavern. In the restaurant’s open-air courtyard, there’s a stairway to her residence outside of which her hat and coat can be seen.
A surprising amount of effort went into converting El Pirata Y El Perico into Tortuga Tavern, and I recall hearing a lot of other (now-forgotten) details at a D23 event several years ago. This was during the second phase of turning Caribbean Plaza into more of a pirate-y place, an effort that is now slowly being peeled back.
The seating area at Tortuga Tavern is surprisingly large and it connects to Pecos Bill (meaning they could share seating…or you could walk through the inside to use the toppings bar at Pecos Bill, if you so desired).
Between that and the effort to ‘enhance’ the restaurant, it’s a bit surprising Tortuga Tavern isn’t open with more regularity. Our expectation is that it’ll be operate for the duration of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. Magic Kingdom needs more dining options when crowds are heavy.
Above is a look at Tortuga Tavern’s current menu. This location has gone through many menu changes over the years, most being pretty limited. There was a period of time a couple years ago when it only served an item or two at a time, so this is far from the most limited it has been.
Note that Tortuga Tavern is one of the few counter service restaurants in Magic Kingdom that does not do Mobile Order, meaning it’s walk-up only. While we’re fans of Mobile Order, this is honestly a refreshing change of pace. So many Walt Disney World quick service restaurants now feel locked up like Fort Knox, and it can be a hassle to find a place to just sit in the shade or air conditioning without any friction.
Tortuga Tavern is mostly open air (there’s also an indoor seating area), making it a place where you can easily grab a seat in the shade without putting on your face mask. Even if you’re not eating here, it’s a nice place to take an afternoon break–or escape the rain.
The BBQ Pork Sandwich has been on the menu for a while with some tweaks to its preparation. It’s an okay option. Better than some past entrees I’ve had at Tortuga Tavern, but hardly anything special–and definitely not worth the money.
It’s now served with house made chips rather than the Lay’s pictured above, so at least that’s an improvement.
Next, the Peanut Butter, Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread, and Banana Sandwich served with House-made Chips.
Without question, this is the highlight of the menu at Tortuga Tavern. At under $10 (by a penny!), it’s also one of the cheaper counter service entrees in Magic Kingdom.
Here’s a look with the aforementioned house made chips.
We’ve been singing the praises of this Peanut Butter, Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread, and Banana Sandwich for years. It has previously been served at our favorite Hidden Gem Restaurant at Magic Kingdom, but literally for only a few weeks per year (and not for almost two years).
Above is a look at the Aunt Polly’s version.
To our recollection (and in comparing the photos), these are identical. The combination of not-Nutella, peanut butter, and bananas is glorious. We’ve had two of these three things together, but never the trio. It’s definitely an “I never knew I needed these things together, but I do” sandwich. With that said, it’s a sugar rush, and splitting this sandwich is definitely the way to go. It makes a great shared snack–or together with another savory entree.
Other than that, the menu at Tortuga Tavern is boring. The turkey leg you can find elsewhere in Magic Kingdom and the hot dogs are indistinguishable from Casey’s Corner, so we didn’t even bother with those.
With that said, these are definitely serviceable secondary options if you want something filling to go along with that incredible Peanut Butter, Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread, and Banana Sandwich.
Beyond that, it befuddles me that Magic Kingdom doesn’t offer a more robust, permanent menu at both Tortuga Tavern and Tomorrowland Terrace. With Pecos Bill and Cosmic Ray’s perpetually madhouses, there’s clearly the demand for more dining in Magic Kingdom. Heck, the situation is so bad at Cosmic Ray’s that they’ve had to expand their seating areas and close certain entrances to properly route traffic.
When they’re open, we’ve never seen Tortuga Tavern or Tomorrowland Terrace with even a fraction of the crowds as those popular Magic Kingdom spots, but there are a couple of explanations for that. By not being consistently open, there’s a dearth of planning info about these restaurants. Most importantly, the menus at Tortuga Tavern and Tomorrowland Terrace leave a lot to be desired.
Location is also consistently blamed for the lack of popularity of each venue. That’s a possibility, but it’s not as if Big Thunder Mountain naturally would see a lot of foot traffic, yet it seems to draw crowds. While Tortuga Tavern is obviously no Big Thunder, there are certainly ways for it to draw crowds to ease the burden on other restaurants.
My Disney Experience notifications when guests walk past the front entrance would be one easy way. Better menus would be another good way, and the superb sandwich is a good start in that regard. Going forward, it also should help that the menu is larger, with more variety than before. While most of the choices are pretty ordinary, at least there’s some variety now.
Ultimately, that’s really about all there is to say about Tortuga Tavern. Most of the menu is nothing special, but makes good options for picky eaters or anyone who wants an easy walk-up option. Then there’s that Peanut Butter, Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread, and Banana Sandwich, which is absolutely fantastic–a must have either as a shared entree or a snack. Magic Kingdom’s counter service dining options often leave something to be desired, but this is a fantastic pick in a park of pedestrian fast food choices.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Have you dined at Tortuga Tavern? Did you have a good meal there? Have you tried that superb Peanut Butter, Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread, and Banana Sandwich? Do you agree or disagree with our take? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
They should put the egg rolls in there and that would be a really solid start to the menu. Maybe a jerk chicken sandwich as well with some spicy Caribbean slaw on top. Just a couple of thoughts that would make me go in there. Otherwise it is pure meh for me.
What ever happened to the the original Mexican Menu ? Why if any is there a Mexican go to for a taco or a burrito in the Magic Kingdom and other than EPCOT ?
Is the Peanut Butter, Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread, and Banana Sandwich similar to the PB3 Superb Sandwich from PYM Test Kitchen at Avengers Campus in DCA?
We always liked the taco salad at El Pirata Y El Perico. I wish they’d bring that back.
I’ve finally figured out what was missing (other than crowds) during our visit two weeks ago: smoked turkey legs!
I have heard that it’s worth the hassle to get a candied bacon skewer with Westward Ho and add it into the sandwich. Has anyone tried that yet?
Tom- no worries. I should have clarified. The other week when that guy made those posts, I was worried that others may think it was me. Too many Ricks I suppose.
We’ve played SotMK inside Tortuga Tavern, but sadly have never eaten there! I don’t think location/foot traffic shoudl be a problem for keeping it open. It’s literally steps away frmo Peco’s Bills.
Tom – this is fantastic. Not only did we get to meet you today at the Big Top, but we also had the Peanut Butter, Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread, and Banana Sandwich at Tortuga today! We were looking for something light and splitting that between the two of us was perfect. We also went around the corner and ate inside Pecos Bills to cool off. Not sure which was more awesome – meeting you or that sandwich…
That was YOU?! Sorry, I didn’t make the connection. I assumed you were the other Rick, so apologies if I was a little rude as a result. 😉
Joking aside, it was nice chatting with you and your wife. Hope you continue enjoying these low crowds while they’re around. The sandwich definitely beats meeting me!
Tortuga Tavern could do better if it was an actual tavern.
There is a simple solution along the lines of having Starbucks in the parks, simply have Chipotle have the space to operate in and see what happens.
I really miss the Mexican food at Tortuga Tavern, it was a must stop for us every trip. Not liking many of the menu changes at many eateries, including the disappearance of the Lighthouse sandwich at Columbia Harbour House, which was my favorite in MK.
The Lighthouse sandwich is back!
Just returned from a 4th of July week trip and we were less than impressed with Tortuga Tavern. Unfortunately, it was the only thing opened and it was sub par at best. We got a variety of items and nothing was impressive. We won’t go back…. unless we get desperate enough and can’t find anything else!
I’m surprised Tortuga Tavern was the only restaurant open–at the very least, Pecos Bill, Casey’s Corner, and Cosmic Ray’s should have been open. That’s too bad!
I don’t buy that location is a problem for Tortuga Tavern. As you say, it is literally connected to Pecos Bills. Even serving the same menu as Pecos Bills with the extra ordering/eating space would be nice.
It was open on out last trip for the first time that I remember and I was quite excited. But we didn’t dine there anyway due to the menu. 🙁
It is one of the nicer stops on the sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game when the restaurant is closed because no one else is inside there.
I totally forgot it was a SotMK spot until I was taking photos for this review. I was waiting for one of these shots for the longest time while some people were just standing around. I thought they were appreciating the details, so no big deal. Then another group came along behind them, and I really wondered what was up…until I saw the portal.
All the times (years) that we have visited WDW with the family I had only seen Tortuga Tavern open once, just once and at that time they had Burritos. Unfortunately, not expecting that I would ever see it open we had eaten before passing the Tavern. It would be a nice addition if a Taco Bell type menu could be introduce other then in EPCOT alone.
When they had burritos, bowls, and a full toppings bar, that was probably the best incarnation of Tortuga Tavern. Nothing great, but at least a good value with the toppings bar.
I really wanted to like the Texas toast BBQ, but it was not good.
Tom, have you done a Tomorrowland Terrace review. I have been there recently, but I would be interested to hear your thoughts on it… Thanks!
No, we don’t have a review of Tomorrowland Terrace (at least, the WDW version). We have dined there several times in the last few years, but not with the current menu. I still think the Noodle Station was the best incarnation of that place, and wish they’d go back to that–I think it could be popular.
What did you think of it?
Well, I tried the Banh Mi Sandwich while I was there… I didn’t really want to try any of the offering for the Incredible Summer (although a lot of food items for Pixar Fest are pretty good). The Banh Mi was quite dry, and I would probably not get it again. However, I liked it much more than the previous incarnation. I really enjoy the ambiance of Tomorrowland Terrace at WDW, and I would hope that they can produce a good menu. I wouldn’t mind if they served the same food as Cosmic Rays. That would definitely be an improvement…
Well, I tried the Banh Mi Sandwich while I was there… I didn’t really want to try any of the offering for the Incredible Summer (although a lot of food items for Pixar Fest are pretty good). The Banh Mi was quite dry, and I would probably not get it again. However, I liked it much more than the previous incarnation. I really enjoy the ambiance of Tomorrowland Terrace at WDW, and I hope that they can produce a good menu. I wouldn’t mind if they served the same food as Cosmic Rays. That would definitely be an improvement…