Sherman's Food Adventures: Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville (NCL Bliss)

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville (NCL Bliss)

Although I've had many opportunities to try Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, I've never actually considered dining at the place.  Why not you might wonder...  I don't have anything against the place and honestly, I have been curious.  However, each time, there was something more unique and interesting to try.  Not to mention, I'm not a huge fan of trying chain restaurants when there are many locations available (so no rush to eat at one).  With that thinking, I never got to eat at a Margaritaville.  Ironically, I finally decided to do so on the NCL Bliss for lunch.

We started off strong with the Volcano Nachos sporting tortilla chips, queso, chili con carne, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream and jalapenos.  Oh boy, this was larger than what you see in the picture.  Unlike the chips found at The Local, these were much more airy and crispy.  With layered chili and melted cheese, there weren't many chips that were bare.  No we didn't finish this, but it was pretty good.  Next, we tried the Conch Fritters served with key lime cocktail sauce.  I thought these were serviceable with a decently crispy exterior.  Inside, the fritter was a bit on the doughier side with a mix of chewy (in a good way) conch and veggies.  There was a slight spice to it and it tasted good on its own even without the cocktail sauce.

Appreciably better than the ones at The Local, the Hot Pretzel Sticks were served with queso and mustard.  Despite looking heavy and dense, these were actually somewhat soft inside.  I liked how they were served warm with a chewy and slightly crispy exterior.  Seeing how this and the nachos were completely different than the crappy ones found at The Local proved that Margaritaville had their own separate supplies for the restaurant.  Now it wouldn't be a visit to Margaritaville without ordering a drink right?  I decided on the Last Mango in Paris featuring mango tequila, Cointreau orange liqueur, margarita blend and cranberry juice.  As you can imagine, this was tropical and fruity.  Not particularly strong (which was a good thing for us), this was a refreshing beverage on a nice day.  Would've been better in Mexico though...

Continuing on the same theme of the nachos, I had the Volcano Burger sporting volcano chili, lava cheese sauce, Fritos corn chips, pickled jalapeno and guacamole.  Supremely messy, this burger was quite good.  I found the large burger patty to be moist and a bit crumbly.  The soft bun barely held everything in though.  Of course the corn chips added a salty crunch which was doused with spicy melted cheese.  Not being merely a side, the fries were crispy and hot.  Much better than the ones found at the other venues aboard the ship.  Viv ended up with the Grilled Chicken Sandwich with chicken breast, Monterey jack cheese, bacon, Dijonaise, lettuce and tomato.  Compared to my burger, this was rather ordinary.  However, the chicken was tender (could've been more charred though) and the amount of cheese and crispy bacon ensured it wasn't bland.

To get our greens, we had the Blackened Shrimp Caesar on the side to share.  Nothing amazing here, yet the romaine was fresh without any brown or red edges.  There was a twist with the Caesar dressing as there was key lime which gave it a different acidic note from the usual lemon.  The best part was the shrimp as it was charred with blackening spices.  They were also meaty and cooked just right.  As for my son, he decided on the Key West Fish Sandwich featuring grilled fish (which we figured was mahi mahi) with cilantro lime slaw, tomato and jalapeno tartar sauce.  The fish was rare in the middle and tender.  I would say this was one of the more mild-tasting items we had, but I guess it comes with the territory since it was a fish sandwich.  The tartar sauce was not that spicy either.

My daughter went for her favorite in the Fish & Chips with LandShark beer batter.  We thought this was prepared quite well.  First of all, it consisted of the same crispy fries as with the other dishes.  Secondly, the fish was flaky and moist while encased in a thin crispy and non-greasy batter.  Slaw was fresh and bright while not overdressed.  We didn't notice anything special about the tartar sauce, but it was fine.  Overall, I actually didn't mind the food at Margaritaville.  I can't compare it to the on-land version because I've never been, but it was significantly better than The Local and hence, I was okay with the reasonable $15.00 per person cover charge.

The Good:
- One of the least expensive pay restaurants
- Large portions
- Good casual food

The Bad:
- Most items were heavy, so if it isn't your thing... 
- Some tables were right on the running track, not good

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