Last Sunday the long-awaited opening of Jaleo by Chef José Andrés occurred at Disney Springs.
It was a gloomy, drizzly day and the long line outside dampened my enthusiasm for our dinner plans that night, so instead we tried the walk-up window connected with the restaurant, Pepe.
The official description of Pepe is this: After just one mouthwatering bite, you’ll want to park yourself at Pepe for lunch and dinner. Many of the signature sandwiches are made with pan de cristal, a delectable thin and crispy bread unique to Spain. Savor a bowl of gazpacho soup laden with wholesome goodness, reminiscent of the Mediterranean, or dig into a seasonal salad. Linger a while over a glass of sangría—and leave with a soft serve ice cream to go!
This was not my experience.
The staff was lovely as you would expect, and while Jaleo is still on my “I’m excited to try it” list, Pepe was a huge disappointment.
Not for the quality of the food, because what we ate was delicious. But what we got and what we paid? Well, it tipped over that fine balance between “yes, this is Disney” and “I just got ripped off”.
We ordered two sandwiches, the Bikini de Jamón y Queso for $10.00, which was the most basic of grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and the Pepito Ternera for $14.00, which is a flat iron steak with caramelized onion, cheese, and mayonnaise. This sandwich was served on Pan de Cristal, loosely translated to glass bread, that is quite popular in Spain. It is an adaptation of ciabatta bread that ends up having big holes and a crunchy crust.
Both sandwiches were delicious. Let me make that point very clear, you will not be disappointed in the quality of food here. It was the experience on the whole that left me wanting.
The setup was such that you line up outside where are cast members who will take your order then grant you permission to the inside where you’ll find limited seating to either side of the register. Seating on your right when you walk in, connects directly into the main restaurant so you’ll get a feel of what’s inside Jaleo.
There is no soda fountain. Drinks are all served in bottles, so no refills. There are assorted sides you can add to your sandwich for an additional cost, such as chips, fruit, soup, all ranging in price but the average is $4.00 or $6.00. You’ll find salads for $7.00 to $10.00 and soft serve for $5.00 to end your meal.
They do serve wine and beer, mostly by the glass, but you can buy a carafe of the Sangría roja for $36.00. And bottled sodas are $5.00.
My problem with Pepe was that for the cost of $24.00 I got 2 small sandwiches and not another thing. If we’d added drinks, even just soda, that would have been an additional ten, then some chips would have brought our grand total to around $50. The fact is that $50 at Disney Springs can be spent in so many more enjoyable ways and more pleasing dining experiences. This simply isn’t worth the money in my opinion, and while I’m still looking forward to experiencing Jaleo, I won’t be revisiting Pepe.
The eclectic life of Samantha Lucas reaches into the worlds of erotic romance, Disney, and spirituality. Her need for adventure and determination to follow her truth has led her into many different areas of life and introduced her to a wide variety of people and she’s learned from all of them.