Jaleo announces its Disney Springs opening date

March 14, 2019, 12:43 PM · Disney Springs' next restaurants are opening this weekend. The Spanish restaurant Jaleo will open for dinner on March 17, while its quick-service sibling, Pepe by José Andrés, will open for lunch and dinner the same day.

The main restaurant will be the fifth and largest Jaleo location in the United States, but the first in Florida. The original location opened in Washington, DC in 1993 and the menu will feature "variety of authentic paellas cooked over a wood-fired paella pit, Spanish specialties like hand-carved Jamon Iberico de Bellota and wood-grilled Iberico pork, and signature dishes like Gambas al ajillo, shrimp sautéed with garlic and chili, and Pollo Croquetas, classic Spanish chicken fritters," according to its press release.

Gambas a la Zahara
Gambas a la Zahara. Photo courtesy Jaleo

Pepe by José Andrés is the first permanent installation of the chef's popular DC-area food truck. It will serve Spanish sandwiches, gazpacho, and salads, along with sangria... "complete with sangria ice cubes to prevent any dilution of the drink in the Florida climate."

Jaleo will open for lunch service later this month. Reservations are available via OpenTable or by calling +1-321-348-3211.

Replies (10)

March 14, 2019 at 1:19 PM

I would note that there are three (3) of these in the DC Metro Area (E ST NW, Bethesda, MD, and Crystal City/Arlington, VA), so this is only the second outside of the DMV (the other is in Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan).

IMHO, Pepe is a bit overrated, especially in the DC Area where there's a lot of competition in the food truck space. Andres used the same concepts from Pepe in his curated stands at Audi Field (DC United - under different names) and Capital One Arena (Wizards, Capitals, Mystics - though the Pepe stand did not return for the 18-19 seasons after a multi-million dollar concourse renovation). I would also note that the whole point of a food truck is that it's not permanent, so the billing of it as the "first permanent installation" is a bit of an oxymoron for a food truck (it's also not the first since there was an Andres-managed stand at Capital One Arena named Pepe).

Andres has been a HUGE influence on the DC food scene, so while it's cool to see a local gain recognition throughout the country, the thought of going to Jaleo while at WDW for me is kind of meh. I wish he would have given Disney Springs an original concept instead of a copy of a restaurant that has 3 different locations 30 minutes away from my house. Oyamel, Minibar, Bazaar Meats, Fish, and Zaytinya are all solid concepts that could have lent themselves to duplication at WDW, though those three middle ones (Minibar, Bazaar, and Fish) might be a bit pricey for the average Disney Springs guest (a dinner at Minibar starts at $275/person, which is more expensive than Victoria & Albert's).

March 14, 2019 at 1:19 PM

Let's call it the first permanent-building installation of the food truck concept then.

Russell's reaction reminds me of how I felt about everyone going nuts over Blaze Pizza when it opened at DS. The flagship Blaze Pizza is two miles from my home, so it's NBD for me.

March 14, 2019 at 1:58 PM

Don't get me wrong, Jaleo is an amazing restaurant, and a lot of newer places have started moving to the tapas/small plates concept since the original location in DC gained so much popularity and notoriety.

It will be curious to see how WDW guests react to eating a meal at Jaleo, because it's not like your typical restaurant. A meal can get really expensive really fast if you're not used to eating tapas (ordering a number of shared small plates and/or a large paella), kind of like how you can break the bank at a dim sum restaurant watching all those delicious-looking carts roll by. Hopefully the servers are helpful to those that need it without being off-putting or terse to those that know what they're doing (a common complaint from guests that frequent small plates restaurants that have to listen to "the talk" every time).

I'm the kind of person when on vacation, I want to eat something I can't get at home, even if I'm just eating fast food. So while the expansion of Jaleo doesn't excite me, it's not nearly as frustrating as the proliferation of Five Guys around the country. My wife and I used to live a 2-minute walk from one of the original Five Guys locations in Alexandria before they started franchising all over the country. That was the only fast food place that was unique to DC, so it is so disheartening to travel around the country to see Five Guys EVERYWHERE, and there aren't any fast food restaurants unique to DC anymore. When we go to SoCal later this year, we can't wait to get In and Out, Taco Cabana, Jack in the Box, and El Pollo Loco.

March 14, 2019 at 2:55 PM

I could be way off base here but doesn't this new restaurant cater to the local and international crowd that is already loving the Spanish food options at Disney?

It seems like a really good fit to me.

March 14, 2019 at 4:21 PM

While there are many Latin flavors in Central Florida, the cuisine of Spain is relatively rare and distinct from the Latin American options at Walt Disney World Resort and the Orlando area. That said, South Florida has been into Tapas and Paella and true Spanish cuisine for many years.

March 14, 2019 at 6:26 PM

@ Russell, interesting (and funny) comments about SoCal restaurants. I just had El Pollo Loco the other day & didn't think anything of it.

But I tend to do the same thing when I travel. I want to try the local or regional places.

March 14, 2019 at 9:27 PM

In-N-Out: Excellent (though I like Shake Shack better).

Taco Cabana: The nearest one is in New Mexico.

Jack in the Box: Great TV commercials. Trash food. Go for The Habit Burger instead.

El Pollo Loco: Okay, but you can do better with many neighborhood joints and food trucks.

While in SoCal, I also would recommend Porto's and Zankou Chicken. Maybe Dog Haus, too, but it's about to expand everywhere so you will be able to get it near home within the next year or so. (They just hired a PR person from Universal Studios Hollywood in advance of their expansion.)

March 14, 2019 at 10:21 PM

The DMV has 3 Pepe restaurants?

I might just call my local DMV and ask them to open one in my area! I think all DMVs should have a sit down restaurant to help make the long wait times more palatable.

March 15, 2019 at 9:40 AM

Outstanding news! Another unique dining experience comes to the Springs park. The far west side of DSTP is blowing up -- Jaleo, House of Blues and soon the NBA Experience, City Works and the new Cirque show.

March 15, 2019 at 5:39 PM

I'll second Robert's note, & also recommend Portos (just be prepared for lines)....

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