REVIEW: Jaleo at Disney Springs Has Good Food—Just Not a Lot of It

by | Jan 26, 2022 | Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World Food

Check out our full Jaleo review for details on this Disney Springs dining location. Our overall impression: Jaleo at Disney Springs is a fun, tasty experience—but not best for big appetites. 

After a day reminiscing with old friends in Cocoa Beach, I was more than ready to dive right in to dinner at Jaleo at Disney Springs.

Even with an early—5:45!—reservation, we’d overestimated traffic on I-4 (a rarity) and killed time sipping a happy hour cocktail at House of Blues, steps away from the José Andrés restaurant splashing colorful Spanish notes all over its corner of Disney Springs.

Before we go any further, let me give the TL;DR version of my Jaleo review: Jaleo’s fantastic for wine and small plates, but it’s not a great idea if you want a substantial meal.

First, the Décor at Jaleo 

It’s phenomenal. The lighting, the colors, the shape of the dining room … they all add up to a fun, yet mildly elegant experience.

We sat outside, by the water, and although we dined there on one of Florida’s rare cold days (we’re Floridians, so that means anything under 70 degrees), the space heaters kept us warm.

And despite a full patio, the experience was cozy and quiet.

Next, the Service at Jaleo 

The waitstaff was unfailingly patient and charming. Our server first asked if we’d dined at Jaleo before and patiently explained the menu breakdown.

a 2016 bottle of Gran Coronas wine

Photo by Cathy Salustri

He was similarly thorough with the wine list (we ultimately settled on a bottle of a 2016 Gran Coronas, because on Wednesdays, they have 50% off bottles and I love drier red wines). 

Finally, the Food at Jaleo 

There’s no doubt in my mind why everyone’s buzzing about Jaelo’s presence at Disney Springs. The food is, in a word, perfection.

We ordered the pimientos del piquillo rellenos con queso caña de cabra, piquillo peppers seared for hours, then stuffed with goat cheese; gambas al ajillo, a simple yet mouth-watering dish of shrimp sauteed in garlic (and, no doubt, a not-insignificant amount of butter); and carne asada con piquillos confitados, 6 ounces of flat iron steak grilled in a Josper charcoal oven, served with those delicious piquillo peppers, although this time not stuffed with goat cheese. 

Because my husband is the sort of person who embraces moderation (sample apres-meal discussion: Me: Are you full? Him: No, but I’ve had enough), the 6-ounce filet and three piquillo peppers made for a perfectly sized meal, even after I stole a bite.

I love steak, but it doesn’t always love me, but this smelled heavenly and I couldn’t resist—and I regret nothing.

He, far more (ahem) discerning than I, loved his steak. Jaleo knows their way around a cow. And peppers. And, for that matter, the goat cheese-stuffed piquillos I thought I would have all to myself, but, alas, did not. It’s OK; I sneaked a pepper off his steak plate.

Gambas al ajillo from Jaleo at Disney Springs

Gambas al ajillo. Photo by Cathy Salustri

The shrimp? Swoon-worthy. I could have eaten three of these tapas. I did not, but I could have.

As an afterthought, I ordered a José’s egg taco, which promised imported Spanish ham, egg and caviar.

Or did it?

This was a hiccup: Because I have celiac, after we ordered our tapas to share and knew what I could and couldn’t eat off my husband’s plate (this is why I love tapas, because I can try more things), we only kept the allergen menu (which is extensive). On the regular menu, Jose’s taco is described as such:

José’s taco

Jamón ibérico de bellota and Royal Ossetra caviar; $18

On my allergen menu, however, Jaleo describes the same dish thusly:

José’s egg taco 

Jamón ibérico de bellota and Royal Osetra caviar; $18

I realize now I should have not have expected chicken eggs mixed with the ham and caviar (you have to admit, though, that sounds delicious), but I did, and when I received my “taco” (sans any type of container, such as, oh, a tortilla) I was … disappointed. It was also incredibly… tiny.

Which, had I realized the “egg” in the name of the dish (on the allergen menu, anyway) represented only caviar, I would have expected (Jaleo sells an ounce of the stuff for $155). Instead of a tortilla filled with egg, caviar, and ham, I received a Band-Aid-sized piece of ham (delicious but diminutive), a dollop of caviar (incredible), and … nothing.

We looked at each other. 

“Do we need to go back to House of Blues?” my husband asked, then tucked into his flan, which he devoured with gusto. 

Review: Jaleo at Disney Springs

Flan al estilo tradicional de mamá Marisa con espuma de crema catalana from Jaleo at Disney Springs

Flan al estilo tradicional de mamá Marisa
con espuma de crema catalana. Photo by Cathy Salustri

Jaleo serves incredible food; sincerely, I enjoyed every bite.

I do wonder, though, how it fits with the Walt Disney World Resort dining experience: I cannot imagine bringing a hungry family here after a full day at the parks.

To adequately feed a family of four, I’d imagine a $200-plus bill (perhaps more, if, say, you have teenage boys or want to have wine or beer).

And anyone with a big appetite might leave disappointed. To feed a hungry family of four, that cost could easily double.

That said, Jaleo’s the perfect experience for a couple not looking to recoup calories lost riding Space Mountain and hopping from park to park.

A couple of tapas, a glass or two of wine, or even a shared paella or one of their large plates (Jaleo serves two: rack of lamb, for $42, and imported Spanish ham with tomatoes, mojo, and honey mustard, for $85) makes for the perfect ending to a Disney day.

Maybe don’t come hungry, though.

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Posts by Cathy Salustri

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Cathy Salustri's formative years revolved around Walt Disney World, whether it was having an OG annual pass (four months out of the year only!), wearing acid-washed denim to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, or working as a tour guide at the now-defunct Inside the Magic attraction at the then-Disney-MGM Studios. She loves all of Florida, too—her Florida travel narrative, "Backroads of Paradise", earned her an interview in the New York Times, and she freelances for other Florida publications. Follow on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, listen to her Florida Spectacular podcast, and sign up for her monthly Florida newsletter.
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Authored by
Cathy Salustri

Cathy Salustri's formative years revolved around Walt Disney World, whether it was having an OG annual pass (four months out of the year only!), wearing acid-washed denim to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, or working as a tour guide at the now-defunct Inside the Magic attraction at the then-Disney-MGM Studios. She loves all of Florida, too—her Florida travel narrative, "Backroads of Paradise", earned her an interview in the New York Times, and she freelances for other Florida publications. Follow on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, listen to her Florida Spectacular podcast, and sign up for her monthly Florida newsletter.
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