We’re heading back to Jaleo by Chef José Andrés today! We haven’t been back since the restaurant reopened in Disney Springs last August, so we are ready to get stuffed with paella, cheese croquetas, and sangria again.
In the past, we’ve really enjoyed the delicious tapas and unique eats at Jaleo in Disney Springs. Let’s take a look at some old favorites and what’s different now at this restaurant!
Jaleo is an upscale Spanish-inspired restaurant in Disney Springs. It’s a signature restaurant as well, so it’s a little pricier than you’ll find at other spots. Jaleo has tapas and other dishes that are meant to be shared around the table, with everyone trying a little of each food that comes by! The food comes out a bit at a time, so it’s not a classic everyone-gets-one-meal-all-at-once kind of situation. The style is based on the Spanish tradition to share food and conversation with your party, so you won’t be rushed. We’d recommend going with people you know well and like so that you’re more comfortable sharing around and trying everything!
Jaleo is infused with the cultural traditions of Spain and its focus on community and family. This is portrayed in its open dining areas and kitchen, the style of food and how it’s meant to be shared, and even the menu with recipes the chef is sharing from his own family.
José Andrés is an award-winning Chef, restaurant owner, and humanitarian. He owns 31 restaurants world-wide, ranging from food trucks to the huge Jaleo in Disney Springs!
Jaleo has an upscale feel with two stories of dining area and large, artistic displays of lighting and decor. There are options for tables or booths in the dining rooms.
You can find a bar area too, which is also serving up small dishes and drinks.
Jaleo operates with an open kitchen, so you can go see the chefs creating their culinary masterpieces! This just added to the Spanish culture rich with the sense of community.
The centerpiece of this kitchen is the Paella Pit, which has giant bowls of paella cooking over hot coals. Keep an ear out, you’ll periodically hear the chefs back here having what sounds like WAY too good of a time! 🙂
As a fun decor item in each of his restaurants, José Andrés always puts a bull with a luchador mask inside somewhere. (Luchadors are those fun, dramatic wrestlers who wear sparkly masks.)
We’ve taken in the sights and decor, so let’s get on with the meal!
Once we were seated, we took a look at the menu, which included a few choices for the signature Sangrias. It couldn’t be a Spanish restaurant without sangria. Sangria was created in Spain and its origin dates back to the 700s (yep, it’s a centuries-long recipe!). Traditionally, it’s been made with Spanish Tempranillo and other red wine from Rioja with added citrus fruit. But nowadays you can find variations on sangria with white wine, rosés, and cava (or Spanish sparkling wine). So raise your glass and say “salud” for this culturally rich beverage!
…they also have several cocktails and other drinks…
…and an extensive wine menu! Not the biggest wine connoisseur? That’s OK, they got you covered.
The wine menu is coded by wine style and body to help you find which drink you want. France and Italy are known for their robust red wines, and Germany has developed a reputation for its crisp white wines, but Spain has a wine country all its own. Spain’s distinct wine is Tempranillo, which is a full-bodied red wine, a perfect pairing with some of the bold spices in Spanish recipes.
Seriously, there’s no shortage of options for wines here!
For the food, there’s a section of Chef’s Tasting Menus that include different experiences for trying a diverse selection off the menu.
And the rest of the menu has tapas, including cured meats, cheeses, signature dishes, soups and salads…
…and also vegetables, fried foods, sandwiches, seafood, paella, and desserts! The Paella and Arroces (paella and rice) section is the star here — Jaleo is known for their paella!
There’s also a kids’ menu with a few options for little ones to choose from, including appetizers, croquetas, grilled cheese, and meat. If you’re looking at the Potato Bravas for the kiddos, just be aware that, even though it’s fried potatoes, it’s not just like french fries. It’s VERY tasty but definitely a unique dish with a bit of a kick and lots of sauce over those potatoes! So, if this is the choice for your kiddo, try it with the tomato sauce on the side.
We started out with the Sangria de Cava, which we got in a half-pitcher for $30. You can also get a glass for $10 or a full pitcher for $52, but we got about 4 glasses out of the half-pitcher, so we thought it was a pretty good deal. The Sangria had Cava, Gin, Vermouth, Seasonal Fruit, and Citrus. We thought it was a decent Sangria with a good fruity flavor.
It wasn’t sickly sweet, like some Sangrias in Disney World can be. Our waiter told us the Red Sangria was even less sweet. The predominant alcohol was the Cava, and there wasn’t a lot of Gin in it. Ultimately, this was a good drink but pretty forgettable.
In terms of other drinks, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out one big thing for you soda fans. A tiny bottle of Coke cost $4 at Jaleo. These are the Mexican versions of Coca-Cola (Coke, Sprite, Diet Coke, and Fever-Tree Ginger Beer). They are made with real cane sugar and in the serving size available in Mexico. If you want to grab one of these, by all means. Just know that they do NOT come with refills and are much smaller than what you might be expecting if you’re used to big fountain drink cups of soda.
We…enjoy soda. A lot. It’s often a big part of a meal for us and those little bottles just wouldn’t cut it. (We’d probably spend more on Diet Coke than Sangria!!) It should be noted that bigger 20oz bottles of (American) Coke are sold at nearby snack stands around Springs for still about $4, but at least they’re bigger than the tiny things at Jaleo. If you’re a big soda drinker, just FYI you could go broke on Coke!
We chose the selection of five kinds of cheese from the Quesos menu for $28! The portions were a good size, and there was plenty of each cheese for two people. The sides that came with them were a little disappointing, though. There was just one slice of apple and one of plum, which we thought was a little weird. We loved the fruit and nut enhancements with the cheese — we just wish there were MORE of them! We get that the star of the plate is the cheese, but you can spare more than one apple slice, right? And the tiny baby breadsticks weren’t our favorite. But the CHEESE. That was good stuff. We got Valdeón (Blue Cheese), Murcia al Vino (‘Drunken Goat’ Semi-soft Cheese), Queso Manchego (Traditional Unpasteurized Manchego), Caña de Cabra (Semi-soft Goat Cheese), and Tetilla (Cow’s Milk Cheese).
It’s fun to mix and match cheeses with fruit, breadsticks, and nuts, like a build-your-own-adventure appetizer! We thought the goat cheese (Caña de Cabra) was delicious, but it was pretty pungent and you might have to be a goat cheese–lover to enjoy it! The drunken goat cheese (Murcia al Vino) was soaked in red wine. It was a bit firmer and still very strong. The blue cheese (Valdeón) was a strong, classic blue cheese. The Manchego reminded us of the nutty flavor of parmesan but just a little softer. And the cow’s milk cheese (Tetilla) was the hardest, with a nice rind on it. The flavor was creamy and it wasn’t as strong as some of the others.
Next, we ordered the Pan de Cristal con Tomate for $12, which was a simple plate of lightly toasted bread brushed with crushed tomatoes and a hearty pour of olive oil. Don’t let its appearance throw you off, sure it looks a little bit like a crime scene, but it delivers some wonderful fresh flavors! It was simple and very delicious, with olive oil and very fresh tomatoes. There’s a really nice sprinkling of flakey salt on top too. If you didn’t know what to expect, you might think they just forgot to put the toppings on a French bread pizza and served it bare. But if you love fresh tomatoes or bruschetta, you’d probably really enjoy this!
We ordered the Paletilla Ibérica for $25, which is a must-get if you’re going to Jaleo! It’s 36-month Cured Ham Shoulder that comes from the legendary acorn-fed, free-range, black-footed Ibérico pigs of Spain. This is $17. The waiters used to come around with a pig’s leg and carve the meat right in front of you, but they aren’t doing that right now because of the health and safety restrictions. If you’re not familiar with it, the Ibérico pork is to cured meat what Waygu beef is to steak. How it’s cultivated and cured creates a melt-in-your-mouth salty delicacy. That’s why such care is taken in serving it!
We’re huge fans of salty, savory, flavor-packed meat, so this is definitely a winner in our books! It’s also a classic for the restaurant, so it’s kind of the law to get it. It’s really high-quality meat, and we even think we can taste the nuttiness from the acorns in the meat. If you’re not familiar with this sort of meat, we’d say the flavor here is probably most similar to an Italian Prosciutto, but this meat has a much richer, fuller flavor we think.
Here comes the star of Jaleo dining — PAELLA! Paella is a cornerstone of the Spanish food tradition!
It is a dish that dates back hundreds of years, when farmers would gather together, each bringing with them some of their own crops to contribute to the meal along with whatever meat (rabbit, chicken, fish, etc) they had on hand. Everyone contributed to the meal, cooking it in one pan. This hodge-podge recipe still exemplifies the Spanish sense of community
The chefs are constantly cooking paellas in two big paella pans. Each time a paella is done, they shout “Paella!” and the whole restaurant shouts it back. (That happens about every 45 minutes or so.) Jaleo has different paellas every night. The one we got was the most standard one, with Chicken, Pork, Pork Ribs, and Shrimp. It was heavenly. SO GOOD.
If you haven’t had paella before, think creamy, starchy dishes like jambalaya and risotto — it’s in that family. There’s a big old heap of super flavorful rice and mix-ins. The paella changes nightly but you can usually expect the classic Spanish spices like saffron, garlic, and paprika as a baseline for the flavoring. It was amazing and we kind of wanted to fight our friends so we could eat all of it. There’s also loads of meat scattered throughout as well. They do NOT skimp here! Be sure to call the restaurant before you go so that you’re booking on a night that they have a paella you like. We’ve come before on a squid-ink paella day, and it was an…interesting experience. If you don’t really love the taste of seafood and would rather avoid a big bowl of black rice, we’d recommend skipping that one!
All of the meats were tender and very flavorful. The pork was especially phenomenal, with a little bit of spice to it. The flavors from the meat, veggies, and rice blended super well together. If you want just a vegetarian paella, the restaurant can do it for you any of the nights, but it’ll take about 45 minutes because they start from scratch!
This funky-looking cigar-type thing is called the Cono de Queso de Cabra con Mermelada de Tomate, which is $3. That’s a really big name for such a little tapa. The name translates literally to “cone of goat’s cheese with tomato marmalade” which is exactly what this is!
It’s a fried pastry cone that’s filled with goat’s cheese and has fresh tomato on top! This was actually really tasty, even though it looks so strange. The little stand is made of plastic, not ice (we know, it really looks like an ice cube). It was a simple dish, and not for people who don’t like goat’s cheese. But we love goat’s cheese and thoroughly enjoyed this!
So there’s a story to this next tapas, the signature Croquetas de Pollo or Chicken Croquettes for $12. When chef José Andrés was a little boy, he would put his feet up on the table, and then his mom would get mad at him for it. When he opened his own restaurants, he decided to serve his signature dish in shoes (clean ones, we’re pretty sure) because he wanted shoes on the table! (Take that, mom?) When Jaleo opened its Disney Springs location, José Andrés changed the serving dish here to a royal pillow like the one used in Cinderella to hold the glass slipper, as a special nod to Disney.
These are kind of a big deal here. Adults love them, kids must love them too to make it on the kids’ menu! We’ve got a confession with these, though: we didn’t really love them. All of our friends who also tried them thought they were delicious. But we had one and thought it tasted like chicken chowder in a fried shell. The texture was way off — it was too soupy for us. It was almost like a homemade chicken casserole that got put in a blender then deep fried, which is fine but not our favorite thing here. Our friends, however, thought they were delicious, with a melt-in-your-mouth flavor and crunchy outside. These would be good for people who aren’t super adventurous eaters because the flavor is so mild.
To make up for our disappointment with the shoe-chicken, we got Chorizo Casero con Puré de Patatas al Aceite de Oliva for $14. Translated, this dish is very self-explanatory: “homemade chorizo with mashed potatoes and olive oil.”
We love a good spicy sausage, and this one was DELICIOUS. We would have happily ordered more of these, mixed them into the paella, and had a grand old time.
Our last savory dish was Patatas Bravas for $10, fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and aioli. If you get one thing when you come here get these (well, you should get lots of little things, so maybe add these on your list!). These were really good! The sauce had a lot of Spanish flavor, and the tomato sauce was pretty spicy. It was spicy-hot and spicy-flavorful, so be aware of that if you’re not a big spice fan! If you’re ordering this for kids, be aware that it’s not just french fries. You might want to get the sauce on the side if you’re not looking for unique flavors, just in case you don’t like it.
We thought the aioli dotting the top of the dish was really flavorful, garlic-y, and delicious! The potatoes were crispy on the outside but still soft in the middle, which we thought was perfect. The tomato sauce is served underneath the potatoes, so give it a quick stir or make sure you scoop up plenty of sauce. If you get them at the same time, we recommend trying this together with the paella and chicken croquetas.
For dessert, we ordered the Pan con Chocolate for $9, which our waiter recommended as one of the most popular desserts. It’s Chocolate Custard with Caramelized Bread, Olive Oil and Brioche Ice Cream. When we took the first bite, the strongest flavor was the olive oil, which we weren’t expecting in a dessert. It was a little bit strange.
We really enjoyed the Chocolate Custard and the bread, and the ice cream had a very mild flavor. It’s a really unique dessert — gooey, chocolate-y, but also olive oil-y. Honestly, we wouldn’t get it again, mainly because you can get better desserts at other shops in the Springs! But if you’re itching for a finale to your meal at Jaleo, this was quite unique.
Nosh or Not
Pop in to shout “PAELLA” if you:
- Want to try a lot of different, smaller dishes for your meal.
- Are an adventurous eater who wants to try some unique dishes and flavors.
- Are in the mood to celebrate with upscale dining and a lively atmosphere.
- If you can’t get into Wine Bar George, Jaleo offers a wide selection of wine, some international flavors, and that date night vibe.
Consider another Disney Springs restaurant if you:
- Don’t want to share your food with everyone at the table (for a delicious, traditional-style meal, we love Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’).
- Want to save some money on this meal (maybe try Chicken Guy for a more affordable but still tasty option?). The individual dishes aren’t too pricey but combined into a full tapas meal for a table, it can add up quickly!
- Aren’t a fan of Spanish spices and flavor (maybe you’re in more of an Asian-food mood, in which case we’d recommend Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs!).
In general, we had a lot of fun at Jaleo in Disney Springs. We liked the tapas-style dining, sharing plates with our friends, and trying a little of everything. Some of the dishes were definitely winners (like the paella and Chorizo ibérico), but others really fell flat for us, like the Croquetas de Pollo. That said, this kinda “meh” dish for us IS one of their most popular. So it really goes to show everyone’s tastes are unique. You know what flavors and textures work for you, so skim the menu beforehand and decide what sounds fun to try. If you’re looking to try some different dishes and experiment with your meal, this is a great place to do it! Get a few different things and see what you like best — you might get a new favorite!
The atmosphere here is really fun, with eccentric artwork, fancy decor, and everyone shouting “PAELLA” every 45 minutes! You can easily spend a long night here drinking, nibbling, and talking. This is a really unique spot in Springs. This could also be a spot for you if you’re doing a Disney Springs crawl. Grab a glass of wine or sangria, and share a few tapas as appetizers as a strong start to your crawl! With such a variety of dining in Disney Springs, a lively tapas and paella joint fits in well but also manages to stand out. We’ll be back for sure.
Join the DFB Newsletter to get all the breaking news right in your inbox! Click here to Subscribe!
What’s your favorite spot for dinner in Disney Springs? Tell us in the comments!