On Friday, we were invited to a special preview of the new menu being offered at Pepe by Jose Andres at Disney Springs.
Pepe by Jose Andres is a fast-casual offering at Disney Springs, attached to Jaleo, that focuses on high-quality dishes quickly, in an environment where others might lose the quality of the food as the price drops. Pepe originated as a food truck appearing around the country but the Disney Springs location is the first brick and mortar location offered by the famous chef.
The menu has a variety of delicious offerings for a wide variety of palates, from daredevils looking for spice and combined flavors, to simple favorites re-done in fantastic ways. It’s also worth noting that, as this location is at Disney Springs catering to the family audience, this location is also the first to offer a children’s menu.
Pepe (and Jaleo) are overseen by Chef Rodolfo Guzman, who has spent 26 years side-by-side with Jose Andres, his friend and mentor, and the passion he has is evident in each of the dishes.
The seating area for Pepe is surprisingly small at first glance, but it was later revealed that patrons of Pepe can also use the seating area for the Matador Bar in Jaleo. It’s also in this area that Flamenco dancers will be making their rounds, performing while diners enjoy their food. The dancing is not in one central location, but rather similar to a character dining experience they pass by tables performing their routines in an intimate setting.
The menu for Pepe includes hot sandwiches, like the popular Pollo Frito, a fried chicken sandwich with peppers, with the chicken so tender, it doesn’t just figuratively melt in your mouth, it literally does too. Personally, I loved the B.E.L.T. (Bacon, Egg, Lettuce, and Tomato Fresco on Ciabatta bread, but the biggest surprise, by far, was the Frankfurt. Simply stated on the menu: “An All Beef Hot Dog,” I actually audibly ridiculed and made jokes that this was even on the menu considering the other dishes, but boy was I wrong. Thinking (in true Disney Parks fashion) that this was a frozen beef frank thrown down on a generic bun, I was completely flabbergasted when I took a bite and found myself finishing the whole thing. The bun itself comes from bread shipped in daily from Spain, with the frank itself being made fresh in house. It was savory and it was delicious and was so full of flavor it didn’t need any condiments. In fact, I’d dare say condiments on this hot dog would be insulting. While on the topic of the simple things that were astounding, the Bikini de Jamon y Queso/Bikini Quatro Quesos could have easily been the favorite of the table. Grilled cheese sandwiches, one with ham, that are pressed with a hint of honey mustard could easily win anyone over, and can easily be a late snack for anyone having fun into the night at Disney Springs.
There were plenty of cold offerings too. A few different flautas are offered, one extra long that is perfect for sharing. I was a fan of the Futbol Club Barcelona, a club sandwich with sliced chicken, tomato, lettuce, and bacon, with a special red onion mayonnaise, but everyone will love one of the healthier offerings, the Bocata de Vegetable, a sandwich with a slathering of fresh vegetables that have been cooked on a Josper grill, which is an intense charcoal burning grill, that gives the vegetables a phenomenal flavor. The same type of grill can actually cook a whole chicken in 12 minutes.
Speaking of healthy offerings, there is a chilled Gazpacho made with tomato, cucumber, and peppers that is not only tasty, but is simply good for you. So good in fact, that it’s sold bottled so you can drink it on the go, almost like a Kombucha.
But what is a meal without dessert? Pepe has a few different offerings, but any guest will definitely want to save room for the Flan. A traditional spanish custard, the flan is deliciously creamy with a vanilla bean whipped cream that is so fresh, you can still see the vanilla seeds in it.
To wash all this food back, Pepe offers a tasty sangria that, as it’s a fast-casual establishment, you can take to go! The drink is served either by glass or carafe. The carafe is a great choice as the glass can actually snap on to the carafe for easy transportation. Note: The glasses are not actually made of glass, that way they can be transported around the promenades of Disney Springs. I would absolutely recommend Pepe by Jose Andres to anyone visiting Disney Springs. It’s simple, its quick, it’s reasonably priced, but most importantly, it’s delicious.
Pepe by Jose Andres is at Disney Springs West Side, attached to Jaleo, across from Splitsville.