Owned by celebrity chef José Andrés, Jaleo serves traditional and contemporary Spanish cuisine, including authentic paellas cooked over a wood fire in the multilevel restaurant.
Jaleo’s entrance is an expansive, open space with tile mosaics and large-scale photo murals of iconic Spanish scenes on the walls. Warm lighting in the kitchen and dining areas bathe the restaurant, reflecting off metal accents. The highlight is the paella pit and accompanying view into the kitchen. Every time one of the massive paella dishes has finished cooking, the chefs ring a bell and the entire restaurant joins in the celebration.
A vision of architect and interior designer Juli Capella of Capella Garcia Arquitectura, the outside of the building is inspired by a vegetable, the artichoke. The interior pays tribute to Andrés’s native Spain. The colors of the Spanish flag, red and yellow, dominate the decor of the 22,000-square-foot restaurant.
Jaleo is casual, yet it exudes a stylish and festive decor. It is a comfortable setting for guests to explore the traditional cuisine of Spain without feeling overwhelmed.
I have dined at Jaleo several times and keep going back. Most of of the time I order tapas. Tapas is a great way to discover new food. If you are not sure about what you want to eat, or hesitant if you will like it, small portions are the way to go.
The restaurant serves Spain’s famed aged ibérico ham, the stuff of dreams. A selection of Spanish cheeses and, of course, traditional pan de cristal con tomate are both good first courses.
My favorite tapas are endivias con queso de cabra y naranjas, delicious endives filled with goat cheese and dotted with sliced oranges and almonds; cono de salmón crudo con huevas de trucha, Salmon tartare and trout roe cone; and gambas al ajillo, tapas of shrimp sautéed with garlic. Make sure you try the patatas bravas—fried potatoes topped with spicy tomato sauce and aioli.
A tasting of the classic and traditional tapas is available for $95 per person; beverages to pair with the dishes come at an additional $49 per person. Lunch in an hour, the José way! is served daily from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. for the price of $35 and includes a choice of three tapas bites and a dessert from a special menu.
For dessert, I am hooked on flan al estilo tradicional de mamá Marisa con espuma de crema catalana, a classic Spanish custard with a foam of Catalan cream and oranges. Enjoy the whimsical plates, one bite at a time. ¡Buen provecho!
Drinks are on par with other Disney Springs restaurants in terms of pricing and quality: $12–$15 will get you a cocktail off Jaleo’s varied drink menu, with beers in the $8–$9 range and a high-quality selection of vermouth. The wine menu is extensive, featuring a pretty nifty table at the front describing standard wine qualities and color-coding them on the subsequent menu. My favorites are the classic Sangría roja and Sangria de Cava (Cava, gin, vermouth, and seasonal fruits)
I think Jaleo is one of the best restaurants in Disney Springs. Jaleo’s menu is extensive and affordable. It is also in walking distance from the theater where the Cirque du Soleil show, Drawn to Life, is shown. It makes for a perfect pre- or post-theater dining venue.
Reservations are highly recommended. The cost range of the tapas is $10–$29. For easy access, park at the Disney Springs Orange garage. Jaleo is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. until 3:55 p.m.; dinner is served from 4 to 11 p.m.
José Andrés is an award-winning chef and Nobel Peace Prize nominee. He is also known as a great humanitarian who established World Central Kitchen in 2010 as a means for feeding the many—using culinary training programs to empower communities and strengthen economies, as well as to provide food disaster relief in the wake of emergencies around the globe. Currently, he and his team are working to feed people in war-torn Ukraine.
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