Pepper Market Review

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Pepper Market is a counter service, “buffeteria” style food court in Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World. The menu features a wide variety (and we do mean wide) of American and Mexican cuisine. It has one of the most expansive menus of ‘things we’d actually want to eat’ of any counter service restaurant at Walt Disney World. Pepper Market participates in the Disney Dining Plan, but does not accept Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount. It is one of the best uses (currently, second-best) of a counter service credit on the Disney Dining Plan.

Over the last few years, Pepper Market has had a bit of an identity crisis, going from standard counter service food court to buffet, back to food court. It has also tested out a variety of different menu items. For a location that most theme park guests will never experience, it seems that Disney has given Pepper Market a lot of attention. This is likely because of its strong convention demographic, and either trying to make a good impression on business travelers in the hopes of luring them back, or simply trying to find a good balance of efficiency and quality in this spot that can be quite popular during events.

Whatever the reason, all guests of Pepper Market are the winners. Pepper Market has a strong, varied menu with plenty of enticing choices and at a full range of price points, which can make it appealing from a value perspective to those on the Disney Dining Plan and those paying out of pocket. Most important, the food is good and unique.

Let’s take a look at the restaurant and the food…

Pepper Market Review

Another way that Pepper Market has changed over the years is in regards to seating/serving. There is a lot of understandable confusion over this, so let’s clarify what the now current (as of March 2014) protocol is at Pepper Market. Essentially, Pepper Market works just like many other hotel food courts (and even in-park places like Sunshine Seasons) in that you have separate ordering bays for different foods. Like these other food courts, you can get what you want from the various stations.

The only difference here is that at each of the ordering bays, a Cast Member stamps your Pepper Market ‘ticket’ with what you ordered, you eat your food, and you pay when you leave the restaurant. There is no server, and there is no gratuity added. Why Pepper Market uses the slip system and has you pay after you eat is beyond us, but it probably has to do with the location of the cash registers…or maybe it’s some traditional Mexican policy and the theming is just that good! ;)

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In terms of ambiance, Pepper Market is pretty good for a food court, but fairly average overall. It basically looks like a big market (of pepper?) with decor suggestive of the market. The seating area has nice thematic touches, but it’s so huge and open that the overwhelming feeling is ultimately one of “mall food court.” Maybe mall food court in Mexico. In the 1990s. Just kidding about the ‘in the 1990s’ part, although the vibrant colors and some designs do remind me a tad of a local mall I used to visit back in the day. I guess Mexico is just a colorful place?

In all seriousness, the giant chicken goddess (below) and pink sheep-dog-man (half man, half sheep, and half dog ;), top photo) are pretty cool. Okay, that probably doesn’t sound serious, but seriously, they’re cool.

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In fairness, most hotel food courts take a utilitarian approach rather than going for ornate theming. Pepper Market is a fun place regardless, and we especially like the tables by the edge of the restaurant that offer window views into the courtyard.

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Where Dreams Come True” is what this menu item should be called, with your stomach, after you eat it, being, “Where the Magic Lives.” Available certain days at the Chef’s Station, this 1/2 slab of ribs was excellent. It’s my understanding that this is a new item that’s now available fairly regularly, but don’t send me hate mail if it’s not there when you visit–the Chef’s Station theoretically changes what it serves daily. These tender ribs were perfectly cook and incredibly messy (that, or I recklessly consumed them like a starved hyena). They came with cheddar-spiced cornbread, and on top of potatoes and vegetables. I made sure to immediately get the vegetables off my plate after this photo, as I didn’t want them desecrating the ribs, but the cornbread was very good and the potatoes were fine.

It’s been too long since we’ve been to Flame Tree BBQ so my memory isn’t completely clear, but these ribs just might give Flame Tree a run for its money. I know ribs aren’t exactly the most interesting choice at a Mexican restaurant, but I could not resist, and I highly recommend these ribs. They are about $15, so not a great value if you’re paying out of pocket, but they are an excellent value if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan.

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This is the Aztec Burger. It might take the cake (of beef) as the best counter service burger at Walt Disney World. Not only does the 1/2 pound of meat seem of a higher quality than the standard counter service beef patties, but the bun seems nicer, too. The burger is topped with fried onions, fried jalapeños, guacamole, tomato, lettuce, chipotle aïoli, and pepper jack cheese. Plus, it’s served with delicious garlic Parmesan potato wedges. The burger isn’t too spicy, but has great flavor and texture thanks to the toppings. Disney has tried its hand at a lot of unique burgers over the last few years, almost all of which have been flops. This burger is a rarity in that it’s unique and delicious. At a regular counter service restaurant, it would be the menu standout. At Pepper Market, it’s a good pick, but is overshadowed by other options.

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Sarah likes to go for lighter options, so these chicken tacos are more her style. She thought they were good “for what they were,” and I think that’s about the only way to put it. Nothing mindblowing, but for basic tacos like this, what do you really expect?

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Instead of going this route, or with something equally ordinary like the chef salad or pasta, my advice would be to try one of the more interesting items. The Crabcake Sandwiches, Grilled Chicken Torta, and Philly Cheese Steak all looked good, and even choices like the Empanadas or Market Nachos seem better.

Pepper Market Review - Walt Disney World Dining

Overall, Pepper Market is a great counter service option that we highly recommend. While the prices are a tad on the high side, the food is excellent, with more variety than just about any other Walt Disney World counter service restaurant. We were both really impressed by the exhaustive menu, and had a difficult time narrowing it down to only a few things to try. The only problem with Pepper Market is location. While it’s easy to recommend spots like Contempo Cafe or Roaring Fork because they’re easy to access and make a nice midday break while in the parks, Pepper Market doesn’t have that. If you’re not a guest staying at Coronado Springs, local, or fellow Disney blogger, it might be difficult to justify the hour-plus round-trip commute out to Coronado Springs to eat at Pepper Market. If you can, somehow, justify the commute or have another reason to visit Coronado Springs, by all means, dine at Pepper Market.

Overall Score: 9.5/10

To read other Disney restaurant reviews from Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland, organized by location, check out our Disney Dining Reviews Index.

Your Thoughts…

Have you been to Pepper Market? What did you think of it? Is it something you’d like to try? If you have any questions or thoughts to share, please post them in the comments. We love hearing from readers!

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17 Responses to “Pepper Market Review”

  1. My husband and I recently stood at Coronado Springs for valentines weekend for the second time. Our last stay was about 3 years ago and we have amazing memories from that. This past stay was a little disappointing we found the pepper market played into that for us. We had valentines dinner at maya grill and that was amazing. (Highly recommended for the margarita fans!) But the next day lunch at the pepper market, and it just feels so out of place smashed between maya grill and Rix Lounge and Cafe. The food was okay. Your post made me wish I would have tried that burger! (I thought about it when I saw it on the menu) The opened a breakfast returant while we were there. I don’t recall the name but it’s next door to Rix Lounge. It’s table service and it has a more high end feel for a moderate. I over heard that they have plans on doing some renovations to the pepper market. What would be awesome to see and I think would fit perfect in the space would be a chipotle style quick service food court. With that style “build your own” Mexican and also more stations with different style foods. Great post BTW! I deffinatly want to go back just to try the burger!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience. The feedback we’ve received about Pepper Market seems to be pretty negative on Facebook, too. Maybe we are way off with the score here. I loved what I had here, though!

  2. Joe Ramsey says:

    I am sure you have eaten at many a fine restaurant but you sir are the dog of Disney counter service. Serve me meat dripping and juicy. The potatoes were fine 9.5

  3. Farrah says:

    I’m a little disappointed that it has gone back to this way of dining. We stayed in 2012 and had a few breakfasts when in was Buffet style. Stating again this year but find it very unlikely That we will eat there! Not sure how my daughter will get her Mickey waffle fix this year! You mention about it being a but out if the way ( which is why we love it & the fact it less kids) but if coming from blizzard beach it could always be a good stop over?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I think a lot of people are disappointed about the buffet ‘test’ (which is what Disney called it, even though it lasted like a year) is over. It’s certainly not as good of a value now. We never tried it when it was a buffet, but I’ve heard from others who think that the food quality is better now. So maybe that’s the trade-off? I don’t really know.

      As for it being a good stop if you’re coming from Blizzard Beach: absolutely. If you’re driving, it would also be a good stop on the way from Animal Kingdom, too!

      • Alison R says:

        I’m pleased that it’s no longer a buffet! My daughter and I don’t eat very much, and I would hate to have to pay for her separately when we could just split a bounty platter or something.

  4. Becca Thitaram says:

    My husband and I stayed last year at Coronado and Pepper Market had none of these options! We saw a nacho station weaker than Tortuga tavern, wimpy burgers, and a “pasta station” which was really a pick a noodle and sauce station. Your pictures make me want to go back and see if PM can redeem itself!

  5. Craig H says:

    I just recently went to Coronado Springs and loved it. The little snack shop next to Pepper Market serves a chorizo, egg and cheese biscuit sandwich that is out of this world. If you go early enough before they start cranking them out and leaving them under the heat lamps, they will make one fresh for you. The biscuit was warm and buttery, the eggs were fluffy and the chorizo was spicy. Yum!

  6. Ross C says:

    In 2012 I got food poisoning while staying at Coronado Springs, which necessitated a hospital visit. Emergency room Doc said food poisoning usually gestates for 1-3 days before you’re affected and I had been eating only resort/park food for the previous 5 days. At the Pepper Mill I ate fish tacos and immediately thought “These are off” and quit after 2 bites. I am positive this is where I picked it up.

  7. Janice S says:

    Hubby and I loved the Pepper Market on our Sept. 2013 trip. The build your burrito was my favorite (only tacos or nachos now?). Recommended it to my son. His family went Feb. 2014 and hated it! Oh well.

  8. Jenna says:

    Thanks for the great posts on your TDL trip – they were essential in planning my one day blitz on the park. I wasn’t prepared for the weekend crowds (I have a couple pics on my blog) and I think with a little strategizing (sending a runner to a ride while another person picks up fastpasses), the day could have been a little more fruitful in terms of number of rides.

    There were points (post parade, specifically), when it was impossible to move in the park and you had to go with the traffic flow – there was no room to go anywhere else.

    But, the snack tips were awesome – we had a ton of fun hunting them out!

    Thanks for the great posts, as always.

  9. Stephanie says:

    Me and my family just visited Coronado Springs resort March 9-14 the do indeed now take tables in wonderland discount at the pepper market we are going back again in may and I will let you know if they are still honoring the TW . Like the other people I was too so disappointed to see they had done away with the build your own burrito and fajitas too and replaced with tiny tacos and nachos . The grill station had a amazing grilled chicken sandwich probably the best I’ve had at any of the resort property’s and parks ! I have to admit I am partial to Coronado springs it’s beautiful clean never packed peaceful and fun all wrapped up in to one and at a great price per night mind you that’s only if your a florida resident/pass-holder but I would highly recommend this resort to anyone .

  10. Linder Smith says:

    The baked chicken was great, we were there in June 2013. We are returning May 24, of this year. They will see me and my family!

  11. Denise says:

    Don’t forget the awesome creme brûlée French toast! Like a lost, but extremely valuable treasure, you have to search (way in the back of the food stations) to find it. Surprised that Pepper Market is the only place that has it. it’s part of our “gotta have it at Disney” list.

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