Pepe by José Andrés Review
Pepe is the new counter service restaurant arm of Jaleo by Chef José Andrés on Disney Springs’ West Side. This Walt Disney World dining review features food photos, thoughts on the quality, our experience here, and how this quick service eatery compares to other alternatives.
As of right now, Pepe does not accept the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount nor does it presently offer any other form of discount for Annual Passholders or Disney Vacation Club members. Given the premium pricing, it’ll be interesting to see whether this changes.
Pepe participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a counter service credit. Its value depends upon what you order, and keep in mind that the menu items here are not combos, which changes the equation a bit (see best value quick service DDP credit restaurants here).
We’ve been hyped for Jaleo for around a year and a half, and have been watching the old Wolfgang Puck location slowly morph into the Awesome Blossom Transformer Restaurant for a while now.
While our enthusiasm has mostly been for the table service side of Jaleo, Pepe also intrigued us.
This is the first brick-and-mortar location for Pepe, which has existed in food truck form for several years in Washington, D.C. (That’s also where Jaleo first debuted over 15 years ago.)
Pepe is located around the corner from the main entrance to Jaleo, and (at least when we visited) uses some of the main restaurants downstairs seating during daytime hours.
It’s unclear whether it’ll continue using this downstairs area; it’s probably contingent upon demand.
The main seating area for Pepe is quite small, with only a couple tables and a way-too-narrow ledge and stools around the perimeter of the room.
For our meal, we decided to purchase all three sandwiches from the “Sandwiches – Pan de Cristal” menu plus one dessert. (You’re looking at $40+ worth of food pictured above.)
In addition to this, there are pressed bikini sandwiches, rolls, and cold sandwiches in a cooler. While there are interesting options on each menu, I think it’s fair to say these are the most ambitious items.
First up is the B.E.L.T, or Bacon, Egg, Lettuce, and Tomato Fresco.
Taste-wise, this sandwich delivers. The savory flavors from the bacon and egg are complimented nicely by the refreshing tomato fresco and lettuce. However, the sandwich is small and you’re likely to be hungry after you finish it.
Next, the Bocata de Vegetales. This contains roasted peppers, onion, asparagus, eggplant, spinach, manchego cheese, and mojo picon.
This sandwich was likewise tasting, with the various vegetables and cheese melding together well, and the mojo picon providing a mouthwatering kick. This sandwich is also a bit more hearty, but with no sides, it’s still not the most filling option.
Finally, the Pepito Ternera: “Flat Iron Steak, Caramelized Onion, Cheese, Mayonnaise.”
This is the crowd-pleaser of the bunch, with tender steak, and a delicious mix of onion, cheese, and mayo. It’s an incredibly juicy sandwich, but the Pan de Cristal bread does a good job of absorbing some of that while still retaining its characteristic crunch.
Far and away the best sandwich of the bunch, and one of the tastiest counter service entrees at Disney Springs. However, the Pepito Ternera suffers from the same value proposition problem as the other sandwiches. It’s small and pricey. It comes the closest to approaching “filling” status of any option at Pepe, but you’re still going to want a side, at which time you’re looking at a $20 counter service meal.
Rather than ordering one of those sides (such as the Patatas Bravas, but in seeing the portion size of those, we opted to pass on them) we chose to finish our meal with the Leche Merengada: “The Classic Spanish Flavors of Sweetened Milk, Cinnamon, Lemon.”
This creamy soft serve ice cream balances sweet, tangy, and spicy cinnamon flavors well, and we recommend it if you opt to stop for a meal at Pepe.
As excited as we are about all things Chef José Andrés does, it’s tough to recommend Pepe with anything more than tepid enthusiasm. The sandwiches we tried ranged from good to fantastic, but the prices, portion sizes, and lack of sides give us serious pause. Being on the Disney Dining Plan wouldn’t help matters much, as you’re still only going to receive sandwiches without sides.
In fairness, this isn’t the first Disney Springs counter service location to charge premium prices for entree-only items. However, the counter service scene here is becoming more competitive, and with some entrees at Jaleo being only moderately more expensive (and that being the true star of the show, anyway), Pepe is a tough sell for all but the Pepito Ternera.
Overall, we loved the taste of what we tried at Pepe. Unfortunately, unless something changes in terms of discounts, accompaniments, or portion sizes, it’s unlikely that this restaurant will join our regular rotation. That’s really too bad, as Pepe by José Andrés is an ambitious offering, just not one that’s a decent value for people like us with stronger appetites.
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What do you think of Pepe by José Andrés? Will you be dining here on your next trip to Disney Springs? Have you tried any of these menu items? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Does this appeal to you more or less than Jaleo? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I too live in DC and I am busting proud of Chef Andres’ citizenship and leadership. And man, he creates great menus, and his staff can cook! But he tends to serve small (very small) a la carte dishes, priced to reflect the excellent ingredients and superior kitchen skills. They don’t correspond to the average American meal
A hungry teen could bankrupt you.
Perhaps Disney can encourage Chef to offer some of his fine family style cooking ,(like the great food he rustled up for our brothers and sisters in Puerto,Rico) in slightly larger portions at the quickserve counter. I bet if Disney matched iit, Chef would even donate a bit of each plate’s price to World Central Kitchen’s efforts….
I live and work in the DC area, Jose Andres’s homebase. While I love Jose Andres for all he does, Jaleo and Pepe would not be my choices for his restaurants. China Chilcano (Peruvian/Asian fusion), on the other hand, would have been way more interesting (but not necessarily cheaper). Not that surprised by the reviews that are coming out.
“pressed bikini sandwiches”?!? What will they come up with next?
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Ouch 40+ for the food that was on the tray is hard to swallow!!!
In my opinion it’s going to be a stretch price wise and even with a dining plan not being a combo will rack up the credits to eat.
My Family of 5 would drop 70-80 bucks min!
I will be passing this one by.
Hello Blaze Pizza!!!!!!!!!
For that much, I’d get a combo at the Polite Pig.
Similar to the other blog review of jaleo, with a very equalivant outcome
HARD PASS! Just what the “Springs” needed?
I’ll go for the taco cone food truck over this overpriced nonsense.