Chef José Andrés’s Jaleo recently opened at Disney Springs, bringing the flavors and spirit of Spain to Walt Disney World.
Jaleo is known for it’s authentic, yet creative approach to traditional Spanish foods. The new location at Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida is offering diners the opportunity to have a culinary tour through Spain with tapas, paellas, and hand-crafted cocktails.
While the menu is extensive and somewhat overwhelming, the best way to get the full Jaleo experience is to do a tasting menu. Jaleo offers two different chef tasting menus, The Jaleo Experience and José’s Way. Both offer a variety of traditional and modern tapas and plates to please any palette.
Any good Spanish meal needs to start off with traditional sangría. Jaleo offers two types of sangría, sangría roja which is what most people think of when they picture sangría, or sangría de lujo cava, which is a white sangría topped with sparkling wine. Both are fantastic, but on hot Florida days the white sangría is the way to go for a light refreshing taste.
For something a little adventurous to drink, the salt air margarita is a win for sure. Think of a traditional margarita topped with a foam that tastes just like beach air, salty and light.
Selections from Jaleo Disney Springs (credit: Megan duBois)
Jaleo offers menu items that are approachable and some that are a little more creative using molecular gastronomy. The José’s Way tasting menu combines all of this into one incredible meal fit for a date night out or get together with friends at Disney Springs.
José’s Way ($110 for one person) features many of José’s most famous and most creative tapas, and we even added in a few options of our own to get an even fuller Jaleo experience. Our server was knowledgable about the menu, which helped us decide what we would like best.
One thing you should know before going to Jaleo is that it’s truly a culinary experience. Do not expect to walk out of the restaurant in 45 minutes. Plan to spend anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half eating. Each of the tapas are brought to your table as they are ready, which can be a bit overwhelming, but also fun to mix and match flavors.
We started out with José’s tacos ($18 per taco by itself), which is Ibérico ham topped with supreme caviar. The dish was salty because of the ham and caviar, but not in a way that was unpleasant. The ham melted the instant it hit our mouths. The dish in all was one bite since we rolled the ham around the caviar for easy eating.
Guests dining at Jaleo can also get the ibérico ham by itself as the paletilla ibérica de bellota ($30 by itself). It comes with quite a few slices of the ham and is a true Spanish delight.
One of the more interesting dishes of the night used molecular gastronomy to create something familiar in a new way. Aceitunas moderns y clásicas ($12 by itself) are a plate of liquid olives and goral olives which are stuffed with piquillo pepper and anchovy. If you’ve ever had a boba tea, imagine one giant olive flavored boba on a spoon. That’s what the liquid olives taste like and are to be experienced like. You just pop the whole thing in your mouth as it explodes with salty olive flavor. If you are not a fan of olives, you might not enjoy this dish, but it’s worth a try for the novelty.
Aceitunas moderns y clásicas available at Jaleo (credit: Megan duBois)
Every meal at Jaleo should include the pan de cristal con tomate ($12 by itself). The imported Spanish bread is sliced and toasted until perfectly crispy, then brushed with fresh tomato. This is something you could easily recreate at home with similar breads available at the grocery store, and could be a fun way to remember an amazing meal you had at Jaleo.
Fans of seafood rejoice, Jaleo has it’s own spin on fresh oysters on the half shell, ostras gin and tonic ($18 by itself). These super fresh oysters are served with lemon and topped off with a refreshing mix of gin and tonic. The gin and tonic helps to cut through some of the saltiness of oysters, all while making them easier to get down with the added liquid.
One of the most well known Spanish foods is paella. Each night at Jaleo two out of their five paella options are available. Guests can get entire pans for eight or more guests or just one serving of paella for one or two guests.
While we were dinging at Jaleo the Spanish classic paella valenciana ($28 by itself) was being served. The dish is made up of chicken, rabbit, lima beans, green beans and saffron for a very savory dish.
For smaller tapas we were served the cebolla asada ($10 by itself) which is roasted sweet onions, pine nuts, and blue cheese. While the onions were super sweet and almost candy-like, we were surprised they were served cold. It was a bit off-putting to be served cold cooked onions, which made it seem like they had been sitting in the window for a while. This is the one dish we were not super impressed by and was almost forgettable about our meal.
Vieiras con salsa de piñones available at Jaleo (credit: Megan duBois)
If you only get one thing at Jaleo be sure to get the gambas al ajillo ($18 by itself), which is shrimp sautéed with garlic. It’s served with bread for dipping into the sauce, which was not over powered by garlic, and the shrimp were perfectly cooked!
For even more incredible seafood order the vieiras con salsa de piñones ($17 by itself). This scallop dish comes out perfectly seared, with a pine nut sauce, raisins and a PX reduction. These are quite possibly the best scallops at Walt Disney World right now.
Secreto ibérico bellota con pan con tomate y salsa verde available at Jaleo (credit: Megan duBois)
People who love chicken pot pie are going to love the croquetas de pollo ($12 by itself). These traditional chicken fritters are served hot and crispy on a Cinderella pillow, bringing a bit of Disney into a very non-Disney themed restaurant.
As part of the full Jaleo experience you cannot walk out without trying the secreto ibérico bellota con pan con tomate y salsa verde ($69 by itself). The skirt steak is taken from the black-footed ibérico pigs and served with the same tomato bread as the tapa option, mojo verde and alioli. The pork comes out crispy and already cut into bite-sized pieces. It’s tender and moist, and the two dipping sauces add some great flavor to the dish.
Cítricos con helado de acite de oliva at Jaleo (credit: Megan duBois)
No meal is complete without dessert and Jaleo is offering some great options. We tried three and all of them were light, not overly sweet, and the perfect ending to a fantastic meal. The cítricos con helado de acite de oliva ($10 by itself) was an olive oil ice cream with grapefruit segments and a grapefruit granita. If you want something super refreshing this is the one to get.
Pan con chocolate ($10 by itself) is chocolate custard with caramelized bread, olive oil and brioche ice cream. The brioche ice cream was a game changer and we would go back to Jaleo just for this dessert! If you love cheesecake the quesada asturiana ($14 by itself) is for you. The Basque-style cheesecake is made with goat cheese for a tangy and sweet flavor.
Overall, dining at Jaleo is an experience not to be missed. Their menu is diverse and full of surprising options.
Have you ever dined at any of José Andrés’ restaurants before? Let us know what you thought about them in the comments!