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This is when José Andrés restaurant Jaleo plans to launch at Disney Springs

With a family-style menu of tapas, Jaleo will showcase dishes like gambas a la Zahara. [Courtesy of Jaleo]
Published Mar. 14

Happen to be craving pollo croquetas? What about paella cooked over a wood-fired pit? Then you better make the drive to Lake Buena Vista soon.

On March 17, celebrity chef and humanitarian José Andrés plans to launch his full-service Spanish tapas restaurant at Disney Springs in Orlando. Jaleo, the Spanish word for "revelry," will serve dinner in a lively setting to start, followed by lunch service later this month.

Andrés first premiered Jaleo in Washington, D.C., in 1993. The Disney Springs restaurant will be the chef's fifth and largest location, which joins a variety of dining options at the recently revamped entertainment complex. It will be Andrés' first Central Florida restaurant.

Showcasing traditional and modern tapas, the family-style menu speaks to the regional diversity of Spanish cuisine. Ibérico pork, shrimp sautéed with garlic and chili, gambas al ajillo and chicken fritters are a few signature dishes accompanying the sangria and wine lists.

But Jaleo isn't the only addition Andrés brings to Disney Springs on Sunday. Diners can also enjoy Pepe, the first brick-and-mortar version of his popular food truck, adjacent to the Jaleo entrance.

A D.C. fixture for more than six years, the quick-service Pepe will sling hot and cold sandwiches (known as bocatas), gazpacho and salads to-go during lunch and dinner, beginning Sunday. There's some sangria here as well — presented with sangria ice cubes, because, well, Florida temps mean dilution, and that'd be a total bummer.

Spanish designer Juli Capella dreamed up the architectural form of the free-standing, two-story building both Jaleo and Pepe call home. Inspired by an artichoke, this property with no solid walls is open to the outdoors, featuring petals that form pergolas and views of the lake.

As former Tampa Bay Times food critic Laura Reiley put it earlier this year: "Whoa."

Contact Meaghan Habuda at mhabuda@tampabay.com. Follow @meghabuda.

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