Lunch at Pepper Market

When I hear the restaurant name, “Pepper Market,” I think “Identity Crisis.” It’s been through some changes over the past several years. What once was a system where you ordered, had a server bring you a beverage (adding a 10% service charge to your bill), and then pay at a cashier at the end, has now become the Disney standard of order from the station, pay, and fill your own drink (with RFID monitoring). I never made it over during their brief stint offering buffet breakfast and lunch.

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Several years ago, before I met Matt, he had visited Pepper Market on occasion and liked their Steak Burritos, which he ordered on my first visit to the restaurant back in 2011, and is no longer on the menu. I had ordered a Croissant Club Sandwich, which was on par with what you’d find in a grab-n-go section, but edible. I returned last spring for breakfast, ordering the Mexican Eggs Benedict Burrito, which I quickly lost interest in eating not too far in. Since Matt hadn’t been since that initial visit together, we decided to stop by for lunch.

After looking around the stations at the options, Matt ordered from the Market Station which features soup and salad. I could see he had been waiting in line for a while before he even placed and order, and I thought I’d be through my line before he would even have the opportunity. When he did order, he kept it very simple, ordering the Caesar Salad with Chicken, a Traditional Caesar Salad with Croutons, Parmesan Cheese, and Caesar Dressing. He asked for extra dressing, and this is what it looked like.

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Matt lost his appetite for this before them even adding the copious amount of dressing, and saw the Parmesan Cheese they use was TWO heaping scoops of the grated Parmesan cheese you might sprinkle on pasta or pizza. It wasn’t even tossed around, so everything just sad on a bed of lettuce. Even the not-hitting-the-spot, rubbery chicken version from Pinocchio Village Haus was better than this. And Matt liked the chicken-less side salad from Pizza Planet. He picked at some of the chicken and croutons, and I told him to bring it back for something else. Instead he got a box to take it home, where it sat in the fridge for a day or two before I thew it out.

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My ordering experience wasn’t much better, as where Matt had to wait for some time before ordering, I ordered right away. But once I did order, I stood waiting, waiting and waiting for my food (more on that shortly). While waiting, I got a look at the hot bar that holds the toppings. In the foreground are the Fried Onions, and to their upper right are the Fried Jalapenos, both of which come on the Azteca Burger. Left of the jalapenos are what I think are the Crab Cakes that come on the Crab Cake Sandwich. Continuing counterclockwise are the Kid’s “Popcorn” Chicken, aka the Chicken Breast Nuggets that come with the adult entree everywhere else on property.

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Here you can see the Garlic Parmesan Fries (they have the green on top) and the regular French Fries, looking pale.

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I ordered the Texas Bacon Burger, a 1/2 lb. Burger with Candied Bacon, Chipotle Bacon, Bacon Aioli, BBQ Sauce, and Cheddar Cheese, served with Garlic Parmesan Fries. All sandwiches are served with Lettuce, Tomato, and a Pickle. (Nope. apparently no pickle for me.)

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While this burger boasted two types of bacon in the description (Candied Bacon and Chipotle Bacon), I could only taste one type, which was likely the Chipotle Bacon based on some mild heat. The burger was dry as it was sitting on the counter for 5 minutes after coming off the grill.

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The Bacon Aioli had no bacon flavor from what I could tell, and just tasted like maybe a really mayonnaise-y Ranch to me. The BBQ sauce was fine, but everything else wasn’t very good. I ate about 1/4 of the burger, and opted to not take any of it home.

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I ended up just eating the fries, which were sitting there on the heat tray the entire time I waited in line. I’m sure they would have been much better fresh. Also, there was nothing garlicky about them.

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Back to the ordering/service: It took at LEAST 15 minutes for me to order and  get my food with maybe 5 people ahead of me and 4 CMs working at the station. One guy in front of me was complaining to the CMs that he “had been waiting for 10 minutes” (yeah, buddy, we ALL have…), and then when I was about to get my burger before him (that had been sitting in a line of burgers on a counter waiting to be topped and served), he started yelling more: “I was here first! I’ve been waiting!” A hefty line of people started to form while I was waiting, too. I don’t know how they managed to get through it (I’m guessing guests left for shorter lines), and I can’t imagine how they would have been able to handle an actual lunch rush.

Here are the menus from our visit:

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After meals in the past that were not memorable, and this debacle of a lunch (and waste of around $30), I pretty much have no desire to return to Pepper Market. If anyone suggests it, I’ll counter with Las Ventanas for either breakfast or lunch. Otherwise I’d rather revisit Cafe Rix or head over to Siestas Cantina Pool Bar. The one high note I will end this review with is for the Cast Member who rang up our bill at the checkout. I wish I remembered his name (I tossed the receipt along with my food, it seems), but he was super pleasant and even handed us a water cup without us even asking when we only ordered one soda. Thanks to him, it helped melt away some of the frustration that everyone could feel and probably cut with a knife back at the ordering stations.

Have you been to Pepper Market at Coronado Springs? What have your experiences been?

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9 responses to “Lunch at Pepper Market

  1. I stayed at Coronado Springs once and wasn’t a big fan of the pepper market in general. When I went it was a waiter service at the tables but you still had to get the counter food, it was weird and strange and the food wasn’t great. It sounds like it hasn’t improved…

  2. Yeah, I didn’t like the whole setup with the waiter that would bring you your drinks. My two previous visits, it worked this way. Adding an automatic 10% fee, plus a line for additional gratuity (should you be so inclined), can really add up, even for what is technically counter service.

  3. plus the drink was the one thing that never had a line.

  4. When I read the title of your post I couldn’t even recognize which resort this place might be at… Either way, I don’t think I’ll be paying them a visit any time soon… It is terrible that Disney would allow that to happen! Hopefully they’ll fix it soon! 🙂

  5. There are better options at Coronado Springs to spend the food budget. Even some of the prices at Pepper Market feel inflated compared to what you would pay for a comparable item elsewhere on property.

  6. When I started reading and saw they did away that “server” concept I thought I might give Pepper Market a try again. Only time I ate there the server came over, explained the ordering system (which I already knew), brought us one soda from the machine five steps away and ignored us the rest of the time, finally walked over and got our own soda refills, Ordering and receiving food was so slow, and food just so-so. Sounds like it hasn’t changed, except for not being insulted by that 10% fee for next-to-no service. A shame, since Pepper Market is a cute place.

  7. On my first visit, service was on point. Second visit was fine, but not memorable. I’m glad it’s gone, as it seems it was such a hit and miss with service. Now to work on getting the food preparation squared away so it’s efficient! But I agree with you – it’s a cute space and very bright and airy. It’s a shame there are (seemingly) so many issues. Hopefully they figure it out soon! 🙂

  8. The pepper market used to be great! My husband&i stay @ CSR at least once or twice a year, and it’s actually incredible how the PM keeps getting less and less impressive. At one time they had a 18-20% suggestion for tipping the guy who brings you soda on the bill. One thing that we did discover out of necessity- if you order a burger make sure you order it at a special temperature “medium” or “medium rare” and you get a much fresher burger. And time to chat up the guys who work there long enough that just MaYbE they will throw in some fresh fries for you while you wait. Especially during off hours- which is the only time we ever found ourselves there. Also the quesadilla works in a pinch. Everything else is pretty eew. I swear, it used to be great, but that was at least 5 years ago by now.

  9. I heard people ordering it a certain way, but I bet it would have been to no avail watching the patties sit on a counter, and continue to cook off the heat, for several (5+) minutes. There was no time to chat with CMs as they seemed to be struggling to just get a few burgers on the grill. One person had asked for fresh fries (the regular ones) and that seemed to hold everything else up as well. Matt would agree with it being delicious once – I really wish I could have experienced it back in the “heyday!” Thank you for your insight! 😀