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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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:
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?