For the next installment, I decided to take a trip to Jack in the Box to test drive their Fajita Ranch Melt. I was really excited for this one. Fast food grilled chicken sandwiches have always been a weakness of mine, and I like fajitas as well. How could this not be a hit?!

Outside packaging

Outside packaging

I opted to get the meal, medium size, with curly fries instead of regular fries, which set me back $7.05. Nothing out of the ordinary with that price, either in a good or bad way.

Thankful for that extra layer of paper!

Thankful for that extra layer of paper!

The sandwich came wrapped in paper inside a box. That extra paper was necessary because of the sourdough bun. Those always have a tendency to be greasy and can cause burger slippage, so I appreciated the extra layer between my fingers and the bread (which also makes it easier to take notes and photos while I eat, instead of wasting twenty napkins during the eating process, because this sandwich was messy). The taste of the sourdough was standard Jack in the Box: it’s nice to get different texture and flavor than the standard fast food bun, but it’s nothing revolutionary.

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Digging into the sandwich now. Jack in the Box describes it as “Fajita Chicken topped with grilled onions, fire roasted red & green peppers, melted pepper jack cheese plus Ranch and Taco sauce.” Needless to say, there’s a lot going on here. My first bite was fantastic. I somehow managed to get all of the elements in an equal proportion. The chicken held up to the cheese and sauces, while the onions and peppers added some crunch to the proceedings (though not much in the flavor department). Unfortunately, things started to go downhill after that first bite.

First Bite

First Bite

The first problem may have been self-inflicted. I opted to use the drive-thru and eat at home instead of eating at Jack in the Box. While the ride home was less than five minutes, the pepper jack cheese had definitely congealed by the time I began to eat. That was pretty gross. So instead of being nice and melty, and combining with the other ingredients of the sandwich, I’d occasionally get congealed cheese bits when I took bites. Congealed pepper jack is not very good.

Not quite as appetizing

Not quite as appetizing

Next, I’ll preface this by saying I’m not a huge fan of Ranch sauce/dressing. In moderation it can be fine, but I’ve never eaten something and been struck by a desire to add Ranch to it. With that in mind, the Ranch is way too overpowering here. There was too much in amount, and it started to take over the sandwich. If Ranch were a good accompaniment to a fajita, I could understand its inclusion. But it isn’t. At all. I think Jack in the Box would have been better served by just making a Fajita Melt and ditching the Ranch. They could do this by combining the taco sauce with sour cream or guacamole, or even adding some real salsa. The flavors would have been a better match plus, once again, no Ranch. The only compliment to the Ranch was that it seemed to have a nice spice to it, but adding some heat to the sandwich could have been achieved through less obtrusive means.

Too much Ranch!

Too much Ranch!

Getting to the other parts of the sandwich. The onions and peppers suffered the same fate as most fast food vegetables: they lack flavor. I understand that it’s difficult to cook then freeze then reheat vegetables and expect them to taste fresh, but when they serve nothing other than to add crunch, why not just add tortilla chips or something to the sandwich? The chicken was fine; it tasted like normal fast food grilled chicken. If you like it (and I do), it’s not going to let you down. I couldn’t figure out what made it “Fajita Chicken” though. Regardless, it’s a good vehicle for all the flavors Jack in the Box is going for here.

More sandwich innards

More sandwich innards

I’m worried that I’m starting to develop a theme here by not liking my second item in a row, but this is something else that I wouldn’t order again without some tweaks. There’s really some potential here for a great sandwich with some tweaks. If you’re going to make a fajita sandwich, then go all the way! Get some sour cream or guac, swap out the ranch, I’d even go with a nice sharp cheddar instead of pepper jack. However, without those changes, we have a mediocre chicken sandwich, drowning in ranch dressing. What could have been…

 

P.S. Please excuse the sloppy picture formatting. For some reason the pictures are centered in the post editor, but are not in the published post, and I’m not sure why there’s a discrepancy. I’ll keep tweaking until the formatting is correct.

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