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DRIVE-BY DINING

Reminiscent of ... where?

July 13, 2006|Dog Davis | Special to The Times

THE Mexican seaport of Acapulco is known for many things. Chicken salad isn't one of them.

Despite this, Jack in the Box has just unveiled a so-called Acapulco Chicken Salad of mixed lettuce topped with grilled chicken, shredded pepper Jack cheese, red onions, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes and a couple of lime slices, with cilantro-lime dressing and blue tortilla strips on the side. It may not bring back memories of your last spring break south of the border, but will it satisfy your hunger on a hot summer day?

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Jack in the Box's Acapulco Chicken Salad

Taste

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This salad features a light, yummy mix of tastes and textures; the cilantro-lime dressing is especially good. And though it's named for Acapulco, the red tomatoes and onions, white-meat chicken and blue tortilla strips look colorfully American. (One question: Is there a surplus of limes these days? They're showing up everywhere from Del Taco's fish taco to El Pollo Loco's Tequila Lime Chicken.)

Diet Watch

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A dieter's delight. The calories break down like this: The main salad (with chicken and cheese) has only 240 calories, the tortilla strips provide 70 more, and the dressing has 310. That means if you eat every bite, you're consuming only 620 calories, and extreme dieters can easily reduce or remove the higher-calorie ingredients.

Portability

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The packaging is great for travel but terrible for salad eating. Once you add the tortilla strips and dressing, there's no room to toss the salad, so you wind up eating all the chicken, cheese and veggies on top and throwing out all the lettuce at the bottom. Can't any fast-food chain come up with a good way to give us a tossed salad? (McDonald's McSalad Shaker was too silly to survive.)

Hype-o-meter

***

Apparently the battle of the sexes is being waged on the fast-food field. The Acapulco Chicken Salad's savvy commercial features a sensitive Jack asking a woman what she wants. Next to love and compan-

ionship, she wants salad. This "chicks-friendly" spot is more clever than the over-the-top "dudes-only" one by Burger King earlier this year that featured burly guys singing "I Am Man" to a tune reminiscent of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman."

* Ratings are on a scale of one (lowest) to four (best).

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