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In the never-ending race to kick the fast food scene up infinite notches, Jack in the Box recently debuted their Hot Mess Burger ($3.99). Before we get a fingertip into this thing, let's put this out there. In Dallas, there is one true Hot Mess. It's at Pecan Lodge. It's a sweet potato baked and loaded with barbacoa and triumph, and it is awesome. Try it. Well, read the rest of this post about a different Hot Mess and then go try the one at Pecan Lodge.
Jack in the Box's take starts with a burger and that's where the "ordinary" ends. The burger is "seasoned while it cooks," which to me always invokes an image of a hurried cook discharging a plume of pepper on the patty right before flipping it off the griddle. The burger is then topped with onion rings, pickled jalapeños, pepperjack sauce and mayo, then bound together by two toasted pieces of sourdough. If you were to power rank the fast food bread options, I'd venture to say that Jack's sourdough would be near the top, with bristling competition from any joint that uses Texas toast.
As for the taste, it's not terrible. There's not much Scovillian punishment from the jalapeños and pepperjack, which is likely a testament to the amount of cheese sauce piled onto the burger. The moderately crisp onion rings get a little lost in the mix, but add decent texture. There's not much to say about the burger, it's your average fast food disc, dolled up with a little pepper and some unconventional toppings. While the "hot" portion isn't all it's cracked up to be, the "mess" certainly delivers. It's hard to unwrap the thing without getting a field sample of the cheesy compound on your fingers. The buttery sourdough bread is really the only thing that could hold up to such a sauce-intensive creation, and it does so very capably. It's good to see Jack in the Box incorporate the carb into a sandwich other than the Sourdough Jack.
For a burger that seems to be too gaudy to have much staying power, the newest offering by Jack is decent. Don't expect to be blown away by heat, grab extra napkins, and you'll be fine. Or, you know, you could just go here.