Drive-thru review: McDonald's brings taste of Southwest to McWraps lineup

By: Ken Hoffman King Features Syndicate
November 11, 2013
photo - Ken Hoffman - Drive Thru
Ken Hoffman - Drive Thru 

The Southwest Chicken McWrap is the latest addition to the Premium McWrap franchise at McDonald's.

There's a lot to like about McWraps. The thing I like best, though, is the unique packaging. McWraps are served in cardboard containers that tear in half, so you can eat McWraps on the move without touching the food or getting your hands and steering wheel all greasy. I hate when driving turns into a greased-pole contest.

Here's the new Southwest Chicken McWrap blueprint: slices of white-meat chicken - your choice of grilled (boneless and skinless fillet) or crispy (breaded and deep-fried fillet), spring greens, shredded cheddar cheese, tortilla strips, sliced tomato, cilantro-lime glaze and habanero ranch sauce tucked inside a soft, warm flour tortilla.

Given a choice between grilled, skinless, boneless, flavorless chicken and anything else - in this case, breaded, fried chicken strips - bring on the crispy.

Because a lot of the nutritional damage is wreaked by the habanero ranch sauce and the cheddar, the grilled version of the Southwest Chicken McWrap really isn't a skinny-mini alternative. It packs 520 calories and 20 fat grams. Still guilty, but with a reduced charge of diet-slaughter compared to crispy.

What sets the Southwest Chicken McWrap apart from other McWraps (Chicken & Bacon, Sweet Chili Chicken, Chicken & Ranch) is the creamy habanero ranch sauce. Usually fast-food chains appeal to the lowest common spice denominator - the kids in the back seat. But the habanero ranch sauce here is a definite kick in the pants. First bite: Whoo!

The Southwest Chicken McWrap has two other bonuses: The cilantro-lime glaze is subtle; your taste buds have to search for it, but it adds a distinctive flavor that you don't expect in the drive-thru. And the tortilla strips are fun. They're crunchy. I like when food talks back to you. Unfortunately, the tortilla chips have a brief shelf life. Eat 'em quick before they get soggy from the habanero sauce.

The Southwest Chicken McWrap is a handful of flavor and a decent value at $3.99. The only flaw is that maybe the habanero ranch is too strong - it dominates this wrap to the point that you might consider asking your McWrap master to go light on the sauce next time.

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