There is no haute cuisine at 7-Eleven. Unless, of course, you count hard-boiled eggs swimming in misty liquid packs, gigantic "beef" and bean burritos, and those somewhat unethical "nachos," for which you take the chips out of the plastic tray, fill the tray with free chili sauce, then try to get it past the clerk. So hearing that 7-Eleven had a new Diablo Chicken Ranch Sandwich, I headed to the closest store out of sheer curiosity, figuring the worst that could happen was I'd take a couple bites of a bad sandwich, then leave with my favorite Eleventy-meal: a big-ass burrito (which really does look the same going in as coming out -- woefully quick timing on that, BTW), garlic bread-flavored potato chips and a blue cherry Gatorade. See also: Del Taco, the friend-zone Mexican fast-food restaurant The official company word on the new sandwich: "It's hard to deny that the trendiest topics in food right now have been the pretzel bun and sriracha. Consumers can't seem to get enough of the doughy, salty pretzel bun and the red sauce with a kick. 7-Eleven has taken hold of the pretzel/sriracha frenzy and kicked it up a notch with its Diablo Chicken Ranch Sandwich. The new sandwich is made with sliced roasted chicken and topped with creamy white cheddar cheese, spicy, cool sriracha ranch sauce and crisp lettuce - all served on a soft, chewy pretzel roll."
Yes, pretzel buns are somewhat trendy and sriracha is always popular -- and rightly so. But the big question was how these things were going to make it through a convenience- store prep process and emerge both edible and attractive? I'm not just snarking 7-Eleven; other convenience stores have the same less-than-savory rep for grab & go munchies that include a lot of over-ripe/under-ripe fruit, salads of questionable ages and terrifically bad egg salad sandwiches that no level of hunger desperation would compel me to try a second time -- and I adore eggs.
The clerk at the 7-Eleven gave me a weird look when I asked him about the sandwich and pointed me toward the deli case. I spotted the sandwich, and gave it a look-see: nice-looking bun, bits of chicken and cheese poking out the sides, and a few peeks of pink sauce. The lettuce looked tried but the "sell-by" date hadn't passed, so I bought the sammie, went out to the car, unwrapped and took a bite. There was a decent portion of not-particularly-special lunch-meat chicken, and the white Cheddar was actually Cheddar, rather than some scary processed crap. The sriracha ranch was not only as advertised, but surprisingly spicy. But that bun! It was delicious and on its own worth the higher-than-expected $3.99 price tag. It was fat, salty, chewy and had that neato slick pretzel exterior. The more I chewed, the more I wanted. 7-Eleven sourced these very well; any filling would taste fine in this exquisite pretzel bun (except the egg salad.) I saw the clerk eyeballing me through the window. I don't blame him. Showing any sort of relish while eating a convenience-store sammie is...irregular.
The lettuce was the only hitch in my otherwise happy relishing -- for reasons unknown to me, these stores destroy lettuce. It's always wilted, frozen and waterlogged -- or any combination of those three things. This lettuce was both overly-hydrated and wilted.
Would I eat the Diablo Chicken Ranch sandwich again? Sure, as long as it hadn't spent too much time next to the egg salad.
Still, I went back into the store and bought a burrito, garlic bread chips and a blue cherry Gatorade. The clerk rang me up, noticeably relaxed now that I was acting convenience-store-normal again.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.