No one really wants to eat in Costco's food court. You do it because pushing an oversized cart full of enormous mayo jars and gallons of laundry detergent works up a hearty appetite that even the most generous end-of-aisle sample can't satisfy.
The food court's like a greasy light at the end of a very well-stocked tunnel. But not all items are created equal. To sort the good from the bad, I -- a Costco virgin with a brand-new card -- rolled into the mega-store and ordered one of everything in order to save you some post-shopping heartache. And heartburn. Here's how it all stacked up.
9. Polish sausage
They say you eat with your eyes, and if that is true, then my retinas were woozy before this wrinkly, green pepper-bedazzled sausage even hit my lips. It looked like Donatella Versace's big toe after a three-hour dip in the Adriatic Sea. And it tasted minty. Pass.
8. Hot dog
I'm not a snob. I'll eat two dirty-water dogs for breakfast without blinking an eye. So when I discovered people swear by Costco's version, I got excited. But this hot dog was just… odd. When I bit into it, it actually kind of exploded. Like the innards were just dying to get out after years of captivity. Those innards were crazy-salty, off-puttingly greasy, and kind of mealy.
I will say this, though: The bun is delicious. It's super-soft and a little Wonder Bread-esque. So maybe get a crate of Kirkland buns before you go. Then literally any other brand of hot dog.
7. Chicken Caesar salad
What do you get when you put a pile of iceberg lettuce, a mound of chicken chunks, and a pinch of half-frozen shredded cheese into a big plastic bowl with a lil' cup of Caesar dressing and a questionably low price point? You get Costco's de facto "healthy item."
It's not bad, per se. It's just incredibly basic. And since it doesn't explode in your mouth or look like my grandpa's thumb, it has an advantage over at least two things in the food court
6. Turkey provolone sandwich
This was surprisingly intense. With cheese, herbs, and Italian dressing flavor coming out like a firework grand finale of deli tastes, it was actually kind of hard to eat. It tastes like a turkey sandwich, times 1,000. Like Costco's R&D department was like, "Hey, let's make this turkey sandwich taste like a turkey sandwich that's stuffed with a turkey sandwich that was made with turkeys who have been fed a strict diet of only turkey sandwiches for their entire lives." Which is to say, it's a bit much for such a simple concept.
5. Berry sundae/chocolate vanilla swirl
They were… I mean, yeah…. they're fine. It's soft-serve ice cream. It's hard to screw this up.
4. BBQ brisket sandwich
In real life, this actually looked better than it did on the stock menu shot, which hardly ever happens. The brisket tasted…. agreeable? Yes, yes it did. I'm still kind of surprised by that. The coleslaw that came lovingly atop was also fresh, and that Wonder Bread-esque bun held it all together. A+.
But here's the catch (there's obviously a catch): The BBQ sauce was one of the weirdest things I've ever tasted. It was sweet, and not subtly so. More like, "Wait, did they melt 300 Skittles and put them on top of this brisket? Why did they do that?" Like the turkey sandwich, it was hard to eat because it was just too much. A couple bites in and my taste buds were begging me to suck on some seaweed. Or perhaps lick the bottom of my shopping cart wheel. I tried both.
3. Chicken bake
People legitimately love this thing, which is kind of like a mutant Hot Pocket stuffed with chicken, three kinds of cheese, bacon, and Caesar salad dressing. That weird mishmash of flavors turns out to taste like somebody hollowed out a jumbo-sized breadstick and filled it with Chunky Pub Style Chicken Pot Pie™ soup. Which, as you can tell by its placement on this list, is not a bad thing.
Like everything else in the food court, it's strangely soft and chewy. It actually tastes like somebody took a Funfetti cake, sucked out the Funfetti (but kept the fun!), stuck that inside a sugar-coated tube the size of my forearm, and covered it in cinnamon. It is not "authentic." I do not care. It's soft and cakey and delicious. I have nothing snarky to say about it. And I never will.
Pizza is like sex. It's always good, unless it burns your mouth and then adds insult to injury by calling you nine months later saying, "Hey, you have to give me money for the next 18 years because we forgot to use a napkin."
You know what I mean.
At any rate, the pizza at Costco isn't what you would call "great." You wouldn't be like, "Hey Grade-School Soccer Team, let's all celebrate today's win with a nice big Costco pizza!" But you would be like, "Hey honey, let's drown our sorrows in pre-packed cheese and concerningly soft dough after we're done buying 1,800 rolls of toilet paper."
It's a product of its time and place. And its place is Costco, its time is whenever you have a minute to pull your overstuffed cart over. It serves this moment in your life near perfectly. And for that, it deserves a second of your recognition. Or at least a casual head nod as you plan your escape from the store.
Oh, and get the plain cheese, as the toppings only dilute this pizza's bargain-basement greatness. Trust me. I ate every hypnotizing inch of it.
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