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I compared food courts at Sam’s Club and Costco, and this is why Costco comes out on top

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

  • Sam’s Club and Costco both have food courts where they sell hot dog and soda combinations for just $1.50
  • They have similar menus, though Costco sells churros and Sam’s Club has more drink options.
  • Costco wins because of a more flavorful hot dog and better ordering system. 

Costco is well known for its food court, which is beloved by members.Costco food court

Shoshy Ciment/

Sam’s Club, Costco’s biggest competitor, has a very similar food court with roughly the same prices.Sam's Club Food 15

Hollis Johnson/

I visited both food courts to see how they stack up.Sam's Club

Hollis Johnson/

First up, I went to Costco.costco food court

Kate Taylor/

I really appreciate the convenience of ordering at one of the many kiosks near the counter, which is especially useful as lines start to get long around meal timeCostco food court

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

I ordered a hot dog and soda combo, a slice of pizza, and a churro for $5.38.Costco food court

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The busy food court is very efficient, calling each order number as it’s ready.Costco food court

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

I picked up my food just a few minutes later and joined many other Costco customers to sit down and eat, though I typically take it with me to go.Costco food court tables

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The pepperoni pizza was large and smelled absolutely delicious.Costco food court pizza

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Holding it up to see the full size, it looks like nearly a quarter of a full-size pizza.Costco food court pizza

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Though it was a bit greasier than I’d prefer, I’d order it again any time.Costco food court pizza

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The pepperoni was perfectly crispy.Costco food court pizza

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

I also ordered my first churro from Costco, which was temporarily removed from menus during the pandemic.Costco food court churro

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

It was also quite large.Costco food court churro

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The churro was warm, sweet, and slightly cinnamon flavored. It’s now going to be part of my regular order.Costco food court churro

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Costco is most famous for its $1.50 hot dog and soda combination, so I had to try that, too.Costco food court

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Even though I’ve had Costco hot dogs before, I was still shocked at how hearty it was. It comes wrapped in a paper bag.Costco hot dog

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The bun was soft and warm, substantial enough to stand up to the hot dog without getting soggy.Costco hot dog

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The condiment section was less impressive. There was mustard, ketchup, and relish, but it was messy.Costco hot dog

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Even though it wasn’t pretty, a little ketchup was just what the hot dog needed.Costco hot dog

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Costco used to have onions out as a topping too, before the pandemic, but they haven’t returned yet at my location.Costco polish hot dog

Gary W./Yelp

The hot dog is already so flavorful, though, it doesn’t need more than the condiments Costco has available.Costco food court hot dog

Irene Jiang /

I was especially impressed by the texture of the hot dog, which wasn’t too wet or mushy.Costco food court hot dog

Irene Jiang /

Costco’s hot dogs are 100% beef, made in the company’s Kirkland Signature hot dog factories in Los Angeles and Chicago. The hot dog was a great deal, more than enough for a meal.Costco hot dog

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The drink selection wasn’t especially extensive, but it was enough to get the job done.Costco food court soda fountain

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Since my visit, Costco has raised the price of sodas and chicken bakes.Costco chicken bake soda price increase

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Source: Insider

Even with the higher prices, I found Costco’s food court to be basic but well done. It isn’t fancy, but everything it sells is high quality and affordable.Costco food court soda fountain

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Next up was Sam’s Club, which has a small food counter near a corner of the store.Sam's Club food court

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Though I visited at lunch time, it wasn’t busy at all and I was able to quickly order at the counter.Sam's Club food court register

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

While I waited for my food, I watched pizzas being prepared.Sam's Club food court pizza

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

I got the hot dog and pizza combos.Sam's Club food court receipt

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

My food was ready quickly, and I went to sit at one of the cafeteria style tables near the counter. They’re the same type as at Costco.Sam's Club food court tables

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Sam’s Club branded disinfectant wipes on each table were a nice touch.Sam's Club food court disinfectant wipes

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The pizza slice came on a paper plate while the hot dog was wrapped in paper.Sam's Club food court tables

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The cashier also handed me an empty soda cup branded with Costco’s private label, Member’s Mark, which I could fill myself.Sam's Club food court soda

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The soda fountain was large and impressive, with plenty of choices…Sam's Club food court soda fountain

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

…including lemonade, iced tea, and different sodas. It was much larger than Costco’s.Sam's Club food court soda fountain

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

I was especially drawn to this berry lime Mountain Dew flavor.Sam's Club food court soda fountain

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The slice of pizza I was served was massive.Sam's Club food court pizza

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Here it is next to my head for scale.Sam's Club food court pizza

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

It was delicious and not too greasy, definitely worth the $2.50 I paid.Sam's Club food court pizzas

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

I’m not sure I could distinguish between Costco and Sam’s Club pizza, so they were roughly on par.Sam's Club food court pizza

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

At first glance it looked similar to the Costco hot dog and came in the same paper bag, though it seemed a bit smaller.Sam's Club hot dog

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The bun was more plain and softer than the Costco bun.Sam's Club hot dog

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

However, I was impressed by the variety of condiments, like these large sauerkraut packets.Sam's Club hot dog

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

There was also ketchup, mustard, red pepper flakes, and parmesan.Sam's Club food court condiments

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The hot dog wasn’t bad, but it was much better topped with sauerkraut, ketchup, and cheese.Sam's Club hot dog

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

The hot dog itself was bland compared to Costco’s, and slightly soggy.Sam's Club Polish dog

Sam’s Club

For just $1.50, the Sam’s Club hot dog is definitely a great deal, but it doesn’t compare to Costco’s. Costco’s hot dog is so impressive that it doesn’t need them. It’s great with nothing but ketchup.Sam's Club hot dog

Mary Meisenzahl/Insider

Sam’s Club and Costco have very similar food courts, but Costco wins thanks to a superior hot dog, more convenient ordering and service, and delicious churros.Costco Food 23

Hollis Johnson

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected]

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