10 Costco Food Court Hacks You Should Know About

Close up view of Costco food court stock photo
Fang Zheng / iStock.com

For millions of Americans, Costco is the ultimate destination for buying everything from groceries to TVs. It’s also a favorite place for scoring fresh food on the go. The mega-warehouse club boasts a food court that has become famous for its inflation-proof $1.50 hotdog and soda combo. Customers can also buy chicken bakes, pizza and hot turkey and provolone sandwiches, among other tasty treats. 

Costco’s food court has developed a cult following, and like any food vendor with a legion of fans, it’s got all sorts of secrets patrons need to know about. Here are 10 Costco food court hacks to make your experience there the best it can be.  

The Freshest Food Is Served at Lunchtime

Lunchtime is the best time to purchase food court treats at Costco, not only because the food served up then is freshest, but because the lines are longest. This sounds counterintuitive. Why would a time when lines are long be the best time to stand in them? Because at Costco, longer lines mean more activity in the kitchen, which means fresher food. If you want a taste of pizza just out of the oven, peak wait times at lunch and on weekends are the times to go to Costco’s food court.  

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Buy Food Court Treats at the Checkout Register 

Long lines can be insufferable, and at Costco, they’re somewhat optional. At least, they are in the food court. If you’re visiting the food court when you exit the store, you can actually order food from there at the regular cash registers, provided you’re purchasing other items from the store. All you have to do is place your order with the cashier when paying and bring the receipt to the food court counter to pick up your food.

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Get Nutritional Stats

The food at Costco isn’t exactly known for its nutritional wonders. The treats are generally high in calories and fat. You may not even want to know the full dietary scoop on your food order; but you have the option of finding out if you so choose. 

Business Insider reported that a former Costco food court employee wrote on the (apparently now defunct) blog Addicted to Costco: “We will happily provide you with a print-out of the nutritional information. We keep them easily accessible in the food court with multiple copies. Don’t be afraid to ask!”

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Try the ‘Forbidden Glizzy’ on the Secret Menu 

Costco’s food court indulges its followers with a secret menu, meaning there are food items available that aren’t listed on the main menu. But you have to know what to ask for. The star product on the secret menu, according to hordes of fans, is the “Forbidden Glizzy.” What is this concoction with the tantalizing name? It’s a chicken bake combined with a bunless hotdog (you have to pay for each the chicken bake and the hotdog). You create a Forbidden Glizzy by stuffing the hotdog inside the chicken bake. It’s probably the unhealthiest snack in the world, but fans of the Costco food court swear by it. 

Make an Improv Root Beer Float 

At the Costco food court you can get nonfat frozen yogurt. If you want to jazz it up, order a root beer and combine the two experiences to make a root beer float. 

Call Ahead To Order Pizza

Costco is famed for its ginormous single slice of pizza, but did you know you can call the Costco food court ahead of time and order a whole pie? Yup! You can feed the whole family or a group of friends. Just call ahead to place the order. 

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Reheat Pizza Up To 48 Hours Later 

You don’t technically need to enjoy your pizza slice at Costco. In addition to having the ability to order a pie ahead, customers can also grab a slice and take it home for later. Costco food court pizzas can be reheated within up to 48 hours after purchase. Or you can just enjoy your slice of heaven cold after storing it for a night or two in the fridge. 

Ask an Employee What Wine Pairs Nicely With Your Order 

If you’re taking your Costco food court treats to go and want to make a formal dinner out of the experience, consider buying a wine that goes with your indulgence. Costco employees are trained to know which type of wines pair perfectly with each delectable menu item.  

Eat Before You Shop 

You may show up to Costco hungry, which is a bad idea. Why? Because you’ll probably buy more food while you’re there, which means spending more money on items you don’t really need. As a general rule of thumb, psychology says one should never go food shopping when hungry. Get your munching on at the food court before you shop so that when you do, you’ll be sated and able to focus on stocking up on what’s on your shopping list rather than what your tummy is grumbling for.

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Nab Free Ice 

Want to keep your refrigerated and frozen grocery items chilled on the ride home? Stop by the soda machine in the food court and fill a bag with ice. It’s on the house.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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