Costco's Food Court is beloved for a very simple reason: it's cheap and high-quality. I never order a hot dog anywhere else but can't resist picking one up for $1.50. Their pizza slices are generously sized and are a steal at just $1.99. Even the Chicken Bake, which is relatively “expensive” at $3.99 is an absolute steal.
So, like many Costco shoppers, I was amazed to see them drop a new item at $9.99. I decided to not only give the sandwich a review, but stack it up against every major Food Court item at once. Here's a spoiler: don't expect to find the roast beef sandwich on the menu for long.
Comparing the Roast Beef Sandwich to Costco's Other Food Court Items
There's no feeling of shame quite like sitting down at a table alone with about 3,000 calories worth of food. An elderly lady at the table across from me reflexively hit her husband and pointed me out like I was some kind of carnival attraction.
And yet, I ordered the roast beef sandwich along with all my other Costco Food Court favorites because I wanted to give it a fair chance. Incredibly, the whole meal you see above cost about $18, of which the majority of the cost was the roast beef sandwich.
Here's a breakdown of each price:
- Costco Hot Dog: $1.50
- Costco Pepperoni Pizza: $1.99
- Costco Chicken Bake: $3.99
- Costco Roast Beef Sandwich: $9.99
To say the roast beef sandwich is an outlier is an understatement. The joy of Costco's Food Court is that all the items would likely cost double at other stores.
And yet, the roast beef sandwich has no cheese. It's not toasted. It uses bulk ingredients not quite fit for it (more on this in a moment). While it's not a complete rip-off at $9.99, it's also curiously out of place.
The Review of Costco's Roast Beef Sandwich
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the picture above of the roast beef sandwich captures it well. In short, it's kind of a mess.
Does the Costco roast beef sandwich taste bad? The answer is no, it's perfectly fine. The roast beef is high quality, and it's flavorful. However, the sandwich is also aggressively unremarkable. Consider:
- There's no cheese on the sandwich. This struck me as an odd move. Some havarti cheese would have made an excellent addition and balanced the sandwich out.
- The mustard seems to be the exact same mustard in the food court that goes on hot dogs. This appears to have been done as a cost-saving move (the Food Court uses minimal ingredients to keep costs down). However, the mustard used on hot dogs isn't exactly a subtle flavor and not something you'd pick absent it already being bought in bulk for hot dogs.
- While the roast beef and bread are high quality, they're also similar (if not the same) to ingredients you can pick up in Costco. Costco sells outstanding rustic bread and roast beef in its grocery aisle. You could probably buy both these and make the same sandwich at home for $3 or $4. In addition, by making at home, you could add cheese and use better sauces than mustard intended for hot dogs.
This last point is most important, there's just simply nothing remarkable about the roast beef sandwich. There's a sense of awe about how Costco keeps their hot dogs (with a drink!) at $1.50. Chicken bakes from their deli taste better than making them at home. I couldn't easily recreate their pizza.
But the roast beef sandwich… Well, as I said earlier, it's just aggressively unremarkable.
How Long Will the Roast Beef Sandwich Last?
It's important to note that Costco is almost continuously tweaking its Food Court menu. While their hot dog is approaching its 40th anniversary at $1.50 (!!!), other items have come and gone. Costco eliminated Polish Hot Dogs (a personal favorite) to simplify their menu. While pizza remains $1.99 per slice, they also eliminated combo pizza slices.
During the pandemic, Costco also experimented with a beef brisket sandwich I really enjoyed that was a great deal at $4.99. Other items that have come and gone include acai bowls and even lattes.
So, you're left to wonder just why Costco decided to add the roast beef sandwich. The simplest explanation is they've been focusing more on “healthy” options. The roast beef sandwich isn't the world's healthiest choice at 790 calories, but you can also easily eat just half of it in a sitting and it's not greasy like pizza.
Still, there are already reports of the roast beef sandwich being pulled off menus, and my vote is this is one item that can't disappear fast enough. For a company where the founder once told his protege “I will kill you” if you raise the price of the $1.50 hot dogs, this is an item that definitely feels like Costco has lost sight of what makes its Food Court a cult favorite.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©MomsWhoThink /Eric Bleeker .