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Costco finds

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I've been frequenting this place recently and tried their rotisserie chicken. It was pretty darn good. Very moist and flavorful. Two of us had a feast then made chicken soup with the carcass and leftover meat with some veggies & noodles thrown in. I also bought a six-pack of Cattle Drive chili with beans. While not exactly gourmet eatin', it's pretty good for canned chili and makes a quick meal with some sourdough bread when you've got a hankering for that chili flavor. I also like the beef jerky they carry.

Anyone else a Costco junkie and have recommendations?

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  1. The chicken is well-known to Chowhounders everywhere, I believe -- I was first turned on to them by reading posts on this very board, in fact (I usually pass on supermarket-type roast chickens as a rule, so I was unaware of the Costco bird's superiority until being goaded to try them based on the reviews here). Not too many chow deals around like those birds.

    Every couple of days or so, someone seems to dig up another Costco item of surprising quality and trumpet about it on this board; my current guilty pleasure these days has been the white-chocolate-dipped chocolate/macadamia biscotti that come in an all-too-large plastic jar.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Mark Lee

      I love the salted mixed nuts (no peanuts) that come in a large tub with a blue top. They are excellent. And though it is not always available, the Kirkland Extra Virgin Olive Oil, in the tall green bottle, is a superior olive oil at an amazing price. I usually buy 4 or 5 of these bottles when I see them. The Greek Salad is quite good (I am not as fond of the Chinese Chicken Salad or the Caesar.) And other than a high end butcher, I do not think you can find better meat in town. Try their Ribeye steaks -- divine.

      1. re: Tom P

        I agree about the quality of the meat in general, and especially the ribeye steaks. Costco's steaks are choice grade, not the select grade that's generally in the supermarkets. If you look through the steaks, you can usually find some where the marbeling of the fat is equal to prime-grade meat. When you find these, snag 'em. They're a terrific bargain, and make wonderful eating.

        1. re: Tom Armitage

          Some of the best steaks I've ever had in my life have been Rib Eyes purchased at Sam's Club. On average, a Sam's Club Rib Eye with my own dry rub is a good notch better than anything Morton's or Ruth's Chris'can dish out. Of course, I can't conjure up that sinful Godiva desert that Morton's does, and that's worth the price of admission alone.

    2. The chicken is yummy! I also buy my Valbreso french feta cheese there (cheaper than anywhere). In the frozen section there is a turkey stuffed red pepper that I like. I prefer the Montolivo light olive oil myself. Don't get the carrot cake ... WAY too sweet!

      1. Every once in a while my wife brings home a lemon or chocolate bundt cake from the Costco in Chino Hills. The cakes come out of a bakery in San Diego and they are the best bundt cakes we have ever had. Moist, dense, lemony or choclaty.

        1. The boneless leg of Australian lamb.

          2 Replies
          1. re: HomeChef

            OH YES!! How could I forget....the lamb!

            1. re: HomeChef

              "The boneless leg of Australian lamb."

              Doesn't that make it difficult for them to stand up?

            2. Urbani Dried Porcini Mushrooms "First Choice" Grade 8 oz. $11.99

              Southern Cross Australian 8-rib cryo-vac, frenched rack of lamb c. $12.00

              Hass Avocados 5 for $4.79

              1. Aside from the perfectly decent and thoroughly yummy baked goods, the fine collection of reasonably priced wine, and the one pound bottles of whole peppercorns that seem impossible to find at the local grocery stores, I am quite enamored with Costco's meat market.

                Pork chops are cut a nice inch-and-a-quarter-or-so thick, all the better in staying moist while cooking. Steaks (mmm; rib eye) are equally thick, big enough for two portions, and rich and beefy. I also like the fact that I can purchase whole sides of salmon. I can cut filets to sizes of my liking. Or, at such decent prices, I frequently purchase two sides and make gravlax, or whatever flavor cure I can indulge in.

                On the one hand, it's too bad that such quality to price is not available to everyone. But on the other hand, it's a good thing Costco is not overrun by the general public. Heck, it's crowded enough in there sometimes.

                25 Replies
                1. re: Daniel C

                  Absolutely it's available to everyone... you just have to pay the yearly membership which we usually recuperate just on the first trip.

                  It's Sam's Club that is (or was?) not open to the general public - you couldn't walk in and get a membership unless you worked for a public agency or were a teacher... it was something like that, anyway. I don't know if they've cut that rule, there isn't a Sam's Club anywhere near here.

                  1. re: PRSMDave

                    That's strange. I thought it was the other way around--Costco is open only to retailers, and Sam's Club is open to the public. Perhaps the Costco policy has since changed after they swallowed up Price Club? Or did Price Club change in Costco? And wasn't Sam's Club spun off from Costco as an effort profit from the general public? And, wasn't it Fedco that was open only to teachers or those in a public agency?

                    And the confusion sets in....

                    1. re: Daniel C

                      Costco has different membership "levels." For a few dollars more, I'm an executive member and get periodic rebates. Anybody can join.

                      1. re: mc michael

                        Or, if you own your own business (like me! hence Flower Fetish) you don't pay tax on resale items...I have the Costco AMEX and get a rebate at the end of every year!

                        1. re: mc michael

                          So when are you going to open your food co-op. You can rent a big truck, back it up to Costco every week and fill it up and bring it home. All the Chowhounders will come to your house and buy the stuff off of you and you can quit your day job and live on the Costco rebates.

                          Sounds like a plan to me...

                          1. re: Chino Wayne

                            You can rent a big truck, back it up to Costco every week and fill it up >>
                            Actually, the Costco thing has gotten so bad/good around my house, my wife saves up plastic bags so that when she's making a run she'll be able to load more stuff in the car rather than using all the cardboard boxes they put stuff in at the store.

                            1. re: mc michael

                              Sounds like the wife knows what she is doing, as long as she doesn't come home one day with a new set of snow tires because she "got such a good deal on them".

                              -Sign me:

                              Husband Of The Queen Of Bargain Hunters

                              1. re: Chino Wayne

                                Actually, I bought some Bridgestone's there. Not snow tires though.

                                1. re: mc michael

                                  *Bridges*tones are okay for those rainy days when you encounter a flash flood, but you really wanta have some *Fire*stones on those days when there is snow to cut through...

                                  1. re: Chino Wayne

                                    You are a brave man, Wayne. You are the only person who has said anything positive about Firestone in years. Anyway, the Bridgestones were priced right and had the rating I needed to replace some worndown Dunlops.

                                    1. re: mc michael

                                      I tried to replace my old Dunlops, but the new little round green ones wouldn't fit on my cars wheels...wonder what I was doing wrong?

                                      1. re: Chino Wayne

                                        Sounds like you were buying wheels for inline skates.

                                        1. re: mc michael

                                          The other funny thing was I needed to replace Dunlops for four wheels, but they only came in cans of three...

                                          1. re: Chino Wayne

                                            Shoulda bought the 12 pack.

                                      2. re: mc michael

                                        Not as brave/foolhardy as you may think. Firestone is something the masonry contractor uses when he builds a fireplace, not a tire I would buy. I did try to replace my old Dunlops with new Dunlops, but the new ones, besides being round and neon green were way too small for my wheels...

                                        (Tonue in cheek.)

                          2. re: Daniel C
                            Christine Vallejo

                            Sam's Club is a spin-off of WalMart (Sam Walton) and is membership only - don't know what determines eligibility. We were killing time recently near a club and they wouldn't even give us a free tour to see if we liked the place.

                            You're right on Fedco's requirements - are they still in existence? I am in NoCal these days but when I did live in SoCal and worked for the government, I had a Fedco membership long before Edward Price opened up his club (back in the days when the membership card was made of blue cardboard and could be loaned to friends as long as they paid cash - there were two prices posted - one for businesses and one for regular members).

                            Everybody raves about the Hebrew Natl. polish dogs, but I always thought Sinai were better.

                              1. re: Ray

                                Strangely, there's a Fedco gas station on Virgil. Doubt it's related to the old stores.

                                1. re: mc michael
                                  Vital Information

                                  Is this the same Fedco where I sit on the bench with the other old men while Ms. VI shops for discount shampoo in Miami Beach?

                                  1. re: Vital Information

                                    Is this the same Fedco >>
                                    I don't know but I doubt it. The Fedco in California shut down and most of it's stores turned into other discounters like Target. When it started up in the late 60s-early 70s, it was following in the steps of some other discounters that had certain membership requirements sort of like belonging to a PX. You had to be military, ex-military, government employee, teacher, friend of a person with a card who once knew someone who once was drafted but got a dishonorable discharge, etc. The aisles were impossibly crowded and the checkout lines interminable. But it was cheaper.

                                    1. re: mc michael

                                      I was a "member", so of course would get the monthly "newsletter", which was mostly about sale items. But also reported on the "corporation". I always thought Fedco was an interesting concept though, especially for those who ran the place. They billed themselves as a non-profit corporation. I think what that really meant was that the people who ran the show (i.e. the corporate officers, and professional managers) probably paid themselves very handsomely, since they didn't have to cough up any corporate income taxes, and since it was probably a privazte corporation without any public stockholders expecting any return on their investment.

                                      Seemed like a nice legal tax dodge, I wonder if Ken Lay, or those folks over at Global Crossing were members?

                              2. re: Christine Vallejo

                                Fedco is defunct as it should be. It may have been good years ago, but it went downhill in its last 10 years or so. Positioning the Ontario Fedco right next to the municipal sewage plant probably wasn't the most brilliant marketing idea...

                                1. re: Chino Wayne
                                  Christine Vallejo

                                  Next to the muni sewage plant? Oy.

                                  I left SoCal back in 1983. The Fedco I frequented was in San Bernardino in a not-too-safe area then, so heaven knows what it was like when Fedco closed its doors.

                              3. re: Daniel C

                                Fedco and Sam's Club had the same rules... I think Fedco is gone now. Sam's Club is owned by the Waltons of Wal*Mart fame. Costco and Price Club merged a few years ago... some of them were called Price Costco for a while but I think they're all Costco now.

                                Smart & Final is food-service stuff only and is non-membership, and BJ's Warehouse is like Costco but I believe it's cheaper.

                                Because I'm a business member, I get extended hours (i.e., they open at 11:00 to business members and noon to the hoi polloi) and a consideration on resale items but that's about it.

                                Heh. Better?

                                1. re: PRSMDave

                                  >Heh. Better?

                                  Well, it could be worse, I suppose. :-)

                                  In any case--I like Costco, I can enter Costco; I'm happy.

                          3. Hi, my name is Bob and I am a Costco junkie.

                            That being said, overall the Costco meat department is exceptional, with USDA Choice grade beef rather than Select. Decent prices, maybe not the lowest in town, but you'll never get ripped off.

                            As for Costco "food finds", one of my favorties is the house-brand Kirkland Vanilla Ice Cream. It is excellent -- very creamy, good vanilla flavor, and a bargain compared to other premium brands. ANother favorite is their Chocolate covered raisins, the best I have had anywhere. Next would be their gourmet hamburger buns, a long-time buy in our house -- great seeded buns at an amazing price. One thing I miss is the Butterball Turkey Breast Roasts -- they were great.

                            I think Sam's Club compares well to Costco in most areas as well. The meat is excellent, maybr not quite as good as Costco's but it is generally a little less expensive. The big plus for Sam's CLub in my mind is that they sell SINGLE gallons of milk at a reasonable price, and if you live in SoCal, you'll know that's a rarity.

                            1. Killer Polish dogs & decent pizza to go. Is there stuff inside, too?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Mr Grub

                                I've been eating their hot dogs for decades. It's the cheapest lunch in town. And their pizza slices are monstrous!

                                1. re: Mr Grub

                                  I can't leave Costco without one of their churros, either.

                                2. I have to second most of the motions already stated. I really enjoy the pies and cakes, chocolate covered raisins, and Hebrew National dogs up front.

                                  I'm most happy with the meats. I most frequently buy the Rib-Eye, boneless chicken breasts, country style pork ribs, and salmon. The meats are soooo good! Definitely a noticable difference from your average supermarket meats.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Ethan T.

                                    And it's Julia Child's favorite place for buying meat! As far as I'm concerned, Julia's right again, we buy all our meats bought in quantity. Especially good is the rack of lamb and the filet steaks.

                                    1. re: Patrick D.

                                      I shop at Costco several times a week and have been a member since 83. The Executive card is the way to go and I earn the 500- rebate very quickly which more than makes up for the 100- annual cost. I'm not as much as a fan of the Steak dept based on my own comparisons. I used to think the meat was really good(which it is compared to the big supermarkets) but it doesn't compare to the premium brands out there like CERTIFIED BLACK ANGUS , PRIME, or STERLING SILVER. There is a huge difference. At a recent party I cooked Costcos and Certified together and WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!

                                      1. re: russkar

                                        My husband and I did the same over New Year's: we cooked prime Filet from Gelson's and choice from Costco. Although we loved the Costco price, the prime Filet was far above and beyond the choice Filet making the choice not worth the savings in money. If you're going to have Filet Mignon spend the extra $5 to $10. It's worth it.

                                        However, we still buy plenty of our meat from Costco, especially chicken and pork tenderloin. Good stuff.

                                        1. re: lala

                                          Your very wise. Money isn't everything and besides can you imagine the looks on the faces of those who buy the cheap beef that eat the euthanased pets thats in there feed, I didn't want to believe it either but it's true ( ground cats and dogs, no kidding). YUK! (I'm sticking to my GRAIN fed Kansas beef)

                                          1. re: russkar

                                            I really need to know where you read this info on the dead animals in the feed. Please respond!

                                            1. re: johanna

                                              Guys....this is destined to explode into a big sprawling off-topic thread, and we work hard to keep this LA board focused on finding good chow in LA.

                                              If you really need to discuss dead pets in animal feed, or conspiracy theories on mad cow disease, or anything else of that nature, please do it on our Not About Food board.

                                              We'd appreciate your help in keeping this board on-topic for the good of all hounds. I'll instruct our moderaters to delete any further postings along those lines here.


                                  2. We love Costco - last year we signed up for their executive membership and more than got our fee back in rebates (we were regular members for years). I agree on the previous posts about their meat and fish - always very good. We often like to buy steaks (especially the filet) and fish and grill them outside for a great meal. Other great finds: their large jar of cashews and their cans of blue crab (in the refrigerator section.

                                    In response to membership comments below: Costco, Price Club, and Sam's Club all had restrictive membership policies when they started. All that has seemed to change - I believe now anyone can join.

                                    1. I forgot to mention the flank steak rolled with chunks of portabella mushrooms...great on the grill!

                                      1. I like the chicken and the ribs are pretty tasty and a bargain to boot. Alaskan king crab legs , when they have them at ~$10/pound, woohoo!, go to town! Use all those spent cashew nut containers all around the kitchen.

                                        1. The Shepherds bread and the chocolate chip cookies.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: PHIL

                                            Make that Sheepherder's bread.

                                          2. v
                                            Vital Information

                                            We too, in Chicago, are big Cosco fans. Now, I have not read *every* post in this thread, but a couple of fav's that I did not see mentioned:

                                            - Coffee, "roasted by starbucks" at half the price

                                            - little cups of rice pudding. i thank my parents for discovering them

                                            - the muffins

                                            - last time we were there, they were offering these samples of semi-frozen whipped cream in puff pastry (i think freezing them was an oak brook inovation). It was amazing how me and the kids had to keep on returning to that aisle for new things.


                                            1. I totally agree the "already" Roasted Chix is wonderful but unfortunately it is brined with tons of Salt which I'm sure can't be to healthy. So I've switched back to Roasting my own, at least I have control of how it's seasoned and why rush the big Heart Attack aka Chowhound Kryptonite.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: russkar

                                                If you're roasting your own chix, I couldn't recommend more highly the chicken man at the Hollywood Farmer's Mkt. His fresh organic free range roasters which are bought by many fine restaurants are superb, pricey but well worth it. When Sheryl roasted one a few weeks ago, it came out on a par with the roast chicken at Patina--and that is saying a lot. And you can salt according to your taste. They also sell parts which are great. And eggs.

                                                1. re: russkar

                                                  Agree that it's rather salty. You definitely can't make a whole meal out of just the chicken; you have to eat bread with it.

                                                2. j
                                                  john gonzales

                                                  I remember joining the first Price Club in Pacific Beach back in the college days (82). I can't imagine how much money I've spent there. Nice to know that Sol Price has donated huge sums of money, much of it to UCSD (alma matre).
                                                  I love the all-beef hot dog & soda combo at the snack bar to get me primed for:
                                                  Wine (lots of it, very cheap for all qualities)
                                                  Pork Tenderloin
                                                  Alaskan King Crab Legs and Jumbo Shrimp
                                                  Tins of lump crabmeat for crabcakes
                                                  La Brea Bakery Roasted Garlic Loaves
                                                  Noahs Bagels
                                                  Newhall Roasters Coffee
                                                  Yoshidas Gourmet Sauce (on salmon or in turkey burgers)
                                                  To go cooked ribs
                                                  More ziplocs and red go-cups than one can use

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: john gonzales

                                                    Ha, I hear ya. I still refer to Costco as the Price Club. I think it's more catchy than Costco. I only used the new name for the benefit of others.

                                                    1. re: john gonzales
                                                      Christine Vallejo

                                                      I'm older - I joined in the 70s and had a blue cardboard membership card.

                                                      His first name was Sol? Doh! I thought it was Ed but maybe Edward Price is some other shadowy figure in my rapidly deteriorating memory.

                                                      And it was a great day when fresh meat was introduced at Price Club/Costco, rather than those bags of frozen chicken parts that I was never sure were breasts...or?

                                                    2. Love those white chocolate chip macadamia cookies (sometimes you can get them when they're still warm). Also, their cakes are good (and cheap) and are always smothered in tons of gooey, sweet frosting (my favorite).

                                                      1. v
                                                        Vanessa On The Town

                                                        Last time we went to Costco we got some great buffalo mozzarella; some wonderful mini, multi-colored sweet bell peppers which we grilled and stored in a little olive oil and ate all week in sandwiches and as appetizers and such; and a huge salmon fillet that was used for salmon tartar and gravlox. I have to try one of those hot dogs next time I go!