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quality of costco meats and seafood

I live in Queens, and other than Trader Joe's, I know of no other places to buy fresh, quality meats and seafood that is reasonably priced. Currently, there is a Costco in LIC, and another one coming soon to Rego Park. I was thinking that maybe joining would help me get better food at a better price, but would appreciate some input from those who have already experienced Costco to share. I'm looking to purchase chicken breasts, ground beef, steak, shrimp and salmon. Could anyone share their opinions of what the quality is like for these products at Costco? Thanks a lot.

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  1. Well, Costco does vary from region to region and maybe even store to store. I will speak from overall view having sampled the goods in various locations.
    Steak-Their choice is terrible, their prime is usually very good value even at the rapacious stores that charge 12/lb, at 10, it is a no brainer. Not the greatest prime beef on earth but the value is excellent. It is still very good beef, straight up.
    Ground beef-Never buy this
    Chicken breasts-Never had from Costco
    Shrimp-Solid, worth it, overall, go wild if they have and smaller count/larger size.
    Salmon-Don't know, looks OK, price, not sure.

    Overall Costco is good for a few specific items, depending on where you live and what else is readily available.

    4 Replies
    1. re: dietndesire

      I buy all my meats and seafoods from Costco and have never been disapointed. Their Prime Rib roasts during holidays melt in your mouth. The ground hamburger has always been excellent! Salmon and other seafood excellent as well!

      1. re: dietndesire

        I would say unless you buy organic hamburger, Costco is, to the contrary, the ONLY place you should buy ground beef. There was a terrific expose in the New York Times about hamburger processing, and Costco is one of the only retailers with a rigorous testing process for pathogens in ground beef.

        I've had good luck with the meats I've bought at Costco, mostly the roast chicken and pork, some lamb. This is another one of those hippie-ish health concerns but one of the only things that bothers me about their packaging is that is has a lot of plastic cling wrap in contact with the surface of the meat. In an ideal world, it would be healthier not to.

        1. re: dietndesire

          Perhaps dietndesire meant "I never buy ground beef", not "You should never buy ground beef from Costco."

          1. re: dietndesire

            my god! where do you live?
            Costco's choice beef is Best in the Country, and I love it WAY more than most prime.
            Ground Beef from Costco is awesome -- mostly. Steak trimmings (and brisket) all the way.

            Maybe you like fat a lot more than I do.

          2. I go to Manhasset Whole Foods for freshly ground white turkey (get it the day it comes in) and buy a bunch and freeze them, use them for meatballs and burgers---for ground beef, either buy it from whole foods and freeze, or I go to Mitch's (Metro Meats) on Metropolitan ave in Forest Hills also for ground beef--he does it right in front of you so you can see the meat he's taking it from, he also has very good fresh bell and evans chicken breasts on the bone, or boneless, and the best prices anywhere I've seen--I either get it there or from whole foods in Manhasset---For steak, I don't eat it very often, but I like it from whole foods, and I also think Iavarone in New Hyde Park has a very good selection, and Costco is fine, also---Costco also sells organic chicken breasts that alot of people like, they are in a package---I also buy the frozen shrimp at Costco, I think they are fine, and good price..and most shrimp is frozen anyway most places and defrosted, except for fresh wild shrimp or maine shrimp---They have a huge selection of shrimp and many kinds of octopus at Park's seafood in Whitestone, but the place is so unsavory looking to me-- and it stinks inside which I don't like in a fish market, but they do appear to have a pretty good selection on lots of things, but prices were not inexpensive my any means, considering the lack of ambiance or cleanliness.....

            I don't buy stuff like that from Trader Joe's because the sources are questionable and they are always having recalls of their stuff like that...Also, when Costco has the wild salmon that's a good value, too. Also, stop and shop has the Nature's promise brand of meats and steaks and they are not bad, either--go to the one on Union Tpke in Forest Hills/Glendale.

            7 Replies
            1. re: janie

              Janie, about trader joe's I keep a vague eye on things but I can't recall anything about "the sources are questionable" and "always having recalls". When they have it I get the WILD SMOKED SALMON at COSTCO; TJ has it in stock more often and the price is about the same. I don't know if it's expecting too much but when I buy fresh at COSTCO [like I did 3.5 - the label said packaged 3/5 best before 3/11 the same evening when I unpacked there was a definite stench!! OK used immediately but I'm sure would be putrid 3/11.

              1. re: micheal

                Thanks for all the replies, I appreciate them!

                As to Trader Joe's recalls, I am not janie, but I can tell you that just about every time I've shopped at TJ's I see a notice posted on their cash registers advising the recall of one of their products. Last week it was for granola bars, and prior to that many other items I cannot recall.

                I'm pretty much done with shopping at TJ's. I bought some ground beef from them and had to throw it away the other day. I should've known better since it was a weird shade of pink/red that I've never seen. Worse still, they wouldn't cook through, even after almost 15 minutes! Any "normal" meat would've been dead/well done by that point, lol. Other meats I've purchased there were simply not up to par either, although the prices were high in my opinion.

                I will give COSTCO a try now and hopefully they will be a good fit for me.

                1. re: cherrypoprocks

                  Appreciate the info. but maybe another way of thinking about it is this - maybe TJ is doing a stellar job of highlighting stuff/problems - when have we seen notices like this posted at cash registers anywhere else???
                  Sorry,nothing to say on the awful ground beef!

                  1. re: micheal

                    TJ's meat is not very good, but I'm with Michael on the recall stuff--first I read about some sort of salmonella contamination in a plant somewhere in the paper and then I see a prominent recall notice at TJ's, whereas at Fairway or my local Met food, both of which also carry products affected by the recall, I never see a notice. So I give TJ's credit for making sure that recalls (usually not because of their processing but one of their suppliers who supplies everyone) are prominently displayed.

                  2. re: cherrypoprocks

                    at least with costco, if you don't like it bring back what you didn't consume... most people won't do that, but the fact is they allow you to...funny story, was in the return line many years ago, and this guy was in front of me with a bag full of steak bones, must have been over 70 in steaks..and he slams them down on the counter and says, "these steaks were tough as nails", the costco cashier, politely says, oh, sorry about that, and refunds his money.

                    1. re: janie

                      I understand that their practice is to smile, enter the transaction in the computer, and if there are a few more like this to refuse to renew the membership card..
                      I learned this when I gav e back about 60% of a striploin for a full refund, complaining about too much fat. I was both peeved and diffident. No problem at customer service.

                    2. re: cherrypoprocks

                      I have never shopped at Trader Joe's because there isn't one close to me but to rule them out because of the recall notices in the checkout area is absurd. All stores have recalls but they just don't post them for their customers to receive. Trader Joe's is just trying to help you out. Try doing a search of Walmart recalled products some time. You'll find dozens of food products but they will never post them in their store. I think its a shame that you throw a grocer out as a place to shop because they're being more honest than other stores.

                2. Hi cherrypoprocks,

                  At Costco, I've liked their roasted chickens, as well as the (uncooked) boneless skinless chicken thighs in the handy sealed packages. I haven't had the chicken breasts.

                  Costco is also a place I'll go for a decent brisket.

                  Their frozen shrimp for me has been ok in the past but nothing special.

                  Ciao,

                  Glendale is hungry...

                  1. Our Costco simply has the best meat in town.

                    We are blessed with a local fish supplier, so they one up Costco on seafood. Though Costco seafood is not bad.

                    For pork butts and brisket I hit our local Cash n Carry, a part of Smart n Final. Costco here does not do butts and brisket.

                    1. Mom says the lamb chops are great. If Mom says, I believe.

                      1. Costco has great prices on individually packaged chicken breasts and tenders - decent quality although not as good as the White Gem brand at Stop and Shop...the frozen shrimp would be a good option for a party or a soup ...it is OK but not superior taste or quality...fresh salmon is OK also although the price has increased to $8.99 per pound...the prepared shrimp with cilantro and lime sauce in th prepared food section is really good at $7.99 per pound...the fresh tuna is good , not outstanding...

                        1. i go to the brooklyn costco. they carry coleman organic chicken at a decent price and they also carry organic ground beef. occaisionally i buy the prime rib steaks from them (not organic) but i wouldn't purchase choice. i buy their frozen wild sockeye salmon and it's good and, like this type, leaner.

                          1. I've bought excellent meat at Costco. Prime meat is not always the best, just because it's labeled prime. Good meat has several indicators, one being marbled, but not thickly marbled. The size of the bone also indicates how old the beef is before going to slaughter. It's not a bad idea to learn a little bit on how to identify quality through reading or even taking a class which some cooking schools give. In general, the quality of beef is very good at Costco and the quality of the racks of lamb are excellent( if you know how to pick it out)

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: son of a butcher

                              I bought the prime NY strips a couple of weeks ago and they were very, very good. Costco now also sells Peter Luger creamed spinach for something like $7 bucks.

                              1. re: son of a butcher

                                Son: Great point about learning to choose meat.

                                I would love to hear a tip or two on how to choose rack of lamb! I buy this infrequently and when I do it is usually from a butcher. How to tell good from great on this cut?

                                1. re: erica

                                  The NZ rack of lamb is a great price at Costco. I can't compare the quality because I have only purchased it at Costco

                                  1. re: LAC06488

                                    Always buy American lamb, It's fresh. NZ and Aussie lamb is always frozen.

                                  2. re: erica

                                    i learned the hard way. I used to go with my father to the 14th Street market about 4AM when the truckers were unloading meat from the midwest. Back in the 60's, the best lamb was raised in Kentucky. Now domestic lamb of high quality is raised in Colorado. However, the lamb at Costco, from New Zealand is excellent.

                                    To pick out good racks, make sure the bones are thin. This is a good indicator that the lamb is young. the eye should be as large as possible with a fine grain running through it. As far as cooking it, I prefer to make it in the oven on the highest heat possible, cooked whole. I like my lamb rare.. I usually stick my finger on top of the meat. If it has a lot of give, I let it cook some more. Then I take it out of the oven, and let it sit for five minutes, and then cut it in between the bones. Add a good mashed potato, and some sauteed mushrooms and onions, and I'm good to go.

                                    1. re: son of a butcher

                                      SOB: Thank you so much! I buy it only rarely, usually at Florence Meat Market. They cut down the entire rack and make shish kebabs with the meat they slice off to make the trimmed rack. But it is much pricier than Costco--costs me something like $40!!!

                                      I may be joining Costco soon and will keep your tips in mind...

                                      Any less pricey butchers you recommend, in Manhattan??

                                  3. re: son of a butcher

                                    Costco is the largest meat outlet in the US in terms of tonnage. They must be doing something right.

                                    Their lamb is almost always from New Zealand or Australia, always excellent, and always a couple of bucks a pound cheaper than anywhere else.

                                  4. I finally took a look at the Rego Park Costco to see if it was worth joining. I can't say I was impressed. Since the place is overwhelming, I just went to the areas that I care about most...meat and seafood. The prime steaks looked decent, but I generally eat prime only on the rare occasions when I go to a steakhouse. When I cook at home, I try to get grass fed if possible. I saw no grass fed beef, just organic chopped meat in quantities that were greater than I needed. Checking out the seafood, I saw ordinary tiger shrimp in huge packages. Pre-cooked Dungeness crabs for $5.99/lb...King crab for $16.99/lb, and ordinary farm raised salmon. I can walk a few minutes further to Elmhurst...get the same salmon and shrimp in smaller portions for the same price or less...king crab for much cheaper, and live dungeness crabs for the same price as the frozen pre-cooked ones. I don't think Costco is for me.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: EricMM

                                      Here is yet another article warning of the dangers of eating farmed seafood

                                      http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/4019812...

                                      While Costco does sell plenty of farmed seafood, they also sell wild sockeye salmon (frozen) from Alaska. I think it's a little expensive, but I still buy it because I refuse to eat farmed fish.

                                      EricMM (or anyone else): where do you find grass fed beef in Queens? I'd love to try it, but have never seen it being sold in my borough.

                                      1. re: cherrypoprocks

                                        I buy grass fed at Whole Foods in Manhasset, but I believe they have it at the Kosher place on Woodhaven--Aron's http://www.aaronsgourmet.com/
                                        but that place completely turned me off in their complete lack of presentation--and rancid smell....something about the smell of kosher butchers turns my stomach. --I also don't like things brought to me from the back, I like to see what I'm buying--but you might want to give it a try and report back. ---I know that Mitch from Metro Meats has said he would order if enough people wanted it--but it never really worked out--however, he does have the freshest chicken breasts on the bone in queens, and yes, I've tried many many places!
                                        But, for ground white turkey breast, and grass fed, I still head to whole foods--they always do the turkey fresh for me, I go the day they get a delivery and buy a lot and freeze it..my kid lives on turkey meatballs,and meatloaf....

                                        -----
                                        Metro Meats
                                        102-23 Metropolitan Ave, Queens, NY 11375

                                        1. re: janie

                                          Butchers always smell bad to me, kosher or not. I've always gone in the back when I go to Aarons....but the owner knows me from his high school days...I taught (still do) in his school. I do like his hanger steak. I'm not a fan of rib-eye, so I've never tried his. Natural on Austin St. now sells 100% grass fed chopped meat and NY strip steaks from Uruguay. I have seen rib-eye sold also, but its usually strip. I tried it last week, and it was very good. I had made a mushroom sauce to go with it, and it tasted so good I barely touched the sauce. Trader Joe's on Metro has grass fed ground beef. They used to carry 100% grass fed steaks when they first opened, but I haven't seen them in a long time. I am not a fan of the frozen wild salmon I have gotten from TJ's and Whole Foods...it just always seems too dry, and something just not right about the taste. Not spoiled, but it just....doesn't taste good to me.

                                          1. re: EricMM

                                            I wouldn't patronize any butcher shop that has a bad odor, but I know where the odor is coming from: the fat barrels. A good butcher shop does not smell bad. After the fat is picked up, the barrels should be washed out with very hot water and ammonia. If the shop does not do that, the barrels will render a terrible odor.

                                    2. From about mid-June through October you can buy wild Pacific coast salmon at Costco that is of great quality and reasonably priced. It's a constantly changing rotation that includes sockeye, coho and king salmon. For a few bucks less you can get the farmed stuff but why?
                                      I generally buy a couple of pounds of it late in September and cut it up and freeze it. This carries me though to January at which point I get the frozen wild Pacific salmon from TJ's which is pretty tasty. I have yet to try Costco's frozen wild salmon but have heard that it's good.

                                      The only prime meats I've seen at Costco have been boneless cuts (I don't care for boneless steaks) and the packages are too big for me. They do sell organic ground sirloin in a cryovac package that is ok.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: EM23

                                        the frozen fish at TJ' s always tastes fishy or has bad texture to me--the shrimp is ok, however.
                                        Don't really understand the large packaging complaint about costco, use some when you buy it and freeze the rest into portions--I didn't see any wild salmon at Costco In Rego Park or LIC all summer long...do they have it now? I was at Rego Park 2 weeks ago and only saw farmed.

                                        1. re: janie

                                          Read somwhere (maybe on the General Chowhounding board?) about thawing frozen fish in cold water (still in the cryovac package). It doesn't take much more than 45 min - 1 hr. and it does make a difference in the texture of the fish versus thawing in the fridge. Never had a "fishy" smell or taste and I'm super sensitive to stinky-smelling/tasting fish.
                                          Have you tried Costco's frozen wild salmon and, if so, is it better tasting?

                                          Anyway, you wouldn't find wild pacific salmon in Costco after mid-Oct. That said, maybe the Queens stores don't carry it at all. I shop at the one in Westbury and assumed the inventory would be the same. Perhaps you can ask them to stock it.

                                          As for the big packages "complaint" - it was just a comment specific to my lack of freezer space - pls. ignore.

                                          1. re: EM23

                                            I always thaw my TJ's frozen fish that way...still not impressed by the taste or texture...mainly the taste.

                                      2. I'm between Dallas and Ft. Worth and the Costco closest to me has outstanding ribeyes - at the the 2 times I've bought them. Cut a little over an inch (though they'd probably cut them however you wish), tender and flavorful.

                                        1. You should really look to the Asian Markets for seafood. Cosco has very good lamb chops.. And for 15 bucks a rack, it's a steal..

                                          I have purchased salmon from Cosco in order to cure or smoke.. The salmon went rotten in two days.. They returned it with out problem.. There is not a great selection of seafood.. Most Asian Markets, like the ones in Elmhurst or Flushing, will have Cosco beat in price, quality, and selection..

                                          Cosco buys from Acme fish and has wonderful whitefish salad.. It's under some brand, with a "Bay" in it..

                                          I would never buy ground beef from Cosco or any super market.. I find their beef to be tasteless.. But if I add enough salt to the crust before grilling, it is ok.. i don't eat enough beef to need bulk.

                                          Chicken breasts is another thing I have no need for... I buy whole birds and have gotten some good deals on their Kosher birds.. Two for 20 bucks..

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Daniel76

                                            In Queens, I love to buy my meats at D'Alessandro Food Market
                                            4607 Hollis Court Blvd
                                            Flushing, NY 11358
                                            (718) 353-9277

                                            -----
                                            D'Alessandro's Fine Foods
                                            46-07 Hollis Court Blvd, Queens, NY 11358