Sam's Club Vs. Costco: Who's Winning The Battle For Best Food Court?

As inflation continues to hit the American economy, consumers have been opting for memberships in grocery warehouse stores like Costco and Sam's Club to take advantage of prices that are beating inflation by several percentage points. Citing a study by Numerator, a market research firm, Business Insider noted earlier this year that grocery warehouse stores, including Sam's Club and Costco, have been able to keep their in-store inflation at around 7% compared to 2021. Meanwhile, the national inflation rate for food stood at 10.9% in October of this year. Moreover, Consumers' Checkbook recently found that "Costco and Sam's Club beat most of the supermarket chains' prices by 20 to 35 percent."

And with today's busy lifestyles, many people shopping at warehouse grocers are likely jamming their grocery-buying trip in with a number of other chores, meaning that grabbing a quick bite might be the only mealtime option within a hectic day. Conveniently, both Costco and Sam's Club have food courts available to help out busy shoppers looking for a quick and easy food option. And even if you're not a member of Sam's Club (a basic membership is $50 per year), you can take advantage of the cafe. It's not the same story at Costco, where only members (who pay $60 per year) can enjoy the food court — though many shoppers say the policy isn't always enforced. So, which food court is best?

Sam's has lower prices, but people like Costco's food better

One way to compare Costco and Sam's Club is to look at a special deal offered at both places. They go head-to-head with a $1.50 quarter-pound hot dog and fountain drink combo, which Costco says will retain that price "forever," and which Sam's Club recently dropped to $1.38. According to Cheapism, Costco's "juicy and flavorful" version tastes better, while the Sam's Club pick, though filling, has a rather "dry" bun that likely won't make you want another.

But what about other comparisons? As far as variety, Eat This, Not That! observed that Sam's Club has the longer menu, including pretzels and Caesar salad not available at Costco, along with more pizza options. Sam's also has more fountain drinks, with 16 options including no-caffeine and no-sugar beverages. In terms of price, The Krazy Coupon Lady gave Costco the edge on pizza ($1.99 per slice versus $2.50 per slice at Sam's Club), but Sam's Club was better on churros ($1 compared to $1.49 at Costco) and a berry sundae ($1.58 versus $2.49 at Costco).

And if we're talking about taste, Redditors have strong opinions on the matter. "Costco food court quality is unmatched," one customer said, echoed by others who agree that Costco has superior hot dogs and pizza than Sam's Club, not to mention its signature chicken bakes. Referring to Sam's, another said, "their prices are great, the quality sucks." The people have spoken: Based on price and variety, Sam's takes the cake. Based on the tastiness of the food, Costco wins.