Costco food court

It may be, perhaps, the greatest lunch deal in the universe: A quarter-pound, all beef hot dog or polish dog, and a 20-ounce pop, for $1.50.

I say may be, because the chicken Caesar salad for $3.99 is probably healthier for you and where else in the world can you find such a salad for just $4? This thing is loaded with tomatoes, chickens, croutons, dressing, Parmesan cheese and crisp lettuce. That could be the greatest lunch deal ever (if you want to save calories, go without the dressings).

And I haven’t even mentioned the $1.99 for a slice of pizza the size of a football (well, that’s an exaggeration but it’s big), or the monster turkey wrap for $3.99.

OK. You get the idea. The Costco food court in Lihue is perhaps one of more convenient and most affordable places you can go for lunch or dinner. It’s open to the public, not just Costco members. Not only is it easy on your wallet, as you can get lunch for two for less than $10, it’s a relaxing place to sit, enjoy a mountain view and chat with friends and family. No reservations necessary. And you’re likely to run into more people you know because it seems almost everyone shops and then eats at Costco because who can pass up that hot dog and pop deal? Come evening, as the sun sets, it can be a nice place to unwind, visit and feel a cool breeze. It’s a mix of adults, teens and toddlers, sometimes joined by the family dog.

There’s little not to like about the Costco food court. It’s relaxing and open. That’s why it’s rare you’ll stop by and there isn’t a line, or perhaps two or three lines, five, six and seven people deep, waiting patiently and, sometimes, impatiently, to order.

Costco sticks with what works. It’s not about introducing new menu items or offering servings in different sizes. Lots of tasty food at a fair price and served up pretty quickly by no-nonsense employees who do their job well. Any day of the week, the customers are a mix of locals and visitors.

The only real complaints might be those lines, because on a hot day, if you’re in a hurry, you can become annoyed if the line to your left or right moves faster than yours. But we’re talking a matter of 5 minutes or so, maybe 10, so nothing to get too excited about.

It’s not just the meals. If you’re after desert, the “very berry sundae” with strawberries or the Kirkland signature nonfat yogurt are hard to pass up.

Be warned, you can drink all the pop you like, but before you do, realize it’s probably not the best thing you can do for your health.

Know, too, that whether you try the chicken bake for $2.99 or the hot turkey and provolone sandwich for $3.99, you’ll leave feeling full — too full if you’re not careful.

Because perhaps the biggest worry about eating at Costco’s food court is to your waistline. If you’re counting calories, watch out. It’s easy to eat a lot there, so watch yourself or you could be going from medium to large pants. I’m guessing these generous portions are not calorie free. If sodium is a concern, be careful. When you add relish and mustard and onions to that hot dog, or wolf down most of that $9.99 supreme pizza by yourself, you might want to consider adding several miles to your daily run or bike ride. Just one giant slice of pizza or the chicken Caesar salad has about 700 calories. But that’s a concern pretty much anywhere you eat, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. As they say, everything in moderation.

But then, has Costco ever been about moderation?

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