- Costco recently removed the Polish hot dog from its food-court menu to make room for healthier and vegan options, including a new al pastor salad and an acai bowl.
- The al pastor salad is made with fresh vegetables and plant-based protein, and the acai bowl is topped with blueberries and strawberries.
- Costco is the latest among many mainstream retailers to introduce vegan options to meet growing demand.
- We tried Costco’s two new menu items and were surprised by how much we liked them.
Costco recently removed the fan-favourite Polish hot dog from its food court to make room for healthier and vegan options.
While many Costco members were excited about the addition of vegan options, Costco faced backlash for removing the Polish hot dog, a variation on its traditional hot dog, which will remain on the menu. The retailer responded to the backlash to the menu changes on Facebook, saying, “We try and keep our Food Court exciting by adding new items.”
The new menu items, which include an al pastor salad with plant-based protein and an acai bowl with fresh fruit and Kirkland granola, are healthier than many of the other food-court offerings and can be vegan-friendly.
“Not everybody gets as excited about pizza and hot dogs as I do,” Costco CEO Craig Jelinek told shareholders in January.
Costco is the latest among many mainstream brands to start adding vegan options to meet increased demand. Nestle acquired the vegan-meat supplier Sweet Earth in September. Campbell’s recently acquired Pacific Foods, which makes nondairy milks. And White Castle added the plant-based Impossible Burger to its menu.
Considering the Costco food court is known for its cheap pizza and hot dogs, we were blown away by how good the options were. See what we thought:
We visited a Costco in Brooklyn, New York, where the al pastor salad and the acai bowl were added to the menu in place of the Polish hot dog.
The salad was flattened from being stored in such a tight container, and it didn’t look that exciting. It cost $US4.99.
The salad came with a plant-based soy protein, chopped romaine lettuce, black beans, fresh vegetables, “banh mi vegetables,” and a vegan dressing on the side, though it isn’t specified anywhere what that is.
To my surprise, the salad was amazing. There were a ton of fresh carrots, peppers, olives, and other vegetables hidden under the layers of lettuce and soy protein.
The dressing was rich and creamy. All the flavours complemented one another, and the salad was flavorful and satisfying, even though it looked pretty bland when I first opened the container.
The salad could easily top any I’ve had at a fast-food restaurant or concession stand. It was fresh, flavorful, and surprisingly filling.
I tried the acai bowl next. I had pretty high expectations because of how good the salad was. Unfortunately, the store I went to said the granola had honey in it, so it was not vegan. I got extra berries instead.
The acai bowl, which cost $US4.99, looked more like soft-serve ice cream than a traditional acai bowl. The texture was pretty similar to ice cream too.
I loved that Costco used a ton fresh berries instead of frozen fruit.
The acai mix tasted artificial and sugary. It reminded me of the flavored syrups used to sweeten iced coffee, though the fresh fruit on top helped balance that out. It was good, but not as good as the salad.
Verdict: Even though the acai bowl was more like ice cream, I was impressed with both new additions to the menu.
Most inexpensive food courts and fast-food restaurants lack any satisfying vegan options, but Costco’s al pastor salad tasted fresh and had a lot of complementary flavours.
The acai bowl was a little too artificially sweet for my taste, but it was definitely a good treat for dessert.
Both meals were filling, and they cost only $US4.99 each.
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