I’ve had a bee in my bonnet to review the Wheaton Mall’s food court at some point, trying at least one offering from each of the lower level eateries, but haven’t gotten to it because ewwwww gross. I still might do it. Wouldn’t be the first time I destroyed my health in the interest of science and blogging.
But I did find myself recently on the upstairs level of the mall. Is this the only Costco in the world whose entrace is inside a mall? Surely one of few, if not unique. One of the side effects is that Costco’s food counter, home of the $1.50 footlong hot dog and surprisingly good (i.e. acceptable – low expectations!) pizza, is located outside the Costco entrance, but inside the mall. This engenders a mini food court, along with (scattered nearby) Chipotle, Mayorga Coffee, Elevation Burger, Panera, and Choice Wine & Beer.
Elevation is okay (most recent GEIW review here). Chipotle is very good if you like burritos and have never lived in California. I like Mayorga a lot — not enough to brave the mall’s traffic and parking with any frequency, but I did enjoy a large iced coffee, mellower and more complex than Starbucks (which I also enjoy, more regularly due mostly to convenience). Mayorga also has decent-looking pastries, and several kinds of empanadas, all with flaky, toothsome dough; the carne filling is moist and flavorful (cumin?) with fewer add-ins than is typical. Overall, they compare reasonably well to Panas and other locally available examples.
Panera and Choice W&B aren’t as enticing. Like most MoCo grocery stores, Costco can’t sell alcohol, so Choice fills that niche right outside Costco’s door, but it isn’t really so “choice” — wines are uniformly low-end yet not competitively priced. Beer selection is better but also not any bargains. The place looks sleek and the employees are friendly, and I guess if you emerge from Costco and find yourself desperately in need of alcohol (not a farfetched scenario) then you’re in luck.
I don’t understand the appeal of Panera. Lots of people like it, but even considering only sandwich purveyors, there are many places I would rather eat. Panera may have the best sandwiches in the mall, but that’s a low bar, and I can’t really give them even that much credit until I conduct a scientific review of the entire food court. Motivation. Science!