Starbucks is a place in which, for better or for worse, we members of The Takeout staff have spent a sizable percentage of our adulthoods. And when you spend that much time waiting in line, staring idly at all the food, you build up an appetite—and, eventually, a set of firm opinions about which Starbucks foods are best. While most people zoom straight toward the Morning Bun or overpriced seasonally decorated Cake Pops, there are other stalwarts of the pastry case and fridge that continue to satisfy, year in and year out. They deserve some recognition. What are your picks?
Petite Vanilla Bean Scone
Scones have pretty much always been a staple of the bakery lineup at Starbucks; depending on where you live, it might have been the first place you encountered a scone at all. Blueberry scones, cranberry scones, cinnamon chip scones, the seasonal pumpkin scone—all of these are serviceable, if a little interchangeable, and pair well with a cup of coffee. But there’s one scone in the lineup that feels categorically different from the rest: the Petite Vanilla Bean Scone.
Its smaller size (about a third of a normal scone) is not what makes it unique. Rather, its very texture is denser, firmer, and more shortbread-esque than the bready, crumbly scones with which it shares a corner of the menu. The vanilla flavor is strong without tasting artificial (though perhaps it is) and the icing is much more dessert-like than the drizzle that adorns the other breakfast pastries.
Whenever I’m running late to an appointment (often) and realize I am hovering right at the hangry threshold (even more often), it’s the bite-sized Petite Vanilla Bean Scone that saves me. I don’t know why there’s not a cult around this thing like there is with the #PSL. —Marnie Shure, editor in chief
Grilled Chicken and Hummus Protein Box
I know I’m going to get roasted for my selection, which further solidifies my reputation as the protein-slugging meathead of the Takeout staff. (Am I projecting? Remains to be seen.) Either way, I’m a big fan of the Starbucks protein box as a lunchtime concept. The chicken and hummus box is particularly satisfying, with little niblets of grilled chicken breast, roasted red pepper hummus, a few mini slabs of naan, and a pile of baby carrots and snap peas.
First, it’s tasty, even more so if you use the components to make little naan sandwiches. The naan is generally soft, the hummus portion is generous, and the chicken is flavorful, despite a semi-rubbery texture that’s a standard consequence for pre-packaged poultry. This stupid box also packs a whopping 22 grams of protein, which is usually enough to keep me from dozing off around 3:30 p.m. Plus, the whole thing costs $6.45, which is a heck of a lot cheaper than most office lunch options—and, I should add, even cheaper than some elaborate Starbucks frozen drinks. It’s not glamorous, but it fills me up, keeps me energized, and costs less than a Chipotle bowl. Huzzah. —Lillian Stone, staff writer
Sous Vide Egg Bites
When Starbucks’ Egg Bites first came out I had zero interest in them, because paying close to five bucks for two tiny reheated pre-made egg-based discs sounded outrageous. At the time I was working as a restaurant industry consultant and knew damn well how much eggs cost—I figured Egg Bites were nothing more than nano-omelets made from cheap ingredients, sold at a huge profit to paleo dieters too hungry to ask questions.
But then one of my clients sent me to check in on a project at a massive food processing plant, and it happened to be the same plant that produced Starbucks’ Egg Bites. During my grand tour, I got a behind-the-scenes peek at what makes them special. Turns out they’re not omelets at all—they’re tiny crustless quiches.
After the fillings are hand-packed into the Egg Bites’ special sous-vide packets, they are filled with a golden liquid that is only made from eggs; it is a custard made by blending eggs, full-fat cottage cheese, and an epic amount of melted butter. When I finally tasted the finished product at the end of my tour, I understood why people were gladly paying five bucks for the darn things, and I jumped on the Egg Bite appreciation train right along with them. —Allison Robicelli, staff writer