Lunch at the Googleplex

When I was invited to give a cookbook-related Google Talk in Mountain View, CA last Friday, I was incredibly honored and flattered but, also, I was really keen on checking out the cafeteria. I mean: what kind of food would I find there? What do people who work at Google eat?

Luckily, my host Chris invited me to lunch first. And not only that, I was allowed to take lots of pictures. So prepare yourselves for a journey, a journey to the Google Cafeteria.

Specifically, we ate at a cafeteria called “Big Table.” Apparently there are many lunching options at Google headquarters, this one is one of the largest.

As we made our way towards it, I saw lots of Google bicycles. Chris explained that whenever you need to get anywhere, you just grab one and go. Observe:


I also saw this machine, which apparently makes balls:


And this desk with lava lamps on it:


But you’re not here for lava lamps… you’re here to see what it’s like in the Google cafeteria. So here we go. Check out these people eating their lunch.


And here’s the cafeteria in all its glory:


First, though, I had to wash my hands in the men’s room. I got a kick out of this sign when I was finished:


Then, back in the cafeteria, it was time to grab a tray:


The thing that struck me the most about the Google cafeteria was the incredible variety of options. A noodle bar, a pizza bar, a salad bar, hot food, cold food, and lots and lots of ethnic food. Check out these condiments:


And these toppings for the noodle bar:


Here’s a variety of meats–halal grilled chicken, char siu pork, and 24-hour braised ginger beaf:


Cucumber salad and mango pickle:


A helpful healthy eating pyramid:


I was most curious about this curd rice, which I took and enjoyed (lots of flavor, creamy texture):


Here are people getting salad from the salad bar:


More hot food options:


And more:


Here’s a handy guide to Google’s menu labeling symbols:


And some agua fresca (strawberry flavored) to drink with your lunch.


As it got closer to 12 o’clock, the crowds grew:


The best part: you don’t have to pay for it. You just pile food on your tray and walk outside and eat. No wonder people like working at Google.

Here’s the plate that I made for myself:


My favorite part was the tomato stuffed with some kind of grains seasoned with orange zest.

And here are my lunch companions, Jen and Chris (my host):


And the scene outside:


As you can see, Google’s a bit of a Utopia for computer nerds. And the food is pretty incredible considering how much of it they have to make and how many people (from different backgrounds) they need to feed. Plus: there’s all kinds of snack food and beverages available all over the building.

After my lunch, I was whisked upstairs where my memory was erased; then I gave a Google Talk (which should be online, pretty soon…I’ll post it!) and my time at Google was at an end.

So thanks, Chris, for hosting me… it was a real treat to see what Google’s many employees get to eat for lunch. Stay Googley!

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