Used with permission from Microsoft
If you’re eating a sandwich at your desk right now, get ready to drop your jaw — and your lunch. You won’t be able to stomach another bite, because these outstanding office cafeterias have humble workers everywhere seething with envy. Some of the country’s biggest businesses and tech giants are serving their employees discounted and free food that looks better than some gourmet restaurants’ fare.
“Sad desk lunch” sounds like a fable from another time for these companies’ personnel. Many are run by former chefs of five-star restaurants. Others were designed by experienced interior designers to facilitate a harmonious and often social experience of an otherwise mundane space.
In some of these dining halls, pool tables have been imported to encourage camaraderie. Guest chef appearances are organized to keep everyone intrigued. Some companies have even organized their space to specifically cater to a nutrition-focused staff, categorizing foods based on their healthfulness and preparing nutrient-dense, colorful meals. In fact, the meals are sometimes so gorgeously plated that employees regularly Instagram their lunches.
Many of the cafeterias on this list don’t like to be called “cafeteria.” They prefer “café” or “dining area.” And once you see the photos and read the details, you’ll understand why.
In 2016, Dropbox opened a huge, open-layout cafeteria called "Tuck Shop" in San Fransisco. The designer imagined the space as "a place of comfort" for employees, and we must say we wouldn't mind hanging out in this cafe during a stressful day. Complete with a juice bar, potted plants, patterned rugs, and an in-house coffee roaster, there's truly nothing wanting from this calming space where employees convene.
Used with permission from Microsoft
In Redmond, Washington, the employees on Microsoft's sprawling campus have access to a whopping 33 cafeterias of various sizes (and 32 more espresso cafés) but one really stands out. Café 16 offers gourmet, restaurant-quality food for half the price. Even cooler is the vibe of the place — the chairs are huge, cushioned, and welcoming. The different options are arranged at different stations, labeled in categories such as "Wellness" and "Global Kitchen."
TripAdvisor's employees in Needham, Massachusetts, dine in a modern office café called The Hungry Owl that features à la carte menus for when employees are feeling fancy, a frozen yogurt bar open anytime, and a DIY sandwich station for whipping up satisfying lunches to-go. It’s buffet-style, extensive, and adorned with flags from around the world to remind its diners of their company’s purpose.
The New York City LinkedIn office has multiple cafeterias, but the most frequented space is on the 28th floor. The room is minimalistic and expansive — a rarity for New Yorkers used to cramped spaces and cluttered views. It features natural light, plush sofas, and ping pong and pool tables for employees to bond over.
The office café at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California, is perfect for any tech-savvy worker who’s young at heart. The chef-operated Café Luxo offers culinary innovations for more sophisticated fare; but the adjoining cereal bar room keeps things lighthearted and fun. Café Luxo features a large, open layout for casual conversation and distraction-free eating.
Courtesy of Hearst Café 57
Café 57 is the extensive dining experience offered at Hearst’s New York City office building. It has more options and amenities than we even thought possible. Guests enjoy what their website calls a “first-class dining experience” of chef-curated meals. The expansive location has its own in-house sushi chefs, a weekly rotating menu, and guest chef appearances. The options always involve locally sourced produce and the venue frequently offers fun samplings for employees. Their cattle come exclusively from Hearst’s very own cattle ranch, so you know your beef is grass-fed.
Forget generic sandwiches and bitter coffee — Airbnb employees in San Franciso never settle for average food and drink at their new-age cafeteria. Sam Lippman, their in-house chef, is constantly creating healthy and environmentally conscious offerings for their staff. His café serves three unique meals daily and is always well-stocked with house-made beverages and snacks. “Redbnb” is the café’s signature revitalizing coffee replacement made of hibiscus, green tea, yerba mate, lemon, lime, mint, ginger, and organic cane sugar. “It’s really caffeinating, it’s really refreshing, and it even helps with your digestion,” Lippman explained to Bon Appetit.
At their Mountain View, California, campus, Google employees are given some of the most extensive and completely free dining options in America. The office has over 35 canteens serving freshly cooked meals and hundreds of pantries fully stocked with snacks and beverages. Google has also specifically engineered its dining locations to encourage healthy eating — they hide the tempting stuff in the back, display healthy options front and center, and serve their meals on miniature dishware. Foods are also labeled with colors indicating how often you should eat them — a red label on processed and sugary foods deters employees from choosing these options from the shelves. And just in case Google employees have problems with portion control — or are on some strict macro counting diet — food scales are available for public use beside the buffets.
Based in Cary, North Carolina, this tech company has a campus truly unlike any other. They offer fitness classes, private offices, and so much more. Their dining options are just as incredible, with four on-site gourmet cafés. Their coffee bars serve Starbucks and all break rooms are delivered fresh fruit on Fridays. Kids are encouraged to dine alongside their working parents, and youngsters are served fun options like hot dogs shaped like octopuses.
All of Twitter's employees have the option to eat breakfast and lunch completely free of charge. The kitchen is run by an in-house chef, Mark Gandara, the former chef de cuisine at the trendy New York restaurant Red Rooster. Gandara's kitchen never fails to keep things interesting, enticing employees with menu items such as a ramen bar, churro waffles, and (of course) pizza. The cafe's screens are constantly rotating, displaying Twitter's top trends and tweets. Employees can keep up on the latest food trends while they eat!