I had the privilege of working with Microsoft as a Software Engineer Intern @ Redmond, WA this last summer and during my time there I treasured my access to all of the CHEAP wonderful food on campus. There were cafes in between almost every group of buildings that Microsoft owns in Redmond (they own basically half of the city) and each one had different and delicious selections of food. I’ll show you some of what I ate and rate it’s taste out of 5 (1 being shit & 5 being delicious). Forewarning: I eat a lot… I love to eat.
The first few weeks were spent in what they called “Accelerator” training which was basically coding boot camp for 2 weeks centered around Azure & Cloud. But they provided a different breakfast and lunch every day for FREE. Pictured here is the Walnut French Toast, Cheddar eggs, Smoked bacon and wedge potatoes. To drink I had Starbucks coffee and orange juice. 5/5 can’t beat free french toast and bacon.
When I got settled in my building in Redwest, I talked to some fellow employees who suggested the breakfast service at the Redwest cafe; specifically the breakfast sandwich that cost $3! Turns out that Microsoft values breakfast food as much as I do.
Even with it being cheap and breakfast food I would rate it 3/5. The major complaint for the breakfast sandwich was it often required external seasonings, otherwise it was rather bland. In fact most of the breakfast service turned out to need a lot of salt and/or pepper to taste like anything other than cheese. However, super decent greasy spoon offerings for cheap.
The lunch service deserves a lot of credit: they have a huge selection, they can get you your order within 5-ish minutes, and each food station had TV screen displaying the chronological status of your order in relation to the numbers being called. Pictured above is a Buffalo Blue Cheese Bacon Chicken Sandwich with french fries and BBQ sauce. The buffalo sauce was a dream and paired wonderfully with the maple-flavored bacon. 4/5 minus 1 for floppy un-crisp bacon though, could have used a minute or too on the griddle.
I found myself eating a LOT of burritos for breakfast lunch and dinner, can’t beat $3! The pictured burrito contained potatoes, mushrooms, eggs, avocado, beans; topped with salsa, sour cream and guacamole. 3/5 tortillas
One thing I noticed was the buffet style food that was provided at every conference / meeting was gone often before I arrived… and I arrive to my meetings around 10 minutes early 🙁 This was a common theme among the free food areas, you had to fight a crowd if you wanted anything. Pictured above was NEO (new employee orientation) and I got a banana for breakfast on my first day since all the other food was scavenged.
Another round of the free breakfast offerings, this time I arrived 30 minutes early and to my surprise I got the last two strips of FREE bacon. This was during the accelerated training program and made learning scalable containers a lot easier.
Drunken Noodles! Although I didn’t get drunk to eat these noodles they would have been a perfect companion for a cold IPA (preferably hazy) and the dish itself had a lot of flavor. I can’t remember the name of the place I got it from, but it was located in the cafe near building 98 (visitor center) and seemed to be the only noodle offering in the building. I enjoyed this dish very much 4/5.
If you want to eat healthy on Microsoft campus then you are going to have to pay for it. The above salad was purchased from cafe 34 near the convention center and was priced based on its’ weight. Some people may be able to get away with a light salad, but I need protein in mine and protein is heavy. I’d often put hard boiled eggs and chicken in my salad and a few tomatoes which would bring the weight up significantly resulting in a $8 salad. Definitely one of the more expensive things I would eat but would get it often since it seemed like one of the healthier options. 3/5 – price and non-speciality factor into this review.
FREE BEER ! 5/5 – would often get drink tickets at company events and would treat myself to a hazy or juicy IPA. This beer was from a team outing to a bowling alley that Microsoft graciously rented out for us for the day. One thing that struck me coming from Utah is how accepted it is to drink while it is work hours. There was a few instances where I spotted bar tenders in the visitor center serving wine and beer in between meetings. I’m not complaining at all, It was quite the experience sitting down at noon with a beer and watching Satya Nadella in-person address the entire company. A part of me wants to work there just because of that experience 🙂
Tuna is my friend. Is it your friend? It should be. Tuna sandwiches are the essence of what a sandwich should be: crunchy on the outside, and a wet cold mash-up of highly flavorful protein. I spent $4.50 for a whole sandwich, and pictured is the half I didn’t devour as soon as I opened it. 4/5 – Tuna is king.
Kind of a blurry picture, but this was the special at redwest cafe for a good month while I was there. It was “Avocado and egg on toast” and while the title doesn’t mention it there is also a large amount of arugula and lemon juice added to the dish. Not at all what I had expected when ordering avacado and egg on toast, but it was nonetheless delicious. I only ate it once since the lemon made and arugula overpowered it, which is not exactly what I’m looking for at 8AM. 3/5 – too much arugula and lemon.
Panda Express!! Just kidding, this is not a chain; but it tastes like one. The choices of meet where sweet and sour pork and beef & brocolli, so naturally I had to try them both. The sweet and sour pork tasted very close to any dish I’ve eaten at a Chinese fast food joint. The rice was absolutely disappointing though, with kernels of rice that had gone completely hard and attempted to crack my teeth when I chewed them. 2/5 – would not eat again.
Not exactly Microsoft branded food, but there are often food trucks outside of the office. Waiting to allure a soul such as myself to partake of the odors wafting from their small mobile kitchens. Picked up this fish sandwich from the Gemini fish tacos food truck and would highly highly highly recommend checking them out. The sandwich was out of this world and the fish on my sandwich (pictured is salmon) was definitely fresh. The tartar sauce that accompanied the fish was creamy and tangy and provided the right amount of kick for the salty sea taste of the salmon. 5/5 – will dream of this for years to come.
Last but definitely not least was the standard breakfast fare that I would eat nearly every morning. $4.50 for a 3-egg scramble, hashbrowns, toast, and sometime bacon. When I have hashbrowns I lose all inhibitions and drown myself in ketchup. Some people find it rather odd to eat ketchup with hashbrowns, but those same people also believe that french fries should be eaten plain…. so let’s just say that it’s a preference. I think i ate around 20-some odd variations of this plate during my time there. I would have eaten more if I wasn’t looking to try all the food I possibly could. 5/5 – miss this one the most.
Overall, Microsofts food selection and availability is so far unparalleled. We’ll see what happens when I go work at the likes of Google and Facebook and see what they have to offer 😉 Until next time… keep it salty.