What’s the lunch situation at Cisco? Over the last few weeks, my co-workers and I visited and compared the nine Cisco cafeterias at the San Jose campus. There are 54 buildings and nine cafeterias/cafes (access only for Cisco employees (with a badge) and their guests).

Cisco cafeterias are run by Bon Appetit Management,  which buys from local farmers who use environmentally sustainable practices. The cost is low, about $5-7 for a meal. Cisco also wants the staff to eat healthy, so the salad bar is inexpensive.

Some of the places are only cafeteria, which means it’s open only for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are also cafes, which are open all day and offer sandwiches, etc. Some cafes are by themselves (such as Bldg. 30) and other cafes are part of cafeterias (such as Bldg. 11).

(I’m the Manager for Global SEO at Cisco. We go to various places for lunch each day.)

  • Bldg. 3: Cafeteria. The cafeteria looks a bit old, but it’s okay. Wide assortment of food, incl. Chinese, Mexican, Pizza, etc. Salad bar and sandwich station. Peet’s coffee. A few outdoor tables.
  • Bldg. 11: Cafeteria. The cafeteria was renovated in late 2013. Often full. A few outdoor tables. Good salad bar. Mexican, Indian, pizza, vegetarian, etc. Starbucks coffee. There is also a cafe.
  • Bldg. 17: Cafeteria. Large space, lots of nice outdoor tables.
  • Bldg. 21: Cafeteria. Very large space. Mexican, fish and chips, Mongolian BBQ. Salad bar, sandwiches. Outdoor tables in a large grassy inner courtyard. Peet’s coffee. The flavor was fresh and intense. There is also a cafe. So far, this is the best place, followed by #11.
  • Bldg. 30: Cafe with sandwiches, snacks, and coffee. Nice presentation.
  • Bldg. D: Small cafeteria. There’s a nice side courtyard of outdoor tables with a hedge. Includes a cafe with Starbucks.
  • Bldg. H: (The building is under renovation.)
  • Bldg. J: Small new cafeteria. There’s a very nice courtyard of outdoor tables with a hedge. Service was very slow when we visited.
  • Bldg. Q: A cafe.
  • Food Trucks: There are also several food trucks at Cisco. The Korean BBQ and the Hawaiian pulled pork sandwiches are delicious. Thursdays between Bldgs. #9 and #10 at noon. There may be more; if you know, say so in the comments.

In general, several co-workers like Cisco food, but I find it a bit bland. It’s most meat, steamed vegetable, and rice or potatoes. Chicken, fish, and pork is often just slightly overcooked or a bit dry. The chili-con-carne (on Thursdays in #11) is delicious.

The Winner: Building 21. Large space, well-lit, good service, nice outdoor seating.

What’s your opinion of Cisco cafeterias and cafes? Speak up in the comments.

Where to find these? See the Map of Cisco Cafeterias . Cafeterias and cafes are only for Cisco employees (with a badge) and their guests.