Thanks all for the info & advice! I was there for both lunch & dinner. Friday lunch was a seafood buffet @ Charlie's. There were two types of oysters on the half shell, peel & eat prawns, four different types of sashimi and three different types of smoked fish. Oh, it was heaven! The oysters were fresh and succulent and just briny enough. As I put the sashimi in my mouth, it was a wee bit of a shudder from such pleasure; it melted in my mouth. And the smoked fish was both tender and tasty.
The cafeteria also offered an Indian bar, a Mexican bar, a salad bar, an organic bar, an Italian bar, a soup/sandwich station and a dessert bar. And that day, they had tre leche cake (as good and authentic as one purchased from a Mexican bakery). I had a little of everything; and so much of it was incredibly good.
Then we went to the Pacific Cafe (Asian food), where they had salmon and yellowtail available for handrolls with all the trimmings. So I had two of the chefs/cooks prepare one of each for me (easy on the rice). How is Google able to offer such fare for free? How can I work there? This Cafe also had three different types of salads: an arugula/shiitake salad with a soy vinegrette; an edamame/wakame salad w/ajipon; and a spring salad w/shrimp. Those three salads were oh-so-good (everything was fresh, earthy and had a slight crunch); however, I absolutely LOVED the first two. There were also fried tofu, other sushi, teriyaki salmon and two different types of miso soup. It was definitely a multi-orgasmic experience for my mouth. And it's not over yet.
Then we stopped by a coffee bar where you make your own coffee drinks...from espresso, to lattes, to teas. There was a pool table, a massage chair and a ceiling high offering of snacks.
This is just an incredible place. The food is fantastic, but the whole campus is a vibrant, international community. I love this place...the food was great!
I imagine they use their purchasing power to get the best possible prices for their ingredients. And they are able to attract "talent" because, as you said, it's a great place to work. The partner of a friend of mine worked in a company cafeteria, and he considered it a great job: no nights and weekends, so he was able to have a life. The chefs a Google have a lot of freedom to do what they want (they even do special dinners -- not free, but very reasonable), the resources to do it, and are free of a lot of the hassles of running a restaurant. Plus: stock options.
There are numerous different "cafeterias" at Google, with different focuses. As I reported, I ate at Cafe 7, which is so-named because it was the seventh one, and I think they've added one since then. There's also Cafe 150, where all the major ingredients are produced within 150 miles of Mountain View, so if you're into fresh, locally produced ingredients, that might be a way to go.
They put the menus on the Google intranet, so you and your host can check out in advance which place looks like it has the most appealing menu (since the featured items change).
It's really quite an impressive operation. Google is reportedly the largest consumer of organic produce in the (or was it the country?).
A warning: if you go at lunch time its almost impossible to park in their lot. Better to just park on the street and walk onto the Google campus.