Maricopa County has an interesting restaurant inspection system — restaurants can choose not to get a grade right before an inspection and thereby avoid the shame of getting anything below a "B." It's easier on the restaurant if they have a bad day when the inspector comes around, but tougher for the customer to know what they're getting into when they sit down for dinner.
We searched through inspection reports from the last month, to bring you violations from places that decided to skip the grading process (you can look up ratings online, too). Specifically, we looked at restaurants with one or more "priority violations," which are "major violation[s] that directly contributes to increasing the risk of foodborne illness or injury." From bugs to beards, the reasons why a restaurant might decide not to participate in the state's grading system are pretty clear:
1. Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company
Gilbert (721 N. Arizona Avenue)
"Observed employee with gloves rub beard/face then with same gloves continue to handle ready-to-eat foods without washing hands. Informed manager that hand washing take place after touching any part of the body. After being educated employee demonstrated proper hand washing."
2. Vincent's On Camelback
Phoenix (3930 E. Camelback Road)
"Observed the inside of the ice machine with an accumulation of black organic matter. The PIC indicated that the machine would be properly cleaned prior to the next routine inspection."
3. Rustic Cafe
Phoenix (20811 N. Cave Creek Road)
"Employee remove burrito from the grill and then reach into the cut lettuce with bare hands and put lettuce under the burrito on the plate. —- Employee discarded the cut lettuce."
Tempe (1325 W. Broadway Road)
"Drive thru window observed opened between customers. Close drive thru window between customers to prevent insects from entering establishment. Window was closed at request."
5. Mariscos El Cochorit
Phoenix (5037 W Thomas Road)
"There is a jar of pickled wild peppers and carrots for sale on checkout counter. Product is made at owners home. Product is not labeled and is for sale for 20.00 dollars. Instructed owner to take home at inspection as is not approved source. Two blood clams laying on floor of walk in cooler, discarded at inspection."
6. Nana's Restaurant
Chandler (777 N. Arizona Avenue)
"1) Opened quart of motor oil found on dry storage shelf with food cans and 2) Bottle of shampoo and lotion found on the clean side drain board of the 3-part sink - all these chemical containers were relocated at time."
7. Pho Van
Chandler (2095 N. Dobson Road)
"Foods available for service stored directly in plastic grocery and "Thank You" bags. Manager had employee transfer food to food-safe containers."
Scottsdale (3737 N. Scottsdale Road)
"Observed house made mac and cheese sauce date marked with 5/28 during the inspection, in the walk in cooler. Product was in walk in cooler for 8 calendar days. TCS foods should be discarded or used by 7 calendar days. Mac and cheese was voluntarily discarded."
9. Mimi's Cafe
Glendale (7450 W. Bell Road)
"Multiple Ice tea nozzle and coffee pots spouts had an accumulation of mold and debris build up. Ice machine had pink slime mold growth at the top of the inside of the ice machine. Maintain all items clean and free of mold and build up at all times. Correct by next routine inspection."
Phoenix (6700 W. Latham Street)
"Observed employee handling and preparing hash browns and food on the cook line with no gloves. Manager will educated staff on the importance of no bare hand contact with foods, employee washed hands and placed gloves on."
11. Mekong Plaza Grocery Store
Mesa (66 Dobson Road)
"Observed raw fish heads at 50*f on display case. Per PIC fish heads had been out for unknown amount of time. Fish heads were embargoed at time. Discussed ensuring that fish heads are maintained at 41*F or below. Observed fish in walk in refrigerator at 50*F. Per PIC it is unknown how long fish had been out of temp and fish was embargoed at time."
12. O'Kelley's Bar
Mesa (2120 W. Guadalupe Road)
"Accumulation of slime mold in and around beer tap tray drain line at bucket. Manager cleaned line end. Please clean line thoroughly."
13. Tao Garden
Chandler (2050 N. Alma School Road)
"Shrimp thawing in fish slaughter sink. Manager removed shrimp to walk-in. Discussed maintaining fish slaughter area from other activities."
14. Jack in the Box
Phoenix (2113 W. Happy Valley Road)
"Employee was assembling ready to eat tacos using her bare hands. The employee donned gloves."
15. The Ironworks
Glendale (17233 N. 45th Avenue)
"Several large black flies throughout kitchen on shelves above cold holding units and on shelves above food prep table and slicer, along window sills at outdoor walk-up bar and flying in kitchen. Instructed person in charge to increase pest control efforts to eliminate flies and provide licensed pest control service conducted within 10 days."
16. Lucky Kitchen
Phoenix (1520 W. Indian school Road)
"Cutting board in the back by the office door was being used to cut raw chicken as well as lettuce. Operator discarded lettuce and had the cutting board sent to the ware washing area."
17. The Lodge At 14th Street
Phoenix (2933 N. 14th Street)
"The deli slicer had visible food residue on the blade, blade guard, feed, and slicer housing. The slicer had not been cleaned since previous week. The person in charge broke down the slicer and washed, rinsed, and sanitized the slicer and its' components."
18. AJ's Fine Foods
Scottsdale (18271 N. Pima Road)
"In deli case, observed opened packages of turkey (6/3) and ham(6/4) incorrectly datemarked with dates beyond seven days. Staff was unsure of the dates the packages were opened so they voluntarily discarded them. Review datemarking procedures with staff."
19. Vintage 95
Chandler (95 W. Boston Street)
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"No records available for salmon being frozen or farm raised and pellet fed at time of inspection. Salmon is cooked to order in establishment. Please obtain a written agreement or statement from the supplier or aquaculturist."
20. Cafe Tranquilo
Phoenix (401 W. Clarendon Avenue)
"Observed living roach next to dish wash machine in bar area. Person in charge will have pest control treat within the next 10 days."