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Sep 7, 2013 11:14 AM

Austin Restaurant inspections - the highs and the lows

I started paying attention to restaurant inspection scores years ago when I heard on KVUE's "Eat, Drink & Be Wary" that Asia Market on Spicewood Springs failed their inspection. The details they gave made me queasy. restaurant section now provides a link to Austin's searcheable database
To look at 2013 results, enter dates for this year and click on "Score" column to sort

Some highs and lows from a quick skim today:

First notice that THOUSANDS of Austin restaurants inspected scored 90 or above, many with a perfect score.

Congrats to the place that created the craveable 'Shroom burger, Hopdoddy, for their perfect 100:

Hopdoddy Burger Bar 1400 S CONGRESS AVE Bunit 190 AUSTIN 78704 08/12/2013 100

Anderson Lane Hopdoddy, can you equal that?

Congrats to my favorite baja shrimp taco and queso purveyor
Torchy's Tacos 2809 S 1ST ST AUSTIN 78704 01/08/2013 100
Torchy's Tacos 5119 BURNET RD AUSTIN 78756 07/01/2013 100

Congrats to my favorite place for fish tacos, Cover 2, with a score of 92
Cover 2 13701 N US 183 HWY AUSTIN 78729 07/01/2013 92

And check out all those Taco Bells whose managers have figured out how to plan and execute excellent sanitation standards
Taco Bell 9900 W PARMER LN Bldg C AUSTIN 78717 03/26/2013 100
Taco Bell 1701 W BEN WHITE BLVD EB AUSTIN 78745 06/27/2013 100
Taco Bell #20600 2308 E RIVERSIDE DR AUSTIN 78741 04/29/2013 100
Taco Bell #24979 7793 BURNET RD AUSTIN 78757 06/13/2013 100
Taco Bell #3747 201 E OLTORF ST AUSTIN 78704 05/30/2013 100
Taco Bell- #1514 502 W WILLIAM CANNON DR AUSTIN 78745 02/28/2013 100

Disappointingly low inspection results since Jan 1, 2013:

1) La Condesa - 61 on April 18, 2013
La Condesa Restaurant 400 W 2ND ST Unit A AUSTIN 78701 04/18/2013 61

What's up with that, La Condesa? Should I feel better about the 84 retest score, given the restest time frame is somewhat predictable?
Or should I wonder whether you understand how to consistently manage your sanitation standards?

Why can some restaurants consistently get above 95 and other scores are all over the place?

2) Veggie Heaven 1914 GUADALUPE ST AUSTIN 78705 01/11/2013 56
Goodness. How bad do you have to be to score a 56 in an Austin restaurant inspection? (Really - I wish Austin would link the score to the detail.


3) Sea Dragon 69 and then restested to only a 75
The "retest" time period seems to be predictable enough. What is preventing you from doing better than a 75?
Sea Dragon 8776 RESEARCH BLVD SB Bldg B AUSTIN 78757 07/24/2013 75
Sea Dragon 8776 RESEARCH BLVD SB Bldg B AUSTIN 78757 07/09/2013 69

4) Asia Cafe is still only at a 74.
Asia Cafe 8650 SPICEWOOD SPRINGS RD Unit 114 AUSTIN 78759 08/13/2013 74

but at least they beat out

5) Z' Tejas at a 72.

Z' Tejas of Arboretum 9400 ARBORETUM BLVD AUSTIN 78759 05/30/2013 72

6) Restaurant Jezebel at a 59. Really ???
Restaurant Jezebel/Bar Mirabeau 800 W 6TH ST Unit 100 AUSTIN 78701 05/02/2013 59

City of Austin, please follow New York City's lead. New York City has created a new level of accountability by requiring restaurants to visibly post their scores.

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  1. Sounds like the Jezebel score, at least, resulted from their food coming from non-Sysco sources. Eggs from the owner's farm and salmon not cooked enough. Parasite destruction in the salmon, probably because it was wild-caught and not farmed. Not sure about the rum thing, that's kind of weird.

    A lot of score hits are for very specific things, like the inspector didn't find a towel at the handwashing station, or there was no thermometer at a cooking station. People freak out because inspectors find meal moths in the flour, but jeez, we get meal moth infestations all the time from buying in bulk. Look at the article - whipping cream held past the sell-by date? Pshhh. The only place in that piece that sounded really gross was Madras Pavillion.

    1. I wrote an app to display the scores on a map. Makes it easier to look at scores for restaurants in your area as oppose to looking through a list.


        1. Thank khoister.

          Some of these results are just so bad...

          But maybe they have a good reason to have their scores..

          Dear La Condesa Management:

          Could you reply here with what you are doing to improve your restaurant inspection scores?

          If pages and pages of low and high price point Austin restaurants can get

          (pages of 100's scores)
          (more pages of 90+ scores),

          why have your inspections shown 3 consecutive sub-par scores?

          In 2012 you had an excellent score.

          What happened in 2013 - 2014?

          Do you care about improving?

          Is your price point not high enough to achieve excellent sanitation ratings?

          Do you feel certain rules are not needed?

          1 Reply
          1. re: sweet100s

            La Condessa is a massive disappointment. I recommended a lunch there for my coworkers at UT and a few were sickened and all of us were disappointed. This was a year ago and I cannot imagine why I would go back.

          2. I'm sad to see Z'Tejas be that low. That guy owns a lot of restaurants. I stopped buying fresh pork rinds at this Mexican grocery convenience store on the Austin/Pflugerville line after seeing their ratings a few months ago. I wonder if anyplace actually gets shut down.