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A B C or D?

mucho gordo Dec 9, 2013 10:01 AM

Where do you draw the line? I think that most states have instituted a health rating system for restaurants that requires regular inspections for cleanliness and code violations, Do you look for their letter grade before eating there? Would you eat at a place with a "C" grade? Personally, I won't go past a "B" rating. If the infractions were really serious, the place would be shut down.

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  1. JAB RE: mucho gordo Dec 9, 2013 10:10 AM

    A=Americanized, B=Better, C=Chinese

    2 Replies
    1. re: JAB
      Will Owen RE: JAB Dec 9, 2013 05:15 PM

      There is some ring of truth to that. The young woman who gave me most of my Chinese-food knowledge in my late 20s always preferred to enter restaurants from the rear door. Our perennial favorite, Qui Hing Low in Mountain View, CA, had a kitchen that looked like the bowels of Hell, half-naked demons and all, and you really had to watch your step, but it smelled really good (except for the sweat).

      The other part of that is how many Asian food practices that are deemed essential to this or that dish's proper preparation are often in violation of health laws or rules - holding temperatures, for instance. There was a case I read of here in the San Gabriel Valley of a restaurant famous in its community for some deeply loved dish that had to sit at room temperature for much more time than the Health Department was willing to allow. Okay, science is science, but if people have been eating this for a thousand years or so it can't have been killing too many, right?

      1. re: Will Owen
        westsidegal RE: Will Owen Dec 16, 2013 01:11 AM

        i also vaguely recall that certain chinese noodle dishes were considered to be a problem because they weren't being refrigerated. the thing was that if the restaurant were to comply and refrigerate the dish, the noodles would become dry and hard and completely inedible.

    2. fldhkybnva RE: mucho gordo Dec 9, 2013 04:13 PM

      Not sure I've ever paid much attention. I imagine physical appearances correlate with the inspection grade such that if it looks dirty I probably wouldn't think to go there anyway.

      1. foodieX2 RE: mucho gordo Dec 9, 2013 04:17 PM

        I haven't seen them around here but I swear by those ratings when traveling on business and am grabbing lunch/breakfast in the go. NYC became less risky, lol!

        1. bagelman01 RE: mucho gordo Dec 9, 2013 04:30 PM

          Depends what I'm eating..................
          Near my mother's nursing home the McDonald's got the euivalent of a D (Unsatisfactory) and the rating has to remain on the front door for a minimum of 6 months until the next scheduled inspection.

          Nevertheless, I will still get coffee there...
          I wouldn't buy/consume 'food' at that location, it just plain looks seedy

          2 Replies
          1. re: bagelman01
            mucho gordo RE: bagelman01 Dec 9, 2013 05:12 PM

            I'm amazed that the corporate office doesn't do something about that. You would expect a major chain like that to make sure no one gets less than an A

            1. re: mucho gordo
              bagelman01 RE: mucho gordo Dec 9, 2013 05:46 PM

              You'd be amazed what franchise owners can get away with. This is one filthy unit owned by a group that has more than 100 McD franchises.
              The owner responded to an artocle about this in the local weekly saying that they want to completely remodel and clean the place up but can't get a building permit approved.

              Meanwhile, the place is always packed, dirty or not the locals go there.

          2. rmarisco RE: mucho gordo Dec 9, 2013 05:32 PM

            my favorite vietnamese restaurant had the bathroom past the kitchen - you had to go past grandma (cooking) to get to it, along with the all the mess in the hall and on the floor. no idea what their rating was...i know the bathroom was a disaster, so i'm sure that would have knocked their rating way down. wouldn't stop me from eating there again. ate there for years. never had a problem.

            on the other hand, i ate at a pizza chain once and the table wasn't clean, so i grabbed (what i thought was) a clean bar mop to wipe down the table. there were 3 of us sharing a single pizza. we all ate the same thing: i was the only one to come down with food poisoning.

            so, cleanliness is somewhat relative in my book. i go to places people recommend - if it looks skanky i'm not gonna try it even with an A rating...

            1. The Chowhound Team RE: mucho gordo Dec 9, 2013 05:52 PM

              Folks, just a quick reminder that we don't allow discussion of health code violations or ratings at specific restaurants. It's fine to discuss your standards in general, but please don't name names of places you've had issues.


              1. t
                tastesgoodwhatisit RE: mucho gordo Dec 9, 2013 11:54 PM

                The lowest rating (or anything that involves closures to fix it) would affect me. Others, not so much.

                1. BiscuitBoy RE: mucho gordo Dec 10, 2013 06:42 AM

                  There are lots of political games in the rating system, or in health inspections in general. If an elected official has an axe to grind, they can make your life miserable

                  1. m
                    mike0989 RE: mucho gordo Dec 10, 2013 06:49 AM

                    I used to go to a Hawaiian restaurant in Gardena, CA that I don’t believe ever got higher than a C rating. The food was darn good though and I kept going back. Things may have changed since then. But as I recall there was no requirement that they had to display their rating. This meant the only ratings you ever saw in the windows were pretty much all A’s.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: mike0989
                      BiscuitBoy RE: mike0989 Dec 10, 2013 06:59 AM

                      Hmmm, that's odd. In NYC you MUST display...which is why the mod's policy of not discussing ratings doesn't make sense...It's public information

                      1. re: BiscuitBoy
                        mike0989 RE: BiscuitBoy Dec 10, 2013 08:17 AM

                        There was some debate back then as to what the whole point was if they didn't ahve to dispaly the grade. The responce in defense of not requireing it was the grades were Public record, even if not displayed.

                        Regardless, the grade just reflected how well they did with DOH, and have no reflection at all on what they are putting out.

                        1. re: BiscuitBoy
                          The Chowhound Team RE: BiscuitBoy Dec 10, 2013 02:52 PM

                          There's a recent explanation of the reasons behind the policy here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/927030 if you want to comment on the policy.

                      2. Davwud RE: mucho gordo Dec 10, 2013 06:59 AM

                        Never once have I ever looked. I don't worry about it. My feeling is if it's that unsafe, the BOH will close it.


                        1. KaimukiMan RE: mucho gordo Dec 10, 2013 08:22 AM

                          I'm not sure it's "most states", I've only seen it discussed on the LA and NY boards. It certainly doesn't exist in Honolulu, and would most likely not be statewide here. There are of course health codes, and they are enforced, but there is no rating system. It's a pass/fail thing.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: KaimukiMan
                            bagelman01 RE: KaimukiMan Dec 10, 2013 08:32 AM

                            It's not even consisten statewide. Connecticut, a very small state, has health districts. These may comprise a city such as New Haven, or a group of smaller towns, such as the Quinnipiac Valley Health District which emcompasses, Hamden, North Haven, Woodbridge and Bethany.
                            Neither of these requires the grade to be posted at the restaurant. The New Haven inspections are posted on-line at the New Haven Advocate website.
                            The small Valley Health District: Andsonia, Derby, etc requires the restaurants post the grades on their entry doors.

                            Some districts inspect only places that prepare and serve food and/or drink. New Haven inspects any place that sells food or drink for consumption, on or off premises. So a gas station that sells soda from a cooler and potato chips gets inspected, as well as a fine dining establishment.

                          2. Perilagu Khan RE: mucho gordo Dec 10, 2013 03:06 PM

                            If the violations include little critters, live or dead, it's a no-go. Most other violations I will tolerate, particularly if it's a restaurant I already know and love.

                            1. d
                              deputygeorgie RE: mucho gordo Dec 12, 2013 03:53 AM

                              Generally, nothing below an A. I'm going to sound like a hypocrite but sometimes I'm not too worried about what it takes to get that rating. I know how the health department is in the county I live in and the county I work it. Where I live, if you've got an A you deserve it. Where I work, it generally depends on how the inspector feels that day and who they talked to. I think most people agree that one MAJOR infraction is more concerning that lots of small ones. Sometimes they still get a high letter grade though.

                              1. c
                                Cathy RE: mucho gordo Dec 12, 2013 07:22 AM

                                If the front door -or the outer screen door- is propped open when the inspector shows up, points. If a towel is laid on any counter in the kitchen when the inspector shows up, points. If the back door is propped open for the delivery truck guy walking back and forth to wheel in the inventory while the inspector is there, points.

                                If there aren't enough points to close it down, I don't think about it. It's probably better than usual: the restaurant will be constantly prepared for a surprise inspection until they earn back the "A".

                                1. raytamsgv RE: mucho gordo Dec 12, 2013 11:06 AM

                                  In Los Angeles County, an "A" score represents a rating of 90-100 while a "B" score represents a rating of 80-89. There isn't much of a difference between 89 and 90.

                                  Ratings are merely a snapshot of the conditions at one time. Just because a restaurant had an A rating during the inspection does not necessarily mean that their current conditions are still an A rating.

                                  Ratings can drop from an A to B, C, or even an immediate closure in minutes through no fault of their own (e.g. introduction of vermin from third-party sources, water heater breakdown, etc.).

                                  It's a useful system, but it has limitations that most people are not aware of.

                                  Having said that, I eat at pretty much any type of restaurants, including C or below.

                                  1. Kajikit RE: mucho gordo Dec 12, 2013 01:53 PM

                                    I don't know if they even HAVE a rating system in Florida... I've never seen it. Though you hear about various places in the paper that were shut down for violations - I honestly don't pay attention.

                                    1. l
                                      latindancer RE: mucho gordo Dec 12, 2013 05:05 PM

                                      The only time I made a huge issue of a 'D' rating was at a very well known hamburger place here in LA.
                                      It'll go nameless, as directed, but the problem I had with it (never ate there again) was that they intentionally undercook their meat because it tastes better.
                                      Undercooked hamburger with the infractions that were displayed were just not something I"d take the chance with.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: latindancer
                                        mucho gordo RE: latindancer Dec 12, 2013 06:02 PM

                                        There was a hamburger stand in NoHo, that will remain nameless, that was constantly being closed down for various infractions and reopening shortly thereafter until the last time they were closed. They never reopened there. A year or two later, I happened to notice that they reopened at a different location.
                                        I wonder if it's the same one you're talking about.

                                      2. b
                                        Budser1228 RE: mucho gordo Dec 13, 2013 05:57 AM

                                        I draw the line when my aunt who works for a cola company tells me where the drivers won't eat at. If they make deliveries and won't eat there, I don't want to eat there since they see the kitchen.

                                        1. C. Hamster RE: mucho gordo Dec 14, 2013 07:43 AM

                                          I'm in NYC all the time and it's the only place I know of that requires the placard on the window or door.

                                          We will only eat at A places.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: C. Hamster
                                            JayL RE: C. Hamster Dec 14, 2013 11:45 AM

                                            North Carolina is the same way. As is South Carolina.

                                            SC requires the letter grade.

                                            NC has the letter grade and actual score number displayed. If you have a drive thru window, it must be displayed there as well.

                                            1. re: JayL
                                              SaraAshley RE: JayL Dec 14, 2013 04:24 PM

                                              Yep, I'm from Virginia where this is not required, but I lived in Charlotte, NC where it was required. Personally, I rarely ever saw a grade less than an A, even at some of the shadier looking fast food places, so when I would see a B (which is the lowest grade I ever saw) I definitely was a little leery, but would still eat there. That being said, if I was to see anything lower than a B, I think I might have to go elsewhere.

                                              1. re: SaraAshley
                                                JayL RE: SaraAshley Dec 15, 2013 06:48 PM

                                                That's because if you get a low grade, you have a few days to call them back and get re-graded. Get a B or C today, fix what they graded you down on, call them this afternoon, and if you're lucky they'll be out within hours to check those issues.

                                                BAM! You have your A on the door.

                                                1. re: JayL
                                                  Perilagu Khan RE: JayL Dec 16, 2013 09:00 AM

                                                  Grade inflation strikes the restaurant world.

                                          2. Will Owen RE: mucho gordo Dec 14, 2013 04:12 PM

                                            I don't remember exactly what the grading system in Nashville is, but the Health Department would publish a list of places that had been inspected last week, and any violations were itemized. This was more informative than a simple letter grade, since X number of points given for a dirty work area is hardly equal to the same points for someone's washing his hands in the prep sink, or leaving the walk-in open while moving stuff in or out. It was pretty easy to make our own judgment about eating there or not.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Will Owen
                                              Perilagu Khan RE: Will Owen Dec 15, 2013 10:28 AM

                                              That's the way it's done in my burg, too.

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