Working with Mission Local, Victoria Beckley, a volunteer, created this map to display up-to-date food safety scores of city restaurants. You can see the current scores of all restaurants in San Francisco, and link to information from the San Francisco Department of Health about the reasons for the ratings.
Zoom in on the Mission District, and the map reveals 12 red dots. This means that exactly a dozen Mission restaurants received a food safety score of 70 or below on their most recent exam — essentially, a failing or near-failing score.
According to the agency’s website, a rating this poor indicates that multiple high-risk violations were observed during a routine health inspection, typically held every six to 18 months.
Three of the restaurants on this map with a poor rating — Mission Beach Cafe, La Victoria Bakery and Ali Baba’s Cave — shut their doors for good earlier this year, for stated reasons not entirely related to their health inspection scores.
A few things to note about the scores: In most cases, restaurants that receive a score below 70 are shut down only temporarily, giving them an opportunity to remedy their violations. In these circumstances, the health inspectors would then return a few days later to determine whether the restaurant is safe to reopen. But the restaurant must live with the scarlet letter of its low score until its next routine inspection — for months, or even more than a year.
In short, if a restaurant is open, it is now an ostensibly safe place to eat. It just wasn’t always.
No. 1: VBowls LLC
1200 Vermont St.
Poke. Rice bowls. Ramen. And currently the worst health inspection score in the Mission District. VBowls on Vermont street offers quick, affordable food you can even order through the online food delivery service Grubhub. At your own risk.
A city health inspection in May identified the following major violations: “high-risk food holding temperatures,” “inadequate hand washing facilities,” no hot water or running water, and contaminated food. Two days later, health inspectors returned to the restaurant for a follow-up visit, and found that all of these violations had been corrected.
No. 2: Cha Cha Cha
2327 Mission St.
Cha Cha Cha has been serving up tapas at its Mission Street bar/restaurant for over two decades — and has “witnessed it all,” according to a sign near the bar.
Including a forced health department closure.
According to health inspection records from June 26 to June 30, health inspectors found live cockroaches on the kitchen’s cutting boards and inside a dishwasher at the bar. An inspector also found cockroach feces along the restaurant’s walls, on pipes, and under bartops and prep tables.
“Observed a large plastic container of beans cooling at room temperature … ” wrote inspector Carlos Barragan on June 26. He also observed a “large piece of pork cooling at room temperature.”
These sights spurred a re-inspection on June 29, 2018. Health workers then discovered an abundance of grease and food scraps on the restaurant’s walls, ceiling, kitchen equipment, beneath bartops and on clean dishes, the report said. In addition, water had accumulated in the dishwashing room, and garbage and grease had accumulated in the garbage room.
All told, the violations resulted in a score of 60 out of 100, with 28 points docked for “high-risk” violations, eight for “mod-risk” and four for “low-risk.” Much of the staff had to receive on-site food safety training.
The restaurant was allowed to reopen on June 30, 2018 following a visit by an exterminator and a third city inspection.
No. 3: Duc Loi Supermarket
2200 Mission St.
A few shoppers mill around Duc Loi’s Supermarket, mostly in the imported dry goods aisles. It’s a warm summer day and condensation has formed on the glass freezer doors. The air smells like bleach, and the floors are discolored and covered in nicks and scratches. I ask to speak with the owner for a story about health inspections, and the low score Duc Loi received in April. “No comment,” says Amanda Ngo, co-owner.
This grocery store received low marks from the health department because of a “high risk vermin infestation,” and for not keeping refrigerated food cool enough, or food surfaces clean enough. Its April inspection resulted in a temporary shut-down. A follow-up visit conducted a few days later found that most of these violations had been corrected.
Many of the store’s 216 Yelp reviews note the apparently tasty $5.99 banh mi, the appealingly wide selection of international products, and the dirty floors.
No. 4: El Tonayense #1
1717 Harrison St.
Tongue, tripe, refrescos: that’s on the menu at El Tonayense #1, a popular food truck that has been in the Mission District for more than 20 years. Located at Harrison & 14th, near Best Buy.
This mobile food truck was inspected in May, and the results were troubling. Unclean food surfaces, unsafe food holding temperatures, and “unapproved operating conditions” were all reasons this longstanding taco truck received such a low score. Still: the truck has 458 Yelp reviews and 4-star average rating.
No. 5: Valencia Pizza & Pasta
801 Valencia St.
Valencia Pizza & Pasta is one of those cozy dining spots that feels like someone’s home. I drop by a few minutes before they close to see if I can speak with the owner about why the no-frills Italian eatery received such a low rating during its food safety inspection this past April. A friendly server informs me the owner is busy cooking at the moment, so I write down my number (three days pass and I still haven’t heard back). Today’s special is beef stroganoff. You can also get grilled catfish with lemon pepper, prawns fettuccine with artichoke sauce, and much more. It smells really good there. It got really great Yelp reviews. People especially seemed to like the lamb shank.
But earlier this year, health inspectors discovered a vermin infestation, “high risk holding temperatures,” “improper thawing methods,” “insufficient hot water or running water,” and unclean surfaces. During a follow-up inspection in May, health officials noted that all of these violations had been officially corrected.
The remaining restaurants in the bottom 12 are: Catering with Style at 2800 Bryant St., which received a score of 67; Shaska Delhi Coffee at 3406 26th St. and Irma’s Pampanga Restaurant at 2901 16th St., which both received a score of 68; and Mikado Sushi at 1684 Bryant St., which received a score of 69. Click the links above to read more.