Best & Worst Restaurants Rated By Health Department

LINCOLN, Neb. Every six months Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department inspects more than 200 full-service restaurants. From Thai to Mexican almost all the biggest violations happened in the Haymarket.

El Mariachi Taco Cantina
In 2015 inspectors filed numerous notices and an immediate suspension with El Mariachi Taco Cantina. Last December, inspectors found vinegar flies by the soda machine and one inside a bottle of alcohol for the second time. Inspectors also reported a repeat critical violation for leaving raw beef in a walk-in cooler over beer bottles and next to limes.

Last month inspectors wrote up Dempsey's for employees not washing their hands after breaking down boxes. The restaurant was written up for a repeat critical violation involving an employee prepping potatoes in a sink with a direct connection to a sewer pipe.

Hiro 88
Hiro 88's most recent violations were issued last September. Inspectors wrote them up for five critical violations or items that could pose an immediate risk to public health resulting in a food borne illness or injury. Most troubling to the inspector was finding out six of the seven employees did not have current food handler permits. However, in it's required follow-up inspection, the restaurant passed with no violations.

Luckies Lounge and Grill
Last August, inspectors cited Luckies Lounge and Grill with six critical violations, including finding a fruit fly inside a bottle of creme de menthe on the bar rail. In the follow-up the business made all needed adjustments except for a sprayer hose that needed to be fixed.

Thai Garden
Last October, inspectors reported employees at Thai Garden did not wash their hands before returning from lunch and smoke breaks.

Billy's Restaurant
Last September, inspectors found mouse feces on packages in dry storage. They also found a dead decomposed mouse in a trap directly underneath packaging. This was just one of three repeat critical violations inspectors cited.

Vincenzo's Ristorante
According to the health department's most recent inspection of Vincenzo's, the restaurant had four critical violations, including a repeat violation of no chemical sanitizer in dish machine.

Lee's Chicken Restaurant
Inspectors cited Lee's Chicken Restaurant with six critical violations last December.

Rodizio Grill
Last week, inspectors cited the restaurant with 9 critical violations, most of which were repeated violations.

Watering Hole
Last November, inspectors cited Watering Hole with four critical violations, three of which were repeat violations.

Restaurant Responses
We reached out to all the restaurants listed above for comment. Three issued the following statements.

Billy's Restaurant says the inspections really do help with their overall performance. They say they are a better establishment and doing a better job because of it, however, fixes do not happen overnight.

Rodizio Grill says food service standards have gotten more stringent. They added that the requirements and terminology create a certain amount of ambiguity, which allows the inspectors to take a subjective approach.

Lee Chicken Restaurant says they are Lincoln's oldest restaurant and the reason for many of the violations is old equipment, not sanitary issues. They also added that all their employees permits are current.

Restaurants With A History Of Above Average Inspections
Ruby Tuesday
Top Hat
Buffalo Wild Wings
Mazatlan II
Super Taco