UPDATE: We got a lot of response from restaurants that made this list. Check out their side of the story in our follow-up coverage.
Minneapolis Health Inspector Robert Becker strolled into the chophouse at the corner of 20th and University Avenue in northeast Minneapolis. Inside Jax Cafe on March 24, 2015, a buffet of bad awaited. Over the next four-plus hours, Becker rang the restaurant up for a total of 54 health code violations, including 22 designated as "critical."
"A critical violation is something that can lead to a food-borne illness," such as E. coli and salmonella, says Dan Huff, the city's environmental health director.
Among the most serious violations discovered at Jax were: "black/pink slime buildup" inside the nozzles of soda guns and "mouse droppings" in the bakery area "as well as in the dishroom," according to the inspection report.
When it comes to Minneapolis restaurants with the greatest number of critical health code violations last year, Jax Cafe weighs in comfortably as the biggest transgressor. Its infractions were five more than second-place finisher Hibachi Buffet, and a half-dozen higher than Los Andes Restaurant.
Inspector Amanda Lee paid a routine visit to Hibachi Buffet on East Lake Street last May. Of the 32 violations, 17 were deemed critical. They included a manager who didn't know the proper storage temperatures for food. The same manager admitted that not "all complaints of illness associated with eating food at the establishment" were being reported to the health department.
Another Lake Street eatery, Los Andes Restaurant, was nailed for 49 health code violations two months later. Sixteen were critical, including an ice machine with dirt-caked deposits inside the unit, "many mouse droppings indicating a current infestation," and containers of stew and salsa, some almost two weeks old, still in storage, waiting to be served.
Rounding out the 10 worst were: Sabor Latino Restaurant in northeast, Bombay Bistro South Indian on Nicollet Mall, Asian Taste, and Loring Park's Eggy's Diner, which all tied with 15.
Cintia's, Seward's An-Nuur International Restaurant, and Dancing Ganesha complete the list, each flagged for 14 critical violations.