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Cleanest Dining: Who has the valley's best health inspections?

Flipping the script on Dirty Dining
Posted at 3:20 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 09:14:26-04

Every week Chief Investigator Darcy Spears shows you where the dining is dirty, exposing restaurants putting public health in danger by failing to follow Health District rules.

This week, Darcy is flipping the script, showcasing success stories of those who set the bar highest on health inspections.

"What you do is a really good community service," Perreira said. "I appreciate it."

Restaurant patron Noel Perreira counts on my weekly Dirty Dining reports.

But he and many others have been hungry for more.

"I was like super hungry and I make very bad decisions when I'm hungry," Perreira said with a chuckle. "So I would hate to go someplace, especially like a favorite hangout spot and to know they don't have an A rating."

Combing through Health District data and looking for those who shine, I chose three restaurants in different parts of the valley that go above and beyond.

In this first-ever edition of Cleanest Dining, we're telling you about places that are doing it the right way every day, getting nothing but zero-demerit A grades for at least the last three years.

"There are restaurant owners, managers, that really take pride," said Rey Robledo.

He and his wife, Leigh, own and operate Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Summerlin.

Watching them work, it's easy to understand how their restaurant has gotten perfect inspections since the day they opened their doors, dating back to June 1, 2015.

"It's our staff, really, and the way we trained initially when we opened," said Leigh. "We have just kept that momentum and kept that training."

She says it's not hard to follow Health District rules and that it really boils down to basics.

"Basic handwashing, cross-contamination, what's food safe, what isn't food safe, rotating food product, dating food product, making sure you know what you're opening, where you're putting it, how you're storing it, right temperatures."

But that knowledge requires constant reminders.

"What is the hardest thing about maintaining a zero-demerit A grade?" Darcy Spears asked.

"Probably the hardest thing is being willing to train entry-level employees who have never worked around food before," Leigh answered.

When watching Dirty Dining, Leigh says the one thing that stands out is expired food in restaurant kitchens.

"I don't understand how that could even happen because after a day or two, no one wants to eat it! If you don't want to eat it, why would you serve it?"

Over the years they've had three different inspectors so they never know what to expect from the Health District, but what they expect from themselves never wavers.

"Challenge thrown down, right? All you other restaurants out there..." said Spears.

"Please, absolutely!" said Rey. "Let's do it right!"

Someone else who's doing it right is Annie Thompson who shows you that the cleanest dining can be found in the most unlikely location.  

Don't be fooled by the bars on the outside, Annie's Kitchen BBQ in West Las Vegas has a health inspection track record that would make most anyone envious.

At her tiny, family-run restaurant on D Street between Washington and Owens, It's all about the barbecue!" Annie says with a smile. "Barbecued ribs, barbecued chicken, brisket, links, peach cobbler, mac 'n' cheese, greens..."

The barbecue itself sits in an alley, literally under lock and key.

Its history of zero-demerit A grades goes back to 2012.

"I know how hard it is to run a restaurant, but I know you can do it," Annie says.

Like many restaurants, Annie's has multiple health permits and even though her kitchen's gotten a few demerits here and there, it's had straight A's for 11 years.

"I'm the first in my family to do something like this so it means a lot to me to do something that I always dreamed of doing--running a restaurant--and truly running it to be excellent."

The excellence continues near the strip at Benihana inside the Westgate hotel casino on Paradise between Desert Inn and Sahara.

The hibachi restaurant in Benihana has had zero demerits since 2013 and has never dipped below an A grade.

"It's on everyone's minds and it's very important to them to make sure they're coming into a clean and safe establishment, you know?" said Westgate Director of Culinary Operations Aaron Losch. "When I go out to eat it's the same thing. I look at the grades. I watch how things are done."

Losch says it's a challenge to keep up with an often-changing health code, but adds, "We don't let up on it."

He says ever-present oversight to ensure staff members do their part has helped them rise above.

"We're honored to be one of the ones that has maintained that level."

If you'd like to see the entire cleanest dining list provided by the Health District, click here. But keep a few things in mind.

  • Our request was for a list of every food establishment (not including schools) that has received nothing but zero-demerit A grades for calendar year 2014 - present.
  • Many restaurants have multiple permits so look closely at the description to see which permit is making the grade. It could be for the bar or the warewash area or for catering or a seasonal outdoor food cart. 
  • Also, there are a number of restaurants on the list that are no longer operating. Those permits are listed as inactive.
  • And quite a few places on the list have only been open for a year or so and may only have one inspection.
  • Please be aware that additional inspections may have taken place since the list was provided.

You can always check any restaurant's current grade and inspection history on the Health District's website.