I wanted to go out to dinner at a local Vietnamese joint, but my friend demurred. “The last time I was there I saw a roach,” she complained. Ah, what’s the big deal? A few roaches, only to be expected in a place with lots of food. I tried to reassure her by looking up the spot’s most recent health department inspection … and it was cited two weeks ago for a “severe” rodent and roach infestation. Yikes!

A lot of health departments make their restaurant reports available online. Here is a good list of health departments with online restaurant information databases. Just remember: I warned you.

I’m not the only one who squeamishly enjoys keeping an eye on restaurant filth. Eater frequently targets the Department of Health in its DOH Chronicles, which notes when favorite places are shuttered for violations.

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