Dear PoP – Carry Outs in DC Busted For Unsanitary Conditions

image005, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Wow, this could be one of the more disturbing “Dear PoPs” I’ve ever received. From the photo above, that a reader sent, it looks like they were drying fish on the back alley fence. Insane. Fortunately you can see a DC health inspector’s badge to the very left of the photo. The reader writes:

“I checked into this on and found out that this carryout and several others were busted recently due to poor sanitary conditions, findings of rat feces, improper food handling/storing/disposal of meat, etc. This is insane and unacceptable. We live in a unique city but yet we have to deal with such sublevel food finds in our neighborhoods.

Please share this on your blog so that readers may know to BE AWARE of where they chose to patron or eat; especially when it comes to some of the neighborhood carryouts. You could be getting more than unusual culinary delights in your order of Pork Yat or Kung Pao Chicken!!

These are picture of frozen fish being thawed on back of a fence of a neighborhood carry out! I am sure it is the fish used in fish sub sandwiches or platters.

Here’s the link from

I think the photo is from a bust of New China Inc. Chinese &American Food @ 18 Montana Ave. NE.”

Brutal. But I’ve checked that link before and often there are “proper” restaurants on there as well. It’s kinda like the crime reports for me, sometimes I wish I didn’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they’ve been busted and all. But what happens if my Taco Bell gets one of these reports…

46 Comment

  • We all have rats, your taco bell has some kind of rats. I worked in food in DC in the 1980s. We had rats. Barry never conquered the rat issue and those baby rats had baby rats and now it’s going to take 20 years to solve that.

    But remember, the national chains have processes in place. the mom and pop places do not and many of those people, like the ones pictured above, have no understanding of food at all.

  • I have not eaten at a carryout in more than 8 years. Glad I haven’t. Aside from fast food, I just can’t bring myself to eat at places that cater to the lowest common denominator of consumers.

  • @nate – It’s not all “lowest common denominator.” Some times you have to work overtime and don’t feel like having a bowl of cereal for dinner. And if there’s a better way to end an evening of binge drinking than with an order of 5-wings-and-mambo-sauce, I haven’t found it.

    If a restaurant/carryout has a dumpster, it has rats. The question is: how many of them are INSIDE the establishment crawling around the prep areas and poopin in the open food tubs?

    This reminds me of a sushi place on Pennsylvania Avenue in Foggy Bottom that had a fence around it. On the fence, some wag had spraypainted, “THIS FENCE KEEPS RATS FROM JUMPING AT YOU.”

  • ugh. i’m pretty sure Ive ordered from New China….ugh

  • Why would anyone eat from one of these carry out places? They really represent the worst in “food” and are not necessary. Of course, I am exempting Wings over Washington from the category of “carry out.” And also Great Wall. And anyplace that serves cheeseburger subs. But seriously, I can’t figure out how 14th street can support the large number of obviously filthy carry out places. The place at 14th and Florida is so overridden by bums I don’t know who goes there. Does anyone have a serious expectation of cleanliness from these places? Enjoy your rat droppings with mambo sauce.

  • boo hoo. It’s just flies. I wish I was kidding, but like, for serious, the fish is thawing out, meaning that at one point it was frozen, most likely ridiculously soon after it was caught and cleaned. That automatically makes it a million times cleaner and fresher than the fish consumed by the vast majority of people on the planet.

    Travel to some place like Egypt and get deathly ill from eating a piece of fruit. You’ll never complain about a DC takeout joint again. After living in Burkina Faso for a year, I have never gotten sick in the United States. We are babied! babied!!!

  • i agree with anonymous 8:57. i dont want to eat rat shit in my chicken lo mein, BUT what can you do…and the fish in the gets cooked after that right? all the bad stuff that it collects while hanging out on the fence just gets cooked into that delicious golden brown crust 🙂

  • Anon 8:57, sounds like a sh*t sandwich is waiting for you back in Burkina Faso. You and the rats can eat it!

    And, some group houses also add to the rat problems (like 1110 Monroe St., NW) here in DC. They can

  • I agree with Nate and Eric. You can’t expect these carry out places to be clean. I’ve worked in many restaurants in DC and even the “nice” ones have some kind of cleanliness problem. I can’t even imagine what goes on “behind the scenes” at these joints. Besides, why would anyone eat there, the food is just downright disgusting.

  • Keep in mind also that all of the older buildings in Chinatown, especially around the H-street corridor, have massive rat problems. If you are ever in the Fado pub, for example, and feel like you want to eat something – don’t. I personally know that particular building is so infested with rats in the walls, stairwells, and the ceilings that tenants above Fado had to move out after a rat or two fell literally from the ceiling onto people’s desks while they were working. The evil landlady that owns that building, and several others in Chinatown, simply refuses to do anything about the rat problem. Her solution, I kid you not, was to put a cat in the cellar. After the cat disappeared (poor kitty) she did nothing other than collect rent.

    While residential tenants in DC have some of the most favorable laws to protect them from landlord abuse, commercial tenants can either grin and bear the rats falling from the ceiling or move when the lease is up.

    If you eat at Fado just be aware you’re food is filled with rat droppings and rat hair.

  • I was in Egypt for 2 weeks without getting sick once – some of the best food I ever had. After taking a redeye home, I stopped at a IHOP between BWI and DC. Couldn’t even make it home. Bubbleguts. Stupid American food.

  • Anon at 8:57– do you really think no one gets food poisoning from mishandled food in the US? try checking the CDC, or state health dept websites. it happens every day. (of course, i’m not sure we can expect an informed statement from anyone who writes “but like, for serious”) personally, i’ve had severe food-borne illness 3 times in my life: once in India, three times in the US. Two of the times in the US, i had eaten at an upscale restaurant (a fancy seafood place in San Diego, a famous steakhouse in Miami).

    the incidence of food-borne illness in the third world is obviously greater, but it is so because they lack the health requirements we have here–like not thawing your frozen fish fillets from an alley fence that winos pee on every day. if these clowns are doing that, there is a really good chance that’s just one of the disease-promoting food-handling issues. deep-frying might kill the maggot eggs and bacteria that are all over those fillets, but it won’t help with the cross-contamination of the mayonnaise, ketchup, lettuce, pre-prepared food that sits under a warming light, bread, etc. that does NOT get deep fried, nor will it kill the bacteria transmitted to the fillet AFTER deep-frying that is all over every contact surface the raw fillets touched. do you really think that those people are sterilizing everything that those thawed fillets touched (including their hands) before they touch another food item that isn’t cooked?

  • Gawd, this thread is making me sooo hungry right now. I think i’m going to hit the shop and get me some mambo sauce wings.

  • 8:57- grow up you racist loser. I cannot explain in a million years how ridiculously wrong you are to equate the extreme racism that is keeping Africa in poverty and killing generations of young children with being us being babied.

  • Can you imagine all the problems that are not discovered by the D.C. Department of Health?

    Maybe it is time for the City to hire Inside Edition’s “Rat Patrol” since they had no problems seeing and reporting two of the eateries, Five Guys restaurants when they found a pack of rats right outside the back door of the restaurant two nights in a row.

    Go add checkout the DC Food Establishment Closures. On their best week, there are only three to four established that are closed for problems. It makes you say, “hmmmm???”

    If you would like to file a complaint against a food establishment in the District of Columbia, you can 535-2180 during normal business hours of 8:30 am and 4:30 pm.

    As for confirmed cases of food borne illness, call the Bureau of Epidemiology at 442-9371.

  • The other thing to keep in mind is that the food is already contaminated in the food supply chain before getting to there. I here horror storie about what’s going on in food plants.

  • My husband and I used to live in an apartment that backed up against the alley shared with the now-gone Blue Diamond Chinese restaurant on 18th between T and Willard — every night we used to see several rats run in and out the back door of the restaurant all night long. Also we would be scared to walk down that alley because all of the dumpsters were alive, ALIVE!

    Thank Jebus that Bloomindale doesn’t have as many rats (but it also doesn’t really have any restaurants).

  • yeah, OK, neener, I’m a racist. I was only living in Africa, speaking the native tongue, and teaching young adults how to build houses and construct bridges.

    Americans are pigs and babies. It being unsanitary scares you? dont f*ing go there. business owners will get the message soon enough, and either change course or go out of business.

    We don’t need some health inspector with a GED who works 20 hours a week to tell us what is OK and what isn’t. The fact of the matter is that for every necessary job in the DC government, there are about 6 that should be eliminated. This is a problem because the city made it a problem. DC dept of health is a job engine, just like the DoD, just like the community liaison program.

    Racism? someone on this thread referred to their customer base as the lowest common denominator of consumers. I’m guessing they mean poor uneducated black people and mexicans. What’s your guess? Go ahead, jackass, call me on it.

  • Everywhere in DC has rats. I saw a rat run across the floor while I was eating at Pizza Paradiso in Dupont Circle a few years back. I see rats in people’s yards all over Columbia Heights. I see rats in dumpsters at many eateries across the city.

    We have a rat problem here. Carryouts aren’t the only victims, by far.

    Factory produced food is full of rat droppings as well. FDA rules allow a certain percentage of rodent feces, it’s not a zero requirement. Candy bars? All of ’em have a decent amount of mice/rat poop in ’em.

    If people really had a daily consciousness of what was in their food (and we haven’t even mentioned the chemicals yet), they’d starve or start a backyard garden real quick.

  • I’d start a backyard garden, but I’ve seen rats back there. 🙂

  • I’m normally don’t care either way, but in the light of yesterday’s shocking shooting at the Holocaust Museum, can we be a little bit less quick to throw around accusations of being “racist losers” or “Americans are pigs and babies.”

    I know it’s a blog and I know that this is the nature of comment boards, but do we have to leap to totally unsubstantiated assumptions about eachother, or randomly describe 300 million people as “pigs?”

    Peace and You’ll Never Walk Alone.

  • ummm… did anyone else notice the DC website IS NEARLY THREE MONTHS OUT OF DATE???

    and I quote:

    “March 23, 2009
    Food Establishment Closures and Restorations

    The following are the closures and restorations for the period of March 16, 2009 through March 20, 2009…”

    I mean really, ~90 days out of date for a list of only 10 entries????

    How hard can it be to maintain this list??

  • anyone who says takeout food is bad is a racist.

    also, i am very offended by the general tone of this post in how it treats rats. you all have been so blinded by the powerful and secretive anti-rat lobby that has convinced you rats are a blight and spread disease. show me one shred of proof! i’ve never seen it!

    lets keep those sweeping generalized anti-rat comments to a minimum please!

  • Anon857, I agree that there was nothing at all racist about your original post. Don’t know what neener was smoking.

    But your “pigs and babies” argument is complete BS. You make one point — we’re a pigs and babies culture — and then try to support it with completely unrelated evidence about the inefficiency of DC city government. First, let me say that I agree with you that DC govt was treated like Barry’s personal jobs program going back to the 1970s and is, at least partly as a result of that, a case study in inefficient, bloated bureaucracy run amok. And I’ll even go further to agree that many DC employees are some combination of corrupt, incompetent, or both.

    But that really wasn’t your point. Or, if it was, the “pigs and babies” bit is just superfluous. We have chosen a regulatory state and all the paternalism that goes with it. We pay for it with tax dollars and live with its consequences. We can always change our minds about that or look at the end result and make changes — from trimming the fat onward. Hell, we can even revert to a full-blown free-market system where only the clean restaurants get business from finicky folks and the dirty ones have to drop their price or go out of business and sub-prime mortgage derivatives can be sold to whomever is dumb enough to buy them. But that’s the system here, and we also enjoy a much higher standard of living than places without that system because of it. (And my travels throughout the world leave me feeling pretty secure in that conclusion). And if that makes me a baby or a pig … well, oink oink wahhhh.

  • Case in point, El Gringo. If this was so important, it would be staffed by competent people and updated daily. Instead, you had some manager with a 50 percent thought out idea and like four people then went and worked on it for a few days and then went and did whatever for a while…

    Oh, and

  • Yeah, Anonymous1200: You illustrated my heat of the moment thing. This is much more about DC Gov’t for me than any of the other nonsense I was espousing.

  • Umm, I don’t spend a lot of time inspecting the kitchens or dumpsters of restaurants I patron. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed back there. So I don’t think I’m nuts to rely on the health department to do this for me.

    It seems like a silly thing to argue over.

  • And now is about the time one of you yuppies will chime in with the “DC voting rights” debate. Fail.

  • So, I’m curious anonymous857 are you advocating no regulations then? For example, based on your argument parhaps there should be no laws requiring people to wear seat belts because if people are stupid enough to not wear their seat belts then they deserve what they get when they get into an accident. I’m interested to know where you would draw the line on what is too much regulation. My main concern with having regulations is when their absence affects individuals who do not have the capacity to make their own decisions e.g. children, mentally handicapped, etc. In my mind, it may be a good thing to have regulations like the above to protect these individuals when the adults who care for them do not.

  • What’s the big deal? The unsanitary conditions doesn’t seem to bother the health inspector. Just check out that belly. Bet he had fried fish just after writing out his citation (if he did give them a citation).

  • saf

    El Gringo – The link went to the March list, but if you go to the menu, months through May are available.

    Thor – “Just the fact that they work for the DC government speaks for itself.”

    Wow. Just wow. I know that dealing with the DC government is frustrating, but I know a number of good people who work for the DC government specifically because they love this city and want to make the DC government better. That’s a REALLY broad brush you’re using there.

  • saf,

    I apologize. And I didn’t mean 100% of them are losers, just 99.9%. And honestly, I don’t believe you know a number of good people who work for dc gov.

  • I work for the DC government for specifically the reasons saf described. I know for a fact several of my coworkers do too. It is a broad brush you use and unkind.

  • saf

    Thor, really I do. Now, I work on projects that coordinate with the city a lot, and I have several neighbors who are DC government employees. I probably know a few more government employees than your average citizen, so I am working with a decent sample size. In any case, you are being needlessly cruel.

    IMO, the biggest problem with our city government is inertia, and that’s a problem with any bureaucracy. If we could overcome that, we would make some real progress.

    Note that I am not saying that dealing with the city government is easy. Anyone who has heard my getting and not getting permits saga of the last 7 months knows that I am not blind to our government’s flaws.

  • Thank the gods that “DC Employee” has the time to read and reply to the posting on this listserv.

    I would have to assume the “DC Employee” is on a lunch break or on vacation. We appreciate the insight and time on this matter.

  • The commenters on this site can be so freaking rude and it is ruining the site. The beautiful life, anyone? Like maybe positive and/or funny statements? If someone just wants to bitch or tear others down, I’d recommend they go to IHateDC.

    @Thor: your attitude is BS and you have personally insulted me, because I know many DC employees who are good people, including one I am married to.

    @Catalano: lemme guess, you are either not at work or on your lunch break? Because otherwise besides sounding like a prig, your holier-than-thou attitude is hypocritical.

  • MMMmmmmm…shit sandwich with rat sauce…..mmmmmmm……

  • guys stop being so rude and mean with your comments! stop bringing people down! thats not what this site is about!

    Cataloano- you are an idiot
    thor- every comment you make is dumb
    saf- you just plain suck
    dcemployee- i am just embarrassed that you exist.

  • I have made a rule that I will not order take out or delivery from somewhere that demands four showers afterward to get the stink off of me.

  • get more cats around like we’ve got in ledroit. i’ve never seen a rodent here – just ms. kittie going about her business.

  • I want to apologize for feeding the troll. At first I thought he was being serious, now I know no one could take him seriously.

  • saf

    TonyS – I suck why?

  • Neener thinks I’m a racist.

  • Am I the only person wondering how she is getting those fish to stick to the fence?

Comments are closed.