The Greasiest Spoon in Town

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Last month KIRO 7 reported on the "10 Dirtiest Restaurants" in Seattle (link to story now dead).  Several establishments near UW were featured, and in the past month its been fascinating to watch how they (and the student patrons) reacted.

One UW-area Thai place on said list was quite upset, as they apparently have the same name as another Thai restaurant, and felt it was a case of mistaken identity. They posted a sign decrying the bad press, which didn't last long. My by-eye gauging is that their business maybe took a couple day dip, but has remained strong. Also - the place is by no means "clean".
Just down the 'Ave is a teriyaki restaurant, which absolutely deserves to be on this filthy list. I've had some frightful meals here over the past decade...

This got me thinking about restaurant inspections and food safety across the city, and I went in search of the data that could answer the question: where are the best & worst places to eat in Seattle, according to food inspectors?  Mixing in some GIS shapefiles of Seattle neighborhoods, here's what I came up with:

The data contained about 192k inspections, spanning 2002 - 2009. More recent data was also available, but to get the general map this was all I needed.

There's lots of other fun things one can do with such a large database, including looking at when the food inspectors are most likely to visit a given location, and even when most restaurant inspections occur:
This map, and the initial KIRO report, are examples of the every-day insights you can gather from public data that society is collecting every day. Personal food/restaurant reviews are another great source of insight. Combining these, it could be very interesting if (e.g.) Yelp included the most recent food inspection reports for restaurants. Wouldn't you want to know? Fun stuff.

FYI: King County's Public Health reporting system can be found here.


  1. I love this post. As a restaurant owner, as well as an avid fan of eating out, I think every single person should have this kind of information available.

    1. Thanks Clarence! I have to ask - as a restaurant owner, are you willing to publish your health inspection scores? Would you operate differently if you were required to or if Yelp did so?


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