Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Charlotte is NOT a city short on places to eat out. But the restaurant scene isn’t always a good one. According to the latest ratings by the North Carolina health inspectors, there are quite a few restaurants in the Queen City that don’t quite make the mark.

The N.C. Division of Environmental Health serves as the governing body that keeps the public’s health safe. Restaurant inspection scores come from this division or local health departments. Each local health department has its own Board of Health. The N.C. Boards of health act as the gatekeepers for managing these inspection scores for restaurants and setting the standard.

Most people these days are more aware of restaurant’s inspection scores. It can reveal a lot about the restaurants level of cleanliness and how it handles its food. A low score doesn’t necessarily mean the restaurant is unfit. There may be a few areas the establishment in that did not meet the state’s health inspection standards. For example, some of the most common reasons for low scores were food handlers not washing their hands properly, contaminated food containers, and improper food temperatures. Many restaurants are now using infrared thermometers to avoid this issue.

Nonetheless, there are several Charlotte restaurants that received low inspection scores, but knowing the specific reason for that score can make a difference. You be the judge when reviewing these eight restaurants that ranked low scores from the health department. Check out some of the violations. A few of the restaurants may surprise you.

Source: North Carolina’s health inspection database here.

  • BAOBAO Chinese Restaurant 9715 SAM FURR RD, HUNTERSVILLE NC - Grade

    Scored: 76.5 (B) 9/28/23


    • Observed open and closed personal beverages stored on prep tables, on top of clean bowls and above food prep.
    • Observed numerous hand washing violations.
    • Observed hand sinks used for rinsing food (immediate intervention occurred) and observed food debris in both sinks along with a metal scrubber.
    • Observed unwashed produced comingled with washed produce and all other foods.
    • Observed uninformed staff try to clean equipment by rinsing in the 3-comp sink which housed raw meat & seafood and other dirty equipment. Observed bloody pans treated this way, too.
    • Observed improper cleaning of the slicer, which had been used to cut raw pork, with just moist towels and “Oxiver TB”.
    • Observed dirty plates stored as clean, dough hook/mixer in need of cleaning.
  • Cottage Restaurant 1704 HARRIS HOUSTON RD, CHARLOTTE NC

    Scored: 84 (B) on 9/5/2023 (rescored to 93.5 on 10/3)


    • Employee observed washing hands in prep sink.
    • Employees were washing hands for less than 5 seconds with no soap.
    • Employee observed washing hands in prep sink.
    • Raw tuna and pre-cooked imitation crab stored in same pan in walk-in cooler.
    • Heavy food buildup on most utensils and food-contact equipment.
    • Prep sink has not be cleaned or sanitized in days/weeks.
    • Meat grinder had visible raw meat residue on the food-contact portions of it, and a roach crawled out of it.
    • Roaches observed in potato starch and flour bulk bins.
    • Live roach observed on prep table.
    • Large amount of flies observed during inspection.


  • Fonda La Taquiza 5135 ALBEMARLE RD, CHARLOTTE NC

    Scored 86 (B) on 9/26/2023



    • Observed several food borne illness risk factor violations out of compliance including cooling of food, temperature monitoring of food items during prep and cooling processes, children’s menu burger offered undercooked, and the dish machine not sanitizing properly, however still in use.
    • Observed raw chicken stored over raw beef in reach in part of prep cooler.
    • Observed sanitizer not holding prime in dish machine.
    • Observed cheeseburger on kids menu asterisked as being offered undercooked.
    • Observed 2 dead cockroaches in facility.


  • Firebirds 3920 SHARON RD, CHARLOTTE NC

    Scored 86 (B) on 9/20/2023 (rescored to 95.5 on 9/26)


    • Observed an employee handle raw fish with a glove hand.
    • Observed an employee handle trash then don gloves without a hand wash.
    • Observed several employees handle trash on front cook line and don gloves without a hand wash.
    • Observed several employees wash hands for less than 15 secs.
    • Observed several jicama with white and green growth on them.
    • Observed several metal containers stacked together with sticker residue and food debris left on them.
    • Observed plates and bowls with food debris and splatter on them in the front prep area.
    • Observed cut lettuce (4 containers), fish, sliced chicken, sliced turkey, sliced roast beef, and sliced cheese above 41F in cold hold drawers/reach ins.
    • Observed several areas throughout the kitchen with small and large flies.
  • Super Mercado El Rey 6300 SOUTH BV, CHARLOTTE, NC

    Scored 87 (B) on 9/26/2023


    • Observed several employees handle trash and soiled equipment discard gloves and donned new gloves without a hand wash.
    • Observed employees enter and leave kitchen several times without a hand wash prior to donning gloves and food prep/clean utensil handling.
    • Observed an employee handle RTE corn tortillas from the grill with bare hands for an order.
    • Observed hand wash sink blocked with a large trash can.
    • Observed sliced tomatoes, cut lettuce, and shredded cheese above 41F.
    • Observed consumer advisory for steak and eggs without a disclosure.



    Scored 87.5 (B) on 9/12/2023 


    • Observed several priority violations; food separated and protected, cold holding, expired TCS items, cooling time, and food contact surfaces.
    • Observed raw fish stored over container of muffin mix (no egg or any raw protein, dairy only).
    • Observed gumbo cooling at a rate of .07, needed .08.
    • Observed chicken cooked the day before holding above 41F.
    • Observed cooked rice, coleslaw and tuna with prep date of 9/5. Expired by one day.
    • Observed no time stamp on mixed greens held out for time.
  • Sunflower Baking Company 220 EAST BV, CHARLOTTE NC

    Scored 88 (B) on 9/28/2023


    • Observed employee beverage stored over prep table.
    • Observed employee rinsing rubber coffee station mat out at handwashing sink.
    • Observed shredded pepperjack cheese containing fuzzy blue growth.
    • Observed dead fruit fly floating in a large container of uncovered cold brew.
    • Observed tomato soup that was prepared yesterday and out of cold holding today for service at 47F at 3:43pm and 47F at 4:01pm.
    • Observed multiple open milks, brie, high moisture mozzarella, cooked eggs, and cooked mushrooms without prep dates at end of the day, with the intent to use the next day.
    • Observed one spray bottle incorrectly labeled as sanitizer when it was actually a disinfectant.
    • Observed another spray bottle of disinfectant missing a label.

    Scored 88.5 (B) on 9/26/2023


    • Many dirty dishes found during inspection.
    • Only 1 soap for both kitchen hand washing sinks.
    • Par-cooked chicken stored above cooked chicken in domestic cooler.
    • All the tongs, several large bowls and containers were found with food residue and grease residue on them but were stored as clean.
    • Par-cooked chicken tenders observed in domestic cooler.
    • Chicken in sandwich cooler had discard date of 9-22.

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