Here’s your guide to the nastiest restaurants in Seattle

Navigating Seattle’s burgeoning restaurant scene can be a serious challenge, and, if you’re unlucky, a health hazard too. (I bet I’m not the only one whose had my stomach turn after eating a bowl of clam chowder).

But a Seattle geek has figured out an easy way to inform the masses about which dining establishments you’re better off avoiding, putting together a Google Map showcasing which restaurants in the city have accumulated the worst health inspection scores.

The site is called Dinegerous, and it is the brainchild of Gist employee and frequent restaurant-goer Stephen Becker. He came up with the idea after a recent lunch outing with friends at Pyramid Alehouse — which actually scores pretty well. The conversation turned to health inspections, and Becker wondered if he could pull data onto a Google map to showcase those restaurants with the best and worst scores.

When Becker discovered that his favorite lunch hangout scored a miserable 110 (the higher the score the more health violations), the coder decided that it was time to spread the word.

“After having my coworkers test it out, we just kept talking about it,” said Becker, who only started working on the mashup about two weeks ago. He pulls the data from the King County Health Department weekly, pointing out in a disclaimer on the site that an “inspection is only a snapshot of the operation during a limited time.”

You can, however, get an interesting analysis on problems that the Health Department discovered — such as improper cooling procedures; inadequate hand washing facilities; and food contact surfaces not being sanitized.

The idea sounds familiar to us, but Becker said in his research he could only find a few sites that had been phased out.

At this stage, the goal is to build out the map for Washington state and then expand to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dinegerous started out as a fun coding project, but Becker tells GeekWire that he hopes it evolves into much more. He’s planning to apply to Amazon.com’s Startup Challenge, and says he’s “brainstorming ideas on how to turn Dinegerous into a real business.”

And now for the burning question: Which Seattle restaurant has the worst ranking?

That dubious honor falls to Asia Ginger on Second Avenue South where Becker said he used to eat regularly. “I now check my map before I go eat anywhere,” Becker says.

  • Guest

    Congratulations on this launch! This is a valuable service with a very pleasant user experience.

    • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

      Do you copy and paste this response to every new site launch?

    • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

      Do you copy and paste this response to every new site launch?

  • http://twitter.com/kerryusry Kerry Usry

    Great, another bootstrap useless site with no real point or business model. This is not anywhere I would go to factor in where I would go to eat. The Elysian Brewing Company is a red but I will still go there and enjoy it.

    • Robin Connell

      I bet you wouldn’t go there if King County posted the inspection grade on the door, like they do in Los Angeles county…

    • Robin Connell

      I bet you wouldn’t go there if King County posted the inspection grade on the door, like they do in Los Angeles county…

    • Robin Connell

      I bet you wouldn’t go there if King County posted the inspection grade on the door, like they do in Los Angeles county…

    • Robin Connell

      I bet you wouldn’t go there if King County posted the inspection grade on the door, like they do in Los Angeles county…

    • http://twitter.com/dinegerous dinegerous

      Thank you for the support Kerry.

      • http://twitter.com/kerryusry Kerry Usry

        Sorry, I guess I could be nice and constructive. It is very one sided, what about layering on peoples negative/positive experiences by allowing feedback, and put it in a nice wrapper with a design that plays on the dangerous theme, I like the twitter logo BTW.

      • http://twitter.com/kerryusry Kerry Usry

        Sorry, I guess I could be nice and constructive. It is very one sided, what about layering on peoples negative/positive experiences by allowing feedback, and put it in a nice wrapper with a design that plays on the dangerous theme, I like the twitter logo BTW.

        • WG

          What would be gained by allowing restaurant customers to post their experiences?  Would enough positive votes override a failing score for food prep workers not washing their hands after using the bathroom?  Perhaps something like the following?

          Health dept: The workers don’t follow hygiene standards
          Customer: I thought the food was great!
          Health dept: Oh, in that case it must be ok

          It’s supposed to be one sided: it’s a health inspection, not a popularity contest.

        • http://www.thoughtful.co Chris Lynch

          Not sure I understand your point – people can determine how comfortable they are with health violations and this makes it easy to see. Sure enough a restaurant I ate at recently (and found disgusting) was in red… this didn’t shock me.

          There are already sites with people’s reviews. 

        • http://www.thoughtful.co Chris Lynch

          Not sure I understand your point – people can determine how comfortable they are with health violations and this makes it easy to see. Sure enough a restaurant I ate at recently (and found disgusting) was in red… this didn’t shock me.

          There are already sites with people’s reviews. 

        • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

          One sided… It’s the health department. Not everything should be crowd-sourced. Even Wikipedia has become a mess.

        • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

          One sided… It’s the health department. Not everything should be crowd-sourced. Even Wikipedia has become a mess.

    • Guest

      A wise man once said, “Ignorance is bliss.”

      Then he died of salmonella poisoning.

    • Uhhuh

      Kerry – what motivates you to post such a message?

      I can understand doing so anonymously, but using your real name which links to the company you currently work for?

      Had Dinegerous approached your company in designing their website, would you have replied: “Sorry, Corebean Web Soltions will only work with sites that have a real point and a real business model.”

      I hope not.

      • http://twitter.com/Vroo Vroo (Bruce Leban)

        What’s the business model of this site: http://twitter.com/#!/kerryusry ? I don’t really get the point. The black and gray theme doesn’t do anything for me and there’s no way for other people to edit your posts or vote them up or down. Needs some work.

  • http://twitter.com/ReplytoAll Robert Pease

    Nice work Becker!  Awesome mashup of public government data with Google Maps.  

  • http://twitter.com/ReplytoAll Robert Pease

    Nice work Becker!  Awesome mashup of public government data with Google Maps.  

  • http://twitter.com/luckylou Luis Antezana (luckylou)

    I’ve had this exact idea on my list for months ever since noticing the health department makes its data accessible via feed.

    Well, here’s to the doers in Seattle – well done!

    As for the familiarity factor, I remember seeing a site for the Manhattan area called “Don’t Eat Here,” or something like that, which did basically the same thing but also had a Foursquare integration, IIRC. Not sure if it’s still operational.

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    Does it work on Lotus Notes?

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    Does it work on Lotus Notes?

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    Does it work on Lotus Notes?

  • http://twitter.com/Vroo Vroo (Bruce Leban)

    Congrats! This is the kind of thing that the web was invented for. My only complaint: the site seems to be down right now. :-(

    • http://twitter.com/dinegerous dinegerous

      Sorry. About that it should be back up and  running. I will try not to play with the server configuration during the day anymore.

  • K3

    Awesome mashup. It’s interesting to check health inspection reports of the places I eat frequently, and this makes it much more convenient. I like to try adventurous food, so it’s good to know who is generally trustworthy.

    Also: happy to reconfirm that Nishino, my favorite sushi ever, is very clean. And amused that Elysian serves both objectively and subjectively crappy food.

  • Thomas R.

    Kudos to Becker for actually just building something, knocking it out and releasing it. Great mashup and can’t wait to see it a few months. Very similar to Zillow and mining public data and making it useful for users.

    And to all the haters, you can talk all you want about how he could have done this or lacks a business model, but most startups do when they first launch. It’s all about product/market fit regardless of revenue at this early stage. Look at Amazon, Facebook, Twitter…how many years did they run in the red?

    I wonder what Mr. Usry would’ve said about Cheezburger when it first launched. Cat pictures with captions? They’re growing like crazy, doing good amounts in revenue and just closed a $30 million round. So Mr. Usry as much as you are entitled to your opinion, unless you’ve launched a successful startup or invested in one, you should just STFU because you sound like an idiot. =)

    (oddly enough you remind me of our current Congress, all bark no bite, you’d rather waste time talking about problems than spend time trying to solve them)

    Good luck to Becker, he’s already one step of most people because he’s already executing. Those that do, do. Those that don’t bitch, moan and complain and will be left behind as others out execute and out innovate them.

  • http://twitter.com/toddhooper Todd Hooper

    This is very cool – nice work Stephen. It’s definitely going to change my dining habits!

  • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

    First off, the damn thing needs a heatmap. Badly. Secondly, my suspicions were unfortunately confirmed when I saw a big clump of yellows and reds in the international district. The Japanese seem to be the one major exception to this. Go Japan!

  • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

    First off, the damn thing needs a heatmap. Badly. Secondly, my suspicions were unfortunately confirmed when I saw a big clump of yellows and reds in the international district. The Japanese seem to be the one major exception to this. Go Japan!

  • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com FrankCatalano

    It’s a pity there’s nothing equivalent for dinner invitations I receive at private homes. Or my own cooking ability.

    Useful resource, and my experience at a couple of restaurants (to which I haven’t returned) is confirmed by the health inspection “snapshots in time.”

  • http://about.me/AaronFranklin Aaron Franklin

    I love the concept, but wish it was more proactive – I’m too lazy to check this before every restaurant I go to. How about a foursquare app that warns you when you check in somewhere you shouldn’t eat? Great work – can’t wait to see where it goes.

  • wiredpirate

    Love the name.  Would use it if it was combined with reviews and took into account the violation, some are more meaningful than others and some of King County’s data is vague.  If the place is fabulous and no one is getting ill, I could care less if they keep their eggs in the refrigerator or not.. a violation here, but not in many countries. 

  • Hunter

    Great site why pay for the food twice with food poison!

  • Salesgirl70

    We need Dinegerous down here in Florida. I’ll be looking.