Jacksonville, FLA. - Pepper's Mexican Grill & Cantina in Yulee is located in a busy shopping center on Lofton Square Court. We went in right after the lunch crowd to talk to the manager. A worker told us the manager, who was supposed to be on duty, wasn't in yet... but was on the way. After a 20 minute wait we met Hector. Hector greeted us and then said this about the recent health inspection report, "What is all this crap?"
The inspector found 25 critical violations including:
Employees handling food with bare hands and not washing their hands
Employees eating while preparing food for customers
Toxic items stored near food
Live flies in the kitchen
You can see that full report by clicking here
Hector told us, "What I would like to say is... this is racist."
He says the inspector is targeting Mexican and Chinese restaurants and to prove it - take a look inside his kitchen. He says everything is clean and they do not keep toxic items near food. As for the live flies in the kitchen we saw tiny bugs flying everywhere. Hector said, "It's not really flies. I tell my people to kill them or spray them."
Overall, the kitchen looked clean. Before we left Hector re-iterated how he felt about the report and the state health inspector, "They should not be writing crap just because they can." We asked Hector if he called the state to file a complaint. He said he would speak to the owner of Pepper's about that.
Just like the state takes complaints about restaurants it also takes complaints from restaurants about health inspectors very seriously.
Here are the other restaurants at the top of the list this week for critical violations.
At Tony & Sal's Pizzeria in Saint Augustine there were 16 critical violations including employees eating pizza at the prep line and pizza line. You can check out their full report here.
At Sushi Express in Orange Park there were 14 critical violations including stored eggs with cracked and broken shells. You can check out that report by clicking here
The following restaurants had zero health violations and get our clean plate award of the week!
TACO BELL: Jacksonville 11228 Beach Blvd.
FIVE GUYS BURGERS & FRIES: Jacksonville 1620 Margaret Street
PEARL'S CATERING: Jacksonville