A St. Paul pizza joint had telltale signs of cigarette use in the kitchen and mouse visits to the pizza-box table. At another eatery, meat residue coated an ice machine and cooler.

St. Paul inspectors visited 218 of the city's 796 restaurants in the first quarter of 2011. Almost two-thirds of those, 141, had at least one new or uncorrected food-code violation.

I've listed the 10 restaurants with the highest number of new or uncorrected critical violations. Critical violations, categorized as major or minor, pose a higher risk of causing food-borne illness.

Asterisks indicate those critical violations still present at a subsequent inspection in the first quarter of 2011.

1 Peking Garden Restaurant, 1488 University Av. W., 7 critical (2 major, 5 minor), 11 total violations

Cold meat as warm as 50 degrees in cooler or prep rail.* Knives stored in crack between tables. Ice machine, cooler coated in meat-breading residue. Spray bottles improperly labeled. Shellfish tags or labels missing. Employee beverage in food prep area.

2 Eddington's, 56 E. 6th St., 6 critical (1 major, 5 minor), 17 total violations. The three inspections in this period were prompted by a change in ownership.

Bulk food stored in open containers.* Sink's spray arm hanging below spill rim.* (Abated by third inspection). Cold food too warm: Chicken and ham at 57 to 60 degrees.

3 The Orient Chinese Restaurant, 401 N. Robert St., 5 critical (3 major, 2 minor), 15 total violations

Ibuprofen stored in prep area. Chicken at 74 to 80 degrees.* Chicken chow mein at 133 degrees. Food stored in open cans.

4 Caribe Caribbean Bistro, 791 Raymond Av., 5 critical (5 minor), 10 total violations

Mouse droppings near sink, ice machine, stairway. Peas, flour, rice stored in open bags. Box of raw chicken temporarily stacked atop box of French bread. Unlabeled spray bottle. Employee beverage on cutting board.

5 Holiday Inn St. Paul East, 2201 Burns Av., 4 critical (1 major, 3 minor), 33 total violations

Cold food too warm: Pasta and mussels at 51-52 degrees. Cooler at 45.6 degrees. No sanitizer in wash buckets. Beverage nozzles dirty.*

6 Caffe Biaggio, 2356 University Av. W., 4 critical (1 major, 3 minor), 5 total violations

Some food not cool enough during prep time. Food not date-marked. Knife in use was stored between cooler and wall. Expired food.

7 Lucky Pizzas and Pastas, 1215 Randolph Av., 4 critical (4 minor), 9 total violations

Cigarette butts or ashes in kitchen.* "Large number" of mouse droppings seen, including on pizza-box storage table, mixer stand*, desk*.

8 The Wild Onion, 788 Grand Av., 3 critical (2 major, 1 minor), 13 total violations

Batter mix stored in open container, bowl used as scoop, sliced turkey in cooler at 48 degrees.

9 (tie) Leeann Chin, 56 E. 6th St., 3 critical (2 major, 1 minor), 6 total violations

Temperature of cooler at 60 degrees. Chicken salad and other cold foods at 45-51 degrees. No backflow preventer on chemical dispensers.

9 (tie) Pad Thai Grand Café, 1681 Grand Av., 3 critical (2 major, 1 minor), 6 total violations

Cooler too warm: Eggrolls, chicken sate, beef sate at slightly elevated temperatures in cooler.* Inside of ice machine cover "heavily soiled."

Correcting the violations

Caribe Caribbean Bistro, Caffe Biaggio and Pad Thai Grand Cafe corrected all their critical violations by the end of March.

An April 11 inspection of Lucky Pizzas and Pastas indicated that their two critical violations still existed and rat droppings were found in the basement.

All others listed were reinspected in April or May and had corrected all critical violations.

Hard Data digs into public records and puts a spotlight on rule breakers in Minnesota. Contact me at jfriedmann@startribune.com.