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CLEARWATER, Florida -- Tucked away in a tiny shopping center off Drew Street in Clearwater, Taqueria Del Valle serves up homemade Mexican cuisine.

"They have nice service, good food," said one former customer.

But not everyone is a fan.

Another customer who works at a neighboring business said he threw his sandwich in the trash after spotting something he didn't want to see crawling around the restaurant.

"He saw the cockroaches on the ceiling," said the man's friend.

And you guessed it: similar conditions were reported on the restaurant's March 18 routine inspection. The state documented 10 violations, three considered high priority. Among the issues were clean utensils stored in a dirty drawer; food debris and grease under cooking equipment; and over 40 live roaches found inside a bag of to-go containers, on a wall above the food prep area, even one crawling out of a bag of flour snacks served to customers.

When we stopped in last Wednesday, Taqueria Del Valle was back in business, and restaurant management told us there was nothing to worry about.

"Yes, it's corrected," said a woman behind the counter.

But when we asked for permission to take a look inside the kitchen, we were told no one was around to give us permission. Instead, the manager referred us to the restaurant's owner, who we reached by telephone to ask about all the problems.

He told us he could not talk about the issues, then hung up.

But we found plenty of other people willing to talk about the issues, disgusted to learn the restaurant was filled with roaches.

"That is disgusting," said Melinda McArdle, who works next door. "Obviously no one wants to eat somewhere when there are roaches crawling around!"

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