Using plaques and porcelain plates instead of rigid checklists and revealing flashlights, the District's food inspection division on Monday issued commendations instead of condemnations for the city's cleanest commercial kitchens.

In the raspberry-sherbet-colored Grand Hall of the Charles Sumner School, Donald G. Murray, director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Henry C. Lee III, acting business regulation administrator, and Robert Beck, chief of food protection, congratulated 131 eateries that have withstood the city's scrutiny.

"It shows that restaurants are striving not only to serve good food, but to maintain a clean establishment," Murray said.

"When someone actually recognizes what you've been working hard for, it makes it seem worthwhile," said D'Wayne Fields, assistant manager of the United Planning Organization's Potomac Court cafeteria, which was among the honorees.

The city consumer agency gives the Certificate of Merit to any of the city's 1,300 restaurants and hotels that maintains a minimum score of 90 out of a possible 100 for three consecutive quarterly inspections.

Establishments that maintain the 90 score for every inspection during 10 years receive the Mayor's Award. This year, the blue and gold porcelain plates signifying that award went to the Knights of Columbus Washington Council Home at 5034 Wisconsin Ave. NW and Ilija's International Gourmet at 5441 MacArthur Blvd. NW.

They joined establishments that received the Mayor's Award in previous years and have upheld their 90 scores: Guest Services (National Park Service), 1100 Ohio Dr. SW; Guest Services (Pentagon Lagoon), 100 George Washington Parkway SW; Guest Services (Veterans Administration), 816 Vermont Ave. NW; Hotel Washington, 515 15th St. NW; U.S. Postal Service Cafeteria, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW.

International Teamsters Union Cafeteria, 25 Louisiana Ave. NW; 1800 Coffee Shop, 1800 N St. NW; 116 Club, 234 Third St. NE; National Plumbers Association Cafeteria, 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW; World Bank Coffee Shop, 1818 H St. NW; Plain 'N' Fancy Donuts, 419 12th St. NW; Washington Club, 15 Dupont Circle NW; Sulgrave Club, 1801 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

New members of the Certificate of Merit ranks are American Security Bank, 1501 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; Aux Beaux Champs, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; Bacchus, 1827 Jefferson Place NW; Brookings Institution Cafeteria, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW; Chateau Restaurant, 3439 Benning Rd. NE; Communication Workers of America, 1925 K St. NW.

Country's Best Yogurt, 1704 Connecticut Ave. NW; D.C. Randolph Sheppard Nominee (Goodwill Industries Cafeteria), 2200 South Dakota Ave. NE; Dutch Mill Deli, 639 Indiana Ave. NW; Envoy Hotel Dining Room, 501 New York Ave. NE; Foundry Restaurant, 1050 30th St. NW.

Gourmet Sandwich Shop, 1724 M St. NW; Government Printing Office Cafeteria, 700 North Capitol St. NW; Guest Services (Department of Commerce Cafeteria), 1401 Constitution Ave. NW; Guest Services (U.S. Customs Office Cafeteria), 1349 Constitution Ave. NW; Hazel's, 1834 Columbia Rd. NW; Kentucky Fried Chicken, 2501 Benning Rd. NE.

La Colline Restaurant, 400 N. Capitol St. NW; La Spiga, 1000 Potomac St. NW; Lunch Box, 1133 20th St. NW; Maison Blanche, 1725 F St. NW; Marriott Corp., Bolling Air Force Base, SW; Mr. M's Coffee Shop, 1120 Connecticut Ave. NW; National Geographic Cafeteria, 1600 M St. NW; Ogden Food Service (Navy Yard Cafeteria), 1270 First St. SE.

Phillips Flagship, 900 Water St. SW; Prima Pizza, 210 Second St. SE; Riddell Snack Bar, 1730 K St. NW; Ring Coffee Shop, 1200 18th St. NW; Roy Rogers, 405 L'Enfant Plaza SW; Samantha's, 1823 L St. NW; Service America Unicorn Restaurant, 1625 Massachusetts Ave. NW; United Planning Organization, 810 Potomac Ave. SE; Uno's Pizzeria, 3211 M St. NW; Willard Inter-Continental Hotel Banquet Kitchen/Willard Room/Brasserie, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

Eighty other restaurants have received the Certificate of Merit in previous years and have maintained their scores between one and eight years.