Hot weather usually leads to an increase in bad behavior - murder, rioting, shirtlessness. It was also means food goes bad more quickly, bugs flourish and the health threats facing diners multiply. Things are already warming up, which means your average health inspector will soon switch to grizzled-detective mode, ripping the cellophane off a second pack of Winstons and muttering to his partner about how it's going to be "another hot one." All to protect Houstonians. You should consider a thank-you note.
Take, for instance, Stella Sola (1001 Studewood), a lauded Texan-Tuscan place where the owners apparently enjoy flouting the law that states they must display notices informing patrons that smoking is prohibited. Never mind that the kitchen received no other violations. Never mind that the chances of some diner sitting at a table with no ashtray, where no one else is smoking, in a city that banned smoking in restaurants years ago, and lighting up anyway are closer to none than they are to slim. We still hope the owners end up breaking rocks.
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Inspectors threw the book at Taqueria Los Reyes (4901 N. McCarty), and hard. This is one of the worst inspections - a re-inspection follow-up, actually - that we've seen in weeks. On February 16, the place racked up 14 violations, an amazing 13 of which were repeats from the previous inspection. (Unfortunately, the city does not have the details of that one online.) Highlights include raw and prepared food improperly stored; toilet facilities not kept clean and "free of objectionable odors"; bathrooms with doors that don't shut all the way, probably exacerbating the objectionable-odor problem; lack of soap, towels and sufficiently hot water at sinks; and openings to the outside that could allow pest traffic. TLR busted its "insufficient number of garbage containers" cherry, too - the only non-repeat violation. This is the kind of scene that makes the veteran inspector shake his head while the cocky rookie pukes in the corner. The place is still open, by the way.
The sushi bar at Aka (1460 Eldridge) was closed temporarily. Sushi and health code violations do not make good partners, but the violation seems largely clerical. True, there was some potentially hazardous food not stored at the right temperature, but that was corrected on site. The only other violation was a HACCP plan that was not approved by a health officer. Not sure why that couldn't have been handled Mexico-style: "Mr. Franklin here was fish enthusiast, and he seems to think the plan is just fine." One day, a change is gonna come, and our legal system will catch up to that of our neighbor to the south. We'll have to deal with the temporary closure thing until then.
"We decided on a theme before we started writing and got lucky with this one" place of the week: The High School for Law Enforcement earned zero violations during an inspection last week. Move along, mopes. Nothing to see here.