Health Department Roundup: Downtown, Midtown, Trader Joe's vs. Whole Foods
Like so many homeless people and recently released inmates, we're going to stick mostly around downtown and Midtown this week. And we'll start with a citation -- Deli Deluxe (1600 Smith/tunnel) got a ticket after an inspector found half a dozen violations. Two were new: employee eating in an unapproved area, and eggs held at improper temperature. Four of the violations were repeats: poorly designed or maintained equipment or utensils; no shielding for artificial light; potentially hazardous food held at improper temperatures; and moist cleaning cloths not stored in sanitizing solution between uses. Julia's Bistro (3722 Main) had a much better time. An inspector turned up two violations -- employee not wearing effective hair restraint, and poorly designed or maintained equipment or utensils.
Damian's (3011 Smith) -- which has the sexiest waitstaff in town, if you're into older Mediterranean men -- also had a good inspection. An inspector found just one violation, a repeat -- shellstock tags not retained for 90 days. (This regulation exists to make it easier to trace any potential outbreak of shellstock-related illness; we're not sure what the Italian hand motion is for "your tags, they do not concern us.")
Warehouse Live (813 St. Emanuel) actually got a citation for just two violations -- garbage containers that were either non-durable, non-insect-proof or leaking; and no Food Service Manager's Certification (repeat).
Popular lunch spot Doozo Dumplings (1200 McKinney) earned three violations: improperly sized/installed/maintained plumbing; hand towels missing from at least one sink; and poorly designed or maintained equipment or utensils. Shay McElroy's Irish Pub (909 Texas) earned a citation for five violations, including: no Food Service Manager's Certification; no suitable dispensing utensils for employees/consumers during pauses in food preparation/dispensing; and ice machine not operated in a way that prevents contamination.
We're making a geographic change for the final three entries. First, we'll look at 59 Diner's poor performance, because we used to work there and it is completely unsurprising, but nevertheless entertaining. Then we'll look at Whole Foods vs. Trader Joe's, because you people love that kind of thing.
59 Diner (3801 Farnham), or as we employees used to call it, 59 Diner, earned ten violations during an inspection last week but escaped citation. Issues included floor/floor covering not in good repair (repeat); food not protected from cross-contamination by separating raw animal foods from ready-to-eat foods (repeat); cooking equipment not kept free of grease/accumulated soil (repeat); food stored in unclean or uncovered containers (repeat); potentially hazardous food in refrigeration not properly time-stamped/marked with disposition date (yes, repeat); effective pest-control measures not taken (REPEAAAAT); and "prohibited hot food holding facility used for rapid reheating of potentially hazardous food" (corrected on site, just to shake things up a little).
Finally, Whole Foods (2955 Kirby) vs. Trader Joe's (2922 Shepherd) -- it might not be fair to compare a years-old facility with a brand-new one, and the stores fulfill different purposes, but as Mark Twain once said, screw it. So here we go: Trader Joe's had just one violation during a recent inspection, single-use/single-service article for consumer use not dispensed properly or missing individual wrapper. (The inspection was based on a complaint, too.) The Food Hole, on the other hand, got hit with nine violations but no citation during a routine inspection. Issues included effective pest-control measures not utilized; floor/floor covering not kept clean; potentially hazardous food being improperly thawed in water; no temperature-measuring device to check potentially hazardous refrigerated food; and bulk packaged food stored incorrectly.
And Food City? Food City is just layin' low, waiting for the heat to die down.
Houston, TX 77098
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.