Health Department Roundup: 888 Chinese, Maggie Rita's & more

Katharine Shilcutt called it one of the old-school anchors of the East End. Yelp reviewers gave it a four-star average in 66 reviews. A Health inspector was not impressed with 888 Chinese (403 Winkler), however, sticking it with 19 health code violations during an inspection last week. Issues included food stored in contact with water/un-drained ice; food spoiled or mislabeled; cold-stored food held at improper temperatures; food stored too close to the floor (the only repeat violation); food container not set up to prevent "splash" contamination; potentially hazardous refrigerated foods not replaced in timely manner; cloth materials used as a food-contact surface; ice intended for human consumption used as a cooling medium; dirty non-food-contact surfaces; ice machine not set up in a way that prevents contamination; openings to the outdoors not protected against the entrance of pests; dirty floors; dirty vents; and improperly stored equipment or utensils.

A citation was issued, but a closure order was not. None of the violations were corrected on site. For other Houston restaurants, 888 just became the cousin who goes to prison after getting stuck on a Louisiana water tower while on meth and on probation for some other transgressions, thereby making nearly anything you do look not as terrible by comparison.

Example: Just six violations and no citation for Yellow River Chinese (9600 Bellaire)? Shit, have a ribbon! And another for having the guts to name your restaurant after a terribly polluted river. Violations there included no hand-washing soap; employee with improper hair restraint; improperly adjusted equipment; and improper time records for food.

The City of Houston Jail (61 Riesner, as if you didn't know) did get a citation (which is charged to whom, we have no idea) for just three violations: employee drinking a beverage in an unapproved area; dirty non-food-contact surfaces; and improperly designed floors.

Once you get out of jail, you might want to stop by the Avenue Grill (1017 Houston), which got hit with four violations but no citation. Their problems: dirty vents; employee not wearing effective hair restraint; no test kit to measure cleaning solution; and potentially hazardous food held at improper temperatures.

Finally, high-end chef-driven local-oriented interior-style authentic Mexican restaurant Maggie Rita's (1650 Post Oak) got hit with eight violations (no citation). Problems included potentially hazardous food held at improper temperatures; poorly designed or maintained equipment; dirty floors; conditions on premises affording the harborage/feeding of pests (nice); openings to the outdoors not protected against the entrance of pests; dirty non-food-contact surfaces; improper disposal of sewage/liquid waste; and Carlos Mencia.

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