Health Department Roundup

Health Department Roundup: Giant Candle Edition

The violations in the Health Department's online reports aren't always clear (what exactly does "Unapproved use of 'V' threads on food contact surface" mean?), and they'll sometimes test your gag reflex ("Raw partially cooked food served or offered for sale"). But that's part of their charm. Here are this week's highlights from city's Health Department inspection records:

Da Marco (1520 Westheimer) got a routine inspection on May 12. The inspection covered both its restaurant and bar area, and although the bar came back with a clean bill of health, the restaurant didn't. Of the four violations, one was corrected on site. The restaurant has 24 hours to correct its three others. This isn't the first time the Best of Houston® award winner has been cited either.

Hugo's (1600 Westheimer) was hit with six violations this past week. Among the entries were "moist cloths used for cleaning nonfood-contact surfaces not clean/not stored in sanitizing solution between uses." "Moist" as a word is gross enough on its own, even without the thought that these "moist cloths" aren't being kept as clean as possible.

Landry's Downtown Aquarium (410 Bagby) was the lucky recipient of a slew of inspections yesterday as the result of an unspecified complaint, all the way from the main kitchen to the concession stands and even the Dippin Dots booth (the ice cream which - by this point - is decidedly not of the future). The main kitchen got off easy with only one minor violation, while every other area came away with a clean bill of health.

Ragin' Cajun (4302 Richmond) also submitted to a routine inspection this past Monday, with both the kitchen and the oyster bar going under the microscope. The oyster bar passed with flying colors, while the kitchen received only two very minor violations, one relating to a lack of 50-foot candles to apparently go with all of their 500-foot employees.

Happy All Cafe (1343 Yale) had an inspection as the result of a change in ownership, and the new owners were probably less than excited to receive nine violations. The violations ranged from structural issues to purely disgusting ones like "tableware not washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use." Moral of the story: Bring plastic utensils to Happy All for a while.

Further up the street, Tippy's Soul Food (4400 Yale) garnered five violations during a routine inspection, which is frankly far less than expected for an establishment located in a dingy Shell station. Tippy's also battled the bizarre 50-foot candle issue, in addition to a "toilet room with no tight-fitting/self-closing/solid doors." is a gas station, after all.

Doing the ultimate walk of shame are four restaurants that were closed last week as a result of substantial health violations: Tea Leaf Tapioca (2410 Bay Area Boulevard) was closed on May 8 after receiving a solid dozen violations, most of which were serious violations and one of which was a repeat violation. CJ's Mart (8130 Fuqua) only received seven violations and was closed May 6. It reopened on May 7 after cleaning up. Thai Jasmine (10900 Kingspoint) received an even ten violations and was shut down on May 5. Taqueria Monchis (719 Telephone Road) was closed on May 4 but reopened on May 5 after correcting its six violations. One of the culprits? The dreaded "moist cloth."

If there's one thing to be learned from this week's roundup, it's that giant candles and moist cloths are far more important to your dining safety than anyone would have ever guessed. Thanks, City of Houston.

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Katharine Shilcutt