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DIRTY DINING: Tequila Restaurante owner says expired foods had incorrect labels

Posted at 10:45 PM, Dec 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-06 02:44:35-05

Got a nasty cold coming on? There's a saying that tequila will cure what ails you.

But despite being named after the golden elixir, a local restaurant couldn't avoid a nasty health inspection as evidenced in this Dirty Dining report.

Walk in to Tequila Restaurante on East Tropicana Avenue across from McCarran Airport and you'll see that dreaded C grade, which came with 39 demerits.

"I completely understand grading," said owner Michele Burget. "And I'm glad that you're here because there is another side to every story."

Burget was surprised at getting a C for what she calls simple mishaps and minor infractions.

But the report notes repeat critical and major violations. So "critical" and "major" is different than "minor."

"Um, well, the fact that, like, they didn't use gloves to scoop ice, which we didn't know that that was a violation," Burget said.

The report says two employees dug their bare hands into the ice for customer drinks in order to find the scoop. Plus, the ice scoop and storage container were both dirty.  

"That's not considered dirty," said Burget. "In fact, I have staff that works at other restaurants and they were very surprised that these comments came out."

Inspectors also found expired food: two and a half-week-old salsa and 10-day-old sour cream.

"I don't know how -- I buy sour cream every week," Burget said.

She also said the date label was incorrect on the squeeze bottle.

She says the same goes for the salsa -- fresh food, old label.

"I make my salsa fresh every day. So it was just... And the staff has been reprimanded."

But inspectors also found week-old chicken wings in the fridge, which Burget said is also due to mislabeling.

"Well, I honestly do have to say that because I have chicken wing Wednesday. I sell out of wings," she said.

There were also problems with food in the temperature danger zone including cooked beef and chicken and raw beef and tomatoes.

Inspectors also found dirty cutting boards throughout the kitchen.

"They're clean, but I sand them," Burget said. "You use them often, we sanitize them. But it wasn't that they were dirty, I needed to sand them."

Back in the kitchen, she shows us a cutting board as an example, which looks like the one in a Health District picture where inspectors found them cutting an unwashed onion.

"That is another rule I did not know. They actually peeled the onion and they didn't wash the onion. I would assume that it has skin on it and, you know, it's already clean."

Burget says they were just opening and getting all the food ready for the day, which explains why food contact surfaces were dirty. 

But there was one thing she could not explain in a picture in front of a bottle of teriyaki sauce. On the counter next to it was like this unidentifiable black blob.

Burget didn't know and hadn't seen the Health District's pictures. But says she has seen far worse things in kitchens that have A grades.

We've got just one imminent health hazard closure. 

Best Mobile Food Service truck number three was shut down for having no water. There were also lots of food items at unsafe temperatures.

That food truck is back on the road with a zero-demerit A grade. 

Tequila Restaurante still has a C grade.