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DIRTY DINING: La Reina, Curry Leaf tie

Posted at 10:45 PM, Apr 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-19 02:42:11-04

It's double trouble on this week's Dirty Dining with two restaurants tying for the top spot. 

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears is here on a new night with one restaurant making its Dirty Dining debut, and a repeat offender overrun by roaches.

36 demerits and a C grade. That's the undesirable distinction shared by two restaurants. 

We begin with repeat offender La Reina Mexican Food and Bakery on Jones Boulevard and Vegas Drive where health inspectors also found an imminent hazard in the form of those pesky German roaches. 

La Reina was infested when we first reported on them and there's still a roach problem now despite a recent visit from the exterminator.

As we walk up, we're greeted by some parking lot loafers -- who, it turns out are much more talkative than the people who work at the restaurant.

We ask restaurant employees, who keep referring us to the guy they say is the manager at the connecting market -- the same guy who says he can't talk. 

In the restaurant, inspectors found meat sitting in cloudy liquid in a severely soiled container with no date label. Ready-to-eat poultry was at a very unsafe temperature. 

A half head of lettuce was stored on a push cart and half an onion sat on a storage rack, touching an employee's water bottle. 

They were preparing customers' food with soiled utensils and knives encrusted with dried food debris. 

And the person in charge was not knowledgeable about basic food safety.

Our second 36-demerit C grade is Curry Leaf Flavors of India on Fort Apache Road and Tropicana Avenue. 

Manager Manish Chadha says they've only been open for nine months. He blames some of their problems -- like no gloves and no sanitizer -- on employees who are new and still training.

"Forgot to put the sanitizer bucket, which we know we have to."

He says inspectors came at the moment they opened and things were still getting ready in the kitchen. 

But get this -- Curry Leaf has two different health permits and two different grades.  When we were there, he tried to show us only the one for the bar, not the restaurant, which at the time still had a C.

Inspectors also found food at unsafe temperatures, including milk and chicken.

"Everybody just started their day according to their list. And they take it out from the fridge and put it on the counter."

He said it had only been sitting out for a few minutes. 

There was also uncovered food in the fridge and freezer, soiled kitchenware stored as clean and dirty squeeze bottles.

Curry Leaf is now back to a zero-demerit A grade.

La Reina still has a C.