Rodents, roaches and reoffenders: Five Albuquerque restaurants in the red this week

Rodents, roaches and reoffenders: Five Albuquerque restaurants in the red this week

Improper food storage, blue, sludge-like material, rodent droppings and dead roaches brought five restaurants into the red last week, with chains and local eateries alike failing their restaurant inspections. Three restaurants were downgraded — the restaurants didn’t close, but diners are warned to eat at their own risk — and two were immediately shut down until they passed their follow-up inspections. For one restaurant on the list, Pizzeria Luca, this was their second red tag in the past year; the restaurant also failed in August 2022.

Inspection results and key below.


Rio Grande Presbyterian Church, 600 Coors NW (Mar. 22)
Circle K, 10000 DeVargas SW (Mar. 24)
Albuquerque Country Club, 601 Laguna SW (Mar. 24)
American Legion Post 13, 1201 Mountain NE (Mar. 23)
First United Methodist, 314 Lead SW (Mar. 24)
Frontier, 2400 Central SE (Mar. 22)
Smiths, 4016 Louisiana NE (Mar. 24)
Love’s Travel Stop, 2200 6th NW (Mar. 22)
Chili’s Bar and Grill, 8100 Wyoming NE (Mar. 21)
Noah’s Ark Children’s Academy, 4525 Morris NE (Mar. 21)
Baskin-Robbins, 5241 Ouray NW (Mar. 23)
Thai Tip Restaurant, 1512 Wyoming NE (Mar. 20)
Cold Front Distribution, 4920 Wilshire NE (Mar. 23)
Tucanos Brazilian Grill, 110 Central SW (Mar. 21)
Genghis Grill, 4410 the 25 Way NE (Mar. 22)
Dion’s, 11000 Central SE (Mar. 24)
Filiberto’s, 4011 Central NW (Mar. 21)
Pizzeria Luca, 8850 Holly NE (Mar. 24)
Mission Foods Corporation, 4300 Alexander NE (Mar. 20)
Taco Cabana, 3301 Coors NW (Mar. 20)
Hampton Inn, 4412 the 25 Way NE (Mar. 21)
Oumi Sushi, 5112 Lomas NE (Mar. 22)
Twisters Burgers and Burritos, 3240 Coors NW (Mar. 20)
A Love for Life, 4108 Alcazar NE (Mar. 23)
Subway, 933 San Mateo NE (Mar. 22)
McDonald’s, 8001 Harper NE (Mar. 21)
Cielito Lindo, 5109 Central NW (Mar. 23)
McDonald’s, 2801 Carlisle NE (Mar. 24)
God’s Warehouse/Kristy’s Yum Yum, 8011 Central NE (Mar. 24) – mobile food unit
Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade, 573 Commercial NE (Mar. 24) – mobile food unit
Peppermint Stick Preschool, 501 Jefferson NE (Mar. 22)
Wendy’s, 6670 Central SW (Mar. 20)
New Mexico Ferments, 2505 Washington NE (Mar. 23)
Tulipani, 1909 Bellamah NW (Mar. 23)
Rusty Taco, 5600 Coors NW (Mar. 21)
Hot Stuff Cafe, 6320 Zuni SE (Mar. 22) – mobile food unit
Mighty Mike’s Meats and More, 2933 Monte Vista NE (Mar. 20)
New Mexico Fresh Foods, 5600 Venice NE (Mar. 23)
Mariposa Senior Cafe, 3508 Raina NE (Mar. 23)
El Roi Cafe, 616 Lomas NW (Mar. 21)
QDC Rocky Mountain, 3205 Broadway SE (Mar. 22)
Planty Sweet, 2506 Washington NW (Mar. 23)


None listed.


Tucanos Brazilian Grill, 110 Central SW (Mar. 20)
Result: Immediate closure; passed follow-up inspection
Observed open package of tomatoes, salami/sausage and rolls in walk-in cooler and reach-in coolers, observed a box of meat stored on the floor of the walk-in cooler, observed person in charge and/or employees were not aware of the food borne illnesses or their symptoms, observed cod in a pan sitting on top of deep fryer temping at 70 degrees F, observed pitchers, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, peas, carrots all with no date markings, observed packages of beef thawing on top of two compartment sink, observed dead cockroaches in the kitchen area behind the stoves in the dishwashing area and in the back area where the water heater is located, observed debris buildup on plates and utensils in the drying area , observed missing handle on walk-in cooler door, observed dish washer door not properly opening and water coming out of the top of the door area, observed can opener with debris buildup, observed debris buildup on fan cover in the reach-in coolers, observed excessive amount of debris inside the dishwashing machine, observed debris buildup on the top of the ovens on the walk-in and reach-in coolers’ doors and floors, observed hand washing sink near the northwest entrance of the kitchen temping at 69.8 degrees F and a two-compartment sink temping at 75.92 degrees F and customers’ bathroom faucet temping at 65.8 degrees F, all not reaching proper hand washing temp of minimum of 103 degrees, observed water heater leaking from the bottom, observed sink located on the northwest side of the kitchen with water/debris not draining, observed holes in wall near dishwashing area as well as holes in ceiling and walls in kitchen, observed two hand-washing stations not in operation in the kitchen area, observed hand-washing sink located to the southwest side of the kitchen with wiping cloth inside basin.

Sahara Middle Eastern Eatery, 2622 Central SE (Mar. 22)
Result: Downgrade
Observed raw chicken stored above ready-to-eat salad mix inside walk-in refrigerator, observed raw ground beef stored next to gallon milk containers inside walk-in refrigerator, salad container with salad mix stored below raw meat skewers inside reach-in cold holding make table, observed butter mixture stored in large, stainless steel crock pot in back prep area, observed soiled, used glove stored with potatoes in dry storage area, observed no sanitizer available in kitchen and both prep areas in back of facility where employees were preparing food, observed multiple potentially hazardous foods in walk-in refrigerator, such as cooked beef, hummus and cooked chicken, cooked lamb with no date marking, observed cooked rice stored at room temperature in non-operating hot holding unit inside kitchen, observed chlorine sanitizer buckets with high levels of chlorine unable to determine level due to high levels, observed chlorine sanitizer buckets did not have required label, observed employees preparing food inside kitchen with no hair restraint, observed used wiping cloths stored above prep table next to employee dishware and employee drinks, observed improper employee drink stored on prep table in back of facility prep area and inside reach-in cooler above ready-to-eat produce items, observed single-use spoons and forks inside box stored on the floor under cashier area, observed improper cleaning method or inadequate cleaning frequency of non-food contact surfaces, observed facility using foil to cover shelving in kitchen next to grill, observed dry storage area in far back are where canned food and large bags of flour are stored with large amount of clutter such as unused kitchen equipment, broken and inoperative equipment, observed substantial amount of grease debris under kitchen equipment such as stove top, grill and fryer area, observed facility walls in back prep area are not smooth and easily cleanable, observed substantial amount of grease debris on hood vent filters in kitchen area, observed AC vent in back prep area next to rear exit door with substantial amount of debris, observed employee coats stored on shelving next to dry spices that were uncovered, observed employee cell phone stored on prep table in kitchen area, observed employees switching job duties from cashier to cooking without washing hands, observed employees handling raw meats such as beef and lamb and then plating ready-to-eat foods without washing hands, observed no hand cleanser or paper towels available at hand-washing station in kitchen area.

Spinn’s Burger & Beer, 4411 Montaño NW (Mar. 23)
Result: Downgrade
Observed person in charge failed to demonstrate basic food safety due to serveral priority violations, observed substantial dent on can of shrimp cocktail sauce in dry storage area, observed buildup in ice machine, alcohol swab was used to wipe the gasket on the inside of the machine and came back dirty, observed potato dicer stored on kitchen wall with substantial food debris, observed employee food such as cooked rice, noodles and bag of food stored above facility food items inside walk-in refrigerator, observed two stainless steel pans of gravy on hot holding unit, one temping at 57 degrees F and the other temping at 102 degrees F, observed person in charge was not aware of food bourne illnesses familiar with operations of food service establishment, observed multiple potentially hazardous foods in walk-in refrigerator, such as cooked beef Texas chile, sliced tomatoes, homemade ranch dressing and cooked pinto beans, observed green chile at 50 degrees F stored on prep countertop at room temperature inside kitchen, observed multiple chemical spray bottles stored in chemical storage area and bar counter top with no label or identification, observed flour stored inside food container above prep table in kitchen area with no label or identification, observed ice cream stored in freezer chest without lids and in contact with frost buildup freezer chest in the kitchen, observed employee preparing food in kitchen with watch on, observed used wiping cloths stored on prep table inside kitchen, observed utensils with food debris stored inside stainless steel container under prep table and knives placed on magnetic rack with food debris, observed food debris buildup on commercial can opener mounted on prep table, observed tape with debris buildup on automatic dish machine table entrance of dish machine, observed torn gasket inside reach-in refrigerator make station, observed trash can inside men’s restroom missing required lid, observed substantial food debris on kitchen and server area walls and under kitchen equipment in kitchen and server area, walls and under kitchen equipment in kitchen and server areas, observed cuts, scrapes and damage to facility wall in front of dish machine, observed substantial grease debris on hood vent filters under hood vent, observed employee coat stored on top of coke bibs in kitchen area and employee speakers and headphones stored on storage table next to spices and food containers, observed employee switching job duties from bussing tables with soiled dishware to returning to serve without washing hands, employee eating then proceeding to kitchen, handling equipment, without washing hands prior.

Pizzeria Luca, 8850 Holly NE (Mar. 20)
Result: Immediate closure, passed follow-up inspection
Observed back door with gap along the bottom leading to the back dock/trash area, observed rodent droppings in bar area on top of reach-in cooler, kegerator, on the side of reach-in cooler between wooden shelving partition, on top of bar counter, behind the lit up alcohol shelving stairs and in the corner of bar next to the hand washing sink, observed one hole in the wall behind equipment, equipment is unmovable in which to look at wall/flooring to verify further entry points, observed food handling employees with bracelets and watches on, observed wire racks in the walk-in cooler with significant debris buildup, observed significant debris buildup in the floor drain at the bar and soda beverage station, observed evidence of rodent infestation.

Freddy’s Frozen Custard, 6240 Paseo del Norte NE
Result: Downgrade
Observed raw, unpasteurized eggs in the walk-in cooler on wire rack above food items such as sliced tomatoes, lettuce, sliced onions and sliced jalapeños, observed quat sanitizer in multiple buckets and 3-compartment sink testing at 0ppm, observed debris buildup including large amounts of blue, sludge-like material on the inside of ice machine along ceiling and ice chute, observed multiple food items out of proper cold holding temperatures, including raw breaded chicken, 44.5 degrees F and 46 degrees F, french onion sauce, 47 degrees F, mayonnaise, 47 degrees F, tartar sauce, 45 degrees F, sauerkraut, 51 degrees F, held on the top portion of the make station cooler, observed multiple food items exceeding 7-day shelf life such as a tartar sauce three days past expiration, fry sauce, two days, and cooked chicken breast, 1 day., observed gaps along the botton of back door at soda BIB area leading to the outside, observed multiple products in walk-in freezer uncovered such as completely open box of chocolate chips, pecan pies and two sheet trays of open ice cream sandwiches, observed food handling employees with wrist jewelry such as bracelets and watches on at the time of inspection, observed food handling employee working fryer station with no means of hair restraints, observed employee drinks (multiple beverage products, lidded and non-lidded), and employee food items stored on wire rack above single-use articles such as linens and above food items such as tea, single-use packet such as ketchup and mustard in the drive through, observed equipment in the kitchen area with debris buildup on the sides and support structures such as fryer, grill and multiple reach-in coolers, also including the doors and handles, observed fluorescent light shielding broken with pieces missing at light in the back area near ice machine, observed multiple food-handling employees touching their body including neck and hair and start to prepare food items.

These are summaries of Albuquerque Environmental Health restaurant inspections. For more information, or to view a searchable database of city restaurant inspections, visit the Environmental Health’s inspection results page here.

Inspection key:

GREEN: No violations, or minor violations corrected on-site.

YELLOW: Some violations that may or may not have been corrected on-site; some corrective action required, but no required downgrade or closure.

RED: Major violations that presented an imminent hazard and required an immediate downgrade or closure.

DOWNGRADE: The restaurant has not yet been required to immediately close, but the public should only eat there at their own risk.

CLOSURE: Immediate closure. A corrective action plan with a mandatory compliance timeline, and a reopening inspection will be required. 

For questions or concerns, please contact business editor John Leacock at

Editor’s note: Due to incorrect information provided to the Journal, pork was listed as a meat prepared at Sahara Middle Eastern Eatery. Pork is not served at Sahara Middle Eastern Eatery and the restaurant does not have pork product in the facility. 

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