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Added Aug 03 2014

Inspection date
July 24, 2014
Doing business as
Nuevo Leon Restaurant
Inspection ID
License number
Facility type
Risk 1 (High)
Inspection type
Suspected Food Poisoning
31. Clean multi-use utensils and single service articles properly stored: no reuse of single service articles - comments: improper storage of multi-use utensils -instructed to store in a proper manner inverted to prevent contamination before use. | 33. Food and non-food contact equipment utensils clean, free of abrasive detergents - comments: sides of hot cooking equipments,kitchen storage shelvings throughout the kitchen prep areas are still greasy,instructed to clean,maintain.
| 34. Floors: constructed per code, cleaned, good repair, coving installed, dust-less cleaning methods used - comments: the front and rear basement floors are wet and the rear basement floor is dirty, clean and maintain the floors dry at all times. | 35. Walls, ceilings, attached equipment constructed per code: good repair, surfaces clean and dust-less cleaning methods - comments: seal noticeable openings where wall and floor meet beneath the dry storage shelvings.
| 34. Floors: constructed per code, cleaned, good repair, coving installed, dust-less cleaning methods used - comments: floors throughout the rear food prep area with worned out surfaces causing standing water.instructed to re-grout to smooth,easily cleanable surfaces and maintain dry at all times. | 35. Walls, ceilings, attached equipment constructed per code: good repair, surfaces clean and dust-less cleaning methods - comments: wall paneling is loose behind the 3 compartment sink,dishmachine area.
Clean,sanitize walls/ceilings behind and around cookline food prep areas to remove food debris splashed. | 38. Ventilation: rooms and equipment vented as required: plumbing: installed and maintained - comments: repair water leak from side of dishmachine and maintain as required.
Splashguard is needed at the exposed handsink next to 3 comp sink at rear prep area. | 44. Only authorized personnel in the food-prep area - comments: only unauthorized personnel inside the kitchen food prep areas only food handlers are allowed in these areas. | 2. Facilities to maintain proper temperature - comments: facilities do not maintain proper temperature. Observed the kitchen 3 door cooler with an air temperature of time and temperature logs available to view at during this inspection. The cooler is used to store potentially hazardous foods such as beef,sour cream,chile rellenos,cheese and diced tomatoes etc.. Unit tagged held for inspection. Must empty the unit and have it repaired so that it maintains an air temperature below 40f or below at all times.
Critical violation 7-38-005(a). | 3. Potentially hazardous food meets temperature requirement during storage, preparation display and service - comments: potentially hazardous foods stored at improper temperatures.
No time and temperature logs available to view at this time.
We observed chile rellenos at 45.6f,raw steak at 46.9f,diced tomatoes at 45-52f,cheese at food prep table we observed cooked chicken at 48.9-50.0f,chorizo and beef at 49.8f,red garlic salsa at 88.1f,etc. Management voluntarily discarded,denatured said foods approximately 90# of food worth approx. $600.00.instructed owner to monitor,maintain all potentially hazardous foods at 40f or below at all times.
critical violation 7-38-005a. | 18. No evidence of rodent or insect outer openings protected/rodent proofed, a written log shall be maintained available to the inspectors - comments: we observed live roaches approximately 15 in the hallway leading to basement near the dishmachine area and the kitchen grill area.also, we observed over 10 live house and fruit flies in the rear fdry storage room areas.
Instructed to clean and sanitize all affected areas,eliminate cluttered articles stored in said areas,clean,maintain floors dry. Additional pest control service is needed to minimize or eliminate the pest activity. Violation 7-38-020. | 4. Source of cross contamination controlled i.e. Cutting boards, food handlers, utensils, etc - comments: we observed food employee using same prep table and cutting board to process raw ground beef,steak and chopping ready to eat head lettuce that is used for condiment for tacos at the same time also,we observed visible raw pieces of beef on lettuce and in box of tomatoes near the condiment prep line.
Must wash and sanitize after each use to avoid cross-contamination.
Critical violation 7-38-005(a). | 6. Hands washed and cleaned, good hygienic practices; bare hand contact with ready to eat food minimized - comments: we observed poor hygienic practices during this inspection.
We observed numerous food employees multi-tasking and not washing hands that is handling raw meats and ready to eat employee wiping face,nose then immediately went on to handle ready to eat tortillas and not washing hands in between tasks,other food employee handling raw bacon with bare hands then immediately went on to handle ready to eat foods with bare hands and no handwashing.all waitresess handling/scraping dirty dishes into bus pans and wiping soiled hands on towels hanging from their aprons and then immediately handling/preparing foods for customers without any handwashing. Instructed on proper handwashing for all food handlers during this inspection.
Critical violation 7-38-010(a). | 16. Food protected during storage, preparation, display, service and transportation - comments: we observed numerous raw foods beef,pork inside reach-in-cooler/walk-in-cooler stored above and next to ready-to-eat foods salsa,ready to eat produce items,cheese,ready to eat cooked foods uncovered,unlabeled etc.instructed manager on proper food protection.
Serious violation 7-38-005(a). | 24. Dish washing facilities: properly designed, constructed, maintained, installed, located and operated - comments: we observed pipe leaking in basement from the dishwashing facility 3 compartment sink area, accumulating on basement floor.
Instructed to repair as required.serious violation 7-38-030. | 32. Food and non-food contact surfaces properly designed, constructed and maintained - comments: interior upper panel of oven at stove is in poor repair.instructed to repair must be smooth,easily cleanable surfaces.
Must replace or repair rusty shelvings inside the 3 door cooler using a non-toxic finish.
We observe improper dispensing type bag made of cloth to dispense guacamole and sour cream onto food items.instructed to provide proper food grade equipment/utensils non-pourous,not absorbent and maintain.
Replace worned out cutting boards with deep dark grooves and maintain as necessary. | 43. Food (ice) dispensing utensils, wash cloths properly stored - comments: food/ice dispensing utensil must be properly stored inverted in a clean container. | 5. Personnel with infections restricted: no open sores, wounds, etc - comments: observed a food employee at main cook line preparing foods noted an open cut wound/exposed/uncovered knuckle on left hand.
Instructed on proper protection of open wounds while preparing foods,suggest to re-assign said employee to a non-food related duties.
Instructed critical violation 7-38-010 (b). | 42. Appropriate method of handling of food (ice) hair restraints and clean apparel worn - comments: must provide,maintain hair restraints for waitresses when working around open foods at all times. | 21. * certified food manager on site when potentially hazardous foods are prepared and served - comments: no certified food manager present with a city of chicago food sanitation certificate while potentially hazardous foods (tacos, ground beef,rice,chicken etc,etc.) are being prepared and served. Management instructed that a certified food manager must be present at all times while potentially hazardous food is being prepared or served.(cooked rice 170.7f ).serious violation 7-38-012. | 30. Food in original container, properly labeled: customer advisory posted as needed - comments: must date and label prepared foods inside all coolers.
Other known inspections
December 3, 2015 (Fail)
November 30, 2015 (Fail)
June 4, 2015 (Pass w/ Conditions)
May 21, 2015 (Pass w/ Conditions)
September 8, 2014 (Pass)
August 1, 2014 (Pass)
July 31, 2014 (Fail)
June 11, 2014 (Pass w/ Conditions)
June 3, 2014 (Fail)
January 17, 2014 (Pass w/ Conditions)
January 9, 2014 (Fail)
May 23, 2013 (Pass)
February 1, 2013 (Pass)
January 10, 2013 (Pass)
October 10, 2012 (Pass)
October 1, 2012 (Pass)
July 18, 2012 (Pass)
July 11, 2012 (Fail)
January 17, 2012 (Pass)

We group inspections by license number. Since a given business might operate under multiple licenses, this list may be incomplete.

  • Soooo disgusted

  • St.Marie An aware citizen

    Had dinner there about 5-6 months ago and ordered the steak fajitas..what I rec'd in return, was food poisoning! Also mentioning is how unsanitary the restrooms are..and the floor (dining area), has a greasy waxy buildup..when was the last time the whole establishment had a good and thorough cleaning? Guess they don't want to lose their "precious" money by shutting it down for a day or two..despictable.

  • There is no denying the place is a very popular restaurant with patrons.

    Years back, I moved back into Pilsen and set out to identify a 'go-to' place for Mexican food. I compared El Milagro, Perez, and El Nuevo Leon restaurants. No doubt. Yelp reviewers, at the time, and maybe still now, posted the most reviews for El Nuevo Leon. Majority were positive ratings. A handful of negative ratings - a few related to patrons' negative interactions with a 'male host behind the cash register.'

    I particularly remember a review from a patron who had catered food from El Nuevo Leon. The patron's review suggested (?) poor customer service when she communicated issues with her catered food to the before-mentioned 'male host behind the register.' The patron reported that some of her guests may have suffered food poisoning from the El Nuevo Leon catered food. El Nuevo Leon claimed that food poisoning could easily happen due to the patron's failure to maintain the food warm after she took delivery. The Patron claimed she adequately kept the food warm and could not be the case. I became dismissive of the Patron's claim. Plus, I thought, the police has been eating there for years - the patron's allegations were likely not be true.

    I decided to go to El Nuevo Leon. I did not particularly think the food was special - maybe its just what I ordered. I did take notice of the 'male host behind the cash register.' He came across as EXTREMELY condescending and unprofessional in the way he treated a couple of employees right in front of me - a patron. I have not been back since. Mostly because I prefer the food from El Milagro and Perez Restaurant.

    Fast-forth to this failed inspection. WOW! I now believe to the patron who posted the review described above. Eating at El Nuevo Leon has been a tradition for a lot of people for many, many years. Maybe some more people will not give default benefit-of-the-doubt to El Nuevo Leon anymore.

  • I checked Yelp reviews again and could not find the post I described above - way to go Yelp!

    I did find what I thought was a related post dated 7/16/2010. Posting indicated that El Nuevo Leon was shutdown after failed inspection shortly after the claim of the patron in my post above. An 'owner' commented on the 7/16/2010 post and did not dispute the assertion by the post that El Nuevo Leon was closed due to a failed inspection. Owner did assert that no one has proved that their food got anyone sick. Seems to me El Nuevo Leon is failing to recognize the power of patron perception in the restaurant business.

  • Joel V. The Patron you mentioned in your comments was my sister in law & I was one of her guests I truly thought I was going to die & yes the owner was absolutely dismissive because he gets away with it. This isn't the first time they've been cited for serious violations & no consequences!

  • Irma C. I am sorry that your family suffered that ordeal. Thank you for corroborating my recollection.

  • Jim Reho (a/k/a hodeho) Fifteen-year Brighton Park resident

    Wow. Then they failed the re-inspection just about as badly. This is the mother of all hygiene fails. They obviously need a whole lot of work. Next time I need my veggie torta I'm sticking with Tio Luis for sure!

  • Mediocre food, unprofessional service, and apparently unsanitary restaurant that has been getting undeserved attention because of its age.
    Best Mexican place in Pilsen: El Milagro two blocks away. Always friendly, always good, cheaper, and they appear tons more sanitary (as dopey as it looks, I'm glad to see everyone always wearing hairnets and latex gloves).

  • I mentioned the fail to my brother an hour ago and he said he had food poisoning when he first moved into Pilsen 6 years ago. He avoids that place at all costs.

  • There was also an article some years ago about food poisoning:

  • Thank you crabbypinchy!

    What are the odds?! The food poisoning case in the link you posted above is the same one I was referring to in my earlier posts. Except, the version the I saw was in Yelp.

    Folks, check it out.

  • Disgusted with the food inspections review. They rated this place "high" for food contamination. Other things mentioned was wiping nose and no washing hands, storing food at dangerous temperatures, cooks with open sores cutting meat, cutting raw meat then cutting raw lettuce on same board, roaches, flies, dirty and greasy equipment and floors, workers bussing tables and wiping dirty dishes on rag and the proceeded to cook/serve food no washing hands. There was a complaint of a family with food poisoning (not the first one) including children. They failed inspection on 7/24 and failed re-inspection on 7/31/14 again!!!! Four inspections failed this year alone....

  • I have been going to Nuevo Leon for approx. 40 years - on average of one time per week and have never experienced food poisoning. Whatever the reason(s) the problems will be fixed and I will continue eating there. Sometimes businesses need to be "shook up" (no pun intended [shake down]) and reminded of basic code requirements. Have to go now....breakfast awaits me...huevos rancheros, chilé de molcajete y tortillas de harina!

  • SETROC Here I am Roc you like a hurricane

    This place is more gross than most chinese food places.

  • Justin K. McKinley Parker since 2008, south sider since 1998

    Here's a highlight from the July 24 failed inspection: ": we observed food employee using same prep table and cutting board to process raw ground beef,steak and chopping ready to eat head lettuce that is used for condiment for tacos at the same time also,we observed visible raw pieces of beef on lettuce and in box of tomatoes near the condiment prep line. " YUCK

  • Mambo64130:
    Careful. Don't let them pass a toasted cockroach for a toasted chile de arbol in la salsa de molcajete.

    I am not attempting dismiss your post...just look at the inspection reports and patron reports.

    "Anyone can do bad things... Till they get caught or someone gets hurt/dies" - unknown

  • It's very sad, but not surprising. I love their food and hope all their code violations get resolved. I did notice a difference in the quality and presentation of my meal on my last recent visit - tacos sitting in puddle of grease. Perhaps a change in management is in the works and maybe it's time they take debit/credit cards instead of cash only. I honestly wonder how and why a restaurant can maintain properly in a "cash only" environment. Time to spend some of that cash on cleaning the restaurant and staff up!

  • If you think you are avoiding critters from entering the daily food chain Google "Food Defects", Might want to scratch peanut butter and pasta off your grocery list!

    "There has to be a certain amount of bugs or bug parts in your food before it's deemed unsafe, but a little bit is totally fine. For example, manufacturers can't allow more than 225 bug parts in 225 grams of pasta. Any less than 225 parts in that batch is ok for the FDA. Most of the time, this does not mean these foods are unsafe and in order to be on the list of these foods, the "defects" (what the FDA calls bugs and rodents) have to have been found to cause no health hazards."

    Nothing wrong with a little fiber added to your diet!

    On a serious note - I was out of the country years ago and my immune system had a bout with food poisoning - was not pretty and thought I was gonna die!

  • Good for you, Mambo. Most of us choose to not take that risk. I hope that place shuts down before you're up next for food poisoning.

  • Most of us? Míja, the lines on the weekend are 20 deep out the door on the weekends! The Fiesta del Sol was this weekend - I figured by 2:30 I could sneak in for a lunch. Nope, 20 deep with umbrellas in the rain! This is a Mom and Pop restaurant that is having difficulty trying to keep up the demand.

    I will take my chances - don't want another homogenized, sterile, corporate, gentrified restaurant moving into the hood.

  • Mambo:
    I respect you are a long time resident. Your are also 'a die-hard' patron.

    Personally, I want to see a Non-Dangerous Nuevo Leon thrive. Given the pattern of violations over the years, I think Nuevo Leon knows it can count on loyal patrons like you to disregard inspection failures. This is very much like enabling regular wreck less behavior to continue.

    The only way to do away with such behavior is to make a business feel the pain in the wallet. I am not calling for the business to fail. Just pain in the wallet so that you or other unknowing patrons don't become literal die - hard patrons.

  • 20-deep or not, your argument still doesn't dissipate the number of food poisoning complaints or the inspection report. It's embarrassing to have non-pilsen visitors unknowingly eat at an establishment with such a horrible background. I'm all for supporting a local business and I always bring my friends to the neighborhood for drinks and eats. Heck, I even buy all my groceries at la casa del pueblo. So hey, good for you. I truly hope you never get sick from eating there. "Mija" says, Good luck and Godspeed.

  • Right on! Power to the people. I'm with Joel.

  • Just an FYI this is only about the Nuevo Leon on 18th street not the one on 26th street, the one on 26th is passing all inspections and still serving the best tortillas de harina and enchiladas. Just incase some of you had the taste to eat there but are scared. And if I'm not mistaken they're under different management.

  • Walt Longtime East Pilsen Heights Resident

    I've eaten here 3 times in the last week. I love this place!

  • Nuevo Leon Restaurant can fully assure all their customers that all violation were met to its full satisfaction and opened it's doors for business within the first 24 hours. This happened on July 31st Thursday and we were readyto open by Friday morning the next day.Please let me explain a few things (1) temperature: Nuevo Leon operation is on a day to day, meaning that we buy only those items that are going to be used for that day and that day only (meats, vegetable, tortillas etc..) with that said everything is made fresh that morning so when a city inspector goes to get proper temp. Reading it's not going to be accurate why???? Because at 9 in morning , the time that we our being inspected its not enough time for fresh products that were made that morning to reach proper temperature. That's where time control takes place of temperature control. It's true , a legit practice. You see no one item, i don't care what it is , is going to stay in that kitchen for more than let's say , 45 minutes. True. To much demand , can't even keep up at times . To much volume. Let's move on (2) Roaches:8 at the most. Nuevo leon is a 3 story building and a basement . The problem was coming from the top floor (2nd) and was being overlooked by me. I was ignorant and nieve thinking that everything was under control but it was dealt with right away, a little to late but problem solved. End of that. Roaches people, they have been here longer than we have and they will still be here in the end of time. Anyone who needs more detail information can see me in person i don't have anything to hide my doors and kitchen our open for anyone to inspect , Honestly. I would like for you to share your concerns so that I can address them personally . Thank you...Daniel Jr.
    P.S. house Flys come from outside , you open your door and some come in.

  • Daniel Jr. (Araceli), (1) The temperature excuse is BS, the fridge was at 48.7f. The food INSIDE THE FRIDGE WAS NOT below 40.0f. This mistake is because the fridge in not working (and not keeping a log of temperatures), not because you buy fresh everything every day. If you have high demand, hire more people or buy a bigger fridge, there is no excuse to have food at dangerous temperatures. Wherever you buy your perishable supplies, they are at the proper temperature giving enough time to store them in your fridge, but if your fridge is not frick·ing working YOUR ARE GOING TO HAVE SPOILED FOOD before you start cooking it and people is getting sick, STOP BLAMING THE INSPECTORS. (2) There were reaches found in the kitchen also and I understand that you own the building, so the roach infestation is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, DON'T BLAME THE POOR TENANTS. Ignorance is not an excuse, look like your are making a lot of money with a pack restaurant of clients. Don't cut corners to make money (I'm not going to get in the rest of the infractions). I use to own a restaurant and catering service for several years, you can't fool me...

  • Is your name Daniel or denial? Man up to the fact your place needs work & a serious upgrade. You owe it to your loyal patrons & that legacy you think you've got going.

  • Roach problems are common in the city, I'll give you that. But keep up and contract with an extermination company to come out regularly! I agree with Daniel on the temp accuses. Get an industrial fridge that works! Also, you cannot blame the inspectors for an employee that wipes his/her nose with their hand then serves food. Are they trained to wash up after they use the restroom?? You cannot blame inspectors for improper staff hygiene. You cannot blame the inspector for prepping raw meat on the same surface as veggies. Train your people! Cross contamination is a problem in your restaurant and will definitely get you sued one day soon. That will be the day you can kiss your "too much demand" goodbye. You are in food service, no?! Get a clue and spend some of your "cash only" and contract some help.

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Posted to 1515 W. 18th St.

This was posted to 1515 W. 18th St.

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