Dirty Dining: Vallarta's had food at dangerous temperatures, live roaches & repeat violations

Posted at 11:30 PM, Aug 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-17 23:31:36-04
"The meat tasted dried out. It didn't taste fresh," Zach Gray said, who had just eaten at Vallarta's Mexican Restaurant in Brandon.
His girlfriend ordered a Taco Salad and didn't even eat it.
"She takes a bite and instantly goes, 'eh!' She hates it, terribly hates it. I said, 'It can't be that bad,' and I take a bite, and I say, 'I'm not going to eat this!' And I told her, it does not taste good," Zach explains.
And he's not alone. His friends are also concerned about the food they ordered. 
When asked about their meals, patrons were less than enthused. 
"It was mediocre. The bacon was undercooked," Mark Waddell said.
Vallarta's located at 716 West Lumsden Road has had less a troubling inspection record in the last year.  The restaurant tallied up over 230 violations from May of 2015 to July of 2016, and required 15 follow up inspections because those violations were not being corrected. They also faced two administrative complaints, both of which came with fines. 
So ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan paid the place a visit and met Vallarta's Manager Martin Jimenez. 
"I'm busy. I can't talk to you because I'm very busy right now. I'm busy. Come back another day," Jimenez said. 
But our I-Team uncovered inspectors were very busy themselves, writing up inspection reports, issuing multiple stop sales because food was at dangerous temperatures that could make you sick.
On June 8, the state found cheese sauce at 63 degrees, improperly cooling for more than 24 hours and demanded the restaurant throw it out. 
According to the state, it should have reached 41 degrees within six hours.
On May 23, five-gallons of chicken broth had to be discarded for also being at improper temperatures, and inspectors shut down Vallarta's during that same visit after seeing over 25 live roaches, crawling in various parts of the kitchen.
The state found live roaches on door hinges and inside the kitchen by the back door, on the shelf bracket above exposed tacos and exposed shells, in the rice bin and under the table by the hot line under the microwave.
More than a dozen dead roaches were also documented under kitchen equipment and in the electrical room.
"I just want to speak to you about your inspection reports," Ryan said to the manager.
"No," Jimenez replied.
Other serious violations written up include cooked steak and milk more than 24 hours old with no date markings, mold in the ice machine, peroxide stored with chili sauce, and cross-contamination issues of raw eggs stored over salsa in the cooler.
Inspectors issued two administrative complaints to Vallarta's in July and March of this year because of repeat violations not corrected. 
And even in September of last year, there were serious food violations including a pan of chicken at unsafe temperatures and tortilla shells, onions and cut avocado adulterated due to condensation dripping on the food. All of it had to be tossed out.
"Is there an owner I can speak with?" Ryan asked Jimenez.
"I'm the owner. Go out," he demanded, as he pointed to the door.
"You don't want to comment about the reports?" Ryan asked again.
"No," Jimenez replied.
But it seems Jimenez already lost the customers we met, after their personal dining experience at Vallarta's and the restaurant's report card from the state.
"With 236 violations, how do you feel about that?" Ryan asked Mark.
"I'm never going back there. That's crazy," Mark responded. 
"So will you be back?" Ryan asked Zach.
"No, I wasn't going to be back anyway," Zach answered.
Vallarta's inspection reports: