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Jan 9, 2009 06:42 PM

Recycled chips at Mexican restaurant

Eating at my favorite Mexican restaurant today, I got a seat where I could see behind the bar and I noticed that they were dumping the half eaten baskets of chips into the same place that they loaded up the new baskets. I always wondered if that happened and I saw it plain as day, it freaked me out a little but I love the place, I mean love it, it's authentic Mexican and they always have like three different hot salsas on rotation there.

In the end I just shrugged and ate the chips anyway, should I be more freaked out? Any other experiences like this?

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  1. Not an appealing practice to me and, I suspect, illegal in some locations.

    1. I hope they at least look at the basket to make sure there isn't a bunch of salsa in there or something. I don't think you should be too freaked out, this probably happens at a fair amount of Mexican places.

      1. I suspect it's not legal as well. I think a lot of places recycle bread and/or chips. I take a sort of don't ask don't tell policy about these sorts of things. If I don't see it, I don't care. I'm the opposite of a germ phobe, but, if I saw the recycling take place, I think that might be one of the rare occasions when I send the chip basket back and ask for a fresh batch.

        1. that's technically illegal according to most health codes--if something unwrapped is served to a customer, it has to be disposed of. Ditto with bread.

          A bit wasteful, of course, and the liklihood of getting sick is meager, but that is what it's based on.

          A health inspector would have a field day with this, but I doubt you would actually get sick from it.

          18 Replies
          1. re: Caralien

            Does this law also apply to bowls of nuts laid out on bars? Those seem extremely unsanitary. They're not connected with specific customers and don't seem to be removed after one customer leaves.

            1. re: taos

              No clue there. I think nuts are like popcorn--they shouldn't be remixed, but if left at the bar...

              I've read that in certain townships food has to be sold/given away in order to maintain a liquor license, and so it's set on the bar.

              1. re: Caralien

                I don't frequent bars much anymore, but I can't remember the last time I saw nuts or popcorn on a bar for free. I am thinking that the more "dive" type bars(where I would go) could not afford it, and the upper scale types would prefer that you buy their $$$ appetizers.

                1. re: Sam at Novas

                  In NYC, bars have to have food available, either for free or for purchase. So you'll see a dish of cheddar goldfish on the bar, or little bags of chips hanging on the wall, even in the diviest of places.

                  1. re: small h

                    I'm pretty certain that no food needs to be served in NYC bars.

                      1. re: small h

                        Looks like you're right but this must be the least enforced law in the city. I have 3 friends that own bars in Manhattan and no food is served in any of their bars, unless you count olives, and there has never been an issue.

                        1. re: KTinNYC

                          I do count olives. Also limes & maraschino cherries.

                          I have no info on how strictly the law is enforced, but are you sure your friends' bars don't even have a couple of dusty old bags of pretzels stuck up somewhere? I bet they do. They would be in compliance, that way.

                          1. re: small h

                            Absolutely, I am 100% sure there is no food in these bars. I've worked in one of them and the only food to be found at the bar is the bartenders dinner.

                            I'll be seeing one of these bar owners next week and I'll ask him about this law. I'm curious what he'll have to say.

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              Oh! I have a workaround. Maybe the bar lets patrons order in? If memory serves, that's been the case in a couple of places I've hung out in, which indeed did not have a scrap of sustenance available. I'm looking at you, bar on Clinton Street which shall not be named.

                              Anyway, I'm also interested in what your bar owner friend thinks of all this.

                        2. re: small h

                          but couldnt they be under the "club liquor" classification? that does not appear to have a food requirement.

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            No food requirement, but a club license is for non-profit enterprises (see "club beer").

                            1. re: small h

                              I saw my friend on Weds. but forgot to ask but I still intend to ask this week when we get together.

                      2. re: small h

                        That explains it...I am in the south where, in some states, you can go out and drink at a restaurant, but you can't get a six-pack to-go home home and drink there!
                        But back to the OP, is having a community bowl of cheddar goldfish on the bar sanitary? How many fingers have touched that last goldfish in the bowl?

                      3. re: Sam at Novas

                        At some of the more upper end places in Toronto, I have recieved really nice, big cashew nuts and bowls of fancy cracker-like snacks.

                        1. re: Sam at Novas

                          I travel a lot and end up visiting the hotel bar in many cities across the country. Nuts in bowls tend to be pretty common. I usually stay in one of the Marriott brand of hotels (Marriott, Renaissance or Courtyand) if available where I'm going. Would these be considered "dive type bars?"

                          1. re: taos

                            Absolutely not! But it kind of proves my point that at an upper scale place, when you sit down at the bar, the bartender brings you a fresh bowl of nuts. Or, are they on the bar when you arrive? It does make a difference.
                            Gosh, I think that the last time I got free munchies at the bar was at a nice hotel.

                            1. re: Sam at Novas

                              Usually on the bar when I arrive and on the bar when I leave.

                              I just encountered this again a few weeks ago at a Courtyard by Marriott bar. It's kind of disgusting. it reminds me of the chestnuts or other nuts some people put out in bowls on their coffee table that are for decoration and not really meant to be eaten.

                  2. I would sooner use a three-seater outhouse. Gag me with a spoon.

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