Pupuseria El Buen Gusto dinged for having relish on back porch

You have heard of a taqueria, but what about a "pupuseria?" It's a place that makes "pupusas," a traditional food from El Salvador.

As one local restaurant describes them, "A pupusa is a thick, handmade corn tortilla stuffed with any number of tasty fillings, such as beans, cheese, pork, chicken, shrimp or loroco, a flower native to El Salvador. The stuffed pupusa is placed on a hot griddle until the crust turns golden. We serve our pupusas with a side of curtido, a tangy mix of vegetables spiced with red chilis and vinegar."

There are several pupuserias in Portland. One of them, however, failed its latest semi-annual health inspection.

Pupuseria El Buen Gusto is at 7732 SE 82nd Ave. It earned a score of 63; below 70 is failing.

The inspector found a long list of problems with a large tub of cooked cabbage-and-carrot relish on the back porch of the restaurant. First, the tub was not food-grade, which could cause contamination. Also, it was outside where rain could drip on it from the roof of the restaurant.

The inspector wrote, "Food is not to be outside of the restaurant ever like this. The relish is to be thrown away and not ever fixed like this again for permanent correction."

That was not the only problem with the relish. The inspector learned that the restaurant was making relish for other places, as well.

The inspector told the restaurant to "cease immediately," adding in the report that if the owner wishes to continue, he must apply for a variance and document that he is following proper procedures for making packaged food for other businesses.

The inspector found other problems in the refrigerator, noting that many food items are not date marked and that a package of hot dogs in the door of the refrigerator were not dated and "slimy to sight." The inspector ordered food to go into the garbage.

The report shows a problem with recycling piling up in the backyard of the restaurant - as many as 15 large plastic bags full of bottles and cans. The restaurant was told to remove them immediately.

These and other violations added up to the failing grade.

The pupuseria owner told us by phone that it was a "difficult time" for his restaurant, which he has owned for four years. But, he added, he has fixed the problems.

The inspector returned for the mandatory post-failing inspection and found most of the problems corrected. The post-failing inspection report shows, for example, that there were some foods not dated properly and the batteries were dead in the paper towel dispenser in the ladies' restroom.

But the re-inspection score was a 94, allowing the restaurant to keep its doors open and continue to serve pupusas to Portland.