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The Annual LA Times 101 Restaurant List Returns, But Without Rankings

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Plus, the SEC hits the Cheesecake Factory with a huge fine, a relief grant for restaurant workers, and vegan pizza from Crossroads Kitchen in WeHo

The Los Angeles Times Headquarters in El Segundo California Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Los Angeles Times co-reviewers Bill Addison and Patricia Escárcega published the paper’s annual restaurant guide last night, but it looks a fair bit different this year. This time around the title — 101 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles — took a backseat, as the pair made thoughtful editorial adjustments for an incredibly trying year, including no rankings whatsoever. Instead, the reviewers introduced new The Times’ 101 list which “celebrates resilience” alphabetically, and even includes industry folks (like the team from No Us Without You) who don’t directly run restaurants themselves.

Furthermore, the list wraps all of Grand Central Market together, as well as the eateries at Crafted Kitchen in the Arts District, and even touches on Chinatown cookware shop and bookstore Now Serving and local artist Lauren Halsey, who coordinates and distributes free organic food boxes across South L.A. every week.

Addison and Escárcega sensed an unfairness to ranking restaurants during a pandemic, and The Times’ 101 list is one for the ages. They’ve managed to put together a diverse list (though with some big omissions from the popular and/or longstanding spots like Bestia, David Chang’s Majordomo, Gjusta, the beloved Langers, Jon & Vinny’s, and Nancy Silverton’s Mozza). New additions include Chad Colby’s Antico, Birdie G’s, Glendale’s Mini Kabob, and DTLA newcomer Petite Peso. The guide appears in print on Sunday, December 13.

In other news:

  • Southern California-based Cheesecake Factory agreed to pay a $125,000 fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission for reportedly understating\ the financial impact of COVID-19 on its operations. The SEC charged the company with misleading investors in March and April by submitting relatively-glowing financial reports, according to Restaurant Business, while actually losing millions of dollars per month. On March 25, Cheesecake Factory announced it would not be able to make rent payments for any of its storefronts on April 1 because of significant loss of income due to the coronavirus crisis.
  • Playa Provisions owner/chef Brooke Williamson penned an op-ed for struggling restaurants in the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, prominent bar operator Dustin Lancaster posted a heartfelt statement on his own restaurant future on Instagram, while outlining the desperate state of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lancaster owns Bar Covell, L&E Oyster Bar, The Hermosillo, El Condor, Augustine Wine Bar, and many others.
  • Applications for the Secure Emergency Relief for Vulnerable Employees grant program — which offers a one-time $800 stipend to restaurant industry workers — closes at midnight on Friday, December 11. Apply here.
  • It’s a good day to get to know El Gallo Bakery owner Jesus Gabriel Huerta, the son of founder Magdalena Martinez-Huerta who opened the East LA bakery in 1949. The Eastsider profiled the family-run business.
  • Crossroads Kitchen chef/owner Tal Ronnen will launch a pizza pop-up out of his West Hollywood restaurant tonight. Naturally, everything is plant-based. Order via Postmates.