The Most Romantic Restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles: 71 Above

Updated on Nov 13, 2019

71 Above an ideal destination for a special occasion like an anniversary or birthday, or if you just really want to impress someone on a first date!

Often, restaurants with a gimmick like a good view or special location have mediocre food. That’s not the case with 71 Above, which has spectacular views of downtown L.A. in a modern setting, along with amazingly good food that will even satisfy a foodie.



Quick Facts You Need to Know

71 Above is located at the top of the US Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles. That is the beige-colored round-ish building that was the tallest building in L.A. for a long time, until the Wilshire Grand Center came along.

The fare is modern American cuisine by chef Vartan Abgaryan. 71 Above is number 79 on Jonathan Gold’s list of 101 best restaurants in Los Angeles.

There are numerous vegetarian options on the three-course Prix Fixe menu. Cost is $78 per person as of the writing of this article, with 18% gratuity added on automatically. The bar offers some other menu items not available at table seating. For everyone else, you can only order from the Prix Fixe menu.

There is a reasonable dress code of no hats, shorts, or flip flops. Jackets are encouraged for men. Jeans are accepted. I encourage you to dress up, though, for the best experience!

This is a very popular restaurant, so I highly recommend reservations as far in advance as possible (see below for pros and cons of table vs bar seating). Reservations are held for 15 minutes. Note, they do take your credit card number when you reserve and will charge a fee for no-shows.

Parking

Before 5PM, valet parking is $10 for the first two hours with validation, then goes to the building’s parking rates after that, rapidly approaching the maximum of $35 per day.

After 5PM, there is valet parking in front of the building for $10 for the first three hours and a maximum of $15 after.

These rates are very reasonable given the quality of this place!

If you don’t mind walking a bit, or if you don’t like valet, I like parking in the lot under Pershing Square a few blocks away. Cost is a flat $10 after 5PM.


Getting to the Top

You’ll have to check in with the security guard in the lobby, who tell you how to get to the top and let you in.

Entrance to the US Bank Tower
Entrance to the US Bank Tower

Basically, you take an express elevator to the 54th floor (if I remember correctly), then another elevator to the restaurant. It can be a bit confusing when you switch elevators because there are several, but there’s someone there to help.

Elevators to 71 Above
Elevators to 71 Above

But overall, the whole experience of entering the building and ascending to the 71st floor makes you feel like something special is in store, and it is!

As soon as you enter the restaurant, you will be blown away by the sweeping views visible through the ceiling-high windows. The views of downtown LA and the surrounding area are breathtaking.

View of the Bonaventure Hotel at bottom

The restaurant is so high up that it makes the Bonaventure Hotel look like a foot rest!

The Ambiance

There was medium-volume background music playing when I went, but it wasn’t too loud for good conversation.

If you’re looking for old-school vintage charm, 71 Above is not the right place for you. If you’re looking for hip and modern, 71 Above is perfect!



Table vs. Bar Seating

When you reserve, you’ll have to decide whether you want table seating or bar seating.

With tables, you are limited to the three-course Prix Fixe menu. “Limited” may be the wrong word because you have ample choices in the three courses.

Some of the tables, especially the smaller ones, are right up against the windows, offering the best views.

Table view at 71 Above
View from one of the many window-adjacent tables

The larger tables tend to be further away from the windows, but you can still see some great views from those tables. There really aren’t any bad tables.

Dining room at 71 Above
Dining room showing smaller tables closer to windows with larger tables further away. You still get a pretty good experience anywhere in the restaurant.

At the bar, you can get the Prix Fixe menu, or order a la carte from a separate bar menu. So, if you’re not hungry enough for a full meal, go for the bar.

The bar faces outward, so you have a great view just behind the bartenders serving you.

Bar at 71 Above
The view from the bar ain’t bad!

The Food

I was a bit skeptical that such a cool restaurant could have good food. But, I was really impressed with the three-course Prix Fixe dinner.

A side note on the limited menu: when I’m on a date, I actually prefer having fewer meal choices. There’s nothing that kills the conversation faster than having to study a huge menu with hundreds of items on it, trying to decide what to order. So, the limited menu is actually a “plus” if you’re on a first or second date, when long silences might be awkward.

The first plate to come out was actually a pre-meal bonus: a “complimentary” amuse-brouche plate with three one-bite items on it. This reminded me of the tasting menu at Spago. All three were amazing. I’m not sure if this comes with every dinner, but it was a pleasant surprise that was not on the menu.

Food at 71 Above
Three-bite amuse-bouches not on the regular menu

For the first real course, I had the grilled mushrooms in a vinaigrette sauce. This was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.

Grilled Maitake mushrooms at 71 Above
Grilled Maitake mushrooms in smoked soy, lemon, and chili oil

My dinner companion had the avocado, which was outstanding as well.

Charred avocado with peanut, poblano, pomegranate in ponzu sauce

We both had the octopus for our second course. It was perfectly cooked.

Octopus with farro, wild rice, bacon, and persimmon

For the final course, we both had duck. I found the skin to be a little tough, so I cut it off, but the actual duck was very tender. It came with a “fritter”, which I would describe as a crabcake made of duck meat, which was perhaps the highlight of the meal!

Duck at 71 Above
Duck breast with fritter and beets

Throughout the meal, they served fresh bread, which was so good. I thought that with only three courses I’d still be hungry, but with the complimentary appetizers and bread, I was pretty satisfied.

If you’re still hungry, they offer a dessert menu.

Ideas for Afterwards

The US Bank Tower is in the heart of downtown L.A., so there’s plenty to do within walking distance, including the Broad museum, the Disney Concert Hall, MOCA, Grand Central Market, Angels Flight, the Biltmore Hotel, and Perch.

Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall

For more places to go within walking distance, check out my article on the Best Downtown L.A. Date Ideas.

Summary

71 Above has everything you’d want for a memorable romantic date: a great view in an amazing space with food that can compete with the best restaurants in L.A. Plus, there’s lots to do nearby. Remember this place when you want to impress someone special!

Questions? What did you think of 71 Above? Please leave a comment below. – Brian


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