Chef Vartan Abgaryan knows he’s swimming against the tide with his fine-dining restaurant. He understands that L.A. is a city where the buzziest restaurants serve family-style meals and punch you in the mouth with bold, unexpected flavors.
But with his perch 950 feet above the ground, atop downtown’s U.S. Bank Tower, Abgaryan also realizes that he has the rare opportunity to elevate things in a city that’s only getting more casual. So 71Above, the restaurant Abgaryan opened with Emil Eyvazoff last July, showcases classic technique, premium ingredients, elegant plating and the kind of precision and restraint that stands out in a city full of palate-numbing dishes.
- Food & Wine Restaurants of the Year 2017
- F&W Best New Chefs 2017
- Nancy Silverton's Dreamy Gelato Kitchen Moves to Downtown Los Angeles
In some ways, Abgaryan might not seem so different from your typical millennial L.A. chef. The 35-year-old loves Thai food and thinks that Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme “is the second greatest creation after the hamburger.” He wears designer sneakers when he’s working the line. He’s inspired by the creativity of veteran L.A. chefs like Ray Garcia, Jeremy Fox and Josef Centeno. And Abgaryan, who moved to Hollywood from Armenia at age nine and shared a two-bedroom apartment with his parents, grandparents, brother and sister, has the immigrant-family storyline that drives so much of the L.A. food world. But now he’s got his own story to tell, through his refined dishes.