5 Upscale Restaurants for Graduation Gatherings

by Chloe Chang

Happy graduation, class of 2023! On behalf of BruinLife, we thank you for all the joy you have brought to UCLA over the past few years. What better way to celebrate this momentous occasion than by treating yourself and your family members to an unforgettable dining experience? As you venture from being a broke college student into the real world, these high-end restaurants offer the perfect setting to raise a glass to the journey that led you to this special day. Below, we have curated the five best restaurants to offer you the most mouthwatering and life-changing dining experience, just please remember to book ahead!

Name: Gwen

Type of Cuisine: American Steakhouse
Location: 6600 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Hours: 5:00-9:00 p.m. (Closed on Mondays)

Gwen is a one-Michelin-star restaurant opened in 2016 by Australian celebrity chef Curtis Stone. The restaurant creates a bridge between an old-house butcher shop with the classic fine-dining restaurant experience. The interior is elegant with a high-ceiling dining area and crystal chandeliers descending from the top. The use of copper and the roaring fireplace gives the restaurant a cozy touch. In the past, Gwen has catered to distinguished awards shows such as the SAG, or Screen Actors Guild, awards. When you come to Gwen, their steaks and charcuterie boards are a must-try, and if there is one place to get the best protein dishes in Los Angeles, this is it.

Name: 71Above

Type of Cuisine: Modern American
Location: 633 W 5th St 71st floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Hours: 5:00-9:30 p.m. (Open until 11:00 on Fridays and Saturdays)

1000 feet above ground level, 71Above claims to be the tallest restaurant on the west of the Mississippi. Located at the core of downtown Los Angeles, the restaurant dining experience is like no other. Towering over the rest of the city, diners are able to enjoy the views from the Hollywood Sign to the stunning downtown Los Angeles skyline. While the $70 three-course menu may seem expensive, it’s safe to say that it is worth every penny. The executive chef focuses on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients to create a fresh, diverse menu.

Name: Funke

Type of Cuisine: Italian
Location: 9388 S Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Hours: 5:00-10:00 p.m. (Closed on Sundays)

Opened just this last May, Funke was one of the most anticipated restaurants by celebrity chef Evan Funke. Funke is a three-story restaurant with modern contemporary designs, a glass-enclosed pasta lab and a garden rooftop overlooking the Hollywood Hills. Chef Evan Funke is most notably known for his classic Italian dishes, and as such, the restaurant is said to be a representation of the past 25 years he has spent as a chef in Los Angeles and Italy. The must-order dishes include any of the pasta dishes, the sfincione, also called the Sicilian pizza, and the cipollini, a savory puff pastry dish.

Name: TAO

Type of Cuisine: Pan-Asian
Location: 6421 Selma Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Hours: 6:00-11:00 p.m. (Open until 12:00 on Fridays and Saturdays)

With potentially the most unique interior and decor on this list, TAO is a two-floor clubstaurant with a 16-foot eye-catching Quan Yin statue on top of a koi pond. The menu features dishes from all types of Asian cuisines, such as Chinese, Japanese and Thai. Their most popular signature dishes include miso roasted black cod, spicy tuna on crispy rice as well as lobster wontons with shiitake ginger broth. If you want a non-traditional upscale dining experience, TAO is the right restaurant for you.

Name: Meteora

Type of Cuisine: New American
Location: 6703 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Hours: 5:30-11:00 p.m. (Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

Created by Michelin-star Chef Jordan Kahn, Meteora takes diners on an unforgettable dining experience with its nature-themed decor. Diners enter the restaurant through a door covered with woven branches resembling a bird’s nest. The interior is filled with light earthy tones and the seats are woven wicker chairs. The menu is largely experimental while still utilizing seasonal flavors from all around Los Angeles. Their most popular items include the Stonington scallop, the 21-day aged duck breast and the grilled wagyu beef rib.

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