After lots of positive feedback on last year’s list, I figured it’d be fun to share a few more favorites from the past 12 months.
Lunch & Dinner
Chiangmai Thai – Rumor has it one of the key chefs bailed on the owners of Coconut Paradise and Lost Heaven (reviewed last year) to start up this cozier version of the former spot. Surprisingly, the food quality is better than the original, and the low-key ambience makes it a favorite among locals and not-so-fresh-off-the-boat expats.
Legend – Same story as above, specializing in Southwest China’s Yunnan cuisine.
Bistro Burger – As far as burger spots go in China, this might just be the best you’ll find. USDA beef, great fries, and a great selection of shakes. Could do without the tacky Chinese TaiKang Road photography on the wall, but alas I digress…
Pier 39 – San Francisco cuisine right here in Shanghai. Fantastic clam chowder, bread, and other café fare. Often packed and tight on space, but nonetheless great lunchtime spot. The owner’s super friendly and often around, and spent the better part of his life in SF – this is the real deal.
Tentekomai – One of my favorite, well-hidden Japanese spots in the city serving up a wide variety of non-sushi Japanese plates hailing from Fukuoka prefecture. Recently made the “top 5” list of a local expat rag, and crowds have picked up a bit but reservations are available. Word of warning: chain-smoking businessmen love this place, leave the kids at home.
Anadolu – Best and most popular Turkish joint in Shanghai, now with multiple locations! I eat/order dinner here twice-weekly.
Masala Art – Best Indian food I’ve found in the city. Recently burned to the ground when a fire erupted in the kitchen, but now it’s back and tasty as ever. Portions are a bit on the small side.
Cantina Agave – Super popular Mexican joint on one of the best-located street corners in the former French Concession. Coming from California, the food is very mediocre. But Mexican’s hard to find in this city, and the place has a hoppin’ scene.
Citizen Café – A semi-French, baroque café with international fare. Great brunch, lunch, and dinner spot (how rare!) on the super-trendyt JinXian Road.
Westin – The most ridiculous, outlandish brunch event in China featuring opera singers, orchestras, dancers, child acrobatics, artists, and chefs and cuisines from the far reaches of the world. Pricy at about 500RMB ($75US) + 10% service charge, but includes free-flowing Veuve Clicquot. Always packed, reserve a table in advance.
Sasha’s – Long-time favorite expat Sunday brunch spot, about a fifth the price of the Westin with a small but decent buffet, and a beautiful former French Concession patio courtyard. Your best bet on a sunny blue-sky Sunday morning.
Abbey Road – A Beatles-themed expat pub turned weekend brunch favorite. Huge menu with a home-cooked feel to it.
Cotton’s – Not sure how I missed it last time around, but one Shanghai’s best lounge bars. Two locations, both with outdoor courtyards, opened by Cotton, a bit of a local pub celebrity. Not to be confused with the “Cotton Club” (a different Shanghai spot with decent live jazz, but doesn’t make the list)
Manifesto – Great lounge, with great music. Friday night has a fun 80s night (good 80s, not bad 80s), and is a fun place to start the night. Highly recommend the zombie drink – limited at 2 per customer per night.
Anar – Pretty new spot near the popular LOgO bar. Also very loungy, with some of the best house, techno club music in the city.
Constellation – I’m a bit conflicted over this tight spot on Xinle Road in the former French Concession. Used to be one of my favorite watering holes – the best cocktails in Shanghai. But the last couple of times it was completely overrun with roaches crawling on the walls, lampshades… I just couldn’t stomach it any longer. But hey, if you do decide to brave it (and most do, it’s always jam-packed), try the Moscow Mule.
None! There’s a serious shortage of good coffee shops in this city. Recommendations from last year still stand. If you’ve found a hidden gem, please please please leave a comment!