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AKA all you need to know about Shanghai

After you have lived as an expat in a city long enough, when your friends come into town, they always ask for the THE LIST. Well, here it is. 

If you have not downloaded Bon App, do it now because it will make your life so much easier. 

All Time, Anytime favorites

Ginger by the Park: Really good mix of cuisines, when you don’t know where epic ginger dessert, great for a sunny day

Commune Social: Italian-Shanghainese fusion is a vintage 1920’s setting, what could possibly be better? Oh that’s right— a Pinterest-worthy terrace

The Puli: Expensive but amazing Terrace for drinks, Jing’An Resturant brunch blows my socks off, and even the mention of the Puli spa relaxes me. Note the super cool stingray panels in the library room

Calypso: Particularly nice during the summer, but great selection of wines by the bottle and the glass. Delicious seafood.

The Cannery: Interesting mix of seafood and craft beers, amazing cocktails, great retro vibes. Tuna Jaw and the homemade ice cream in a can is to die for.

Shanghainese Classics

Wo Jia: literally, someone's home, run as a family business by a couple of generations-- get the 油炸虾, the 狮子头, and the 鲜汤

麟笼坊: My favorite is the Jianguo Lu Store, but hands down the best XiaoLongBao in all of Shanghai 

Ye Shanghai: For those Laowai’s who want to eat hairy crab but don’t want to go through the trouble of peeling the crab yourself— high end but still low key


Sproutworks: 4 locations, all offering a selection of healthy sides— flavorful, cheap and quick

Pure and Whole: Super organic, sustainably sourced ingredients with a menu that sounds like your person nutritionist (It certainly offers what the name promises) 

Green & Safe: Great brunch upstairs, great salad selection downstairs (realistically more healthy than Sproutworks which uses a lot of sauces) but also a supermarket 

Hunter Gatherer: Sourced from their own organic farms, also with a good selection of Whole Foods-ish groceries, really good desserts too (although I don’t know if they’re healthy) 

Bang by Mr Willis: Great salad selection, but also good pasta options if you’re with someone who wants to carbo load 


Glory City: Over-the-top colonial mansion setting but surprisingly reasonably priced and authentic dim sum, and adorable patio to people watch on

Liquid Laundry: Microbrewery beers, thick cut bacon, and great twists it on classic American comfort food

Al's Diner: American diner food, but better! Great wall of salad is amazing, and don't forget Gracie's ice cream!

R.G.F: Photogenic and Delicious. beautiful garden! And the Normann Copenhagen set brunch is diverse, quite healthy,


Tsukiji Aosora Sandaime: 100 RMB lunch with 5 pieces of top quality sashimi (trust me— I have family in Tokyo)

Le Bordelais: A Drink + Salad/Soup + Main + Dessert for less than 100 RMB? Plus great service

Hungry Lung’s Kitchen: Awesome fish and grilled veggies but a number of oily Canadian classics as well 

Sunflour: mostly a bakery but good staple lunches and the best Chocolate mousse cake 


Flask: The closest thing Shanghai has to a speakeasy, the Plum Wine cocktail is so refreshing!

Senator Saloon: Dark and classy, but totally on point all the time— crowded Thursday through the weekend so get a res

Union Trading Co: The owner is from the same city in Texas I’m from, plus they do incredible cocktails without seeming pretentious— s’more cupcakes will sooth your munchies too

El Ocho: Run by too-cool-for-school Japanese guy, with funky decorations, it also wins best place to take a date

Lab: A whiskey bar that is just that much more. Food is good for late night nibbles

Taste bud Cocktail Palace: Yes, a weird name but their old Shanghai decor and their Cup of Tea (Gin and Earl Grey) is perfect for a date


The Cut: Quality all around— in the setting, service and the steaks

El Bodegon: Ladies all you can drink and half price steaks on Thursday night, best place to take your team out before a night on the town (Hint: Le Baron is walking distance)


Sumerian: the Nitro will make you rocket speed the rest of the day, but if you’re not going for that intense the Kyoto is quite good as well— they also roast their 

Volcan: Sit outside with a macchiato and apple pie and check out the Chinese Hipsters

UNDEF/NE: Take a break from looking at galleries at M50 in this barbershop/photography space/coffee shop/bar/creative space 

Other Specialities 

Habibi: For a Shisha and to die for Hummus, open late

Andalus: Chicken Pear Tajine, CousCous galore, pretty romantic too

Andaz: has the fastest, unblocked internet in all of Shanghai + my favorite cocktail, the Jack’s Martini is available in the lobby only

Les Suites Orient: their restaurant on the 3rd floor has a surprisingly great view of the bund, and their rooms are much more reasonably priced than other Bund hotels

By Cuisine

Thai Tai: Best Thai, adorable greenhouse area and floor seating

Maya: Best Mexican (not that you have that much competition in China)

Secret Haven: Best Yunnan/Lanna/Southern Chinese, a bit hard to find in Soho3, but cheaper than Lost Heaven, classier than Southern Barbarian

D.O.C: Best Italian, the hottest oven in all of shanghai = the most delicious pizza/bread/etc, also homemade pasta!

La Saleya: Best French; Scallops are great, Cod is not, obviously all the duck dishes are awesome, also best Creme Brûlée in all of Shanghai

For big groups

Logan’s Punch: grab a room in the back, there is a 400 RMB min but you’ll fill that in no time

Sichuan Citizen: Basil Drops go down like juice, and just pile the dishes on the lazy susan 


Mulan Antique Warehouse: This is real Shanghai, wear long pants/sleeves and bring a headlamp.  So much incredible history in the furniture and antiques stacked to the ceiling, and they will restore and ship as well. 

A Great Guide on Markets written by SmartShanghai so I don’t have to rewrite it