Chow down at our favourite breakfast and brunch spots in Shanghai, serving everything from refined dim sum dishes to classic American diner fare.
The simple name of this cheery two-level restaurant belies its complex and ever-changing menu of egg-centric offerings. Try dishes like Egg’s tacos filled with scrambled eggs, Yunnan sausage and kale for a taste of East-meets-West. Vegetarian dishes are given full attention too, with menu items such as avocado toast and cornbread waffles. Beverages are inventive, too, with coffee tonic and coconut coffee brew, and beverages such as seasonal sodas and kombucha. Seating is cosy in this small space, but you can join others at tables or snag a stool at the large window that lets light flood the restaurant.
Si Ji Xuan
The black truffle and mushroom buns, four season dumplings, marinated goose wings and other delicacies served at Si Ji Xuan restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel elevate dim sum to a sophisticated and satisfying level. Brunch here is a leisurely all-you-can-eat affair where every bamboo basket of treats is a feast for the senses. The extensive menu of shareable plates lets you nibble classic dim sum bites and signature dishes like Chef Jack’s deep-fried turnip puff pastry. À la carte menu options are also available for brunch.
Sometimes in Shanghai you need a hefty dose of American comfort food, and Al’s Diner delivers, along with a dash of 1950s nostalgia. There’s no need to rise early for a morning meal at this restaurant: all-day breakfast items such as the ‘Hellalicious’ Purgatory Eggs baked in a chipotle-tomato sauce and blueberry lemon-ricotta pancakes are menu mainstays. Go for add-ons like Sichuan pork patties and fluffy ham and cheddar biscuits, or maybe a spiked milkshake made with ice cream by Gracie’s, a local favourite.
There’s a reason for the ever-present line-up of people waiting in the courtyard outside RAC Café: perfectly cooked galettes (savoury buckwheat pancakes) – the Parisian ham, egg and cheese is a classic – and delicate crêpes filled with lemon, sugar, salted caramel and chocolate. Located in the former French Concession, this bar and crêperie has a relaxed European ambience and also boasts outdoor seating, where it’s easy to wile away an afternoon by extending brunch with a glass or two of French wine; there’s a long list available by the glass.
The Commune Social
Brunch at The Commune Social, a restaurant that straddles multiple levels and colonises corners of a stylish space, is deliciously unconventional. Forget heaving plates of carbs; this Jing’an neighbourhood haunt is all about tapas that are artfully crafted and crowned with tasty touches. For instance, mushrooms on toast come with salty-sweet bacon jam and a slow-cooked egg. Filets of salmon are cured with beetroot and paired with a crispy potato pancake. And surf meets turf in a dish that marries chorizo sausage and seared scallops with a fried quail’s egg. Try the Chef’s Choice Menu, where you can select three dishes for a set price.
Sure, Brut Eatery serves up divine dishes featuring smoky bacon, crispy potatoes and just-ripe avocado, plus a solid array of eggs. But what you up want and need is this restaurant’s chicken and waffles. It’s tempting to dress up this humble dish with over-the-top ingredients, but not here; what makes this breakfast staple a standout is its restraint. The six-spice fried chicken somehow manages to stay both moist and crispy without overshadowing the golden waffle underneath. The organic jujube (Chinese date) honey that comes with it brings a hint of sweetness, making for a perfectly balanced dish.
This sprawling restaurant in the heart of the French Concession features a series of enticing indoor and outdoor spaces. Find a quiet corner in the leather seats near the back bar or sit in the courtyard amid the action facing buzzing Wukang Road. It’s hard to pass up the pastries like almond-lacquered croissants, but Lokal’s all-day breakfast sandwiches are compact enough to let you indulge in both. The food is healthy and hearty and you can also get fortified with a freshly made super-juice like the Popeye Power, packed with spinach and avocado. Watch out for the ice-cream window that’s open throughout winter.
The Bull and Claw
There’s a romantic vibe to this globe-trotting restaurant set within a colonial villa surrounded by a shaded garden. Lobster is flown in fresh from Canada, prime steaks come from Australia and craft beer and wines come from a spectrum of countries from China to New Zealand. The Bull and Claw describes brunch as ‘the new church’ and you’ll find plenty to worship here, like lobster Benedict, French toast and comforting bowls of granola paired with chia seeds, berries and yoghurt. Can’t decide what to order? Choose from a one-, two- or three-course menu and go for a boozy brunch with free-flowing cocktails and wine. Don’t miss the Shanghai breakfast martini made with local Peddlers Gin.
Liquid Laundry Kitchen and Brew
To begin with, it can be hard to rip your gaze away from Liquid Laundry Kitchen and Brew’s industrial-chic decor and open kitchen. But once brunch arrives on slate slabs or wooden boards, the food takes centre stage. Weekend brunch is a feast of gastropub fare, from scones served with clotted cream and jam to flights of bacon and even an egg-white omelette cheekily called ‘The Skinny Bitch’. Ease into the weekend by ordering a flight of house-made craft beer (try the Puxi Patrol Porter or Strawsky and Hutch Weizen) at this favourite Shanghai spot.
Hello, Mexico! With its massive menu of brunch items like chorizo-filled tacos, baked huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos, Mayita embodies the best of authentic Mexican cuisine. The restaurant’s location in a residential building includes an outdoor terrace decorated in turquoise and coral colours where you can sip bottomless sangria and margaritas overlooking the Shanghai skyline as you breakfast like a local. Try the churros served with a chocolate and strawberry sauce for dunking.
This article is an updated version of a story created by James Norman.
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