The Best Restaurants in Tianzifang, Shanghai

Tianzifang is the narrow alleyways of old Shanghai recently developed into a touristic arts and crafts enclave
Tianzifang is the narrow alleyways of old Shanghai recently developed into a touristic arts and crafts enclave | © Inspired By Maps / Shutterstock.com

Bustling Tianzifang is stuffed full of delicious-looking food – so much so that it can be hard to decide where to eat. Culture Trip has narrowed down the dining options to the best of the best.

There’s an organised chaos in Tianzifang’s lilongs (alleys), where shopping and eating can be a sensory overload – in a good way, of course. Join people nosing around food kiosks, where sausages are grilling and the longest French fries you’ve ever seen are sizzling in vats of oil. Snack as you explore, or settle in at one of these local restaurants.

1. Café Dan

Cafe, Japanese

It’s a little tricky to find this multi-level Japanese café and restaurant in the Tianzifang labyrinth, but Café Dan is worth seeking out for their Hokkaido cuisine, such as kelp ramen noodles and king crab. Find a cosy corner surrounded by plants and bathed in sunlight for quiet contemplation with a cup of speciality coffee from far-flung places including Panama and Yemen.

2. Andalus Moroccan Cuisine and Lounge Bar

Restaurant, Bar, Moroccan

Find an oasis of calm at Andalus Moroccan Cuisine and Lounge Bar, a narrow, multi-storey Moroccan restaurant that transports you to North Africa the moment you walk through its turquoise doors. In a city where pork reigns supreme, it’s refreshing to find hearty dishes starring lamb (think earthy tagines) along with stewed vegetables and aubergine dip served with fluffy pita bread. Pair it all with mint tea or sample some shisha, tobacco smoked through a water pipe.

3. Kommune, Taikang Road

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Dessert

Just when you feel fatigued from getting lost in Tianzifang’s maze of boutiques, you’ll likely find yourself standing in the courtyard fronting this vegetarian-friendly restaurant. Kommune Café offers a delicious reprieve from the crowds, where you can chow down on avocado and eggs for breakfast, fuel up on a juicy burger midday or chill out in “the yard” with draught beer or a bloody mary.

4. Saigon Mama

Restaurant, Vietnamese

For Vietnamese comfort food in a bowl, namely the classic beef pho with rice noodles, check out Saigon Mama, a mini-chain of restaurants sprinkled throughout Shanghai. This ground-level location in the SML Center has windows on the street, so you can indulge in your bánh mì pâté and a freshly squeezed juice while watching Shanghai’s citizens stroll by.

5. Taoyuan Village

Restaurant, Chinese

If you’re hankering for traditional Chinese breakfast fare such as xiao long bao (pork-filled soup dumplings), rice rolls stuffed with pork and you tiao (Chinese doughnuts), this Taiwanese import delivers. Dishes at Taoyuan Village are ideal for sharing so you can eat your way through the menu. Dining solo? Indulge in a set meal and wash it down with beer, ideally the curiously named Safe Date Ginger Golden Ale, made by Beijing-based Panda Brew.

6. Lotus Land Indian Cuisine

Restaurant, Indian

Settle in at one of Lotus Land Indian Cuisine’s low tables for authentic northern Indian food in Shanghai. The menu is chock full of classic dishes such as butter chicken (order a side of naan to mop up the creamy sauce), fragrant biryani and fiery vindaloo. Vegetarians and vegans are well taken care of and the staff will happily crank up the spice level or keep things nice and mild.

7. Bell Café and Bar

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, American

There’s a distinctly bohemian vibe to Bell Café and Bar, a sprawling upstairs space that’s decked out with comfy sofas evocative of your favourite aunt’s living room. Burgers and fries are the mainstays, among other stick-to-your-ribs fare such as tacos and pizza. Kick back in the dark environs of this long-standing haunt or, during the day, find a sunny spot on the deck perched high above Tianzifang’s hive of activity.

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