Cobra Lily is the brainchild of Shanghai food and beverage magnate Kellie Lee, the mind behind institutions such as Liquid Laundry and Boxing Cat Brewery. The vibe here is cool and casual, with a menu that marries Asian and Western influences. Standouts include foie gras sticky rice and pho soup in sake cups. There’s even a cocktail that tastes like Thai curry.
Highline is considered one of the coolest restaurants in Xintiandi, if not all of Shanghai. Its chic, tropical style wouldn’t look out of place in the glitziest corner of Miami. The American menu is comfort-food heaven, with classics such as chicken and waffles (with maple and bacon butter), bacon cheeseburgers and prime rib. They also offer a range of cocktails, wines and beers. Sip on a drink out on their massive terrace overlooking the city.
Din Tai Fung is a Shanghai institution. Despite being a Taiwanese chain restaurant with branches all over the world, it has become a beloved staple in China. This branch in Xintiandi is one of the best. It is large, the service is spot on and the food is delicious. Culture Trip recommends ordering a basket of steamed buns, dumplings, a bowl of scallion noodles and a couple of veggie dishes. Don’t forget their xiaolongbao (soup dumplings): with 18 perfect folds, an ideal soup to meat ratio and explosive flavours, they’re yum cha heaven.
El Luchador is known for being an unconventional Mexican restaurant, offering inventive menu items such as avocado tempura and tuna tartare. Browse through their colourful list of margaritas, Coronaritas (an upside-down Corona in a margarita) and tequilas. They also have a huge outdoor patio, which gets packed during the warmer months.
On paper, Xixi Bistro might seem as if it is having an identity crisis, serving Italian–Chinese fusion food, with a Tiki Bar and a 1930s Shanghai cocktail lounge out back. Yet somehow it works. This venue takes up two levels, with the second level home to the restaurant. It is decorated in a quirky loft style, emulating traditional Chinese architecture. The menu is just as eclectic, with unique dishes such as jellyfish salmon tartare. It tends to get quite busy, so book a table ahead of time.
Crystal Jade is a Singaporean chain that specialises in Cantonese cooking, particularly dim sum – and like any dim sum venue, they have an extensive menu. Most people make a beeline for certain star items, like crispy pork belly, shrimp dumplings, xiaolongbao and roasted pork. Don’t skip dessert, as their mango pudding is one of the best in town. They also have a Michelin Bib Gourmand.
Green and Safe the Barn is a casual restaurant that offers a range of Western food. They serve everything from salads, sandwiches and pastries to oysters, steaks and seafood. They have some draft beers on tap and if you venture far enough you will find The Bunker (their cocktail bar) tucked away in the back.
Molokai is a Hong Kong-style cha canting (Cantonese diner). It serves up classic cha canting staples like stir-fried lo mein and rice, shrimp wontons and Hainan chicken rice. Pair these with drinks like the famous Hong Kong milk tea and Horlicks. Unlike the cha cantings back in Hong Kong, Molokai is quite large and a touch or two fancier due to its more upscale location. It’s usually packed during the day, but if you wait a while, you’ll get a spot.
Expect fresh, healthy sandwiches, salads and amazing juices at this upscale branch of one of the best-known chains in Shanghai. The bar offers an extensive cocktail list and more than 100 wines. Keep an eye out for the three-course set meals with wine pairings – they change monthly, using seasonal produce.
If you’re looking for luxury dim sum, look no further than Ye Shanghai. Though some consider this restaurant a tad expensive, the quality of their dishes is well worth the money. The scallion pancakes are thin and crispy, while the hongshaorou is perfectly sweet and savoury. Though it’s unusual for a dim sum place to be this fancy, the upscale vibe lends itself well to the ritzy Xintiandi atmosphere.