The 10 Best Bars in Tianzifang, Shanghai

Tianzifang is an arts and crafts enclave that has developed from a renovated traditional residential area
Tianzifang is an arts and crafts enclave that has developed from a renovated traditional residential area | © Julie Mayfeng / Shutterstock
Will Harris

Tianzifang is the arts and culture centre of Shanghai, and home to some of the most quaint and unique bars in the city.

What used to be a residential area of the former French Concession is now a hip and vibrant arts and culture area. Tianzifang is defined by its narrow streets and alleys filled with craft stores, boutiques and European restaurants. Here, you’ll find a diverse selection of both vintage Chinese bars and courtyard lounge bars to enjoy.

1. Friends Bar

Bar, American

Friends Bar provides a real American atmosphere, making it popular with foreigners who have come to call Shanghai home. This bar sells almost every kind of drink a patron might be looking for and offers a particularly good mojito. Like many bars in Tianzifang, Friends Bar is a cosy nook with a lot of heart, with great American jukebox music playing and an intimate atmosphere that encourages making new friends.

2. The Plump Oyster Bar

Cocktail Bar, European, French

As the name suggests, this restaurant-bar offers a fantastic selection of oysters as its main attraction. Paired with this is a good selection of wines and beers. All of this can be enjoyed at the bar or out on the terrace, where you can sit and watch the world rush by on the streets below.

3. Andalus

Bar, Restaurant, Moroccan, Middle Eastern

Andalus is a little slice of Morocco in the heart of Shanghai. This restaurant-bar offers excellent traditional Moroccan cuisine, as well as a wide range of Moroccan coffees and cocktails. There’s even a hookah to enjoy after you’ve stuffed yourself silly. The bar’s aesthetic is bold and bright, with beautiful coloured glass illuminating the bar. The golden bar stools and a neon-lit bar make the venue positively ornamental.

4. Bell Café and Bar

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, American

This popular nook is one of the most charming bars in Shanghai; it’s small and cosy, with an emphasis on quiet and relaxed drinking at the bar with friends. Situated at the end of a quiet alley on Taikang Road, the bar is decorated with leather upholstery and wood furniture to give it a quiet cabin feel. The ceilings are low and the spaces cramped, providing a real sense of intimacy. Bell Bar has been slowly evolving over the years, and growing in size and popularity, but it still retains a real local flavour, accomplished by providing a selection of Chinese beers and spirits, such as Baijiu. It’s the perfect place to relax and hang out.

5. Rambler

Bar, Asian, European

Rambler, with its helpful staff and regulars who are always welcoming to new faces, is known as one of the friendliest bars in Tianzifang. This bar evokes a slice of Americana, serving up affordable and delicious pizza alongside a good range of local and imported beers. This an ideal place to bring friends, play some pool and while away the the evening.

6. Kommune

Bar, European

The Kommune’s delightful courtyard means it a big hit with summertime revellers. This, alongside its generous offerings of tapas and cocktails, makes it the perfect place to enjoy the sun. This Tianzifang staple is open year-round, but summer is certainly when it shines, and the bar staff even cook up barbecues at the weekends.

7. The Alley Bar

Bar, Asian, American

One of the unique allures of Shanghai is its maze of backstreets (or hutongs). These streets hark back to a more traditional era of the city, before the towers of glass and steel took over the sky. Tianzifang is made up of hundreds of these backstreets, and no bar takes advantage of their style and mood better than The Alley Bar. It’s cosy and quaint, but it can get packed at times. The Alley Bar offers local beers and a real traditional Shanghai aesthetic, taking you back to the city of old.

8. Tai Wine

Bar, Restaurant, Mediterranean

Many of the bars found in Tianzifang specialise in either local beers or cocktails, but if you’re in the mood for a glass of something more sophisticated, Tai Wine is a must-visit. Making your way under its awnings, you’ll begin to feel as if you’ve been transported to Italy or Spain. A cobbled street on Taikang Road leads patrons to a red-brick building with lanterns lighting the way. Once inside, you’ll find an extensive wine list from all over the world. This bar draws a young and arty crowd, so you might want to dress up.

9. WeMeet

Bar, Asian

Revitalising the Shanghai of old, with waiters wearing traditional Chinese qipao and a selection of local Chinese beers, WeMeet is a delight. The bar offers a daily happy hour, which includes a two-for-one deal on imported beers, and there’s also also a good range of cocktails. Every Wednesday, ladies can enjoy a free glass of wine with anything bought at the bar.

10. MAO Livehouse

Bar, Asian

Xiao Rong of Brain Failure
© Sinopix / REX / Shutterstock

Situated at the edge of Tianzifang is MAO Livehouse, Shanghai’s biggest underground music venue. This place frequently plays host to the best punk and metal acts in Shanghai, as well as the occasional international guest. It’s a fantastic, affordable and atmospheric place to enjoy a cheap beer and experience China’s underground music scene. The drinks menu might not be extensive, but there’s a good enough selection. Here, it’s all about the tunes.

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