The Best Restaurants in Shanghai's Former French Concession

Shanghai offers an expansive variety of culinary treats
Shanghai offers an expansive variety of culinary treats | © Frans Lemmens / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Will Harris
20 August 2019

The Former French Concession is Shanghai’s culinary hub, with almost every kind of dining experience you can imagine. Whatever you choose, expect to eat in style.

Whether you’re in the mood for a light Saturday brunch or a traditional Chinese dinner, you’ll find it in the Former French Concession. Some of Shanghai’s best restaurants can be found here, offering fantastic food from around the world, alongside fresh bread and coffee to sip on as you stroll through its leafy promenades.

OHA Eatery

Restaurant, Chinese
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This delightful restaurant hides an intimate layout defined by minimalist decor. The staff are warm and welcoming, serving quick, fresh dishes which use traditional Chinese recipes and locally sourced ingredients to ensure that every plate tastes just as grandma intended. The Mouldy Tofu Salad is a particular highlight, deftly marrying Chinese clover, honey and fermented tofu.

RAC Café

Cafe, French
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RAC Café is the perfect place to go for lunch on a quiet weekend, serving tasty sandwiches along with French pastries and desserts. The crêpes are a popular favourite, and the coffee is some of the darkest and smoothest in Shanghai. On a weekend you’ll see a mix of locals and foreigners lounging on the wooden tables and enjoying a light brunch, especially on sunny Sundays.

Jian Guo 328

Restaurant, Chinese
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Jian Guo 328 relies on organic ingredients to ensure its meals are naturally tasty and healthy, with the general consensus that the deep fried spare ribs – boneless pork strips served with red onions and scallions – is the standout dish. The painted-brick aesthetic strips down any pretence, meaning the real focus is on the food.

Bird

Restaurant, Chinese
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The modern, crisp aesthetic of Bird – courtesy of Shanghai design talents Linehouse – is an immediate draw. The menu is a blend of cuisines, with each dish prepared using traditional Chinese cooking methods, and shareable platters like chicken feet, fried kale and baby squid the order of the day. The restaurant seats less than 20 and is considered upmarket, so a reservation is often required, but the food is definitely worth the wait.

Moka Bros

Restaurant, Healthy
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MOKA Bros
The salmon sashimi bibimbap is a popular dish at MOKA Bros | © Mooi Studio

One of the most shamelessly hipster dining experiences in Shanghai, Moka Bros boasts a huge selection of sandwiches and bowls, including the popular salmon sashimi bibimbap. The decor is an explosion of colour, with painted murals of superheroes mixed with references to Chinese culture.

Egg

Cafe, Coffee Shop, Contemporary, Fusion
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This bright and cheerful restaurant is full of natural light, serving affordable dishes and a hefty dose of positivity. The coffee menu includes an excellent coconut cold brew, which pairs well with standout dishes such as breakfast tacos and the ‘Hippie Bowl’ – a beet-pickled poached egg served with kale. Egg also offers private in-house events and catering for parties upon request.

Sober Company

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Contemporary, Chinese, $$$
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This ambitious food project is a collection of three distinct venues: the Sober Café, Sober Kitchen and Sober Society, all clustered in one spot on Yandang Road. The café alone offers a fantastic food selection, including soft-serve ice cream in a range of natural flavours and a burger made from Japanese wagyu beef. The Sober Kitchen meanwhile offers some of the best fried chicken in the city.

Palatino Roman Cuisine

Restaurant, Italian
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Palatino Roman Cuisine is one of Shanghai’s finest traditional Italian restaurants, serving up classics like spaghetti carbonara and parma ham pizza (note that the food is always garnished with garlic for an extra kick). Come here for the comfort food, stay for views of the Former French Concession promenade.

Cuivre

Restaurant, French
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This bistro offers traditional southern French cuisine in the heart of Shanghai. Its aesthetic is inspired by modern art, with half a bicycle making for an interesting choice of barstool, and a half-concrete, half-wood design giving the illusion that the restaurant has been stitched together. Recommended menu items include the goat’s cheese salad and the beef flank. Reservations are usually a must, so keep that in mind before you visit.

This is an updated version of a story written by Ross Tanchan.

These recommendations were updated on August 20, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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