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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
The interior of Lost Bakery has an arboreal feel, with almost everything from floor to ceiling carved from wood. The menu, as the name suggests, is made up of a wide range of baked options including mouth-watering raspberry tarts and éclairs.
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 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.
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.