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For expats living in Shanghai, the options in cuisines are mind boggling, the variety is overwhelming.
That is why China Highlights aims to bring together a top-notch list of places to eat at, categorized by country of origin. We have tried to keep the list comprehensive, with a good mix of affordable to fancy places, the main criteria being popularity with the city's expats and of course taste/quality of the food itself! We hope this will suit your palate and pocket.
Shanghai is home to an ever growing expat community, who flock to the city to follow their jobs, dreams, spouses and so on.
Shanghai, over the last decade , has also evolved into a multi-cultural, highly diverse, very sophisticated and a fun food city catering to all kinds of tastes and preferences. This aspect of the city is fascinating and ever-changing. Restaurants come and go fast, but some stand the test of time.
Areas within the Former French Concession, where the majority of expats reside, are the ones most populated by a diverse variety of eating joints that foreigners frequent.
In China, each province and/or region of the country has its own distinctive culture and cuisine. Some regions are known for their spicy dishes, others for their meat dishes, still others for their pickled vegetables and so on. The list is huge and we want to put together on the very best for you.
The name of this place is obvious, but this is one of the most well known and long standing restaurants in town — Sichuan Citizen [30 Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Lu/ 东湖30号，近淮海路]. Lovely interiors, friendly staff and delicious food — this place largely caters to foreigners. Their Basil Drop cocktail has become a must-have, and they also have a good list of vegetarian dishes.
Xibo is a relatively recent addition to Shanghai's list of Xinjiang restaurants and is the classiest of them all. Nice cocktails to go with your meal, which is great but created to impress affluent patrons.
The largest restaurant, with numerous branches too, is called Yershari (or Ye Li Xia Li) [7/F, 819 East Nanjing Lu, Huangpu District/ 7/楼819东南京路，黄浦区] — extremely popular, great of large groups, amazing authentic Uyghur food and even live performances.
The third popular spot is Sapar Uyghur Restaurant [20 Yuyuan Lu, near Wulumuqi Lu/ 20豫园路，靠近乌鲁木齐路] — a very local joint, hugely popular. Authentic food. Easily spotted by a huge skewer station and a bucket piled high with used skewers, interlocked to form a mountain. Friendly staff — we totally recommend it.
A daily go-to would be Di Shui Dong (affectionately known as DSD) [2/F, 56 Maoming Lu, near Changle Lu/ 2/楼56茂名路，近长乐路]. One can never go wrong with DSD — cheap and high on flavors, especially for those who love Chinese spices.
Another slightly fancier place is Guyi which is great for large groups. Another fabulous restaurant is Hunan Country Cuisine [168 Wulumuqi Lu, near Anfu Lu/ 乌鲁木齐168号，近安福路] where you must have a meal — they are superb when it comes to a more local yet fancy Chinese dining experience, and their food is spot on!
One of the best known places among expats for Yunnan food is Legend Taste [1025 Kangding Lu, near Yanping Lu/ 1025康定路，近延平路].
A more high end restaurant which doubles up as a great place for a date is Lost Heaven [38 Gaoyou Lu, near Fuxing Lu/ 高邮市38号，近复兴路], slightly more pricey and authentic dishes.
Din Tai Fung [Xintiandi branch, Lane 123 Xingye Lu, near Madang Lu/ 新天地分行，123弄兴业路近马当路] is a very popular chain of restaurants with multiple branches in Shanghai. Very popular among tourists and expats, as well as locals. Taiwanese fare served up at affordable prices, quick service, consistently good quality. Really should be on your lists to eat at if you are in Shanghai.
Unagi [342 Wulumuqi Lu, near Wuyuan Lu/ 乌鲁木齐342号，近婺源路] is one of the best spots in town if you want to have a cozy Japanese meal, and hog out on grilled eel and some smooth sake!
Another very popular and fancier restaurant is Shintori [803 Julu Lu, near Fumin Lu/ 803巨鹿路，近富民路], which is a massive and minimalist space, serving up delicately prepared dishes by English-speaking staff.
One of the longer term places in the city that's a hit with expats is Coconut Paradise [38 Fumin Lu, near Yanan Zhong Lu/ 38富民路，近延安中路]. They have outside seating and delicious food, which makes it a great spot for a romantic dinner.
The other notable restaurant, which has a few branches, is Simply Thai [Xintiandi branch, 58 Madang Lu, near Xingye Lu/ 新天地分行，58马当路，兴业附近的鲁], which also has been around for a while and is quite popular among expats.
Masala Art [397 Dagu Lu, near Shimen Lu/ 397大沽路，靠近石门路], Kaveen's Kitchen [2/F, Huashan Lu, Jing'An/ 2/楼华山路，静安] and Saffron [21 Dongping Lu, near Hengshan Lu/ 21东平路，靠近衡山路] are the top Indian restaurants in Shanghai worth their salt. However the first two can be a hit or a miss, depending on what you order.
We recommend the mutton biryani at Masala Art and the tandoori kitchen at Kaveen's Kitchen. The third one, Saffron, would be the place to go to if you are looking to have a full course meal (lunch or dinner)
Typical western fare is available in plenty across the city, no dearth of Burger Kings, McDonalds, KFCs in Shanghai. There are also a multitude of cafes and bistros — so you will not be left searching high and low if you are looking for some good comfort food you are familiar with.
If you are looking for some smashing bagels, Boom Boom Bagels [39 Anfu Lu, near Changshu Lu/ 39安福路，近常熟路] is your go-to. Their smoked salmon bagel is pretty delicious, and perfect for a quick lunch! They serve some fun cocktails too.
If it's steak you are craving and price is not a factor, our strong recommendation is El Bodegon [4/F, 83 Changshu Lu, near Julu Lu/ 4/楼83常熟路，近巨鹿路], run by a Peruvian Chef, and leaning on classic Peru dishes, and a bit of fusion as well. Their steaks are perfect! Look up for weekly deals on food and drinks.
If you are looking for some unbelievably good bbq/ smoked meat sandwiches or brisket, you must eat at Tock's [221 Henan Zhong Lu, near Fuzhou Lu/ 221河南中路近福州路] — a Montreal style deli — the only one actually in the city.
When it comes to Italian, there is a lot to choose from, but one of our favorite picks is D.O.C. [5 Dongping Lu, near Yueyang Lu/ 5东平路，近岳阳路] which hit the ground running, and has been serving up consistently great food. Their pizzas and homemade pastas are very high on the quality scale.
Two other favorites are a must visit if you want great Italian food and don't mind the price. They are both on the Bund, and you need to make a reservation. The first one is Goodfellas [7 Yanan Dong Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu/ 7延安东路，中山附近山东一路] and the second one is Mercato [6/F, 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu/ 6/楼3中山东一路，近广东路].
Tomatito [2/F, 99 Taixing Lu, near Nanjing West Lu/ 2/楼99泰兴路近南京西潞] and La Bota [426 Dagu Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu/ 426大沽路，靠近石门一路] are two places of note. They both double up as cocktail bars too and make for great evening joints for dinner and drinks. They are both great for some good tapas. La Bota has outside seating which is perfect for summer evenings.
We hope this mix of restaurants is helpful. You can ask our city experts if you have any specific request or are looking for a particular food joint. We are here to provide you with the best travel and eating tips, so don't wait any longer — Contact Us!