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It’s been almost 3 years in Shanghai now, and I finally feel comfortable enough to share  my list of favourite and best Shanghai restaurants. Why so long, you ask? Well, Shanghai is an enormous city, population of 23 million people to be exact – this is a larger population than the entire continent of Australia! So you can imagine in a city of this size, just how many restaurant choices one has. And then , it is very difficult to sum up a “best of” Shanghai restaurants list because it depends on your mood as well as the occasion…. like lunch or dinner? Formal or informal? Dinner for 2 or a group outing?

That said, it had to be done, so Accidental Epicurean brings you to the top 10 best restaurants in Shanghai, in our opinion of course. They are divided up into categories to help you decide when you are thinking about eating out in Shanghai where might best suit your occasion.


Once-in-a-lifetime dining experience

ultraviolet shanghai









Ultraviolet –

Chef Paul Pairet’s multisensory, 360 degree dining experience is one of the most memorable meals we have had in our lifetime. Really. It’s a 21-course food “journey” for a lucky 10 dinners per night. Call well in advance to get reservations to dine at the secret location.

Secret location, online booking only


Consistent, Homestyle Italian – Good for a Group

bella napoli garden







Bella Napoli –

This Italian is my “go to” place for a casual Friday night dinner, Sunday lunch or anytime with a big group. It’s the classic red-checkered table cloth kind of Italian joint turning out good quality, consistent meals at a surprisingly reasonable price (which is nice if you are with people in mixed budget ranges). And in the warmer months you can sit in the charming garden and dine alfresco. Try the Salmon with Capers, or the Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce and finish it off with a Tartufo filled with Amaretto. A nice touch at the end is complimentary Limoncello at the end of your meal.

Bella Napoli
Lane 946 Changle Lu,
near Wulumuqi Lu
Telephone: +86 21 6248 8985


Best Dim Sum

There are 2 in this category for me….and as much as I hate to include a chain restaurant in the list, Din Tai Fung dimply cannot be omitted.


din tai fung shanghai













Din Tai Fung –

People flock to this Taiwanese chain worldwide for their famous Xiao Long Bao or Pork Soup Dumplings. Honestly everything else on the menu is excellent as well. I tend to order the Xiao Long Bao, simple Steamed Shrimp Dumplings, the Pork and Black Truffle Dumplings and Dan Dan Mian. There are several locations but either make a booking or be prepared to wait – I have actually never seen this place not full.

Din Tai Fung, multiple locations













Lynn –

Lynn Shanghainese serves a fantastic unlimited dim sum for 88RMB. It’s a really good value, but that’s not what keeps me coming back….it’s the food. They have both Cantonese and Shanghainese dim sum offerings to mix and match so it is the best of both dim sum worlds. You will need a booking for the Sat / Sun dim sum as it is always full as well. My favourites are the scallion pancakes, the Shanghai steamed crab buns, the pork buns and the Shanghai fried noodles.

99 Xikang Lu, near
Nanjing Xi Lu
Telephone: +86 21 6247 0101


The Best Spanish in Town


el willy







El Willy –

The best Spanish in town got better when it moved to a Bund location last year with a slightly updated menu. Willy brings from Barcelona the best tapas Shanghai has to offer to the Bund. The menu changes seasonally, but there are a few favourites that always stay on the menu like the Beef Cheek Simmered 5 hours with Banana (sounds crazy, but its crazy good), Beef Truffle Bomb with Truffled Mashed Potatoes and the Boston Lobster Paella. I also really appreciate that Willy has made Bund dining approachable with his warm wooden tables, quirky art and casual vibe.

El Willy
South Bund 22,
5/F, 22 Zhongshan Dong Lu,
near Jinling Lu
Telephone: +86 21 5404 5757


Elegant Celebrity-Chef Resto for Dates, Business Dinners, etc

table no 1







Table No 1 at the Waterhouse –

This Jason Atherton Shanghai outpost is not to be missed. Located in a boutique hotel called the Waterhouse Hotel, Table No 1 restaurant presents some of Atherton’s best examples of small plates and sharing menus. I recommend the Razor Claims with Chili and coriander A la Plancha, Crispy Skin Pork Belly with Cassoulet Beans, and the Pan Roasted Sole with Squid Ink Risotto. If you have time, before or after dinner, head up to the rooftop bar on the roof of the hotel and have a cocktail with a river view.

Table No 1
The Waterhouse Hotel,
The Cool Docks,
1/F, 1-3 Maojiayuan Lu,
near Zhongshan Nan Lu
Telephone: +86 21 6080 2918


Bund Dining – Fun for a Group

MMBund foie gras crumble











Mr. & Mrs. Bund –

Again on the list is Chef Paul Pairet and his Bund favourite.  A few years after opening, this is fast becoming a Shanghai standard. It’s inventive menu of French-meets-molecular gastronomy is winner with memorable dishes like Foie Gras Crumble, Steamed Prawns in a Mason Jar, Meuniere Bread and Black Cod in a Bag. As it is all served family style, it is really best to go with a group so you can sample more dishes. And the serve-yourself, by-the-glass-wine dispenser means you can sample many different wines to go with all the different dishes. Also, FYI, there is a late-night menu starting at 12-4am which is really good value and perfect if you want a midnight snack or meal before you head home.

Mr & Mrs Bund
Bund 18,
6/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu,
near Nanjing Dong Lu
Telephone: +86 21  6323 9898


Best Brunch in Shanghai












Madison –

I was attracted to Austin Hu’s Shanghai restaurant  initially because he hails from a famous and very highly rated restaurant  in my hometown of NYC, Gramercy Park. And while I do love his dinner menu, what I am more excited about is his brunch menu..currently the most popular brunch in Shanghai. Favourite items include Poached Eggs on Pig Trotter and homemade English muffin (basically Eggs Benedict), the Disco Duck Fat Fries, a Scotch Egg, and Stuffed Brioche French Toast. Also, people rave about the burger, although I have never had it myself…as I tend to prefer breakfast-y food for brunch.

Bldg 2, 3 Fenyang Lu,
near Huaihai Lu
Telephone: +86 21 6437 0136


Best Mexican in Shanghai 

maya carne asada










Maya –

Maya is hands down the best Mexican restaurant in Shanghai. And real Mexican, not sloppy Tex mex burritos oozing refried beans and cheese. It’s based on fresh ingredients and classic Mexican tastes presented in an elegant, yet unpretentious manner. I recommend the Slow Roasted Port Belly Tacos – sounds heavy but the are small and light with fresh pops of citrus and cilantro. The Ancho Dusted Soft Shell Crab and Carne Asada is not to be missed and the Maya Casserola is also one of my favourites, featuring baked prawn and chicken with quesadilla crust, crema and rice. They have a great wine list as well, but the bigger draw is likely their authentic Margarita cocktails.

Grand Plaza Club House,
2/F, 568 Julu Lu,
near Shanxi Nan Lu
Telephone: +81 21 6289 6889


Best Meditteranean in Shanghai










El Efante –

Also another restaurant owned and run by Willy of El Willy, it’s French Concession location with a large garden cannot be beat. It feels at once country cozy and yet also city sophisticated. El Efante is all about “happy” Meditteranean cuisine – from Greece, Spain, Turkey, and Italy. It’s a wonderful menu with almost too many choices! We like to order the charcuterie which features Spanish jamon from pigs that eat only acorns, and you can taste the buttery, nuttiness in every bite. Also, we highly recommend the Sexy Croque Monsieur which is a new interpretation of the classic with  fontina cheese, mortadella sausage and truffle inside a piadina bread shell. Also, you may have noticed we like pork belly

– and this is one pork belly that is among the best in all of Shanghai, so a must have is definitely the herb-encrusted, roast US pork belly.

20 Donghu Lu,
near Huaihai Lu
Telephone: +86 21 5404 8085








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