Although I can't guarantee that you'll enjoy all the food (though I personally was a BIG fan), I CAN guarantee that these restaurants all have a unique and wonderful atmosphere to them, creating a pretty amazing eating experience no matter which one you decide to visit.
LOCATION: No. 246 Fuxing West Lu, Xuhui
A cute restaurant in what appears to be just a plain residential building, serves the most delicious Taiwanese cuisine accompanied by stunning interior design. Wooden stairs, wooden tables, wooden flooring, a piano and vintage films playing in the background - this Taiwanese restaurant creates one of my favourite eating experiences in Shanghai. The food itself is simple, refined and doesn’t carry too much flavor. I originally was a little skeptical but now I've got to say, I'm a convert. And if the food isn't enough to blow you away, the interior design for sure will! This is definitely a restaurant I recommend visiting while in Shanghai, especially with their pretty reasonable prices. Make sure to ask for their English menu unless you feel like rolling the dice ;)
LOCATION: No. 288 Fengxian Road, Jing’an
Located just off Nanjing West Road, this hidden gem is in an ideal location to visit whenever you’re in the area. Once you walk in through the sliding door, you’re greeted by a charming and cosy interior, there is standard single seating for a quick solo stop or, if it’s a more social affair, there are 4-person booths too! The food is reasonably priced but still high quality. I'd personally recommend the rice dishes despite the ramen theme of the restaurant and the side dishes are a good complement to the mains if you're feeling hungry enough! The food is amazing, but perhaps my favourite aspect of Ramen David is its single seating. Many times, I find myself with the desire to eat out by myself, however, feel intimidated by tables designed for more than 1. Ramen David has solved my problems as its now my go to when I feel like having a quick bite before heading home. I can’t recommend this place enough, especially when you’re in need of a quick solo meal, so head over to Ramen David and enjoy something off their menu.
LOCATION: 2F, No. 148 Shaanxi Nan Lu, Jing’an
A café and Thai restaurant, Encounter is one of the most unique restaurants in Shanghai. Why? Because the interior is designed to emulate a forest. With multiple floors and a different layout on each one, this place can feel like a vast forest when you’re inside. What’s even better? Despite the extravagant interior design, Encounter is dedicated to providing high quality Thai food and drinks without being overpriced. As you would expect from a restaurant designed like a forest, the food and drinks are served aesthetically to complement the environment they have created. An impressive emulation of a forest, this restaurant is worth a visit purely for its interior design and it doesn’t hurt that the food and drinks are of good value as well!
LOCATION: No. 693 Julu Lu, Xuhui
Located on the infamous Julu Lu, Bulldog BAR-B-Q is one of the few places in Shanghai with Texan-style barbecue. It’s a small establishment with only a few tables available, however, don’t let it fool you into thinking its food isn't of the highest standard! Their menu is traditional Texas with brisket, pulled pork, pork ribs and barbecue chicken. The meat is reasonably priced and it's available in varying portion sizes. Bulldog also offer delicious side dishes to complement the meat, including grilled veggies, mac and cheese, creamed corn, garlic & herb fries and salad. I would also recommend trying the sandwiches if you want to add a bit more substance to the meat. A cosy restaurant, Bulldog BAR-B-Q definitely deserves your attention and should be on your list of places to go for a casual bite!
LOCATION: No. 178 Xinle Lu, Xuhui
Another restaurant that fits the criteria of relaxed, clean, simple and minimalistic, Comma opened its doors recently and has now become one of my go to places for a casual meal. The restaurant offers single seating and small booths which is perfect for a casual meal. The food is small in size and simple with a focus on aesthetic as you can probably guess by the interior design. Although I would not consider the food mind blowing, it is definitely delicious enough to warrant a visit and complements the stunning design of the restaurant. Comma also provides sake on tap if you are looking to loosen up as you eat. Don’t be expecting the best meal you’ve ever had, rather, this restaurant is very much about the overall vibe as it’s the perfect place to enjoy a quiet meal by yourself or a chill spot to meet and chat with friends.
LOCATION: 3F, No. 755 Huaihai Road (M), Huangpu
Every now and then, a hidden gem is hidden in plain sight. This holds true for the minimalistic MUJI Diner located on Huaihai Road. I’m sure that most of you have walked by this massive MUJI store on one of the busiest streets in Shanghai, but I doubt all of you have bothered to try the MUJI Diner on the top floor. I know it might be weird to think that a store specialising in clothes, home appliances, furniture and stationery has also managed to produce a restaurant of decent quality. However, that is exactly what has happened. There is a wide range of cuisines available at the restaurant and there’s something on the menu for everyone. The diner is an open kitchen as MUJI aims for complete transparency, which only adds to its wonderful dining environment. After the main meal, there are desserts available as well as a wine bar. The food isn’t over the top in flavor and can be characterised as safe but tasty. Despite the enjoyable food, perhaps its best-selling points are its reasonable prices, convenient location and stunning interior design in line with the classic MUJI aesthetic. A great place to grab a simple meal with friends or by yourself, MUJI Diner is definitely a place to visit if you’re near Huaihai Lu.
Other food experiences we recommend
Street Eats Breakfast by UnTour Food Tours
Some of Shanghai’s best food is found street-side in the morning hours. If you’re an early riser, come taste the Chinese breakfast of champions with this street food tour in the beautiful former French Concession. You’ll meet trusted vendors selling classic local dishes from freshly-made soy milk and fried dough to steaming baskets of the city’s finest soup dumplings.
Street Eats Breakfast Meeting Location (provided after booking)
Every Wednesday & Saturday