Shanghai Recommendations: Food, Drinks, and Sights
July 8, 2017
Shanghai is a great city. As a major global hub for finance and fashion, it tends to be more western-facing and user friendly than other parts of China. The French Concession part of the city still feels very European with wide, tree lined boulevards and a very distinct culture, while Pudong is shiny and new and wrapped in glittering steel and glass. The street food is cheap and delicious, the cafes serve expensive and expertly prepared lattes, and I can not wait to go back. From my recent travels to Shanghai: here are a few of the places I loved visiting, eating, and drinking:
Iconic Shanghai. Colonial architecture. Panoramic views. Great for a morning jog, evening stroll, and requisite Shanghai selfies.
Meh. Walk it once to say you witnessed it, but this is basically just a pedestrian friendly shopping street on super steroids.
Tucked discreetly off of a busy Shanghai thoroughfare, the winding narrow alleyways of Tianzifang (田子坊) are a picturesque refuge from the Shanghai bustle. This old residential and artists’ community was saved from demolition and converted into a historic shopping district with boutiques, cafes, restaurants and art studios. It is a great place to wander aimlessly, have a cold beer, and find souvenirs made by local artisans.
UnTour Food Tours
I’m usually not a ‘tour’ person. I prefer exploring on my own, but niche tours, when done well, are often the best way for a quick intro to a city. The Night Eats Tour included more delicious street food and alcohol than I should have consumed in one evening, a great history lesson from the knowledgeable guides, a few new travel friends, and the savage beheading of a water snake (unpleasant but important to watch for any meat eater). This was easily one of the highlights of my trip.
JiaJia Dumpling House
Some say it’s the best xiao long bao (steamed soup dumpling) in Shanghai. I say the line is long but totally worth it, the hole-in-the-wall vibe is warm and inviting, and all of their dumplings are incredibly tasty.
Boxing Cat Brewing
Very good craft beer and a chill vibe in the heart of the French Concession.
Propaganda Poster Art Centre
The Propaganda Poster Art Centre sits in the basement of a residential high rise in Shanghai’s French Concession. It is a private museum/collection that only received an official license from the Chinese government in 2012. Though its extensive collection of posters and paraphernalia it tells the story of modern china through the lens of nationalistic imagery. The artwork is fascinating and another must-see highlight of Shanghai.
M50 Creative Park
Shanghai’s M50 Creative Park is street art, gallery/studio space, and chill hangout spot all rolled up into a well-concieved adaptive reuse project. For Chinese contemporary art, this is one of the best bets in Shanghai, and a must see for art fans.
The UNDEFINE cafe at M50 is a great space to do a little reading and writing, people watch, and drink in the excellent Shanghai coffee culture.
Din Tai Fung
Famed Taiwanese dumpling empire with many locations around the world and a few in Shanghai. I hit up the one in Xintiandi, an upscale shopping district near Taipingqiao Park. DTF has some of the best dumplings in the game, hands down.
Shanghai Urban Tigers Run Group
For runners visiting Shanghai who want a good crew to run with, I highly recommend the good people with Urban Tigers. Check the meetup.com page or the WeChat group for schedule and updates, but there’s typically a Wednesday evening run that meets at the Jing’an Sculpture Park, and a Saturday track workout that meets at Jiaotong University.