Time to shake off that quilted jacket, spring is here and Shanghai’s best brunch destinations are flinging open their terrace doors and setting the table for the outdoor brunch season. Here’s our pick of six fun and tasty brunch spots with beautiful terraces, patios, courtyards and balconies to satisfy you and the kids.
In 2015, Shanghai’s coolest new addition was undeniably The Nest: a chic, Grey Goose-owned gastrolounge with gorgeous Scandinavian-inspired interiors, craft cocktails and an innovative menu to match.
Recently, their similarly Scandinavian and Northern European-inspired brunch menu has become the talk of the town. We fell in love with the sour cream-topped, ultra-crispy Latvian kugelis (shredded potato pancakes) and eggs Benedict on brioche with smoked salmon and light-as-air hollandaise mousse.
More conventional options are also on offer in the forms of decadent grilled cheese sandwiches, cod fishcakes and vanilla bean pancakes with mixed berries. Best of all, their outdoor terraces come with comfy couches to relax on, and offer some stunning city views too.
RMB198/three dishes. 11-3pm, Sundays only. See listing for The Nest.
By night, elEfante entertains a loyal following of local and expat diners with rich Mediterranean cuisine and sultry, low-light interiors. By day, however, the Concession-era Donghu Lu villa transforms into a brunch destination, and the best seats are most definitely in the courtyard.
The brunch menu changes from week to week (talk about keeping it seasonal!), but expect a roster of Mediterranean tapas-style specialties alongside sous vide eggs, jamon Iberico and the restaurant’s signature ‘juicy rice.’
From RMB175/set menu. 11am-3pm, Sat-Sun. See listing for elEfante.
Having won widespread acclaim for their innovative contemporary tapas-style dishes, the Commune Social’s brunch is one of our all-time favorites. Head chef Scott Melvin (crowned ‘Best Chef’ in the That’s Shanghai 2015 Food and Drink Awards) eschews the well-trodden path of brunch classics in favor of fresh and often seasonal ingredients, reimagining breakfast to become a feast for the senses.
Better suited to older children or those who are happy to try new flavors (lucky you!), the RMB178 set gets you three dishes (plus one soda water or iced lemon tea), and includes egg-based dishes like crispy duck egg with potato, bacon and feta, fried quail eggs with smoked mackerel or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and avocado on toast. Other options include beef tartare with watermelon, mozzarella and sangria, torched mackerel with lemon aioli and parsley, pulled lamb leg with marmalade and pickles on toast, finishing with a choice of dessert or cheese.
With spring in full swing, be sure to snag an al fresco table in the restaurant’s courtyard, which is fully enclosed away from the road. They don’t take reservations, so arrive early to snatch a table.
RMB178/three dishes. Sat-Sun, 12-3pm. See listing for Commune Social.
The Park-side Classic
Low-key, relaxed and delicious are words that come to mind when we think of Ginger by the Park, a Singaporean-owned restaurant in the former French Concession. Thanks to their al fresco balcony terrace facing a quaint local park, they’re also a firm favorite at brunch time.
The three-course (starter, main and dessert of the day) brunch set is RMB148 per person, and includes dishes like spinach and carrot ricotta crêpe rolls with bacon chips, or tomato pesto rice bites with Parmesan.
However, on the à la carte menu you’ll find their celebrated shakshouka — a Middle Eastern-style baked eggs with tomato, sweet pepper, spinach, Egyptian dukkah spices, feta crumbs and crushed almonds (RMB80). Another signature brunch dish is the fluffy ricotta hotcakes, topped with pistachio, honey, fresh fruits and yoghurt (RMB80).
RMB148/three dishes. 10am-3pm, Sat-Sun. See listing for Ginger By the Park.
The Luxe Buffet
Lots of hotels in Shanghai lay claim to putting on extravagant weekend brunches, but when it comes to al fresco, it’s Elements at the Grand Kempinski in Pudong that clinches it for us. Not only does their expansive terrace have views of Pudong’s most iconic landmarks, the Sunday brunch buffet is also incredibly extensive and has something to suit kids of all ages.
In addition to breakfast classics from the egg bar, the buffet extends to fresh seafood (including lobsters and oysters), sushi and sashimi, Thai and Indian curries, Middle Eastern salads, carved roasts, melted raclette cheese and pasta, just to name a few. Dessert certainly doesn’t get overlooked either; Elements allows diners to choose from made-to-order soufflés, ice cream, pastries and lots more.
From RMB338 (RMB248 for kids aged 6-12, ages five and under are complimentary), prices subject to 15 percent service. 11.30am-3pm, Sunday only. See listing for Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai.
The Fiesty Fiesta
Grownups and kids alike love Mayita – the sister restaurant of upscale Mexican eatery Maya – for their yummy cheese-filled quesadillas, tacos, creamy guacamole and crunchy nachos. The brunch menu here has a great selection of spicier options for grownups, and a menu of non-spicy dishes to suit younger diners too.
The terrace here is among Shanghai’s best, with plenty of comfy seating, palm trees and a small adjacent lawn for kids to frolic on. We can’t imagine a better weekend spot for sunny weather.
Sat-Sun 11am-4pm. See listing for Mayita.
The Cool Courtyard
The Living Room burst onto the scene in 2015 as one of Shanghai’s first holistic lifestyle centers, with their wholesome in-house eatery, Thought for Food, opening shortly thereafter. Focusing on sustainably sourced premium ingredients, the restaurant is helmed by German chef Alexander Bitterling.
In addition to à la carte dishes, the Sunday brunch at Thought for Food includes access to a buffet salad bar carrying cold cuts, housemade breads, cheeses, garden greens and a selection of healthy juices and smoothies.
The charming outdoor courtyard is fully enclosed from the road, providing peace of mind for parents. For parents who want a little alone time, they also offers complimentary child care at their in-house Early Childhood Education Centre, with a range of activities for children aged 0-12 supervised by licensed staff.
RMB400-600 per person. 11am-3pm, Sundays only. See listing for Thought for Food.
The Good German
Got kids that love to climb and clamber? In addition to outdoor seating, Paulaner Brauhaus on Fenyang Lu in the former French Concession has a jungle gym available for younger patrons to expend excess energy before tucking into brunch.
Famous for their hearty Germanic classics, Paulaner offers a buffet-style brunch on Sundays, and à la carte menus on Saturdays – a day where special kid’s activities or even themed parties are hosted from time to time. You can catch the next one, the Kiddies Fairy Tale Party, on April 23.
10am-2pm, Sat-Sun. See listing for Paulaner.