H2 is a cute, cosy 'Western style' cafe/restaurant located on the tree-lined Yongjia Lu, very close to the intersection of Wulumuqi Nan Lu. It's been here since 2010, a valiant effort in Shanghai years.
The place is small, seating perhaps 12 people maximum downstairs, upstairs has a few more tables. For this reason, it can get very busy, with large groups gathering outside to wait during peak hours.
The fare being served here is focussd on pizzas, pastas and sandwiches. I've been frequenting here for three years now, and would have to say the Lasagna is absolutely top-notch for the price. At 36 RMB, it's an absolute steal. As good as any I've had on various trips to Italy, it's worth trying this arugula heavy version. Lasagna is listed as one of their 'specialities', as is 'Curry Chicken Rice' as is 'Hungarian Beef Filet Goulash', which I've yet to sample.
That's about as it good as it gets though, the other pasta dishes are nothing really to write home about. As for the sandwiches and wraps, same story, nothing special. I have seen a lot of people eating salads here, they could be worth a pop, but not by me.
The pizzas aren't really pizzas, the bases being wafer thin, but they do have some merit. Priced between 28-38 RMB for a pizza for one, you can't really go wrong. There's 9 to choose from, the usual suspects, plus some left-field entries such as blue cheese and durian. Pepperoni does the job for me.
Drinks-wise, they have a few bottled beers available, as well as Carlsberg on draught. Simple mixed drinks can be got, in addition to soft drinks and juices. Red and white wine are also on offer.
This chilled spot is great for a cheap lunch or dinner, it has a loyal following and plays some laid-back tunes through the speakers during the day.
Go for: Lasagna
Avoid: Tuna Ciabattas/ Any of the wraps
Good for: Casual meetups, quick lunch, cheap dinner.
Cost: 61 RMB for person (1 Lasagna, 1 glass of red wine)
La Mesa is part of the bustling Julu 758 complex located on Julu Road, near the Fumin Road intersection. I visited on a Friday evening with a friend, the place was absolutely buzzing, very busy with a great atmosphere on a Friday evening. Originally the plan was to go to the little Izakaya in the same complex, but the prices there are to be sniffed at.
So we ended up at La Mesa, a cosy Mexican restaurant located in the corner of the food hall. We were lucky enough to get a couple of seats by the window, people watching and hopefully some good food were on the cards. Three beers were available on tap: Asahi, Vedett and Boxing Cat (Right Hook).
Onto the menu, the main body of it is dedicated to tacos, 16 different varieties covering Fish, Vegetarian, Chicken, Beef and Pork. Priced at 28 RMB each, or 2 for 50 RMB, the value matched the variation. I went for the ‘Lengua (Beef Tongue)’ and ‘The Seoul Sister’ options, as did my mate. A mixed bag indeed. The former was a soggy effort, the quality of the beef was nothing to shout about, and there was something a little off about the texture. The onion and coriander didn’t add much flavour and the ‘spicy chili sauce’ wasn’t spicy at all.
In contrast, ‘The Seoul Sister’ was a delight. Rated at 3 peppers on the Chilli-o-meter, I was expecting spice. Whilst it wasn’t as hot as expected, it did give just the right amount of kick. Tender pork belly, kimchi, red onion, ranch dressing and spicy hot sauce all combined to great effect, the result being a very tasty taco. The kimchi was the most powerful of the ingredients, and alongside the juicy pork, it made for a really unusual, yet exquisite taco.
The flour taco shells underwhelming; corn ones are offered on request. Will go for that option next time. Other options on the menu include a couple of burritos, three different Cuban sandwiches, a few salads and some churros. A decent array of options for sides too, including nachos and empanadas. We went for the ‘Spicy Beef Cheese Fries’. These were pretty tasty, a good dish to share. Heavy on the cayenne pepper, the cheese could have been melted more.
There were a few cocktails on the menu, although I didn’t look beyond the Margaritas, and rightly so. A wise choice, they delivered. Excellent effort. The staff were very friendly and diligent, would definitely return here.
Go for: Tacos (Recommend: ‘The Seoul Sister’, Margaritas.
Good for: Casual meet up with friends.
Cost: 440 RMB for 2 people (4 Tacos, 1 Side, 6 drinks)
Pistolera first emerged in Shanghai in 2010, and has a been very popular ever since. As we close in on a decade of Tex-Mex temptations, here is a summary of the place. It’s owned by True Legend Hospitality Group, the guys and girls behind Big Bamboo and the Blind Pig. Currently, there are four branches around town: Xuhui, Changning, Jing’An and Pudong.
Having visited all the branches, I would say the best, which also happens to be my local, is the Hengshan Road location in Xuhui. A few tables out front, along with a large rooftop terrace, make it a great spot for al fresco dining. Space inside is plentiful too, you can often catch live music in the evening, and salsa nights regularly.
Onto the food and drink anyway. The tacos are always a winner, for this visit my partner and I had some Rib-Eye Steak ones, as well as the delicious Grilled Fish Tacos. The tacos range from 65 to 78 RMB for a pair. You can also mix and match 3 for 95 RMB. Other options include Pork, Carnitas and Tinga (Potatoes and Chicken).
The Rib-Eye steak tacos are a delight, a thin slice of flash grilled steak topped with guacamole and pico de gallo salsa. Simple, but very tasty. The piscis of choice for the fish tacos is grilled Tilapia filets. Again topped with guacamole and pico de salsa, with added cilantro and chopped cabbage. These really are exquisite, I find myself returning to their ‘melt in the mouth goodness’ all too often.
Drinks choices are plentiful, with several beers to choose from, craft and others. There is an extensive cocktail menu, where the Margaritas are the pick of the bunch. Coming in four flavours, regular lime, mango, coconut and strawberry. These can be got for 38RMB instead of 55RMB on Mondays. My partner opted for the Mexican Sunset which I’m told was also pretty good.
Had some Churros to finish of the meal which were absolutely outstanding, 60 RMB will get you 5 ‘Mexican Youtiao’s’. These doughnuts are sugar heavy, with a sprinkling of cinammon, with a perfect texture. They'll hit the spot if you have a sweet tooth. They come with a choice of three sauces to dip into, including chocolate.
Go for: Burritos, Tacos (Recommend: Fajita Burrito), Margaritas, Churros.
Good for: Dates, Friends, Drinks before/after the cinema adjacent to the restaurant.
Cost: 417 RMB for 2 people (6 Tacos, 3 drinks, Dessert)
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