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Al's Diner (Xinle Lu)
    • ADDRESS:
      204 Xinle Lu,
      near Donghu Lu
      新乐路204号, 近东湖路
    • BOOK:
    • PHONE:
      5465 1259
    • WECHAT:
      -
    • AREA:
      Xuhui
    • METRO:
      15 mins walk from South Shaanxi Rd
    • HOURS:
      Daily, 9am-midnight
    • CARDS:
      Local and international cards, Alipay accepted
    • PRICE:
      $$ $$$
    • WEB:
    • SmartShanghai.com Editor's Description
      Originally opened as a premium ice cream shop called Gracie's, this little spot on the corner of Xinle and Fumin re-branded itself as Al's Diner in Fall 2015. They're serving American diner classics like biscuits and gravy, patty melts, monte cristos, egg x sausage muffins, burgers, and sandwiches. There's also Korean-style double-fried chicken and Kirin beer topped with frozen beer slush. This new menu was designed by Sean Jorgenson (Maya, Liquid Laundry) and Anna Bautista (Coquille, Madera). Don't worry -- the ice cream is still there, and it's damn good, with flavors like cookie dough, mint chocolate chip, and pumpkin. You're really coming here for the patty melt and other heart-attack fare, but they do have some vegetarian and healthier options too. There's a couple tables outside for nice days, too. Breakfast is available all day.
    Photos by BRANDON MCGHEE
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    • Here’s the low-down on the latest action-

      The Beef: Kept it carb-friendly with pancakes! Plenty of protein on the menu as well naturally - eggs, bacon, burgers, etc.

      The first thing about the place is the vibe. Lots of buzz and energy with the weekend crowd. We had debated whether to go to this outpost or to the Xiangyang Lu location. Pros for Changle Lu: The décor is more fun/lively; outdoor seating is available; and the icing on top is that they have a full-on Gracie’s ice cream selection in the back. Pros for Xiangyang Lu: bigger space, more tables; apparently their bacon is better; also have Gracie’s but feels less “retro” without the ice cream parlor feel.

      I opted for sweet this time and gave the pancakes a try. These were dense and rich, more cake-y than fluffy (and extremely filling)! strawberry cheesecake pancakes had graham cracker crust bits which were delicious but could have had more sauce. By the second pancake (each “original” size order comes with three), the pancakes started to feel dry. I enjoyed them but had to order a soda to wash the rest of it down. The strawberry sauce was also a bit too “lemon citrus-y” for me.

      The Purgatory Eggs got a decent review. Seemed good but nothing mindblowing or “hellalicious”.

      The Gang: Cool kids (literally), there were lots of families as well as smaller groups of friends. A mix of Chinese and laowai although probably with a majority of the latter.

      The Motive: The brunch menu seems to be different than their usual menu with expanded offerings. But they do have all-day breakfast on the regular menu. Also, I would come by just for a scoop or two of Gracie’s.

      The Damage: 285RMB for three (coffee, no alcohol)

      The Down n’ Dirty: Single bathroom, although surprisingly no line despite the crowds. Spic n' span.

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