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The Brunch 20: The List to End All Lists

SmSh's authoritative and indisputable compilation of the 20 best places to eat breakfast and brunch in Shanghai. No excuses!
Last updated: 2018-09-20

Brunch. It’s what separates us from the animals. SmartShanghai has distilled the best representations of this glorious tradition down to the top 20 options in Shanghai. This list, which will change and rotate seasonally, is the product of exhaustive investigation and deep research into the state of pancakes, dim sum and tapas-like food things available on weekends. So, with this list in hand, go forth, go out into the city, and celebrate your beautiful humanity. Go brunch!

The Nest

When: Saturdays and Sundays, 11.30am-3pm

The Place: Perennially cool lounge does more than just nighttime hijinks. During the day, it transforms into a light-filled space with a brunch menu that skews towards seafood, and drinks specials on Grey Goose vodka, "cocktail salad" (drinks with vegetable and fruit juices) and sparkling cocktails.

The Deal: Three courses for 198rmb, with a welcome cocktail.

Dishes: Helan Gar: poached crayfish (cold) with dill flower and black pepper, toast bread and dill-butter; Full-Dressed Nest Salmon Blini; Air Canada clam casserole


When: Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-3.30pm

The Place: Cali-flavored lounge Highline does an a la carte brunch menu that mixes up some of the restaurant's signatures, like Chicken and Waffles and a Foie Burger, with healthy and inventive options like a chorizo and crawfish benedict, and a salmon and uni soft scramble.

The Deal: A la carte. From 68 to 428rmb, though most dishes are 128 to 198rmb.

Dishes: Chicken and Waffles (158rmb); Foie Burger (198rmb); Salmon & Uni Soft Scramble (158rmb), Acai Yogurt Bowl (98rmb)

M on the Bund

When: Saturdays and Sundays, 11.30am-3pm

The Place: Brunch at M on the Bund's terrace is a Shanghai institution and something everyone in the city should do at least once, soaking up the riverside breeze while looking out over your eggs and steak Diane to the skyscrapers of Pudong.

The Deal: Two courses, 298rmb + 10%, three courses 328rmb +10%.

Dishes: Mushrooms from the wilds of Yunnan sauteed in a creamy mustardy sauce & served on toasted brioche; steak Diane; M's Weekend Fry-up; M's very famous Pavlova

Phénix at The Puli

When: Saturdays and Sundays, 11.30am-3pm

The Place: The Puli Hotel's restaurant Phenix has a Michelin star but often flies under the radar. Those in the know often visit the restaurant on Sundays for its one-day brunch, which features a modest hotel buffet plus three courses from a menu of things like: a three-egg omelet with Yunnan black truffle, hazelnut and burnt butter; Angus beef slider, gruyere cheese, spiced ketchup, house fries; and halibut Meuniere, seaweed butter, capers, lemon.

The Deal: 468rmb + 16% (food), 718rmb + 16% (food plus free flow Moet et Chandon Brut), 818rmb (food plus free flow Moet et Chandon Rose).

Dishes: Three egg omelet, Yunnan black truffle, hazelnut, burnt butter; Angus beef slider, gruyere cheese, spiced ketchup, house fries; halibut Meuniere seaweed butter, capers, lemon

Lei Garden

When: Saturdays and Sundays, 11.30am-2.30pm

The Place: Lei Garden is among the city's best places for Cantonese dim sum, and the lines prove it. This is an upscale experience, with white tablecloths and waitresses in pantsuits, at a surprisingly affordable price. All of the standards are done with extra care here, but of particular note are their Cantonese herbal soups.

The Deal: A la carte.

Dishes: Crispy skinned roast pork (120rmb); custard buns (29rmb for 3); tonic soups

Seventh Son

When: Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-2.45pm

The Place: Seventh Son is an upscale dim sum house that was spun off the Fook Lam Moon restaurant, and is now a force to be reckoned with in its own right. They are masters of the Cantonese dim sum classics, with nearly translucent shrimp dumplings and fluffy, pillowy steamed bao. Though expensive, their crispy-skinned chicken gets rave reviews from diners.

The Deal: A la carte.

Dishes: Crispy skinned chicken (240rmb for half, 440rmb for the full); shrimp dumplings (62rmb for 4 pieces); "pineapple" char siu bao (48 rmb for 3 pieces)

Royal China

When: Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-4.30pm

The Place: Royal China is a more homey dim sum affair, a comfortable house of dumplings and roasted meats on the third floor of the Longemont hotel. The Cantonese classics here are done very well, if not always to the strictest of standards, but still make an excellent backdrop for a weekend feast with a group of friends and a bottomless teapot.

The Deal: A la carte.

Dishes: Shrimp dumplings (33 rmb for 4); "snow mountain" custard buns (29 rmb for 3); Cantonese BBQ meats (79-198rmb)

Commune Social

When: Saturdays and Sundays, 11.30am-2.30pm

The Place: Commune Social was one of the earlier Western restaurants in Shanghai to do creative, accomplished cooking in a very hip but casual setting (designed by Neri + Hu). The food is small plates of vaguely Spanish / modern Western cooking, like Green asparagus, fried egg, mint-pea puree, Iberico cheese and nuts, and fits perfectly into the brunch-shaped hole in your weekend.

The Deal: Three dishes for 188rmb.

Dishes: Poached egg, creamy spinach, mushroom, sriracha bechamel, sesame blini, migas; bacon, Manchego cheese & tomato bocadillo; salt and pepper squid with ink aioli


When: Saturdays and Sundays, 11.30am-2.30pm

The Place: Pelikan, the Nordic restaurant with the model chef, does a mixed brunch with both a chef's table type of set, in which he sends out a bunch of dishes for the table to share, as well as offering an a la carte menu with 20+ more choices, if you'd rather craft brunch yourself.

The Deal: Chef's brunch, with eight dishes to share, for 195rmb per person (whole table must order).

Dishes: Aebleskiver: Danish pancake balls, brown sugar bacon, apple aioli; mushroom toast; shrimp salad and sourdough

The Grand Brasserie at The Waldorf Astoria

When: Saturdays and Sundays, noon-3pm

The Place: This is a classic five-star hotel brunch, with all the trimmings: chilled seafood, roast meat carved on the buffet and a lavish dessert spread. In addition to the buffet, you also choose three other dishes from a short menu of things like eggs benedict and buttermilk pancakes.

The Deal: 488rmb with drink options (188-288rmb).

Dishes: Truffled scrambled eggs, pan-fried foie gras with caramelized peach, Belgian waffle with mango and coconut sauce

Liquid Laundry

When: Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-2.45pm

The Place: Liquid Laundry's craft brewery plus lounge concept has been knocked off by others over the years, but their brunch remains as trendy as ever. The menu is short and sweet and runs through a few classics like Belgian waffles and ricotta pancakes but also more imaginative fare like a breakfast pizza.

The Deal: A la carte. From 22rmb to 108rmb.

Dishes: Buttermilk biscuit with pinenut honeycomb butter (22rmb each); strawberry overload waffle (68rmb); breakfast pizza (108rmb)


When: Saturdays and Sundays, from 8.30am

The Place: Trendy, industrial-ish design, a hidden location and a solid menu of sweet and savory crepes, breakfast sandwiches and simple French dishes made RAC into a verifiable hit during the opening months of 2018. The crepes and galettes remain the highlight, and the crowds remain omnipresent, so go during off-peak hours or be prepared to wait in line with the selfie-obsessed crowds.

The Deal: A la carte. From 35rmb to 98rmb.

Dishes: Avocado toasts & egg (60rmb); Crepes & sides (60rmb); Complete Galette (70rmb)

Mr & Mrs Bund

When: Saturdays and Sundays, from 8.30am

The Place: MMB, as it's known, offers perhaps the largest brunch selection in town, largely by re-imagining their standard menu as various brunch sets shared for two people. The sets allow you to jump around the menu and hit signature Paul Pairet classics like his truffle meuniere bread, but the menu also extends to a comprehensive list of egg dishes and things like the restaurant's famous caramelized French toast.

The Deal: Sets at 250rmb, 380rmb, 480rmb, 580rmb, and 780rmb per person, for two people.

Dishes: Real French Toast; Le Beau Chicken Vol-Au-Vent; Egg Tartelette Anchovy Nicoise

The Kitchen Table at the W Shanghai

When: Sundays, 12.30-3.30pm

The Place: #THISISNOTSUNDAYBRUNCH the W Shanghai's Kitchen Table screams on its menu. Instead, they offer a "Social Retox" with chefs, mixologists and a resident DJ, with three options: Keep It Fun (food, no booze); Soak It In (food plus unlimited cocktails, wine and beer) and Live It Up (food plus unlimited Veuve Clicquot Champagne). The menu itself is divided between Cured, Raw, Josper (a type of oven, meaning roasted meats) and Bang the Drums, which is cheese and dessert.

The Deal: 398rmb (Keep It Fun), 498rmb (Soak It In), and 688rmb (Live It Up).

Dishes: Focaccia, Goat's Curd, Tomato Relish, Herbed Butter; Freshly shucked oysters from Brittany; Robbins Island Wagyu Beef

Mr Pancake House

When: Saturdays and Sundays, from 8am

The Place: The clue is in the name. This affordable all-day breakfast spot has expanded into a chain since finding its pancake-shaped niche in Shanghai years ago, satisfying the weekend urge for round, fluffy discs of flour, egg and sugar cooked on a griddle. They don't offer any sets on the weekends but prices are gentle enough that it's easy to put together a big brunch on the cheap.

The Deal: A la carte.

Dishes: Strawberry pancakes (58rmb); smoked salmon Eggs benedict (62rmb); classic chicken and waffles (65rmb)

Al’s Diner

When: Saturdays and Sundays, from 9am

The Place: Al's Diner is a small, homey storefront smack in the middle of downtown doing American classics and killer ice cream (by Gracie, Al's wife). The place is particularly popular on weekend mornings and early afternoons, when almost every table holds a huge stack of fluffy pancakes covered in blueberry sauce, with a small pot of whipped cream on the side. Their second location, on Xiangyang Lu, is nearly identical, though it opens 30 minutes later and has waffles on the menu.

The Deal: A la carte.

Dishes: Blueberry lemon-ricotta pancake (60rmb); Purgatory eggs (65rmb); Superstar Buttermilk pancakes, whipped cream, maple syrup (50rmb)

Taoyuan Village

When: Saturdays and Sundays, from 7am

The Place: Taoyuan Village broke the mould on Chinese breakfast places, introducing trendy design into a meal that is traditionally functional, at best. It's up for debate whether their youtiao and soy milk are actually better than the ones at the local stand, but they are certainly cleaner and, by any measure, quite tasty.

The Deal: A la carte.

Dishes: Fresh ground savory soy milk (12rmb); you tiao (6rmb); bacon and egg shaobing (25rmb)

Baker & Spice

When: Saturdays and Sundays, from 7am

The Place: Baker & Spice is first and foremost a bakery, but come weekends, especially at this location on Anfu Lu, its back seating area becomes a great place for pastries, coffee and a selection of simple brunch plates in a light and mod space.

The Deal: A la carte. From 46rmb to 88rmb.

Dishes: The Brunch Plate: eggs, bacon, smashed avocado, corn fritters, mushroom & kale, fruit (88rmb)

Green & Safe

When: Saturdays and Sundays, from 9am

The Place: Healthy eating destination Green & Safe does an all day brunch in addition to their huge broadsheet menu, with a short but sweet selection of eight items, including avocado toast, a breakfast burrito, and a classic American breakfast. Show up early; seats at the picnic tables fill up fast.

The Deal: A la carte. From 58rmb to 98rmb

Dishes: Avocado toast with poached egg & seasonal fruits (58rmb); beef breakfast burrito (78rmb); American breakfast; Scottish smoked salmon truffle scrambled eggs (78rmb)

Brut Eatery

When: Saturdays and Sundays, from 9am

The Place: Popular and cute, Brut Eatery is small and fills up fast on the weekends. The vintage, folksy interior is the backdrop to a weekend brunch that includes a highly popular chicken & waffles, as well as breakfast sandwiches, pasta, and the Brut breakfast.

The Deal: A la carte. From 56rmb to 98rmb.

Dishes: Sweet & Savory: 6-spice fried chicken, crispy waffles, sweet walnut, pickled watermelon radish, jujube honey (82rmb); Breakfast Manwich (62rmb); Green Tartine: guacamole, organic Japanese onsen egg, sourdough bread, radicchio, radish, potato, salad (62rmb)