top of page
  • Cait

The Expat Guide to Eating Out in Shanghai (Part I)

One of city-life's greatest benefits is your proximity to a plethora of delicious food. And living in a foreign city opens up an even wider array of options (scorpions, anyone?)(Duck feet?) (Hundred year old egg?) (Intestines?). While trying new and exotic foods is a reason to travel in itself (and something I highly encourage!), there is something to be said about finding comfort in the familiar. But familiar doesn't have to mean boring! Shanghai has an incredible food scene and a thriving expat community, which means the options for delicious (and familiar) food are endless. If you are visiting or living in Shanghai, read on for some of the best expat dining locales!


Liquid Laundry

Ok, confession time---we have lived in Shanghai for two weeks and we have already visited Liquid Laundry three times. An expat staple, Liquid Laundry boasts an impressive drink menu---including home brewed beers, imported favorites, and some seriously good cocktails. The food menu is even better---featuring burgers, wood fired pizzas, salads, steaks, and sides. During the weekends, they have an amazing brunch (which was our introduction to our new obsession), where you might dine with your friends on comfy couches, or meet new friends while sharing a high top table. Great for after work drinks, brunch, or one of their sponsored events, Liquid Laundry is a place we will be visiting many more times.

Favorite Dish: MCBretzle Sliders

Griddled ginger sage pork sausage on pretzel buns with soft scrambled eggs and cheese sauce.

Blueberry Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes at Al's Diner, Shanghai

Al's Diner

Since we are on the topic of brunch, let's talk about Al's Diner, where they serve breakfast all day. Raise your hand if you love places that serve breakfast all day---everybody? Good, that's what I thought. Al's Diner has a BANGIN' breakfast menu---including the FLUFFIEST pancakes I have ever seen! You seriously have to try the Blueberry Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes (with blueberry compote and candied lemon---is anyone else hungry?). I think these pancakes have the potential to solve world peace. I also particularly enjoyed the (vegetarian) breakfast burrito--scrambled eggs with black beans, pico de gallo, roasted veggies, and chipotle crema. The lunch and dinner menu also looks enticing, so I guess we will have to go back soon for more!

Breakfast burrito at Al's Diner, Shanghai

Favorite Dish: Purgatory Eggs - It’s Hellalicious

2 Eggs baked in a cazuela, Chorizo, Potatoes, Ricotta Chipotle-Tomato Sauce, Flour Tortillas, Sour Cream

Blueberry Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes

Mixed Berry Compote, Candied Lemon Zest

Found 158

The first time we stumbled upon "Found 158", we were just looking for a pizza place. Our GPS led us into an otherwise typical Chinese neighborhood, which, to be honest, didn't look like it would be home to a New York-style pizza joint. We walked into what appeared to be a local park, and then "found" Found 158.

Colorful wall entrance to Found 158 in Shanghai

Behind this wall and down a set of stairs is the hidden Found 158.

Sunk into a huge pit (for lack of a better word), Found 158 is a roundup of incredible restaurants and bars. It is hopping every night of the week with drink specials and every kind of cuisine imaginable: Mexican, seafood, Brazilian, burgers, German, a jazz club, a magic bar, and, of course, pizza! Ok, so Found 158 isn't exactly a ​restaurant per se---but with so many incredible restaurants and bars, you will need to visit multiple weekends just to try them all!

Favorite Dish (so far): Homeslice Pizza has amazing NY style pizza!

Thin, crispy crust, served by the slice. If you are a discerning pizza-connoisseur, you will not be dissapointed.

Fat Cow

If you are near the Jing'an area, Fat Cow is the place to be on Monday nights! Mondays features BOGO (buy one, get one FREE) burgers and some pretty awesome drink specials. I personally enjoyed the Mango Moo-garita, and Andrew enjoyed their home-brewed pale ale. Vegetarians, rejoice! The restaurant has multiple vegetarian options---the salads look awesome, and I loved my falafel burger. A great place to meet up with friends after work, Fat Cow has become one of our instant favorites. Finish off your meal with a delightful milkshake! There are so many delicious options to choose from, so my best advice for you on a Monday night is to get there early!

Favorite Dish: AvoCOWdo Burger

Fresh avocado with crispy bacon, mushroom, gouda cheese, and lime yogurt.

Where's the Beef?

Falafel, roast peppers, pickled peppers, feta cheese, pine nuts with garlic lemon aioli and lime yogurt

Haidilao Hotpot

Ok, I felt I would be remiss if I didn't include any Asian style cuisine in this first round up. And Haidilao Hotpot is a hit with expats and locals alike! Looking for a place to impress your out of town friends? This traditional Szechuan restaurant is the place to do it! Haidilao hotpot takes its recipes from northern China and is renowned for its customer service. After selecting meat, veggies, tofu, and seafood from a phone-book-size menu, simmering broths of your choice (mushroom and tomato for us) boil in the center of your table. Enjoy the family-style experience as you boil your own hotpot with your many ingredients. Andrew's favorite part was the spice and sauce buffet, where you can mix your own dipping sauces for your meat and vegetables. I happened to enjoy our noodle service, which had quite an impressive flourish. Fun and delicious, this spot is perfect for a special night out!

My local friend, Jennie, invited us to our first hotpot experience and (thankfully) ordered most of the food, since we did not recognize many dishes.

Favorite Dish: Tomato broth with pork meatballs and tofu.


Without question, eating out has been one of our most common activities since moving to Shanghai. Like any major city, it has every kind of dish you can possibly imagine! We have enjoyed our share of dumplings, noodles, and rice---because eating authentic, local cuisine is one of the best parts of traveling abroad. But you can find comfort in the fact that eating something familiar is not too far off. So if you are living abroad in Shanghai, or visiting during an Asian adventure, take solace knowing you can still eat like a a local while enjoying amazing cuisine at these expat favorites!

Expat guide to eating out in Shanghai Cait Without Borders

For more updates on our expat adventures, visit our blog and look for the expat diaries tag. For photography from our travels around Asia, see our destinations page! If you liked this post, share the love and pin on Pinterest!

391 views0 comments
bottom of page