Shanghai Restaurants and Dining

(Shanghai, China)

Photo of central eateries and shopsThe dining scene in Shanghai just keeps on improving and the city has never offered a greater selection of restaurants. Whether you are looking for Chinese restaurants, Western-style dining options or simply a quick snack, the problem is often that there are so many restaurants in Shanghai that the choice is almost bewildering.

Dining out in China is an extremely social affair and Shanghai is no exception. Whilst the city's restaurants can become rather crowded and noisy at times, this is what the dining experience is all about in Shanghai - plenty of atmosphere, food, chopsticks and rice wine.

When to Eat / Opening Hours

Typical of most Chinese cities, mealtimes in Shanghai are relatively early when compared to western standards. You are able to start your breakfast at 06:00, lunch at 11:00 and evening meal as 17:00. Most restaurants tend to close between 21:00 and 22:30, or slightly after, so don't expect a late-night out when eating in Shanghai, unless you intend to head elsewhere when you have finished dining. However, some dining venues do stay open later and a relatively small selection operate 24 hours.

Picture showing restaurants along Hengshan Road

What to Eat

Most traditional Chinese meals in Shanghai begin with simple snacks, such as pickles or peanuts. This is followed by the main courses, which can include noodles, rice, meat and vegetable dishes. Lookout for Shanghai's famous dumpling, which is known locally in Chinese as 'xiaolóngbao'.

When dining out as a group in Shanghai, it is customary to share the food and take a little of what you fancy. When eating food from small bowls, it is quite normal to hold the bowl close to your mouth and almost shovel it in using the chopsticks. Meals are usually served with either tea, beer or rice wine.

Where to Eat

If you are looking for a cheap place to eat in Shanghai, then try the many small restaurants and dining venues that are scattered along the side streets. The Chinese fast-food restaurants are also a good place for inexpensive meals, as are the countless food courts, which can be found within most large department stores around central Shanghai. In more formal Chinese restaurants, set lunch and dinner menus tend to provide the best value for money.

A huge variety of restaurants are centred around Shanghai's buzzing Bund district, including Western-style dining and even a outlet of the familiar KFC chain. The best restaurants lie around the food streets of both Zhapu Lu and Yunnan Lu, and also around Nanjing Donglu. The Yuyuan Bazaar area of Shanghai also features more than its fare share of dining opportunities, as do the Old French Concession area, Nanjing Xilu and Pu Dong, where you will even find an Irish pub and a number of top hotel restaurants.