Shanghai's best brunches

Our favourite spots for the most important meal of the week

Depending where you're from, people probably ask where you summer, where you study, where you go to church or where you work out... but in Shanghai, we ask a more important question – where do you brunch? Below, find a regularly updated list of our favourite brunches across this fare city, from bubbly to rustic to down right indulgent.

Brut Cake Café

Keeping it casual can be tricky in a place like Shanghai, but weekend brunch at this laid-back cafe on Yuyuan Lu does make this sprawling city a little easier to digest. Set in bustling Jingan with bay windows flung open to another sunny Sunday afternoon, Brut Cake Caé offers a form of weekend refuge for the stressed, the hungover and the Shanghai-saturated. You can even count on a little pet therapy: dogs are welcome inside and out, which makes for quite the merry scene.

Like any great urban detox, the fare here is fresh, seasonal and always contains something unexpected. In the cafe’s well-loved Sweet & Savory, a touch of jujube honey on an impressive stack of six-spice fried chicken and waffles makes the dish dance the divide between main and dessert, while the Double Stack’s almond flour pancakes with mascarpone Chantilly cream deliver a welcome pinch to the palate with their fresh red fruits and tart homemade jam.

Behind the scenes, the kitchen has a deft hand for delivering a contemporary Asian touch to otherwise Western dishes, and this shows in the Warm Front, a mashup of pumpkin, kale, crispy Brussels sprouts and mountain yam that takes a sudden turn for the Southeast with a splash of coconut milk dropped into the mix. It’s a flavour journey that leaves you feeling so light, limber and calorie-conscious, you'll practically float out of your seat. 

Of course, balance all the eats with a latte or three (seriously, the coffee here is great) and don't lose sight of the dessert case at the front. If you're lucky, there'll be a slice of kaffir lime coconut cake – if so, grab one immediately. 

By Sebastian Morgan

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698 Yuyuan Lu

The Bull & Claw

After a brief hiatus in 2017, The Bull & Claw is now settled into its awesome space on Fenyang Lu (formerly home to el Patio). It’s still the same surf and turf concept, riffing off London’s cult favourite Burger & Lobster. Best of all, with the return comes its wildly popular weekend brunch menu, featuring a load of dishes bound to get you egg-cited.

It’s 85, 145 or 165RMB for one, two or three courses with free- ow options available. A notch above your classic eggs benny, the Lobster Benedict features fat, juicy lobster chunks, cured bacon, beautifully poached eggs and toasted English mu ns beneath a generous blanket of hollandaise – well worth the 80RMB top-up. Use crusty bread to wipe your dish clean of the Turkish menemen, a casserole of eggs are baked to perfection shakshuka-style in a spicy sauce. Bubble & Squeak is a re ned name for a dish made of ‘leftovers’, featuring poached eggs drizzled with creamy béarnaise sauce atop crispy sautéed beef and a delicious hash of caramelised onions, potatoes and cabbage.

Leave some room for a sweet ending to a savoury brunch with the wa es – crisp on the outside,  u y on the inside, with wedges of honeycomb and tufts of cream perched proudly on top. And of course, don’t forget the quintessential B&C Bloody Mary that’ll have you in awe with its whole lobster claw. 

By Elysia Bagley

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110 Fenyang Lu
Online booking

The Cannery

Every dish is a winner at The Cannery’s superlative rustic brunch, making it one of our favourites in Shanghai. Individual cast iron pans come bubbling over with a gratin of smoked haddock, fluffy egg and mature cheddar; or hot and ready for you to cook your own campfire eggs and bacon with herb oil. Words can’t do justice to the charred cheesy reuben: pan-fried in butter, plump with sauerkraut and fall-apart perfect corned beef dripping with dressing. It’s an OMG sammie. For more char, try the broccolini with cucumber-caper-lentil relish, toasted hazelnuts and salty yogurt drizzle. 

Campground plush continues with dessert: go for the toasty S’mores with homemade marshmallows and graham crackers plus the requisite oozy milk chocolate; the coffee-soaked and salty-caramel drizzled banana bread or the adult-style cookies and milk plate.

Standard brunch is 198RMB for three plates and a welcome drink, but be sure sip another of The Cannery’s stellar signature cocktails – the mason jar EBT Collins with gin, orange marmalade, tea and peach bitters; fresh green Marie Celery with gin, elderflower, celery juice/bitters and olive brine; or the shucked oyster-topped Pete’s Caesar with smoked salmon fat wash will all do you real good. Brunch for two with drinks: around 500RMB.

By Elysia Bagley

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1107 Yuyuan Lu
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Cobra Lily

Cobra Lily’s brunch is of the ultimate Southeast Asian persuasion – chef Simon Sunwoo’s playful dishes will soon have you forgetting that you’re enjoying your eggs in Xintiandi rather than the beaches of Koh Samui. Think glorious sprinkles of lemongrass, Thai basil and crushed chillies, which adorn dishes like the Siamese Sunrise, a blazing plate of Chiangmai sausage hash with poached egg and kaffir nam prik (Thai-style chilli paste). 

Tropical flavours continue to shine in La Vie en Vietnam, a luscious take on French crepes that includes light whips of cream cheese, fresh mango and super-tart passion fruit pulp. For some hangover-busting mala spice, try the Sichuan Brunch Pizza, which swaps out dough and sauce for scallion pancake; and wash it down with an awesome Bloody Ma’ry with three types of infused vodka (Sichuan peppercorn, lemongrass and chilli pepper) served in a rusty can with a bite of spicy beef jerky. Brunch for two with drinks: around 400RMB.

By Elysia Bagley

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No. 19 Lane 181 Taicang LuOnline booking

The Commune Social

Having brunch in The Commune Social’s sunny courtyard is like being transported to a creekside bed and breakfast where fairies tend gardens of beetroots and flutter along to top your food with purple leaves. Each dish has that bright, just-harvested feel – delicate and gorgeous to boot. The menu rotates according to season, so there are fresh surprises to be had with each visit.

For 188RMB, choose three plates from the menu and add on additional dishes for 62RMB each, which you’re likely to take advantage of with so many alluring options. Find offerings like hot smoked salmon with tender beetroot and tufts of goat’s curd; slightly sweet and very savoury creamed corn with 65 degree egg, parmesan and seaweed flakes; thinly-sliced confit and grilled beef tongue with pickled shallots; or soft chunks of toasted lemon cake with marmalade and cream cheese. 

Sip on a pale pink Mulberry’s Thyme cocktail with plump blueberries and you’ll go home in a dream-like state… though best to treat yourself to one of pastry chef Kim Melvin’s phenomenal desserts, too. Brunch for two with drinks: around 500RMB.

By Elysia Bagley

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511 Jiangning Lu

Mr & Mrs Bund

While brunches may be a dime a dozen in Shanghai, there’s nothing quite as charmingly refined as a weekend afternoon spent with Mr & Mrs Brunch. It’s a luscious affair of sophisticated indulgence, one that boasts all the richest delights of a quintessentially French meal – butter, foie gras, butter, truffles, butter, cream, and butter. We swoon.

A basket of flaky pastries is gone in a flash: dainty pain au chocolate and sweet brioche dotted with bits of lemony sugar crisp melt away on your tongue after a dip into Mr & Mrs B’s exclusive blend of Illy coffee. Poached eggs find themselves at their absolute best; creamy and perfect whether with dill, crème fraîche and black caviar; broken and mixed with Iberico ham, garlic rosemary fries and aioli; or even grilled (yes, a grilled poached egg, yolk in tact – it’s impressive).

Use crusty bread to wipe your plate clean of velvety tufts of béarnaise sauce spooned over salmon fillet with a rarely seen, picture-perfect lattice of grill marks across both the flesh and the skin. Delightful. The chicken vol-au-vent, a crunchy puff pastry crust filled with rich foie gras and mushroom fricassee, showcases the best of both form and flavour. 

For dessert, pair bites of Mr & Mrs Bund’s unparalleled sugar-crusted French toast with spoonfuls of Orange & Orange tart, which, like the signature Lemon & Lemon, undergoes a three-day process to reach it’s fabulous chilled state. One more hot tip – we simply couldn’t get enough of the Thai jasmine iced tea with lemongrass and chilli syrup.  Brunch for two with drinks: around 800-1000RMB.

By Elysia Bagley

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18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu
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RAC Coffee

Moneyed young people who brunch shimmy up against Continental expats at communal tables, everyone equally joyously tucking into Parisian ham, egg and cheese galettes or eggs cocotte – a baked oeuf on creamy potatoes with bread for dipping – and sipping on natural wines from the bar. There are breakfast sandwiches on brioche (the Breakfast in a Bun is fabulous, spilling over with scrambled eggs and chive, cheddar cheese and a slick of onion jam and chilli mayo) and classic crepes filled with sweet fillings like salted caramel and Nutella. Really, you can’t go wrong.

By Cat Nelson

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322 Anfu Lu

Highline

If you want to feel like a Miami Beach VIP while enjoying brunch, Highline is the place to be. Lounge on the slick and posh terrace, soaking in the rad city view while you sip on fresh-squeezed juice blends, pitchers of Pimms and sparkling mimosas. 

The sweet, savoury and spicy chicken and waffle is a must; a champion pick no matter what time of day: you’ll wipe your plate clean of its juicy, crunchy, wonderfully seasoned hunks of chicken and Cajun-spiced waffles spread with maple bacon butter and drenched in maple syrup. For a lighter kind of waffle, try the crispy potato hash version topped with smoked salmon and roe, dilly sour cream and greens. 

Sweets shine at Highline: orange cream cheese-glazed toffee sticky buns dotted with dates and pecans, Girl Scout-inspired fudgy mint cookie ice cream bars and cloud-like slices of Grandma’s chiffon cake layered with lemon curd and coconut frosting. Oh-so-fresh Yuzu-pineapple sorbet with melon balls and tufts of dried pineapple make for a revitalising ending to a gut-busting meal. But if you’re not willing to pack on a few pounds come brunch time, the edible flower-adorned magenta acai bowl is a brilliant choice that doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. Brunch for two with drinks: around 500RMB.
By Elysia Bagley​​​​​​​

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282 Huaihai Zhong LuOnline booking

Sabor

A fine dining brunch in Shanghai will usually cost you the big bucks, especially if you’re anywhere near the Bund. But at SABOR from Spanish Chef Diego Guerrero (who’s helmed several Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain), you can treat yourself to a little luxury without fearing the moment when the bill comes.

The brunch menu plays with Spanish dishes and techniques, but can’t be so narrowly classified as Spanish fare – it’s more like a playful European. Kick off with the ‘creamy tortillas a la minute’, these livened up takes on the classic Spanish omelette are prepared tableside in a sizzling cast iron pan. Each style replaces chunks of potato with house-made crisps that soften upon hitting the bubbling egg mixture. Try the crispy calamari version, which gets a silky finish from potato foam, then brightened by red capsicum and leaves of Thai basil. It’s a fantastic look for your weekend eggs, and a highlight of the meal.

From the starters, smoked salmon ‘airbags’ combine house-smoked slices of fish atop light and crispy savoury pastry shells that burst with horseradish cream. For your truffle fix, try the steak tartar with truffle mayo and tangy fried capers. And when it’s time to choose your main, you want the confit duck leg cannelloni – its homemade tubes of perfectly al dente pasta are stuffed with tender shredded duck meat and swim in creamy mushroom sauce with a browned blanket of Manchego cheese.

For dessert, make sure at least one person at your table goes for the signature ‘egg’, which takes a two-day process to reach it’s impressive final form. A clever ruse on the eyes that’s only revealed upon first bite, what looks like a typical brown egg arrives in a crunchy noodle-esque nest, but crack the white chocolate shell to reveal a custardy coconut ‘egg white’ and a bright orange mango ‘yolk’ that oozes from the centre like it would from a soft-boiled egg. 

By Elysia Bagley

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33 Sichuan Zhong Lu

Thought for Food

Focused on seasonal, organic and made-from-scratch dishes, Thought for Food’s brunch gives meaning to the idea of healthy indulgence. Chef Alexander Bitterling brings fresh eating to a new level, with each weekend featuring a different menu based around the best stuff on offer – some ingredients even come fresh from the team’s rooftop garden, which blooms brilliantly with everything from fennel bulbs to herbs to edible flowers. And every plate is a rustic work of edible art – one week’s menu features feathery snow crab and organic eggs topped with home-grown purslane, followed by the garden’s purple shisho leaves atop grilled redfish on a bed of black corn and beans.

For a weekend boost, start with a fizzy glass of house-fermented kombucha or a fresh juice blend, and round-off your brunch with one the health(ier), creative desserts – like dairy-free ice cream made from cashews, raw cakes and fresh fruit granita bowls.

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the best parts weekend brunch at Thought for Food is that you get to make as many trips as you like to the salad bar – yes, the salad bar. Unlike your average salad bar, here you’ll find much more than crisp greens. In addition to a colourful array of fresh veg, there are cold salads of the day like beetroot with goat cheese and fennel, homemade dips and creative dressings, freshly baked breads, savoury pastries, cheeses, house-pickles and more. Two-course brunch (with salad bar) and drinks for two: around 500RMB.

By Elysia Bagley

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357 Jianguo Xi RoadOnline booking

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