One of Shanghai’s best kept secrets is its raft of hidden cafés. Time Out heads
through unmarked doors and down laneways to hunt out the finest in the city.
Tucked away just off of the bustling Changle Lu, Makoo Café is hard to find but certainly worth the hunt. Turn right at the end of Lane 339 and you’ll see a heavy wooden door that reveals a long rectangular space where plants and flowers abound. Ever wondered what a Zingiber Officinale looks like? Well wonder no more; this and other plant species are displayed on a chalkboard wall, accompanied by their Latin names. The sound of running water from a miniature waterfall mixes with the zen sound of folk music, giving Makoo a sort of day spa vibe.
The menu is small but carefully constructed, offering a few well-crafted cakes (38RMB per slice) including a blueberry cheese cake and a delectable red velvet cake, a range of teas from TWG Tea Salon (32RMB per cup, 68RMB per pot) and coffees. If you prefer your teas cold, don't fret. Get your teas iced with a top up of just 2RMB per cup.
Makoo Cafe is at Number 42, Lane 339 Changle Lu, near Shaanxi Nan Lu, Xuhui district. See full address details
Cafe on Air
Combining chic design, great coffee and sweet treats, Café on Air is one of our favourite new spots to hang out. Walk down Lane 650 away from the busy Huaihai Lu, turn right and head towards the large, unmarked door. Within you’ll find a haven for caffeine addicts and laptop warriors, who congregate daily to enjoy this pleasant sanctuary.
Coffees start at 25RMB for a strong, rich espresso, and range up to 35RMB for a smooth and creamy latte. You can also grab a pour over coffee, tea or juice, all for 38RMB. As you’re ordering, it’s hard to miss the selection of sweets lining the counter; although it’s a tough call, our favourites are probably the German apple pie (42RMB), which is hearty and sweet and the cheesecake (48RMB), which strikes a delicious balance between fluffy and lush.
Cafe on Air is at Number 634, Lane 650 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Ruijin Er Lu, Huangpu district. See full address details
A stone’s throw from The Bund
and up an unassuming staircase
dotted with elephant murals, the
quaint, nook-filled Chonor Café lies on the second, incense-filled
floor. Although seating on the
balcony is limited, if you can nab
one of the outside tables you’ll have
unexpected, unobstructed views of
the Pearl Tower.
The menu too will
surprise, with plenty of savoury and
sweet options to keep hunger at
bay. Coffees are priced from 28RMB
for an Americano, with hand pours
available from 58RMB. Chinese tea
is also available from 98RMB for
a pot of Longjing, and there’s also
Tibetan yak butter tea at 36RMB if
you’re game. Peckish? The plate of
homemade cookies is a bargain at
36RMB and makes for the perfect
tea or coffee accompaniment.
Chonor Café is truly a hidden gem.
Chonor Cafe is at Second Floor, 17 Fuzhou Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Lu, Huangpu district. See full address details
Zen Life Store is a gorgeous little spot for decorative tea pots, crockery and vases, so it makes sense that their upstairs café maintains the same aesthetic and attention to detail. The small space with a triangular roof is hardly perceptible from Dongping Lu, and once you’re upstairs, you’ll easily forget about any exterior hustle and bustle.
Colourful prints hang from the walls and books are dotted about the space. Table lamps and chilled out tunes from the likes of Nina Simone combine to make Zen Café a relaxing stop, and comfy fabric covered chairs and cushions make it perfect for lounging. Try a pot of the oolong tea (68RMB) for a warming and soothing sip, or grab a cup of coffee, with prices starting at 22RMB for an espresso, or 35RMB for an Americano.
Zen Cafe is at Second Floor, 7 Dongping Lu, near Hengshan Lu, Xuhui district. See full address details
Paloma Cafe (White Bird)
Just around the corner from
Tianzifang, this multi room café is
already a well-loved hangout for
those who know it. Artworks lean
against white-painted exposed brick
walls, wooden tables are dotted
with fresh and fragrant flowers,
and windows open onto trees and
greenery and allow fresh air to
whoosh through the triangular ceilinged space.
Given the limited
size of the kitchen and preparation
area, the menu is actually quite
extensive, offering hand drip
specialty coffees (including a
delicious Estonia bean for
52RMB with a chocolatey and nutty
finish), quality milk coffees (35RMB
for a flat white) and a range
of savoury and sweet
accompaniments. Try their champagne rose latte (35RMB) which is a pretty sight with the iconic bird silhouette dusted on top of the drink. The matcha Swiss roll
bird outline, its
fluffy exterior and
floral, creamy interior
will keep you wanting
Paloma Cafe (White Bird) is at Number 1, Lane 198 Ruijin Er Lu, near Jianguo Xi Lu, Huangpu district. See full address details
Quaint and a little nonsensical (in a
wonderful way) is perhaps the best description for Cloudy Café. Spread over two rooms in an old house on
Baoqing Lu (with a small garden
terrace), you’ll find bookshelves of
hats, old pictures and busts of a
moose, deer and – our favourite – a
unicorn. Big fluffy white clouds (of
cushion filler) hang over the tables
adding to the fun and couches line
the window seats giving on to garden
From a lengthy handwritten
menu, the Americano is
pricey at 38RMB but
or opt for a pot of
tea (68RMB for
green tea) which
The food is
a little less
inspiring with an average
cheesecake (48RMB). But
while the food and drink offerings
might not wow, Cloudy is worth a visit
for the interesting and whimsical
decor and warm service.
Cloudy Cafe is at Number 1, Lane 9 Baoqing Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu, Xuhui district. See full address details