The best burgers in Shanghai

Eat your way through Time Out Shanghai's 20 best burgers in the city

After a rigorous testing process, Time Out reveals the 20 tastiest burgers in Shanghai as picked by our panel of expert editors, and one readers choice award, as voted for by Time Out readers in our online survey.
Bacon Cheese at Mr Pancake House, 46RMB
1/19

Bacon Cheese at Mr Pancake House, 46RMB

While it’s the titular pancakes that have the herds queuing round the block, this American-style diner institution serves up a decent burger as well. The Bacon Cheese does exactly what it says on the tin with a solid, greasy offering of pan-fried, locally sourced beef with a rich, meaty flavour; perhaps a little gamey for some but a delight for burger purists. 


The ‘barbecue sauce’ is actually a mixture of Dijon mustard and mayonnaise, but you get a heaping pile of decent fries and with a similar quality level to Munchies (whose standards have dipped in recent years) this is a good cheap fix.
 

Mr Pancake House First Floor, Metro Town, 168 Huichuan Lu, near Changning Lu, Changning district. See full address details

Brewery Burger at The BREW, 128RMB
2/19

Brewery Burger at The BREW, 128RMB

The first time you see this humongous burger come to the table you almost laugh out loud – it’s nearly as wide as a small dinner plate. Inside is a thick blanket of seared button mushrooms, a tangle of sweet sautéed onion, two thick strips of crackling bacon plus melted cheese. 


Together with the generous bowl of fries, it’s almost enough for two people to lunch on. The meat is tasty, though occasionally orders are overcooked, meaning you don’t always get to enjoy the juicy, tender potential of the high quality Australian beef, while the fries are crisp but generic-tasting. The price is high but the portion is huge, making this well-presented burger with its generous toppings pretty good value.

The Brew First Floor, Kerry Hotel Pudong, 1388 Huamu Lu, near Fangdian Lu. See full address details.

Morton’s Prime Burger at Morton’s, 180RMB
3/19

Morton’s Prime Burger at Morton’s, 180RMB

Another wallet trembling option, this offering from the bar bites menu at classic steakhouse Morton’s is a surprisingly no frills burger. But that’s okay; the oozy tender Australian prime patty, perfectly chargrilled to order, does enough on its own.

 

Served in a sesame bun baked in-house, it comes with a choice of cheese including a pungent blue or a pleasingly mild cheddar as well as a strip of lean bacon and sautéed onions. The price point means that Morton’s burger comes in relatively low on this list, but this is undoubtedly a premium quality slab of beef.
 

Morton's No 15-16, Fourth Floor, IFC Mall, 8 Century Avenue, near Lujiazui Ring Road. See full address details

Cali Double at Caliburger, 48RMB
4/19

Cali Double at Caliburger, 48RMB

Caliburger may be notorious for ripping off cult Californian favourite In-N-Out, but at least they’ve done this shanzhai burger justice. Two thin but flavoursome patties are enveloped by remarkably crisp fresh lettuce, tomato, pickle, their tangy house sauce and, importantly, a slice of melting orange American cheese. We love the signature wax paper fold-up which makes it easy to grab and bite into this tasty package on the go.


Caliburger B1, Eco City Mall, 1818 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Huashan Lu. See full address details.

Say Cheese at Slider’s, 30RMB
5/19

Say Cheese at Slider’s, 30RMB

As well as looking adorable, this mini-me version of a cheeseburger is a moreish little mouthful. The medium-cooked chargrilled patty of ‘prime ground beef’ (staff won’t reveal where it’s sourced from) isn’t overly flavoursome, but it’s meltingly soft and succulent. Topped with gorgeously gooey cheddar cheese, it’s served on a soft, not-too-sweet sesame seed bun together with crisp lettuce and tomato and a blob of tangy homemade tomato chutney to cut through the grease. It’s so good, you’ll want to pay the 75RMB for three, but skip the rancid-tasting coleslaw which comes on the side. 


Slider's 45 Yongkang Lu, near Jiashan Lu. See full address details.

Bubba’s Favorite at Bubba’s, 85RMB
6/19

Bubba’s Favorite at Bubba’s, 85RMB

There’s not a great deal to distract you from the hefty wedge of imported Wagyu beef that’s at the heart of this burger from Texas-themed saloon bar Bubba’s. However, the juicy, mildly smokey patty is satisfying enough to need minimal dressing up. There’s a single slice of rubbery processed cheese, a couple of rashers of crispy bacon and a bed of lettuce, onion and tomato. And that’s it. Simple, but delicious. 


Bubba's Cool Docks 2, Section 4, 653 Waima Lu, near Wangjiamatou Lu. See full address details

Royale Burger at Boxing Cat, 80RMB
7/19

Royale Burger at Boxing Cat, 80RMB

It’s hard not to think of chicken when ordering a Royale, but this burger, just one of Boxing Cat Brewery’s excellent offerings in this department, thankfully rises above any junk food connotations. After something of a dip in quality, the Cat is once again punching above its weight thanks to Sean Jorgensen’s arrival in the kitchen and this beautifully-crafted burger with crispy bacon, crumbly blue cheese and sun-dried tomatoes atop a jumble of leaves is a knock-out, especially when paired with one of their tasty beers. 


Boxing Cat Brewery 82 Fuxing Xi Lu, near Yongfu Lu. See full address details.

Wagyu Jumbo Combo at 1515 West Chophouse, 128RMB
8/19

Wagyu Jumbo Combo at 1515 West Chophouse, 128RMB

On flavour alone, this 350 gram chargrilled burger made with Wagyu beef from Australia and topped with aged cheddar cheese and smoked bacon is near flawless, but the high price once again weighs it down in our rankings. 


The hefty three quarter pounder is delicately served alongside homemade French fries and a generous serving of purple coleslaw and homemade barbecue sauce. Hold the ketchup here, the patty comes with its own house Thousand Island dressing, a genius alternative, and is encased in a sesame seed bun made in-house by Canadian chef Bradley Hull, who toasts it to golden perfection while keeping the inside fluffy. It’s currently only available at lunch but it’s big enough to save half for dinner. One to attack with a knife and fork. 

1515 West Chophouse Jingan Shangri-La Hotel, 1218 Yanan Zhong Lu, near Nanjing Xi Lu. See full address details.

Mexican Beef Chilli Burger at The Chalet, 75RMB
9/19

Mexican Beef Chilli Burger at The Chalet, 75RMB

One of our favourite laidback bars in town, The Chalet rarely gets enough credit for its food. This spicy burger with incredibly lean meat is just one example of the dependable quality to be found on their bar food menu. Topped with a dollop of chilli, guacamole and a few jalapeños, it makes for a satisfying bite to mop up the drinks with. It’s a bit of a handful to scythe through, but the ingredients are perfectly balanced and make it a burger we find ourselves ordering again and again. 


The Chalet Lane 385 Yongjia Lu, near Taiyuan Lu. See full address details

Dakota Burger at Dakota, 72RMB
10/19

Dakota Burger at Dakota, 72RMB

Another no-nonsense burger, Dakota’s patty comes grilled to perfection with mouthwateringly blackened edges and a tender pink interior. There’s little accompaniment, just a salad and some caramelised onions (fries are extra), but it’s a pared back, satisfying bite. 


Dakota 39 Donghu Lu, near Xinle Lu. See full address details.

Montana at Blue Frog, 90RMB
11/19

Montana at Blue Frog, 90RMB

Reliable chain Blue Frog have one of the more extensive burger menus in the city, but it’s the Montana that we always find ourselves ordering. A towering stack of chargrilled, locally processed 7oz Australian beef patty (75 per cent lean, 25 per cent fat), lettuce, tomato, pickles, cheddar cheese and rashers of bacon, the burger is topped off with two golden battered onion rings slathered in barbecue sauce. 


Housing this construction is a standard lightly toasted sesame seed bun that’s not too cloying, and thankfully doesn’t dissolve into mush amid the beef juices. It’s a mountain of a dish and you might have to tackle its components separately, but it’s well worth the trouble. Best ordered during their long-running buy-one-get-one-free Monday night deal. 

Blue Frog B1, Shanghai World Financial Center, 100 Century Avenue, near Dongtai Lu. See full address details.

People’s Choice at Piro, 95RMB
12/19

People’s Choice at Piro, 95RMB

Although the sign outside that reads Time Out’s best burger’ is a little misleading (we gave them a best newcomer tag in a budget burger round-up in 2011), we can’t quibble with the quality of their offerings. This ever-popular American sports bar serves its most popular variety split over two springy, lightly toasted sesame-seed buns slathered in the house mix of mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise. Though messy to disassemble, it’s a worthwhile bite. 


A juicy, crumbly chargrilled patty of imported Australian beef (ground in-house and served medium unless you request otherwise), topped with sweet caramelised onion and blow-your-head-off blue cheese sits on one half; a stack of lettuce, tomato, streaky bacon strips and nicely ripe avocado on the other. Another burger best ordered on a Monday, when the price includes a free pint of Stella Artois lager. 

Piro 91 Changshu Lu, near Changle Lu. See full address details.

Double South Western BBQ at Carl’s Jr, 35RMB
13/19

Double South Western BBQ at Carl’s Jr, 35RMB

Technically speaking it’s a fast food burger, but to lump Carl’s Jr’s offerings in with the likes of McDonald’s is to do them an injustice – the chain offers delicious, juicy, generously-sized burgers and this monster, with thick-cut battered onion rings, barbecue sauce, bacon, cheese and two beef patties is one of the best of the lot. 


Order a meal, swap out the regular fries for waffle-cut ones and make the most of the free soft drink refills – you can enjoy a proper feast with this burger, which is a bargain for its heft and flavour. It’s a fast food burger that puts some restaurant servings to shame.

Carl's Jr B1-33, Metro City, 1111 Zhaojiabang Lu, near Tianyaoqiao Lu. See full address details.

Madison Burger at Madi’s, 58RMB
14/19

Madison Burger at Madi’s, 58RMB

Small but beautiful, this is a deceptively simple little package of excellent ingredients. Chef Austin Hu swaps out the typical sesame seed bun for a fluffy brioche which tastes like it popped directly out of the oven just moments before it was split open to house the exactingly-prepared fillings. The brioche is slathered with a layer of saffron aioli, topped with a juicy, pink-centred, cheddar-topped Australian beef patty and then mounded with arugula and a ripe tomato slice. 


Crucially, the meat is properly salted, while the arugula adds a bitter edge to counterbalance the richness of the beef and the buttery brioche. This neat-to-eat burger fits perfectly in the palm of your hand and in your mouth, impressing with its elegant details rather than with a monstrous portion size. 

Madi's First Floor, Bldg 2, 3 Fenyang Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu. See full address details.

Classic Cheeseburger at The Grumpy Pig, 68RMB
15/19

Classic Cheeseburger at The Grumpy Pig, 68RMB

Another returnee from our 2011 bargain list, this burger’s stand-out feature is its balance of delectable blackened exterior and drippingly-juicy pink interior. The domestic beef is enriched with minced onions which have been devilishly fried in pork fat. The burger is then pan-seared and oven-finished. To serve, the patty is topped with a few crisp onion rings, slices of dill pickles, tomato, lettuce, white American cheese and a lightly sweet dressing. 


The generous serving of fries, served in a metal cup, are thin, crisp and dusted with paprika and parsley to add a ‘little more flavour and love’, according to this burger’s creator, Vinh Nguyen, The Grumpy Pig’s former head chef and restaurant manager who has now returned to the US, but fortunately left this little masterpiece for us to savour. 

The Grumpy Pig No 103, 65 Maoming Bei Lu, near Yanan Zhong Lu. See full address details.

Bacon Cheese at Beef & Liberty, 85RMB
16/19

Bacon Cheese at Beef & Liberty, 85RMB

Formerly Gourmet Burger, this Shanghai Centre spot has maintained the same high standards that made its predecessor a popular destination. The burger menu is a pared down list of classics – the most adventurous are the Green Chile (80RMB) and the corn-encrusted Black Pepper (88RMB), both excellent options for spice lovers. 


Made with freshly ground Australian Black Angus beef, the patties pull off the fine balance between being meltingly tender and falling apart. The Bacon Cheese does what you expect, topping the central beef with cheese, smoked bacon, baconnaise, pickles, iceburg lettuce and a smokey barbecue sauce and wrapping it all in a toasted sesame bun. A brilliant burger, but Beef & Liberty lose points for charging extra for fries (22RMB) and sauces (8RMB). 

Beef & Liberty No 111, Shanghai Centre, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Xikang Lu. See full address details.

Manhattan Monster at New York Style Steak & Burger, 78RMB
17/19

Manhattan Monster at New York Style Steak & Burger, 78RMB

They’re not kidding when they call this burger a monster. In fact, all of the burgers served at this tucked away Tianzifang joint could comfortably take on that label – towering, tottering stacks of meat and trimmings that leave you utterly clueless as to how to attack them when they arrive at your table. The gargantuan presentation is in contrast with the preparation of the meat: half a pound of 100 per cent Angus beef, grilled to order with just sea salt and black pepper. 


It’s simple but effective and the Manhattan Monster, which comes loaded with crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, a fried egg, firehouse chili, fistfuls of deep fried golden onion, pickle, tomato and lettuce encased in a perfectly toasted bap, is the menu’s crowning glory. We could have chosen any of the burgers here, but this is a masterpiece. 

New York Style Steak & Burger No 22, Lane 155, Tianzifang Jianguo Zhong Lu, near Ruijin Er Lu. See full address details.

The winner-  Argentine Gaucho at Bistro Burger, 80RMB
18/19

The winner- Argentine Gaucho at Bistro Burger, 80RMB

Like the majority of venues on our list, Bistro source their beef from Australia, but the Argentine Gaucho stands out as a truly unique – and uniquely superb – burger. The patty is stunningly tender and tasty, oozing just the right amount so that the crispy skin-on fries beside it can soak up some of the juice. 


On top of the beef, sinking into a cheddar cheese goo, are two halves of chorizo adding a delicious spice to the creation that’s complemented, but not overwhelmed, by a smattering of traditional Argentinean chimichurri sauce. Considering the size and the quality of the flavours, this is a fantastic value burger and wholly worthy of our top spot. 

Bistro Burger 291 Fumin Lu, near Changle Lu. See full address details.

Reader's choice award - Pork and foie gras sliders at The Commune Social, 46RMB
19/19

Reader's choice award - Pork and foie gras sliders at The Commune Social, 46RMB

Although we limited our list purely to beef burgers for comparison’s sake, we had to make an allowance for The Commune Social’s iberico pork and foie-gras sliders (98RMB) after their runaway success in our online reader poll (August -September 2013).

 

We also wholeheartedly agree that these ‘soft, sinfully fatty, smile-winning little sliders’, as we described them in our five star review of Jason Atherton’s Jingan restaurant, are well worthy of an accolade. Filled with juicy pork and buttery foie gras and paired with sumptuous avocado mayo and baby pickles, these creative sliders are burgers for the discriminating gourmet with a sense of playfulness.

The Commune Social 511 Jiangning Lu, near Kangding Lu. See full address details.

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