Newly opened next door to the Jiashan wet market on the corner of Jianguo Xi Lu and Taiyuan Lu, this charming Mexican drinking spot covers three floors, yet still has considerably less seating than your average Shanghai bar. Each storey barely has enough room to swing a piñata, but that’s fine because Pocho (or Pocho Social Club to give the bar its full name) is about enjoying a few drinks with a small group of friends – it’s a casual, neighbourhood bar, and that’s why we like it.
The ground floor is the most lively thanks to the bar area that takes up the majority of the floor space, leaving just enough room to perch on one of the stools at its edges. The second and third floors, with large windows opening out onto the treetops of Jianguo Lu, feature a handful of tables each.
Unsurprisingly the drinks menu features plenty of salt-rimmed glasses, with Pocho’s signature tipples revolving around tequila. If you’re feeling less adventurous they also have a solid range of classic cocktails (45RMB) and draft Asahi (40RMB), but we recommend going for one of their specials. Tequila can be a divisive spirit, usually thanks to hazy morning-after memories of doing cheap shots, but when handled well it can make for some interesting cocktails – and this is the case here. Pocho only use 100 per cent agave tequila - taking full advantage of the recently lifted China import ban on the drink - and the difference is telling.
The Watermelon Surprise (50RMB) is a light, refreshing blend of tequila, agave nectar, cilantro, spice and watermelon, served with a wedge of fruit over the rim of the glass. A little weightier, but just as smooth in terms of its muddling of flavours, the Chavela (60RMB) mixes with Dos Equis beer – lager or amber – mixed with tequila and lime in a 'muygrande' glass. These can be paired with a small range of bar snacks too, including sopes (small bowls filled with refried beans topped with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, onions and lime juice, 40RMB) and chilli cheese fries (50RMB).
Pocho is a solid local hangout to enjoy a laidback drink. Just come early to ensure you get a seat.
By Jake Newby