Shanghai's best al fresco brunches

The best terrace brunches for dining and boozing in the sunshine

Mayita's combination of burritos, margaritas and gorgeous terrace is a winner
The Commune Social for all-round brilliance


Arrive at The Commune Social three minutes past their opening time of midday on a sunny weekend, and it’s likely the terrace will already be full. A queue prior to opening signals this courtyard’s popularity, but thankfully, a quality brunch makes any wait worthwhile. With inventive cocktails, great service and exquisitely prepared dishes, what impresses us most about this brunch is the value for money.

Among the egg dishes, the scrambled eggs with cured salmon, avocado and rye bread are a light and easy way to start your weekend, while the poached eggs with chorizo and tomato migas (crumbs) provide a much richer and more decadent opening.

From the list of ‘chef’s choice’ offerings from Scott Melvin – all beautifully presented and balanced – expect combinations like spiced salmon tar-tar with yuzu custard and rice crackers, and a rich and comforting mound of pulled lamb on a sliver of toast with pickles and marmalade. You can also order tapas – try the delicious combination of sea urchin and pepper butter on ciabatta, and the succulent salt-baked beetroot with creamy burrata, almonds and gingerbread.

Save some space for one of Kim Melvin’s signature desserts. If you can look past her classic peanut ice cream with red fruits and salted peanut caramel, you can go for the glazed banana with miso puree, almond ice cream and yuba. It’s unique, exciting and acts as the perfect post-brunch sweet.

The Commune Social is at 511 Jiangning Lu, near Kangding Lu, Jingan district.

Mayita for burritos and booze


There are a couple of key reasons why we love brunch at Mayita; the first is their bottomless sangria and margarita deal, and the second is their yawning terrace adorned with palm trees and good vibes. With large tables and a grassy area, it’s also a popular destination for families, meaning it can get a little rowdy when the sun’s out, but it’s fun all the same.

From the menu, there are tacos and quesadillas, soups and salads, and egg dishes. Mayita’s breakfast burrito is an excellent option. It’s filling and full of flavour, mixing chorizo, eggs, cheddar cheese, roasted potatoes and bell peppers. Topped with chilled sour cream and fresh tomato, as you make your way through this signature brunch dish, it descends into a wonderful, sloppy mess.

For something slightly more refined, the jalapeño omelette sees delicate and fluffy eggs stuffed with goat cheese and a wonderfully zingy jalapeño mix. Accompanied by guacamole and roast potatoes, this is the perfect brunch option for those who aren’t famished, but are craving something flavoursome.

Whatever you opt for as a main, don’t forget to save room for the churros. The deliciously plump, deep-fried dough fritters are coated with cinnamon and sugar and are highly addictive. Served with a trio of whipped cream, gooey chocolate and wonderfully sweet strawberry sauce, it’s a dish best not shared.

Mayita is at Sixth Floor, 98 Shouning Lu, near Xizang Nan Lu, Huangpu district.

Boxing Cat Brewery for hangover busting


If you’ve overindulged with boozy good times on Friday or Saturday night, head to the Boxing Cat Brewery’s branch near Yongfu Lu the next day for a recovery brunch on the terrace. The food isn’t particularly refined, and the menu is dominated by fried items, but it’ll obliterate any trace of a hangover in an unhealthy blaze of deliciousness. Two main outdoor spots are available here, with an L-shaped al fresco area downstairs, as well as a smaller balcony overlooking the tree-lined Fuxing Lu upstairs.

Prices start around 45RMB for buttermilk pancakes. From the BCB-recommended options, the chicken and waffles is a killer dish, both for your hunger and your waistline. Expect a crisp plate-sized waffle topped with fat pieces of succulent fried chicken. This mountain of food is accompanied by andouille gravy and maple syrup, allowing you to skip between sweet and savoury, or merge the two if the mood strikes. Good luck finishing the serving.

If you’re after eggs, the braised short rib Benedict will do the trick. Two lightly poached and runny eggs spill out over braised beef short ribs atop a (rather dense) muffin covered in hollandaise and served with potatoes, tomato and rocket. Sandwiches, burgers and snacks are available for those with even bigger appetites, and seeing as Boxing Cat has a brewery and all, there are plenty of options for anyone requiring a little hair of the dog.

Boxing Cat Brewery is at 82 Fuxing Xi Lu, near Yongfu Lu, Xuhui district.

M on the Bund for brunch with a view


M on the Bund’s terrace is a Shanghai sweetheart. With sweeping views of the Huangpu and Pudong skyline, it presents the perfect vista of our beautiful city, and the brunch is the icing on the cake (or should we say the cream on top of the pavlova?). Choose two courses or three, with both options including a special cocktail and limitless tea or coffee.

Starters range from light – salmon gravlax or seasonal fruit – to more substantial plates of foie gras terrine and a ‘not so classic French toast’ with maple syrup and grilled chorizo. Mains of fish and chips, or fresh pasta with seared tuna follow, and egg options are a particular highlight (a perfect rendition of eggs Benedict and the even more plentiful M’s Weekend Fry-up with steak and sausage for example).

To finish, desserts are a must, with fruit and chocolate options interspersed with a cheese plate, ice cream or sorbet selection, and a simple yet decadent Turkish coffee served with Turkish delight and baklava. M’s terrace is one of Shanghai’s finest, and with the city providing the perfect backdrop for excellent food, it’s hard not to fall in love with this brunch.

M on the Bund is at Seventh Floor, Five on the Bund, 20 Guangdong Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Huangpu district.

The Nest for chilled Nordic vibes


Since it opened, The Nest has been our go-to venue for serious cocktails and tasty food at affordable prices. And now, given the chilled-out atmosphere, airy dining room and multiple terraces, it’s become one of our favourite brunch haunts. ‘Brunch & Beyond’ is only served on Sundays – bookings recommended – but it’s perfectly in line with everything The Nest has done since its opening, i.e. it’s wonderful.

The menu is short but to the point, and separated into six categories with extra dishes available. The ‘eggy’ section includes a delicious Nordic Benedict with a wonderfully yolky 65-degree egg topped with flavoursome and fatty cold-smoked Norwegian salmon and a dill-fueled hollandaise sauce. Elsewhere on the menu, you’ll find a half dozen French oysters, juicy Icelandic cod fishcakes and a fresh lemon curly kale Caesar salad.


And if things are starting to feel a little healthy, you can finish with the nutty warm chocolate brownie – a super squishy and melty chocolate chip brownie with pecans and walnuts, topped with a quenelle of condensed milk ice-cream. A top-notch menu served on a cosy terrace accompanied by the usual high-quality drinks and lazy Sunday-appropriate tunes.

The Nest is at Sixth Floor, 130 Beijing Dong Lu, near Huqiu Lu, Huangpu district.