Shanghai's best restaurants for group dining

From birthday brunches to leaving dinners, here's your guide to group eating in Shanghai

Photograph: courtesy JUJU
With a cuisine built around sharing and private rooms a given in most restaurants, China is the perfect place group dining – but what about when you're after Western fare or not to be tucked away in a separate space? For groups big or small, we've got you covered for all fancies – from dirt-cheap dumplings to fancy Bund-side dining. Whether you're celebrating a birthday, commemorating at a leaving party or you just want to enjoy a kickass meal with all your friends, here are great restaurants in Shanghai perfect for group get-togethers.

Recommended: Full guide to Shanghai's best restaurants.

Liquid Laundry

With its casual atmosphere, spacious interior, large dining tables and top-notch pizzas and sharing platters, Liquid Laundry is great for an impromptu after-work get-together or pre-planned party. Over weekends, Liquid Laundry gets loud and lively enough to drown out rowdy groups, so you don't need to worry about keeping quiet. When you're finished with all the food, move things over to the bar for even more drinks and party atmosphere.

Good for… Pizzas, platters and booze.

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1028 Huaihai Zhong Lu
Online booking

JUJU

Imitate a night out in downtown Gangnam at this hip Korean barbecue joint brought to you by Mark Klingspon of The Nest and The Cannery notoriety. It’s all eye-catching murals, retro arcades, table-hopping and hip-hop on the second floor of Three on the Bund. The venue is massive and decked out with booths for loud groups getting carried away on soju bombs, DIY barbecue and marvelling at the live octopus tanks. You and your crew can get the meat sweats on with all-you-can-eat deals and drink it away in unison with two-hour ‘gangbei’ free-flow drinks.

Good for... Roaring good times and a night you might not remember.

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3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu.

Mercato

Reached a milestone or achieved something that calls for a fancier celebration? Mercato is here to answer your call. Keeping the backdrop but losing the stiffness and formality of its neighbours, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Italian expedition sports a modern-minded playlist and a rather affordable menu (for the Bund). Its headache inducing choosing between wood-fired pizzas like black truffle and egg and broccolini, spicy salami and ricotta so mixing and matching with friends is the way to go.  Then there is the rather deep wine list to get lost in while toasting to your successes.

Good for… Dressing up to raise glasses with your nearests and dearests.

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3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu
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Lotus Eatery, Dingxi Lu

This sprawling Shanghai institution is the go-to place for groups of three or more looking to get head-to-toe stuffed. The relatively cheap Yunnan restaurant’s dishes are plentiful and perfect for sharing, with crowd-pleasers like Grandma’s mashed potato, fragrant chicken, pan-fried rubing (goat cheese), rice noodles and pineapple sticky rice, along with more of the region’s speciality flora and fauna. Even washing it all down with multiples rounds of Tsingtao, you’d be hard-pressed to spend over 100RMB a person here.

Good for... Sharing in abundance.

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1112 Dingxi LuOnline booking

Tomatito

The new Tomatito is much larger than its predecessor and features a huge terrace that dominates its Xintiandi digs, and an even more massive rooftop upstairs. It’s all about having fun over dishes meant for sharing, with long sofas that make it ideal for group dining at this Spanish restaurant. Part of the el Willy group, the ‘sexy’ tapas lounge is the place to get your fill of croquettasgambas, patatas bravas and more – to be chased down with jugs of sangria.

Good for... A Spanish-style fiesta.

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168 Hubin LuOnline booking

Dongbei Four Seasons Dumpling King

The name says it all: if you’re looking to stuff yourself like a Qing Emperor and human dumpling, then the Dongbei Four Seasons Dumpling King will sing to your heart’s desires. Popular with locals and laowai in equal measure, this no-frills chain has locations all over the city slinging super cheap and tasty northern fare. Order an abundance of shuijiao dumplings with fillings from cabbage to pork to beef and heaving plates of hearty Dongbei-style sweet and sour pork (guobaorou), stir-fried potato and aubergine (di san xian), deep-fried candied banana (basi xiangjiao) and more. 

Good for... All the dumplings you can eat.

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379 Xikang Lu

The Cannery

A space that shines from dishes to decor (quite literally, with spotlights pointed at a mock copper tiled ceiling overhead), this restaurant and lounge is a laidback and stylish setting for casual dishes and excellent drinks. Although the industrial shores of Shanghai's Huangpu are no Mediterranean coast, you can still (kinda) feel like you're dining by a sparkling blue sea here, with octopus, tuna, oysters, mussels, clams, lobster and more starring on the menu. 

The Cannery's informal lounge-setting works especially well for groups divided into eaters and non-eaters. There's no pressure here, just pull up a pew for a few cocktails, grab a light bite or tuck into a full-on feast fresh from the ocean.

Good for... Casual dining and excellent drinks, without having to commit to a sit-down dinner.

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1107 Yuyuan Lu
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Lion

Be ready to wow impressionable guests at this Cantonese restaurant that turns heads with its opulence. The tables nestled away from the middle of the venue lend themselves well to intimate group conversations and the menu is characterised by ‘exotic Cantonese’, with influences from Southeast Asia like Nyonya crispy chicken or baked stingray with liquorice sauce and lime. The exotic red lighting and extravagant antique laden décor build on its suitability for groups looking to get an indulgent high-end Shanghai experience. Then there is that huge TV above the bar with a video on loop channelling Blade Runner vibes making it almost clubby enough before a night out.

Good for... Opulence on top of opulence.

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Xingye Lu, Lane 123Online booking

Colca

At this contemporary Peruvian restaurant’s two locations, group dining is essential if you want to stand a chance at navigating your way through Eduardo Vargas’s playful menu. From sea bass ceviche to Josper chicken brasa and chocolate ravioli, there will be no problems keeping everyone at the table happy – meat-lovers, vegetarians and sweet tooths alike. Once finished, groups need no guidance in taking advantage of the generous portion of patio where the neon-lit bar slings cocktails with Peruvian flavour including one of the best pisco sours in town.

Good for... Laidback vibes with Peruvian spirit.

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199 Hengshan LuOnline booking

Latina

Excessive portions of meat are the name of the game at this Brazilian barbecue (churrasco) chain, where even the biggest of self-proclaimed carnivores will have a battle to leave their chairs when all is said and done. Watch as waiters toil admirably over tables fit for double-digits, slicing all kinds of beef cuts, chicken parts and sausages for their hungry customers. The additional buffet kindly supports your daily vitamin intake, plus more hot meals and a plethora of desserts.  A live Brazilian band plays host to a samba show in the background and there are free-flow drink options with favourites like caipirinhas.

Go for... Meat, meat and more meat.

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88 Tongren LuOnline booking

Sichuan Citizen

For over ten years, this get-together favourite has consistently been reeling in all forms of celebration with its foreigner-friendly Sichuan cuisine and striking crimson colours. There are concealed private rooms centered by typically large round tables made for people to manoeuvre and reach over each other awkwardly for Kung Pao shrimp, mapo tofu, filet of fish in hot oil and spicy bull frog (for the brave). You won’t break the bank here and the speedy service ensures long-lasting happiness. Don’t forget to hit up Bar Basil for a Basil Drop, a highlight for your Shanghai bucket list.

Good for... Crowd-pleasing Sichuan themed get-togethers.

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378 Wukang LuOnline booking

Xibo

Critics' pick

The journey into Xinjiang isn’t the easiest to make, so Xibo is your next best bet when trying to dip your toes into a more contemporary take on the cuisine. All branches have terraces equipped with trademark open-faced grills, making sure that oh-so satisfying smell of fresh lamb is never too far away. Inside, the environment doesn’t change where long tables are commanded by boisterous groups looking to go wild on cumin-heavy skewers and an exhaustive variety of lamb dishes. They also specially cater to birthdays where you can pre-order your own cakes made from regional ingredients like badam.

Good for... Birthday parties featuring an abundance of lamb, skewers and Sinkiang black beer.

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83 Changshu Lu
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Hai Di Lao

This ever-packed Sichuan-style hotpot chain is rightly legendary for its service, which involves everything from free shoe shines and manicures while you wait (and you will wait) to noodles that come with a kung fu performance. Service aside, the food is fresh and tasty and the salad and sauces bar plentiful. This is a safe bet for groups of all sizes.

Good for… Over-the-top service and a high fun factor.

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1068 Beijing Xi Lu

Maya

This lively Mexican restaurant has made a name for itself over the years as the benchmark for Latin American restaurants in the city. Happy to accommodate business functions while scooping up top editorial awards with its easy-going orange and brown décor, innovative takes on Mexican cuisine and mood-lifting Latin music – it’s tried and tested for all occasions. Your crew can tuck into and share local twists like duck quesadillas and Mexican hongshao rou to be washed down with avocado or passion fruit margaritas, and don’t sleep on the sizable vegan menu. Maya’s sister Mayita is also worth checking out for its sprawling People’s Square terrace.

Good for... Up-market Mexican in a vibrant atmosphere.

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568 Julu Lu
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Tacolicious

The shackles are off at Tacolicious in Jingan. Bigger, badder and louder than its original (now-shuttered) location, it’s the perfect place for you and your workmates to brush aside post-work blues and kick start the weekend in a high-energy, feel-good setting. On the menu is every other taco combination you can think of. Some are classics like Cajun fish and others are geared towards local taste buds like mapo tofu. The margarita and daiquiris are strong enough to make you think continuous rounds of tequila shots have no consequence.

Good for... A Taco Tuesday experience, but everyday and with plenty of margaritas.

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34 Yuyao Lu

Mr & Mrs Bund

Mr and Mrs Bund is truly enormous and a juggernaut in Shanghai’s upscale restaurant scene, where special occasions are its real forte. Boasting the necessaries – a premium bund view, an outdoor terrace, bar and lounge areas – all while juggling a wide-variety of events, Mr and Mr Bund knows how to take care of your out-of-towner friends. Chef Paul Pairet wheels out all the French favourites here, even on affordable set menus. There is no room for stuffiness; it’s all fun and warm comfort under the pretence of fine dining. A DJ makes an appearance on weekends when proceedings get groovier.

Go for... The classic 'impress your overseas visitors' meal.

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18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu
Online booking

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