Nothing beats the great outdoors, especially when you can enjoy good food and a view at the same time. While Shanghai’s 2022 has proven less than ideal in many respects, the summertime weather is one complaint we can’t make of this year. A shorter rainy season, fewer mosquitos, and more dazzling sunsets spilling into the blue skies than previous years have done something to raise spirits. So, where better to take advantage of this glorious season than dining in style at some of the city’s best rooftop restaurants?
Photographs: courtesy Ole Kitchen via Dianping
For anyone not entirely trusting of Shanghai’s capricious weather, Ole Kitchen has the rooftop terrace you need. Following the neon sign up to the second floor leads you into a bright and airy room that is flanked by a summer terrace with a retractable canopy. The lightly-coloured wall trellises and abundance of plants add a homely feel to this area, with tables and chairs that have a garden furniture-like quality further accentuating this. The menu is dominated by comfort food like burgers, chicken wings and quesadillas to go with your beer or smoothie. While casual may be the name of the game here, this is a diner which has been in business for over 13 years (initially starting out life on Wujiang Lu before relocating in 2019) and knows how to please its customers.
Ole Kitchen, 600 Shaanxi Bei Lu, near Xinzha Lu.
Photographs: courtesy Chope
Another institution in Shanghai’s F&B scene is the Argentine Steakhouse, El Bodegon. While the original restaurant on Changshu Lu has been pleasing meat-eaters since 2014, it’s their second branch on Panyu Lu which has the better environment thanks to a huge terrace that wraps around the main restaurant. Although this decking is flanked by towering apartment blocks, there’s something very Shanghainese about crafting a tranquil setting amidst a scene of dense population. The menus also incorporate hints of a wider South American style with dishes like empanadas, ceviche and Alfajore (a popular dessert across the whole continent); however, it’s the prime Argentinean steaks that make this place truly sizzle.
El Bodegon, Second Floor, 326 Panyu Lu, near Fahuazhen Lu.
Photographs: courtesy sur
One of Shanghai’s best-kept secrets is hidden in a place few people now think to look. Tianzifang’s alleyways tend to be quickly dismissed as a neighbourhood of faded glory, yet sur contradicts this notion with style and panache. Occupying a good-sized space at the end of a refurbished alley close to entrance Gate One, this is a reminder of just how special this area can be. The menu is largely inspired by Spanish cuisine whilst staying true to its French roots, mixing croquettes, grilled octopus and truffle matches (think Shanghai’s thinnest fries topped with truffle oil and grated parmesan), with sumptuous waffles and an impressive wine list. This makes sur, which is undeniably a passion project given the attention to fine details within the interior design, ideal at all times of the week. What’s more, eating here provides access to a rooftop walkway where dining and selfies converge alongside the iconic red-tiled rooftops of the Shanghai lane houses in this historic area.
sur eatery & bar, First Floor, Tianzifang, No 7, Lane 210 Taikang Lu, near Sinan Lu.
Photographs: courtesy Chope
If you’re looking for an outdoor place to take in majestic sunsets and a panoramic view of the city, there’s few better spots to achieve this than on The Bund. While most of the good locations have been taken up by bars and hotels, Kathleen’s Waitan reserves a prime space for all foodies to enjoy. As one of the high-end restaurants from owner Kathleen Lau, (previously renowned for bringing us Kathleen’s 5 in the centre of People’s Square), the food here refuses to be outdone by the breath-taking views. Encompassing a wide range of flavours, from black truffle risotto to caviar, foie gras torchon and Western-style steaks, everything is served to the highest of standards making this perfect for romantic date nights and important business meetings alike.
Kathleen’s Waitan, Fifth Floor, 453 Waima Lu, near Maojiayuan Lu.
Photographs: courtesy Ginger
Like the spice that it’s named after, Ginger is a bright and breezy bistro which leaves a warming and sweet aftertaste on your palette. Taking over a three-storied building on a quiet, leafy edge of the former French Concession, the upstairs areas boast a wooden decking and a cosy terrace, each blending into the park it overlooks. The décor and menu both carry a snazzy, modern feel that at once affirms its Southeast Asian influences while cementing a forward-thinking philosophy. Think laksa and a Tom Yum seafood pot nestling alongside detox soups and an admirable range of vegan and vegetarian options. While the restaurant is best known as a trusted brunch spot, the warm evenings are also easily lost to these outdoor areas.
Ginger, 91 Xingguo Lu, near Hunan Lu.