The hottest restaurants and bars in Shanghai right now

An astrology-themed cocktail lounge, two new spots from Craig Willis and more for your radar

Photograph: courtesy Something
Dining out will never get old in Shanghai, particularly because there's always a fresh batch of new restaurants and bars ready and waiting to swing open their doors. From an astrology-themed cocktail den to two more offerings from the Craig Willis empire and a very impressive bar and lounge housed in a historic 100-year-old-building, here’s where to eat and drink in Shanghai right now.

Mikkeller (Xintiandi)

The ever-popular Danish craft brewery has expanded, stretching its legs over to Xintiandi. Like the original spot in Jingan, the second Shanghai outpost also packs in all the trademark Mikkeller characteristics from the roomy outdoor courtyard to the minimalist interior and beer both on tap and in the fridge. This location has a new tool in its arsenal however: a kitchen. So you can now soak up the suds with Scandinavian-style eats like gravlax (cured salmon) or hot dogs embellished with pickles, Dijon mustard, ketchup and a generous sprinkling of shallots.

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123 Xingye Lu

Zodiac

On the quieter side of Shankang Li lies this astrology-themed bar from Geo Valdivieso (The Broken Dagger and Klay). While the provocative red decor makes a site destined for dates, it’s the 12-strong drink menu that’ll initiate the conversations – each based on a star sign and equipped with their own horoscope (written by Shanghai astrologer Alex Wang). If those don’t spark up budding romances, there’s always the 13th cocktail that invites guests to get interactive behind the bar and conjure up their own creations.

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808 Shaanxi Bei Lu

Something

The centrepiece of resident Shanghai restaurateur Craig Willis’ Wukang Market takeover has been in open (unofficially) for a while now, since late last year, but it’s only recently that it’s really kicked into gear. Chef Alexander Bitterling runs the kitchen – set in a lovely industrial loft-like space – with a globetrotting menu of dishes influenced by his travels all over. Don’t skip the Thailand-inspired One Night in Bangkok that hides fresh mango sorbet and crispy puffed rice within a mound of coconut cream for a taste that’ll have you dreaming of the tropics.

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98 Wukang Lu

Mi Mian Hui Xin

One more from Craig Willis and adjacent to Something on the second floor of Wukang Market is Mi Mian Hui Xin, the chef's dip into the world of dim sum. Sharing a similar photo-friendly setting as its next door neighbour, the food here doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to Cantonese cuisine, rather it sticks with what works. The result? Unfussy, well-executed staples that are great for sharing between groups like the fried radish cakes coated in XO sauce, which after a few bites, you’d probably rather keep for yourself.

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98 Wukang Lu

bananaGG

Once known for fitness-orientated waimai, BananaGG’s all grown up now, maturing into a casual but refined European restaurant on Maoming Lu. For dinner, coupled-up dates share plates of rigatoni and ravioli with bottles of wine, while brunch and lunchgoers can explore the restaurant’s healthier roots through a range of salads and bowls mixed with ingredients like pan-fried salmon, spicy tuna and sautéed veggies. There’s also the option to just throw the diet out the window and go for ricotta cheese pancakes topped with slices of caramelised banana.

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65-4 Maoming Lu

Torisawa

Another polished Japanese yakitori spot has found a home in Shanghai, this one on the ground floor of the Jingan Kerry Centre. Unsurprisingly, grilled meats are the star attraction with all parts of the feature bird (chicken) on offer – breast, thigh and wings, alongside ovaries and throat for the daring. The cocktail list also plays a strong supporting role featuring signatures designed by bar awards magnet Speak Low – think Yakult and lychee martinis or a Paloma with yuzu and shiso tequila.

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1515 Nanjing Xi Lu

Grand Banks

Situated inside a historic 100-year-old building near The Bund, the first thing you’ll do upon entering this lavish lounge is admire its impressive neo-classical architecture, and after that you’ll want to cradle a drink at the equally dramatic high-ceilinged stone-top bar. The cocktails here are crafted by mixologist Klaus Yiu (formerly of The Shanghai EDITION) who adds regional elements to his libations – like the bar’s nameksake drink Grand Banks that highlights bourbon infused with dried bael fruit alongside dark rum, maple and chocolate bitters. If you’re feeling peckish there’s also a compact menu of food intended to compliment the cocktails.

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133 Sichuan Zhong Lu

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