Shanghai takes late-night revelry to another level, so it’s no surprise that the city’s offerings for brunch are equally decadent. While Jing’An restaurant in The Puli Hotel and Spa serves what is indisputably the crème de la crème of brunches (with its gourmet buffet of foie gras, imported cheeses, and house-cured meats paired with unlimited hangover-busting Champagne), there are plenty of other over-the-top options. The city’s most sinful Sunday brunch is hosted by The Westin, which throws raucous all-day parties starring acrobatic entertainment, scantily clad shot girls, endless exotic buffet stations and unlimited cocktails. Outside of hotels, Madison and The Commune Social are tried-and-true foodie heavens serving massive and delicious brunches for mid-market prices. And if you’re watching your wallet (but not your waistline), The Grumpy Pig serves hungry-man portions of traditional brunch fare like sizzling iron skillets of eggs and spuds—for a fraction of what you spent on cocktails the night before.
Jing’An at The Puli
When I feel like splurging on a lavish brunch, Jing’An, the revered restaurant at the five-star Puli Hotel and Spa, never disappoints. The minimalist Asian interior is modern and stylish, yet not stuffy. Service is impeccable and the view offers a lush panorama over the greenery of Jing’An Park below. Touting itself as “resolutely epicurean,” the menu is focused on high-quality ingredients. Brunch spoils diners with an excellent buffet of artisanal breads, cheeses and charcuterie, along with à la carte items like truffled eggs and beer-battered fish and chips.
Le Restaurant École Institut Paul Bocuse
One of the most unique dining experiences in Shanghai, Le Restaurant École Institut Paul Bocuse is an offshoot of the famed Paul Bocuse cooking school in France. Under the guidance of the legendary Michelin-starred namesake chef, the attractive restaurant invites diners to be served by their exceptional culinary students—meaning you can get gourmet French cuisine and service for a fraction of the usual cost. Don’t be deterred by the fact that this place is staffed by students; these young chefs are on their A-games, just finishing up their education. Be sure to call ahead for a reservation.
This chilled-out bistro, set inside the hipster-hub, DJ lab and indie menswear store KIN, is owned by Shanghai hip-hop impresario Gary Wang. The ambience is relaxed; you can kick back among metal bistro chairs and natural wood tables beneath a sunny skylight. The food is equally unpretentious; the kitchen rolls out hot iron skillets of feel-good food like cheese fries and biscuits with gravy.
Overrun with ravenous foodies, The Commune Social is one of the hardest places to snag a dinner reservation in Shanghai (despite the fact that it’s now more than a year old). The modern tapas, dessert and cocktail bar menus are the brainchild of high-profile British chef Jason Atherton, the same man behind successful restaurant Table No. 1. Some of my favorite dishes here include calamari with fried crackling Sichuan peppercorn, and plates of Iberico ham and manchego cheese. Although the food is immaculately prepared and seriously delicious, the atmosphere is low-key, with relaxed touches like self-serve paper napkins.
You haven’t had a proper Shanghai brunch until you’ve dug into plates of duck-fat French fries and eggs Benedict at Madison. The contemporary American restaurant is the brainchild of Shanghai’s beloved chef, Austin Hu, who honed his skill of creating casual-yet-delicious dishes at New York City’s Gramercy Tavern. Every weekend, this spacious, sunny restaurant is slammed with Madison’s loyal fans from open until close (and yes, you absolutely need a reservation).