While ‘fresh air’ equaled brisk, wintery days over the months past, the same term is a welcoming sign in spring, as warm breezes bring Shanghai’s sycamore avenues back to life. To make the most of this time of year, enjoy an al fresco style meal with your family at these favorite dining spots, all declared family-friendly with outdoor space to enjoy the change in season.
The Balfour at The Peninsula Shanghai
Occupying the grounds of the former British Consulate, The Balfour’s patio and lawns conjure up a great backdrop for a Southeast Asian meal. The kid’s menu includes vegetarian spring rolls, chicken fried rice and mango pudding, and the grass is open for a post-lunch game of tag.
See listing for the Balfour here
Since opening in 2016, Chef Stephan Laurent has conquered the tastebuds of many bread-aholics around town. Between its two locations, the Xiangyang Lu branch beats Nanjing Xi Lu for family-friendly surroundings. While you sip on their popular ice granita coffee (RMB30) on the front porch, kids can run about the fenced plaza and play with water at the fountainhead. The Nanjing Lu branch has a smaller outdoor area in comparison, but nevertheless, its south-facing porch makes a good resting place after a spot of family shopping. Final note? Keep your eyes peeled for a strawberry-inspired seasonal menu.
See listings for Bread Etc. here
Calypso, Jing An Shangri-La
The Calypso Terrace Lounge is made for al fresco dining. This modern, two-story structure retracts its tall glass roof in the warmer months, and the manicured greenery gives out a fresh vibe in the heart of the city. It’s an authentic Mediterranean feeling here–Neapolitan-style pizzas, Italian burrata and house-made pastas that can be paired with wine, 24 of which are available by the glass.
See listing for Calypso here
Oozing a casual vibe and boasting an enviable garden-view, The Cannery is a definite if you’re after an extended family brunch. The glass partition exterior is lifted during the warmer weather, so there’s the option to dine in pleasant temperatures inside or out. Order a variety of seafood grills and egg dishes to share with kids, while the adults enjoy botanical cocktails.
See listing for the Cannery here
The Bull & Claw
Every weekend, The Bull & Claw’s back garden transforms into a lovely community hub. Its generous seating and table space allow for family gatherings and birthday parties, and kids can skip around while parents indulge in a deliciously prepared turf and surf.
See listing for the Bull & Claw here
Mayita’s sunny terrace is made for enjoying a refreshing margarita against a sweeping view of the city we call home. This restaurant para familias serves beef quesadillas, chicken enchiladas as well as ingredients for a DIY taco fest especially for the little ones.
See listing for Mayita here
Paulaner Bräuhaus Expo
Sit inside Paulaner’s beer garden for a full-fledged Bavarian experience. While kids play on the grass, parents can savor some delicious beer and pork knuckles under the umbrellas. Watch out for an asparagus-themed menu available through the first weeks of May.
See listing for Paulaner Bräuhaus Expo here
Morton's Steakhouse (ifc branch)
For a prime location that screams ‘I heart Shanghai,’ our compass points to Morton's Steakhouse at the ifc Mall for sheer al fresco panache. Its fourth-floor patio opens up to a majestic sight of Lujiazui. Really, you can’t ask for a better backdrop to go with an uptown steak lunch.
See listing for Morton's Steakhouse (ifc branch) here
It’s safe to say that Found 158 is by far Shanghai’s most delicious hole in the ground. The arena is filled with restaurants offering an array of world-wide cuisines–Spanish, Turkish, German and Italian to name a few. While the central courtyard regularly becomes a stage for live performances and screenings, it also serves as a great space for the kids to run around while you enjoy the ambiance and a glass of wine.
See listing for Found 158 here
Raffles City Changning
Another shopping complex to join our list is Raffles City and the Zhongshan Park mainstay for shoppers and diners. Its spacious courtyard is co-habited by outlets such as Morton's Steakhouse, Paulaner, and Terroir Parisien.
See listing for Raffles City Changning here
Thought for Food
If spring has inspired you to live (even) healthier, then give Thought for Food and its Zen courtyard a go. Managed by the team behind The Living Room wellbeing center, the dishes here emphasize organic food sources and simple cooking techniques. Popular dishes on the kid’s menu are fried rice with pumpkin, cheese pizza and coconut mango sago.
See listing for Thought for Food here
A stalwart of Shanghai’s family dining scene, Sasha’s offers up generous brunch and afternoon tea deals for families throughout the week. Its capacious FFC garden contains a children’s playground, so parents can focus on calming the nerves by ordering the free-flow option and lounging in the shade when high summer comes.
See listing for Sasha's here