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
Image via 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
Image by Mandy Tie/Urban Family
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
The Bull & Claw
Image via The Camel Group
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
Image via Calix
Calix is a contemporary Western restaurant and bar in Xintiandi, serving burgers, steak, salads, seafood and diner-inspired fare, alongside a cocktail menu and wine list. The expansive outdoor patio makes for a particularly nice vista in warmer weather, while inside plays host to live music in the evenings.
See listing for Calix.
Calypso, Jing An Shangri-La
Image via 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
Image by Mandy Tie/Urban Family
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
Image by Jimmy Mi/That's
This subterranean lifestyle hub has fast become the expat pit - or expit, zing! - of choice. Formerly Datong Mill, Found 158 is home to a varied array of restaurants, bars and performance spaces, and retains its quaint open air charm and quirky positioning in the heart of a local park. Enjoy the afternoon and evenings in restaurants including Hooked, El Santo, Mito, Cyclo, Pera and more.
See listing for Found 158.
Funkadeli has come far from its early days as a delicatessen with a knack for making spritz to a full on restaurant and bar which resembles a smart European bistro with a long bar that is stacked to the rafters with Campari and Aperol. The real fun happens when the weather gets pleasant and you can sit outside with the other Donghu Lu party animals.
See listing for Funkadeli.
A favorite of weekend brunch seekers, Ginger by the Park has a beautifully serene terrace overlooking a quaint park. An eclectic menu of Southeast Asian dishes and Western brunch classics awaits.
See listing for Ginger by the Park.
Image via Cosmos Group
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.
Morton's Steakhouse (ifc branch)
Image via Morton's Steakhouse
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
Paulaner Bräuhaus Expo
Image via Paulaner Bräuhaus
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
Raffles City Changning
Image by Jimmy Mi/That's
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
Image via Sasha's
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
Thought for Food
Image via Living by Octave
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
[Cover image via The Camel Group]