The weather has hit that perfect high note here in Shanghai – mostly sunny with just a slight hint of the mugginess that will soon assault us all. And what better way to take advantage of this short weather window than by leisurely whiling away the afternoon over a great (preferably iced) cup of coffee? Read on for some of the best cafes in the city where you can sit outside and watch the scenes go by. Let the people-watching commence!
Q's café at Tianzifang. Photo: flickr.com
1) Mr. VView In Map
While technically not a café – it's more of an open-air stand with seating for approximately four people – Mr. V's has, hands down, the best coffee in Shanghai. While the traditional Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) they sell are mouthwatering delights in themselves (and refreshingly authentic), it's the Vietnamese coffee I keep coming back for again and again. A strong, rich brew with a thicker consistency than any coffee has a right to be, it can be a bit overwhelming on its own, so I recommend ordering it "white" – with sweetened condensed milk. The icy combination is heavenly, and while seating is tight, there are plenty of makeshift spots nearby if you're willing to get creative.
Add: 93-C XiangyangBei Lu, Shanghai (near Xinle Lu)
Tel: 021 6417 9928
Opening hours: Mon.-Fri., 9:30-20:00; Sat.-Sun, 10:00-20:00
2) Melange OasisView In Map
In the charming Jiashan Market area sits Melange Oasis, an "eco-conscious café" that prides itself on using only locally sourced ingredients that are "partly organic." It's certainly an admirable concept, one that works surprisingly well in the middle of the former French Concession. The bamboo details (floor, furniture, bar, etc.) fit seamlessly with their theme of sustainability and provide an immensely relaxing environment in which to sip some coffee and sample some of their homemade falafel or hummus. Now that the potted plants on the courtyard and roof have bloomed, it's a perfect little getaway when you're feeling a bit hemmed in by concrete.
Add: Jiashan Market, No. 37, Lane 550 Shanxi Nan Lu, Shanghai (near Shaoxing Lu)
地址: 上海陕西南路550弄37号, 近绍兴路
Tel: 021 6433 7727
Opening hours: Daily, 9:00-22:00
3) Azure CaféView In Map
Tucked away on an unassuming strip of Panyu Lu, it's easy to miss Azure Café's tiny blue sign. But be sure you don't, because once you step through the iron gates, you'll find this cozy little café with a pebble-strewn front patio that's ideal for summer afternoons. The coffee is good in terms of taste and average in terms of price, which in this city is about as good as it gets. Their modest menu is scattered with hits (chicken burger) and misses (anything on the breakfast portion of the menu), but the food isn't really the main draw anyway. It's the friendly staff, the good coffee, and the patio that makes you almost feel like you're on vacation.
Add: 291 Panyu Lu, Shanghai (near Fahuazhen Lu)
Tel: 021 6282 2020
Opening hours: Daily, 8:00-24:00
4) OriginView In Map
There are countless little outdoor cafes strewn throughout the winding lanes of Tianzifang. And whether you love or hate the area, this artsy homage to consumerism is not without its charms. Among the more charming cafes is Origin, a minimalist place with a great patio. Their theme is freshness and health, which is reflected in their selections of salads and other seasonal menu items, but my recommendation is to stick with the juices or smoothies. They're particularly enjoyable to sip while sitting in the sun and watching all the amateur photographers bump into each other.
Add: Tianzifang, Lane 155 Jianguo Lu, Shanghai (near Ruijin Lu)
Tel: 021 159 2183 2324
Opening hours: Tue.-Thurs., 11:00-23:00; Fri.-Sat., 11:00-24:00; Sun, 11:00-17:00
5) CitizenView In Map
Jinxian Lu may have recently exploded as an expat go-to street, but Citizen remains the general standard for quiet, cozy café-ness. While they have a pretty solid food menu, with everything from sandwiches to pasta to ribs, it's the atmosphere that seems to keep people coming back again and again. Oh yeah, and their martinis. This is one of those times that you can certainly get a coffee, but are probably better off with the alcoholic choices. And despite the hullabaloo that goes on less than one block away on Shanxi Nan Lu, sitting outside at Citizen never feels anything but relaxing.
Add: 222 Jinxian Lu, Shanghai (near Shanxi Nan Lu)
Tel: 021 6258 1620
Opening hours: Daily, 11:00-24:30
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Keywords: outdoor cafe Shanghai out door patio Shanghai coffee good Shanghai restaurants summer time coffee in Shanghai best outdoor seating Shanghai
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