Shanghai is big. We're talking just-a-shade-over-24-million-people big. And like all big cities, your choices are limitless — which, ironically, can be paralyzing. So we rounded up the top 11 spots to eat and drink in this mega metropolis. From comfort foods and wellies (that are not in fact rain boots), to frozen margaritas and a brunch that is the opposite of basic, you get to go big.


An elephant never forgets

Elefante via Facebook

Elefante is the latest venture by Willy Trullas Moreno in the old El Willy location. The food on offer is on par with Moreno's former eatery, with a focus on Spanish and Italian cuisines. There are about 100 menu items to choose from, so take your time. And if you just can't get enough, take some with you: The small in-house deli sells specialty Spanish food items like cheese and cured meats. They say love will draw an elephant through a keyhole. Moreno proves it.
20 Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Lu, Xuhui district, 5404 8085


Wednesday wellies 

Coquille via Facebook

Hump day just got better. French seafood bistro Coquille offers a Wednesday Wellington just one day a week — and we suggest calling ahead to reserve one. This riff on the beef Wellington consists of a layer of crispy golden puff pastry covering a layer of prosciutto followed by a mushroom duxelle with black truffles and white button mushrooms. Then a nice fat slice of foie gras appears with a medium-rare piece of beef tenderloin. Chef Anna Bautista cooks the dish slow and steady so the pastry remains crispy and the beef stays juicy and tender. Hungry yet?
29 Mengzi Rd., near Xujiahui Lu, Huangpu District, 3376 8127

Morton's Steak and Seafood Grille

Mac my day

Morton's Steak & Seafood Grille via Website

You may think you know mac 'n' cheese. But that's just because you haven’t tried the Smoky Mac & Cheese at Morton’s Steak and Seafood Grille. This decadent take on the classic comfort-food dish blends cream cheese, Parmesan and smoked Gouda for a creamy, indulgent meal perfect for chilly fall days. One bite and your mouth will explode with flavor. Take that, every mac 'n' cheese recipe on Pinterest (just kidding; we still love you). 
IAPM Mall, 4/F, 999 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Shanxi Nan Lu, Xuhui District, 6067 7888


California dreaming

Goga via Website

Brad Turley’s Goga (the name is a nod to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge) was the talk of the town when it opened in 2011. Four years later, you’ll still find Turley cooking Cali-Asian fusion (most likely while wearing a Hawaiian-print shirt) that will have your taste buds wishing they all could be California foods. The restaurant fits only about 20 seats and has roughly the same number of dishes. But with American oldies playing in the background, do you really need anything else? 
Psst: You can’t miss Brad’s second venture, Hai by Goga. 
1 Yueyang Lu, near Dongping Lu, Xuhui District, 6431 9700; 

Le Bordelais (formerly Burdigala)

Weekly wine down 

Le Bordelais Wine Bistrot via Facebook

When wine is the main topic of conversation, you know you’ve got to listen. And we’re not talking about any old vino, but Bordeaux (don’t freak out — it’s cheaper here). Le Bordelais is a wine bistro that focuses on the French specialty. The menu offers bottles and by-the-glass selections, and there are even wine cocktails for when you're feeling extra fancy. Just don’t forget to pair your glass with any of the classic French bistro menu items. 

Second Floor, 301 Jiashan Lu, near Jianguo Xi Lu, Xuhui District, 6422 9826;

The Public

Chicken & waffles for the soul

The Public by robin mas via Facebook

Mystery solved: The chicken crossed the road to get to the waffles. (And when you think about it, is there any better reason to cross a road?) Brunch is always a good idea at The Public, a restaurant specializing in American cuisine. The signature brunch dish of chicken and waffles (whey-poached fried chicken stacked on top of a sweet waffle and served with maple syrup) is a good enough reason to get out of bed in the morning. But if that doesn't do it for you, the menu also offers fluffy French toast with a bourbon banana walnut topping, eggs Florentine, and a pastrami sandwich you'll swear came from New York. All you gotta do is cross the road. 
Second floor, 174 Xiangyang Nan Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu, Xuhui District, 6417 1679 

El Ocho 

Hidden treasure

El Ocho via Facebook

Yo ho ho, a pirate's life for you! If you follow the trail of marauders to El Ocho in Jing'an, you'll find a treasure so tantalizing it would make Captain Jack Sparrow dance with glee — if you're crazy about rum, that is. This modern bar, opened by the El Willy Fun F&B Group, serves a cocktail you'd walk the plank for. El Jefe is an off-menu gem composed of Ron Abuelo rum, white sugar, and angostura and orange bitters. Cocktail connoisseurs, yes: It's like an old-fashioned, but with rum. And matey, it's perfect.
3F, 99 Taixing Lu, near Wujiang Lu, Jing'an District, 6256 3587; 

Bell Bar 

Books and booze

Bell Bar via Website

If reading and drinking are two of your favorite pastimes, then Bell Bar is your kind of place: It's a four-story bar-cafe tucked away in Tianzifang Lane with floral vibes and reading nooks galore. Grab a stack of compelling reads and curl up with a cup of your favorite elixir. There’s even an attic whose bookcases are overflowing with English-language and international titles that you can read in-store or take home. So sink into a patterned sofa and savor the experience.

11, Lane 248, Taikang Lu, near Sinan Lu, Luwan District, 137 1777 8890;

Jackie’s Beer Nest 

Your hoppy place

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski

Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall? Well, almost: Jackie's has 85 to choose from. Professional beer importer Jackie Zhou runs this cozy shack in Huangpu that brings in all types of ale lovers. His extensive collection of imported beers will keep you coming back, as will his endless knowledge of the beer you're sipping. Jackie's tidbits give his unusual happy house a welcome educational twist. 

76 Zhaozhou Lu, near Dongtai Lu Huangpu District, 138 1650 2260; 

The Rooster 


The Rooster via Facebook

Two words: frozen margaritas. Three more words: best night ever. The Rooster is known for its frozen drinks and prime location on a hot block. Owner John Cox has perfected the art of the margarita, not to mention the mango daiquiri and just about every other summer-is-year-round frozen cocktail you can think of. Ward off brain freeze with the house specialty, a pulled-pork sandwich with house-made Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce. It’ll leave you speechless. 
51 Yongkang Lu, near Xiangyang Nan Lu, Xuhui District


It’s not going tequila

Pocho via Website

Sombreros and post-siesta feasting: They're just part of the charm that is the Pocho Social Club. This casual Mexican joint covers three floors, but it's the opposite of cavernous: You'll feel like you've stumbled upon a secret lair in this space, which is cleverly hidden in an old lane house. Like any Mexican bar worth its salt rim, the menu zeroes in on tequila — specifically, 100 percent agave tequila. The Watermelon Surprise, a blend of tequila, agave nectar, cilantro and watermelon, is both refreshing and spicy. It’s the perfect way to kick off the fiesta. 
376 Jianguo Xi Lu, near Taiyuan Lu, Xuhui District, 5419 8727;