The best Shanghai brunches and their no-wait alternatives

The best Shanghai brunches and their no-wait alternatives

If the lines are too long at the Westin and Crystal Jade, these delicious Shanghai brunch alternatives will also hit the spot, without making you wait
Enoteca brunch
Why wait with the masses for one of the famous Shanghai brunch sets when you can enjoy a spread like this without the hassle?

Shanghai loves brunch. There are the legendary brunches that every travel guide espouses and consequently these are the ones you will have to bring every out-of-towner friend to. We are of course talking about the Westin brunch and the iconic Bund-side brunches, like the ones at M on the Bund and Jean-Georges.

But such is their popularity, on some weekends receiving a confirmed reservation is about as likely as finding a smoked salmon & caviar salad at a street vendor stall. We've put together a quick list of some of Shanghai's favorite brunches, and their no-wait alternatives just in case you need a back up.

Issimo Sundissimo brunchSundissimo at JIA's Issimo is a true Sunday brunch with Italian soul. The ridiculously extravagant brunch

When you need an ocean of bubbly and enough food to feed Noah’s ark, make a reservation at: The Westin Champagne Brunch.
Wait time (without a reservation): Up to 90 minutes on weekends.

No-wait alternative no. 1: Yi Cafe.

Open kitchens, chocolate fountains, sashimi in a rainbow of colors and everything else you want to eat is at Yi Cafe -- and it’s all freshly prepared at 10 food stations that feature every major cuisine in the world. “Yi Café is every bit as extravagant as the Westin, but they give you a no-champagne option. And I think the quality is better,” says Veronica Thomas, serial bruncher. RMB 258, extra for Champagne.
Sundays. 2/F, Pudong Shangri-La hotel, 33 Fucheng Lu, near the Oriental Pearl Tower 富城路33号浦东香格里拉大酒店2座2楼, 近东方明珠, +86 21 5877-5372

No-wait alternative no. 2: Sundissimo.

The sexy Issimo (no one would ever know it's a "hotel" restaurant -- it's attached to the swanky JIA hotel) is the site of a lush-approved feast on Sundays. We’re talking four-courses here: the Sundissimo brunch come with antipasto, two homemade pasta courses and one main course. And that doesn’t include desserts, gelato and coffee. They also do free-flow prosecco, mimosas and bellinis for RMB138 if you want to want to incapacitate yourself (in a good way). RMB 198, extra RMB 138 for free-flow drinks.
Sundays at Issimo. 2/F, 931 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Taixing Lu 南京西路931号2楼, 近泰兴路, +86 21 62879009

Enoteca brunchBrunch doesn't need to equal food coma, it simply needs to be delicious, which it is at Enoteca. The neighborhood brunch

When you’re Bund-ed out and in need of non-food coma inducing deliciousness, make a reservation at: Closed Door.
Wait time (without a reservation): Technically you can't get in, but we're told there's a 90-minute wait if you come from noon to 2:30pm.

No-wait alternative no. 1: Enoteca Brunch.

“They don’t overload me on food, so I still have the will to do stuff afterward. It’s relieving,” says Annie Kim, a fan of the Enoteca brunch. They offer three options -- go with the premium French set (RMB 120, helpfully labeled “the best one” on the menu) which comes with salmon tartar, quiche, Caesar salad, an adorable caviar topped “oeuf a la coque” still in its eggshell, fresh juice and croissant. Pick up a bottle of pinot on your way out. Pricing runs from RMB 75-120 (simple French, American breakfast, premium French).
Weekends at Enoteca. French Concession: 53-57 Anfu Lu, near Changshu Lu 安福路53-57号,近常熟路, +86 21 54040050; Xintiandi: 58 Taicang Lu, near Jinan Lu 太仓路58号, 近济南路, +86 21 53063400

No-wait alternative no. 2: Kommune Big Breakfast.

“They’ve done a consistently good brunch for years,” says Andrew Tipo. And their signature Big Breakfast, a mountainous helping of creamy scrambled eggs, beans, mushroom, sausages, eggs, toast and tomato, hasn’t gotten smaller. Thank God. In the early morning, dine on the patio with your brekkie and a bowl (yes, a bowl) of mocha as you soak in the Taikang Lu atmosphere before the swarming crowds arrive. RMB 100, 8am-5pm, kids free before 10am.
No. 7, Lane 210, Taikang Lu, near Sinan Lu 泰康路201弄7号, 近思南路, +86 21 64662416

Dim sum bonanzaDig into the never-ending dim sum options at EEST at the Westin Bund Center Shanghai.Dim sum bonanza

When you want dim sum and then some, make a reservation at: Crystal Jade.
Wait time (without a reservation): 30 minutes to an hour for weekend lunch, depending on location.

No-wait alternative no. 1: The Millennium Hongqiao Dim Sum Brunch.

We heard about this all-you-can-eat from a local friend who makes it here for brunch unfailingly every month for the lobster soup. “It’s got this rich texture and chunks of lobster too,” marvels Emily Chen, a fan. Durian puffs, rabbit-shaped custard buns and their specialty, fresh har gow, also draw the patrons regularly. The restaurant’s mini bamboo groove and tall windows will make you feel like you’re spending much more than you are. They also offer private rooms with garden views, perfect for brunching families. RMB 88 + 15 percent service charge on weekdays, RMB 98 +15 percent on weekends, tea included.
Everyday at Spectrum in the Millennium Hongqiao Hotel. 2/F, 2588 Yan’an Xi Lu, near Shuicheng Nan Lu 延安西路2588号千禧海鸥大酒店2楼, 近水城南路, +86 21 62085888 ext. 72203

No-wait alternative no. 2: The Westin’s Other Brunch

Short on dough? Loosen your pants for the Westin’s other Sunday brunch experience, which features dim sum and small plates from around the world. “It’s dim sum meets tapas,” says Leon Wong, a loyal patron. Instead of carts, order from a menu that includes dozens of regular dim sum options, some sushi, surprisingly good Thai (Larb! Papaya salad! Curry!) and Hong Kong-style desserts. RMB 98 + 15 percent service charge, drinks not included.

Every Sunday at EEST in the Westin Bund Center Shanghai. 5/F, 88 Henan Zhong Lu, near Guangdong Lu 河南中路88号上海威斯汀大饭店5楼, 近广东路, +86 21 6335 1787, +86 21 6335 1888

Joanne Yao is a writer and editor based in Shanghai.
Read more about Joanne Yao