Shanghai’s best Western meals under RMB 50

Shanghai’s best Western meals under RMB 50

Eat your fill without breaking the bank at these six Western restaurants

Though Shanghai is a city thriving with dining diversity, cheap and cheerful Western food is hard to come by.

But rest assured -- great hot dogs, gourmet burgers, bagels and quesadillas do exist in the city. Here are six Shanghai restaurants to get your fix of authentic Western food for less than RMB 50.

Shanghai best budget Western restaurants -- munchiesMunchies barbecue bacon cheeseburger (RMB 39) won't burn a hole in your pocket.

1. Munchies

Munchies is an American joint complete with metallic blue diner booths and great 1980s jams.

The best things about this place are the ample portions and the price -- with the most expensive dishes around RMB 50.

The burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches all come with your choice of sides.

Try the barbecue bacon cheeseburger for RMB 39. Get the fries for your side. They are thick and hot from the oven -- great with ketchup or just by themselves.

In addition to classic fast-food choices, Munchies has a great selection of Mexican dishes. For RMB 39, the quesadilla literally oozes out pepper jack cheese.

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Munchies (Wuding Lu branch), 974 Wuding Lu, near Jiaozhou Lu 武定路974号, 近胶州路, +86 21 6218 4616, Sunday-Thursday: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-midnight, www.munchies.cn

Shanghai best budget Western restaurants -- mr. pancakeMake sure you order the banana walnut pancake (RMB 30) at Mr. Pancake House.

2. Mr. Pancake House

Mr. Pancake House is the place to go to for a solid but classy American breakfast.

Complete with banquette seating, the 25-seat eatery exudes an American kitchen feel with its pastel yellow walls and dark wood furniture. It sells everything from French toast, to crepes and of course -- pancakes.

For RMB 30, the banana walnut pancake is a must-try. It comes with large fluffy pancakes topped with walnuts, bananas, powered sugar, maple syrup and a heap of butter on the top for your aesthetic and tasting pleasure.

They also offer a colossal RMB 42 “Mr. Pancake House Breakfast,” which serves two eggs and a choice of meat in addition to two pancakes and fries.

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Mr. Pancake House, 877 Wuding Lu, near Jiaozhou Lu 武定路877号, 近胶州路, +86 21 6255 1648, 7:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

Shanghai best budget Western restaurants -- eggheadBesides a vast selection of bagelwiches, Egghead Bagels also serves pastas, subs, and salads.

3. Egghead Bagels

Egghead Bagels, with chalkboard menu and hip interior, has an incredibly diverse selection for a joint that markets itself as a bagel restaurant.

Get your standard bagel with crème cheese for RMB 16. In addition to its regular breakfast fare, the restaurant also cooks up pastas, subs, and salads. All pastas after 6 p.m. are RMB 40.

Of course, the bagel brand stocks a great choice of bagelwiches. The tuna bagelwich at 50 RMB is loaded with tuna, tomatoes and Swiss cheese. It also comes with a light salad on the side.

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Egghead Bagels, 455 Shaanxi Bei Lu, near Beijing Xi Lu 陕西北路455号, 近北京西路, +86 21 5213 5601, 7:30 a.m–9 p.m., www.eggheadbagels.com

Shanghai best budget Western restaurants -- southern belleSouthern Belle gives out drink cards during happy hours. If you can't finish your free drink, save it for next time.

4. Southern Belle

Located in the heart of the former French Concession, Southern Belle has a bar, a television screen playing classic American films, playful antique posters and tables with high stools.

The American restaurant throws out a happy hour deal from 2 p.m.-8 p.m. every day and a Southern inspired cocktail list. (Mint Juleps, anyone?)

The portions at Southern Belle are massive and definitely consistent with Southern hospitality. For a hearty meal try the Cajun Jambalaya for RMB 25 with a mix of rice, beans, sausage, mustard and spices.

They also provide house special barbecue sauces on the side for your personal drizzling pleasure.

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Southern Belle, 433 Changle Lu, near Xiangyang Bei Lu 长乐路433号 近襄阳北路, +86 21 5403 3218, +86 139 1818 8520 (bookings), 10:30 a.m.-2 a.m., www.southernbelle.com.cn

Shanghai best budget Western restaurants -- Babela’s KitchenBabela’s seafood pasta (RMB 18) is great for a simple dinner.

5. Babela’s Kitchen (巴贝拉)

This popular chain restaurant serves solid Italian meals at an affordable price.

With dozens of locations around the town, Babela is simple, cheap and delicious. You can easily get a full meal -- appetizer, main course, dessert and drink for less than RMB 50.

Check out their seafood pasta (RMB 18) for a simple and light dinner. It comes with mussels, shrimp and calamari rings covered in marinara sauce.

A personal-size pizza costs RMB19, and if you’re still hungry you can opt for potato wedges for RMB 9 or garlic bread for RMB 8.

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Babela’s Kitchen (Nanjing Dong Lu brand), 299 Nanjing Dong Lu, near Henan Zhong Lu 南京东路299号宏伊国际广场6楼S-602号, 近河南中路, +86 400 778 7878, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m., www.4007787878.com

Shanghai best budget Western restaurants -- El MexicanoEl Mexicano offers authentic Mexican food at a steal.

6. El Mexicano

Located near Fudan University, El Mexicano is a festive restaurant decked out with sombreros and a salsa bar. Yes, they even have guacamole.

Most of the dishes fall around the RMB 30 range and the menu has Mexican beverages like Horchatas and Jamaica (RMB 7 each) for those who really want the full Mexican dining experience.

El Mexicano is great for group dinners and they have a regular expat customer base.

The enchiladas are probably going to get you the best bang for your buck. They come layered with melted cheese accompanied with rice and Mexican beans for RMB 39.

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El Mexicano, 485 Zhengmin Lu, near Guoding Lu 政民路485号2室 近国定路, +86 400 820 1336, Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., www.elmexicano.com.cn

Clarissa Wei is a freelance journalist based in New York and Los Angeles.

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