Time to make the most of those sunny afternoons before the plum rain season, or worse, the summer heat wave hit us. Bring a book or a few friends and chill out at these cafés. Here's a list of our favorite al fresco cafés in Shanghai.
This cafe located in the heart of the Former French Concession has a huge terrace and a cozy deck, plus spacious indoor seating, which all fills up quickly during the weekends. Their menu features a great selection of brunch-friendly mains, and an onsite bakery churns out freshly-baked goods. They're one of the few venues in town that do a good Shakshouka (RMB60).
Address: 500 Xiangyang Nan Lu (near Jianguo Xi Lu) 襄阳南路500号 (近建国西路)
One of the best things about Brut Cake Café is the deck-seating out front, which is also pet friendly. Aside from classic espresso drinks, they offer single origin coffees whose beans come from a local roaster. They put out some great dessert options, too; try the Black Pepper Brownie (RMB35) and Miso Cheesecake (RMB30).
Address: 698 Yuyuan Lu (near Zhenning Lu) 愚园路698号 (近镇宁路)
Leading the fourth wave coffee trend in Shanghai, Ocean Grounds specializes in drinks that are a combination of coffee and mixology. Watch the “bartender” mix a California Sunrise (RMB48) at the Discovery Bar, or sip on one of their single origin coffee out on their spacious terrace, which is usually packed during happy hours. They occasionally host community talks and live bands too.
Address: Rm.1-09A, 1/F, North Tower, Hong Kong Plaza, 282 Huaihai Zhong Lu (near Huangpi Nan Lu) 淮海中路282号香港广场北座1层（近黄陂南路）
Ran by two local sisters, Jarajam offers reasonably priced coffee, home-brewed tea concoctions, baked goods, happy hour cocktails and good vibes. Their Masala Chai (RMB25) is popular for its rich flavor. Their cozy patio, which fits about three tables, and their location on the quiet Wuyuan Lu, makes them an ideal spot for catching up with friends.
Address: 88 Wuyuan Lu (near Changshu Lu) 五原路88号 (近常熟路)
One of the pioneers for farm-to-cup cafes in Shanghai, Lanna sources their coffee beans from Yunnan province. Interiors are cozy but you really want to snag a seat out front in their sunroom, which offers great lighting. Get a sandwich and coffee set for RMB48 or upgrade to a bagel sandwich for another RMB5. Go early since the small space and good coffee means it fills up fairly quickly.
Address: 8 Yuyuan Dong Lu (near Tongren Lu) 愚园东路8号（近铜仁路）
From the guys behind Sumerian, Boom Boom Bagels is popular for their innovative fillings for bagel sandwiches. Try the Hindquarter (RMB55), a filling, meaty mess of smoked pulled pork and barbecue slaw. Aside from coffee, they also offer cocktails and craft beer on tap. Windows open out to the street, and when the weather is great, they're a great place for al fresco lazing and people-watching.
Address: 39 Anfu Lu (near Changshu Lu) 安福路39号 (近常熟路)
MQ Coffee is a coffee shop that doubles as a coffee equipment store and triples as a barista training center. Having their own roaster locally in Jiading means they have constant access to fresh coffee beans, which is also why they're able to provide coffee to many other cafés around the town. Try their Employee Special (RMB35), a mix of ice dripped coffee, passion fruit syrup and bubbling water, or the Ice Dripped (RMB35) and Cold Brew (RMB30). The terrace area on the second floor has large tables and is a good place to get work done.
Address: 2/F, 218 Fengxian Lu (near Nanhui Lu) 奉贤路218号2楼 (近南汇路)
As its name suggests, 1984 Bookstore is a bookstore that also doubles as a café. There are plenty of quiet seating inside, but we like hanging out in their courtyard when its warm. They serve flavored espresso drinks at RMB35 and dessert options like cheesecake (RMB38) and carrot cake (RMB28).
Address: 11 Hunan Lu (near Yongfu Lu) 湖南路11号（近永福路）
Located inside Ferguson Lane, Coffee Tree has a spacious patio that overlooks the surrounding courtyard. The terrace is surrounded by leafy trees so guests are shielded from the sun even in the heat of summer. They have a brunch set option at RMB138 for an appetizer, a main course, a drink and free-flow coffee.
Address: Ferguson Lane, 376 Wukang Lu (Near Tai’an Lu) 武康路376号（近泰安路）
Housed in a traditional lanehouse, Cafix has comfortable, homey seating on the second floor that is great for working or reading a long book. In the courtyard, there are mini pavilions for outdoor seating, decorated with garden trellises and hanging succulents. Cafix serves a regular selection of coffee along with a menu that leans towards Asian fusion. Their grapefruit pizza (RMB56) is an audacious attempt but worth a try for the adventurous.
Address: 764 Changle Lu (near Fumin Lu) 长乐路764号（近富民路）
All photos by Susan Wen
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