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The Best Bowls of Chili in Shanghai

One more comfort food craving sated


A bowl of piping hot chili is one of the most delicious ways to take the edge off the cold weather. We’ve hit up some of the city’s best known places for a bowl of this spicy Texas-style stew. Here’s what we liked best in town.


Chili at Pistolera, Shanghai


Address: No. 2, 838 Hengshan Lu (near Tianping Lu) 衡山路838弄2号 (近天平路)
​Tel: 5461-0619

Pistolera is a three-time chili champion in Shanghai. They clinched it with a recipe by Chef Jorge “Tabasco” Leonardo Guerrero. It’s a huge, meaty bowl of ground beef, ground pork and beef chuck cubes spiced with a mix of Serrano, Guajillo and Poblano peppers (RMB80). It’s also available ladeled over their burrito (RMB110) or nachos (RMB70/small, RMB100/large). 


Chili at Mayita, contemporary Mexican restaurant


Address: 6/F, 98 Shouning Lu (near Xizang Nan Lu) 寿宁路98号6楼 (近西藏南路)
​Tel: 6334-3288

While it’s too cold for Mayita’s rooftop terrace, now is the perfect time to get cozy inside with a belly warming serving of black bean and roasted pork chili (RMB65). Layers of flavor come from a long list of herbs, blackened spices, and Ancho and Guajillo peppers. It’s also a two-time People’s Choice winner at the Shanghai Chili Cook Off


Chili at Charlie's Burger


Address: 89 Changshu Lu (near Julu Lu) 常熟路89号 (近巨鹿路)
​Tel: 5403-8513

It should come as no surprise that this diner does a solid chili (RMB35/small, RMB45/large). It’s all about balance. Owner Charles Zeng mixes two types of beef (ground and chunks) for texture and five different peppers for heat and depth of flavor. It’s great in a cup, on a burger, over fries, or on one of their hotdogs (RMB10 as a topping).


Chili at Al's Diner

Al’s Diner

Address: 2/F, 174 Xiangyang Lu (near Fuxing Zhong Lu ) 襄阳南路174号2楼 (近复兴中路)
​Tel: 5425-1930

Al’s Diner has a variety of comfort foods to please nearly everyone. Their chili was created by one of Shanghai’s most well-known chefs, Sean Jorgensen (now at Highline). What sets this chili (RMB45) apart is that it has bacon bits mixed in with the ground beef. It’s also one of the spiciest versions we’ve tried. While on the menu at both Al’s locations, go to the Xiangyang Lu location and stock up on baked goods at Al’s Baking Co. on the way out. 


Chili at Boxing Cat Brewery, Shanghai

Boxing Cat Brewery

Yongfu Lu: 82 Fuxing Xi Lu (near Yongfu Lu) 复兴西路82号 (近永福路), Tel: 6431-2091
Sinan Mansions26A, Sinan Mansions, 519 Fuxing Zhong Lu (near Sinan Lu) 复兴中路519号思南公馆26A号楼 (近重庆南路), Tel: 6426-0360

What goes better with chili than beer? Boxing Cat Brewery has an award-winning red hot chili (RMB40) that will warm you from the inside out. They mix ground beef, pork and sausage with kidney beans and tomatoes. We suggest pairing it with the light Helles lager, and adding tortilla chips or garlic bread as a side. 


Chili at Urban Soup Kitchen, Shanghai

Urban Soup Kitchen

Multiple locations:  Caoxi Bei LuMadang LuKerry Parkside and more

Eight years in the making, Urban Soup Kitchen now has six locations throughout the city. They’ve just updated the menu to include hearty stew section. One of these is a hearty chili (RMB58) made with Australian beef, kidney beans and garbanzo beans, with added flavor from Guinness stout. It is served with a rice combo of Jasmine rice, oats, black rice and quinoa. 


Chili at Munchies, Shanghai


Address: 974 Wuding Lu (near Jiaozhou Lu) 武定路974号 (近胶州路) 
​Tel: 6218-4616

Munchies has been around long enough to have earned the title of Shanghai’s original diner. They serve classic American comfort food, from burritos to burgers. They do a Cincinnati-style beef chili (RMB46), which has a heavy emphasis on sweeter spices such as allspice, cinnamon and cloves. The sauce has an orange sheen from beef fat and is often served atop spaghetti, also known as a “two way” (RMB33). Extra toppings also available, including cheddar cheese, raw onion and kidney beans.  




Happy Buddha at Sprout Lifestyle

Address: 2/F, 288 Shaanxi Nan Lu (near Fuxing Zhong Lu) 陕西南路388号2楼 (近复兴中路) 
​Tel: 5436-6083

Vegetarians and vegans need comfort too and Happy Buddha helps fill that void with a range of tasty western options. They serve a veggie-laden chili (RMB38) that even meat-eaters will enjoy. The secret is that the vegetables (carrot, bell pepper, celery, onion, garlic) are slowly caramelized in their vegan butter before being simmered in their house-made vegetable stock of quinoa, dry and fresh chili and herbs. Get the chili (RMB20) as a side with sweet potato chips (RMB11) for dipping. 




What other comfort foods should we try next?

Leave a comment below!


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