Shanghai cuisine reflects the cooking styles of the nearby provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangxi, which are characterized by a greater use of soy sauce, sugar, rice wine and rice vinegar than other regional cuisines. That said, Shanghai's 1,000-plus restaurants also serve every other style of Chinese food, such as spicy Sichuan, Cantonese dim sum and Peking, which are more familiar to Western palates. Add the food of virtually every other country you can imagine, and it all adds up to Shanghai being a truly international dining destination.
"Food streets," such as Huanghe Road and Wujiang Road near People's Square, serve everything from cheap local eats to Western-style meals. Just wander around to see what takes your fancy.
As the name implies, the Bund Brewery is just off the waterfront. This relaxed and friendly eatery with its cozy wooden interior serves microbrewed Bundlander beer, great cocktails and reasonably priced food. There's a Western menu, but if you want to try local fare, the waiter will be happy to make some suggestions.
Vegetarians can enjoy a tasty deal at Songyuelou in the Old Town. Popular with locals and visitors alike, it dates to 1910 and is Shanghai's oldest veggie restaurant. English menus can be found upstairs, and the vegetable-stuffed buns fill a lunchtime hole between sightseeing tours of the nearby City God Temple and Yuyuan Garden.
Situated in the heart of the French Concession foodie district, Cuivre serves up a taste of southern France under the direction of Michael Wendling, who worked in Michelin-starred kitchens before going it alone. The decor is fun and quirky, with dissected bicycles acting as bar stools. Dishes might include beef tartar, mussels with spicy sausage or cod with eggplant confit.
If you've got a sense of adventure and some money to spare, consider booking a table at Ultraviolet, an experimental restaurant that calls its dining experience "a story in 20 courses." The restaurant seats just 10 diners (which means you must book months in advance) and incorporates video projections, music and other technological elements into a mouth-watering feast for more than just the tastebuds.
Lost Heaven has two locations in Shanghai, one in the French Concession district and the other near the Bund. Both serve up traditional folk cuisine from the Yunnan province in a dim, candlelit ambience.