Finding high-quality Mexican food in Asia is not always an easy thing to achieve, but in Shanghai the task is surprisingly a simple one. If you are a love of Latin foods, then this post will help keep you happy while visiting Shanghai.
For decently mixed margaritas, astonishingly delicious burritos and a sundry of well-spiced appetizers then head to Zapatas, in the French Concession. This place gets a bit rowdy at night, especially on weekends, but if you go a bit earlier for the food it can be a pleasant atmosphere. The indoor/outdoor seating makes for a festive mood, and the lighting, decorations and menu offerings make this a real Mexican treat. The music, however, is decidedly horrid, with corny 80′s tunes blasting at full volume later in the night. Be aware that because of the rowdy nighttime nature of the Zapatas main floor dancing and tequila-shooting, there are bouncers on sight that can be less than friendly– even to innocent guests. Its best to dine for lunch or in the early evening, and vacate the establishment by nightfall. Still, if you are craving great food and a good Latin drink, Zapatas is a fair choice.
For a more authentic and less ridiculous frat party atmosphere try Cantina Agave. This place is relatively new, but in the first week there was already a waiting area established outside to hold the throngs of people eager to dine on their immaculate cuisine. The margarita pitchers are a bit expensive, but they are mixed with high-quality tequila and are well worth the price (you’ll agree with that statement the more you drink!). The music is latin, the food is delicious and the salsa bar adds a bit more authenticity to the mix. There is limited seating and it isn’t the fanciest of establishments, but you’ll find all manner of people enjoying the great drinks and authentic food, from Mexican and South American expats to Americans in need of their Mexican food kick, to locals giving something new a try. You simply can’t go wrong at Cantina Agave.
Be wary of the California Pizza burritos. While I know this sounds like a Mexican food item, it isn’t, and it costs a bit too much for the tiny paper bowel of burnt beans you’ll end up with. Spend a few more RMB and get the real deal at one of the above establishments, and reserve California Pizza for nights when you have an Italian food craving.