IN the heart of the former French concession, Julu Road is one of the city's finest walks. The long, tree-lined street road takes you through several city scenes: urbane sophistication full of fashionable boutiques deserving of the area's reputation; bustling little Chinese stores catering for local residents and the food-filled corner at the intersection of Julu and Changshu roads. With a wide variety of restaurants, wine bars, and candy confectioneries ready to cater all tastebuds, the short walk on Julu Road from Changshu Road to Fumin Road is guaranteed to be full of flavor.
Grape Vine: Wineshop and Lounge
Turning on to Julu Road from Changshu Road, it's difficult not to be drawn by window display of this charming wine shop. With a long wall filled with shelves of wine bottles and stacks of wine glasses visible from the street, Grape Vine has been serving the neighborhood's wine needs for the past two years. "People living nearby often come by after work to have a glass of wine or pick up a bottle for their dinner," said sales assistant Flavie Zhang. With almost 200 wines in stock, wine lovers can expect to find what they need. Zhang says French and New Zealand wines are particularly popular. Bottles start at 89 yuan (US$11), with a wide selection available for under 110 yuan. The store constantly updates lines to keep up with the changing tastebuds of a city with an increasingly sophisticated appreciation of wine. "More locals are learning more about wine and drinking more than before," Zhang said. The store also has a peaceful back room, typically full on weekends, and holds wine tastings, with four slated for this month.
Opening hours: 12pm-9:30pm (Sunday to Thursday); midday to midnight (Friday and Saturday)
Address: 909 Julu Rd
For the person with a sweet tooth, this Spanish specialty candy franchise cannot be missed. Billing itself as caramels artisans, it started in Barcelona in 2004 with the goal of resurrecting the art of handmade desserts. Since then, franchises have been popping up around the world, including this one in Shanghai. Behind the front shop customers can see staff working away crafting the candy, making Papabubble seem like a boutique version of a candy factory. With exquisite pieces crafted from candy, including a replica of the Pearl Tower, it's no surprise that manager Frennie Chen says, "a lot of kids love our store." Popular items include small bags or test tubes of candy for 50 yuan and lollipops ranging from 38 yuan to 128 yuan. Chen says a significant part of the business is customized pieces. "Companies ask us to make candy goods featuring their logo for events," she says. "Customized birthday gifts and wedding candy are also popular. We can write two people's names inside a piece of candy, so it's very special."
Opening hours: 11am-10pm (Monday to Friday); 10am-10pm (Saturday and Sunday)
Address: 891 Julu Rd
In an area where change is the only constant, this Nepali restaurant has been a Julu Road fixture for seven years. Boasting a sizable menu of Nepali, Indian and Tibetan dishes, this popular eatery - the first of its kind in Shanghai - is often packed out. "The cheese balls, mutton ribs and chilli dishes are really popular," says manager, DB Lama. Part of Nepali Kitchen's enduring appeal is its affordable prices. Lunch sets range from 45 yuan to 55 yuan, including a curry dish, dal, rice, yogurt and a drink. Some popular items are also marked down at lunch time, with potato chilli going for 15 yuan and curries featuring a choice of meat for 45 yuan. Boasting an all-Nepali staff, the restaurant has an authentic feel, with paintings and other decorative pieces from Nepal. There are three floors, with a couple of small private rooms and large common areas where diners are invited to sit on the floor and relax in the colorful setting. It is now entering its 12th year (Nepali Kitchen was on Xinle Road for five years before moving to its current location), and the owners recently opened Tikka Indian Cuisine on Maoming Road.
Opening hours: 11am-2pm (Tuesday to Sunday); 6pm-11pm (Everyday)
Address: No. 4, Lane 819, Julu Rd
Open three months, this Mediterranean restaurant is a welcome addition to the diverse array of Julu Road eateries. A project of local chef Antoni Gu, the restaurant bears his name and boasts a simple but wide-ranging menu featuring his favorites from France, Spain and Italy. "I lived for two years in Barcelona and the food was delicious," Gu explained. "When I came back to Shanghai I saw there weren't a lot of Mediterranean restaurants and wanted to open one that would show what Mediterranean food really is." For Gu and restaurant manager Ivone Song, the appeal lies in the emphasis on fresh ingredients. "The great thing about Spanish food is that it's so flexible and that you can use different kinds of fresh ingredients," Song said, citing the 265 yuan seafood paella dish as particular popular. Set menus of 588 yuan for two include a starter, a main course, desserts and two glasses of house wine. More than 60 wines are available, with an emphasis on Spanish grapes. Antoni Restaurant is a perfect for a date and has a tranquil second floor patio.
Opening hours: 11am-12am (Sunday to Thursday); 11am-2am (Friday and Saturday). The kitchen closes at 10pm.