American BBQ takes over Jing’an: 5 smokin’ hot spots

Professional pitmasters are firing up their grills in Shanghai, and the city is buzzing with new barbecue joints

Cover image courtesy of Smokin' Hog
By Michael MacLaren

It’s a wanghong world in the foodie city that is Shanghai. There seems to always be a tend on the loose, whether it’s pastries like the hybrid cookie-croissant ie. the crookie or the scores of sandwich shops that have mushroomed in the city as of late.

One trend that has caught our attentions — not to mention our appetites — is American barbecue. Coincidentally, all these establishments just so happen to be within just a couple of kilometres of each other in central Jing’an.

Check out these sizzling new spots!

1) Parlay
📍 Building 18, 808 North Shaanxi Road


One of the bellwethers of American barbecue in Shanghai, Bubba’s Food Co has recently undergone new ownership and a huge makeover. In its stead is Parlay, an upscale sports bar and lounge focusing on elevated pub grub. Chef Matty Waters, whom you may remember from Camel Smokehouse and KCQ, can be credited with the mouthwatering nosh here.

Barbecue plays a big part in Parlay’s stacked menu. All meat is prepped and cooked fresh daily to ensure top quality. Go the classic route with the barbecue platter, a steel tray piled high with tender brisket, pork ribs, half a spring chicken with the claw still on, links of juicy pork sausage, and more.

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Or explore Chef Waters’ creative takes on barbecue, like the Tempura Battered Ribs, Char Siu smoked pork belly, and Burnt Ends Burger. The last of these is essentially a whole BBQ meal between buns — picture a smashed beef patty and 100 grams of sliced USDA brisket, coleslaw, pickles, red onions and pepper relish doused in Waters’ own signature BBQ sauce.

TIME OUT TIP: Only available on the weekends, the Parlay Double Wager Pork Belly Rib Burger lets you get rib and pork belly in a single mouthful with a big enough bite.

2) Smokin' Hog
📍 970 Wuding Road, Jing’an


​After slinging mouthwatering BBQ for a couple of years via delivery apps, Smokin’ Hog has finally opened its first brick-and-mortar location. Taking over cocktail bar Post No Bills on Wuding Road, the restaurant has retained much of its previous tenant’s eccentric artwork.


First time here? We recommend rounding up your friends and trying one of each item off the BBQ menu; the cheddar pork sausage and the maple pork belly stole the show for us. The sides, which include classics like corn bread, potato salad, mac and cheese, and baked beans, but also a lighter corn relish, are also stellar.

Barbecue aside, the possibilities are almost endless here. You’ll also find burgers, loaded fries, nachos, sandwiches and tacos on the menu, warranting repeat visits.

Decadent desserts include deep-fried Oreos dusted in powdered sugar and served with dark chocolate ganache and malted milk ice cream, and a dreamy concoction of white chocolate sorbet, creamy bourbon custard, salted banana caramel and whipped cream.

3) 18 Hours Texas Barbecue
📍 6 Wanhangdu Road, Jing’an

18 Hours Ribs

Brought to you by the minds behind Turkish restaurant Garlic as well as Garlic BBQ, 18 Hours positions itself as a Texas BBQ specialist in the heart of Jing’an.

Like at many BBQ joints in the Lone Star State, customers can peruse the menu on a board before placing their orders at the counter, and are free to help themselves to as much pickles, jalapeños and sauces as they want at a station just off to the side.


18 Hours has even built their own massive 500-gallon smoker, which sits smack in the middle of the restaurant. You’ll find only top-notch meats here, such as Australian Black Angus brisket and Iberian black pork ribs. The lean brisket, juicy cuts of tender beef doused in signature BBQ sauces, was our personal favourite.

It’s in the sides where 18 Hours enters uncharted territory; they’ve taken a different approach and gone with Turkish-inspired dishes like eggplant mash and sauteed mushrooms. Purists might balk, but take it from us: said sides complement the smoked meats extremely well.

4) Smokey Project
📍 98 Yanping Road, Jing’an

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Decked out in 1930s Americana kitsch with jukebox tunes blaring in the background, Smokey Project feels more like a diner rather than a BBQ joint, but the playful colour scheme and artwork provide a fun atmosphere for tucking into some really fantastic food.

The menu is mostly what you’d expect of a BBQ joint, but two facets differentiate Smokey Project from its competitors:


1) For a fun marriage between American and Asian flavours, you can get their house-smoked brisket between lotus leaf buns or gua bao (刈包).

2) Smokey Project’s Super Bowls let you mix and match their smoked brisket, pulled beef, pastrami or smoked sausage with a base of rice or vegetables, and four toppings ranging from broccoli to pumpkin — how’s that for the perfect healthy lunch option?

5) Cages
📍 3rd floor, 428 Jiangning Road, Jing’an


Sports haven Cages might be better known for its massive screens and batting cages, but also turns out pretty damn good food.

Since end March, they’ve rolled out standout barbecue offerings that have certainly caught our attention. You and your friends (trust us no single person could possibly finish all this food) better come hungry.


Craving a standard BBQ platter? Go for the Pit Master Platter heaped with sliced beef brisket and burnt ends, half a rack of pork ribs, pulled pork shoulder, smoked sausages and a chicken quarter.

Prefer to enjoy your BBQ in sandwich form? Go for ‘The Beefzilla,’ which sees bone-in smoked short rib, brisket, two beef patties, cheddar cheese, and a special sauce between two slices of Texas toast. If the sandwich itself isn’t enough of a spectacle, the waiter donning a longhorn mask while delivering said sandwich should provide enough entertainment. You’ll have to see it to believe it — click here to watch our Instagram Reel!