La Bodeguita Del Sur: El Bodegon's Funky Little Sister

By Sophie Steiner, June 23, 2021

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The Place 

El Bodegon won Steakhouse of the Year at the That's Shanghai Food & Drink Awards for a reason. The steaks are great – and great value – while the atmosphere has exactly that energetic hum you want from a neighborhood restaurant – a lively hangout for the Argentinean contingency, replete with a shrine to all things fútbol (that’s soccer to you Americans), flowing Fernet and yerba mate sipping at every hour of the day.

Well, good news then, as tucked up Julu Lu, just around the corner from the original Changshu Lu El Bodegon – that opened seven years ago, wow –  you can now find its wilder little sister, La Bodeguita Del Sur. Word on the street is she enjoys partaking in the party scene a bit more than her older bro’. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

In keeping with the El Bodegon collages, the walls of La Bodeguita Del Sur are plastered with over 1,000 postcards from Argentina plus posters, all hand-carried from Buenos Aires. They just installed a TV to air the Euros and Copa America, and other sporting events, so you can sip your draft Patagonia IPA while cheering for your favorite team. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

This neighborhood hangout bar is not trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it’s pushing forward with what already works – good drinks, turntables with a ‘bring your own vinyl’ vibe and tapas for those with an appetite. Down to earth, friendly and chilled. 

The Food and Drinks 

Compared to El Bodegon, La Bodeguita Del Sur offers more cocktails – most of which have a South American spin, like mate tea infused gin or the Argentinean cocktail staple (and bar industry member’s drink of choice) Fernet. You’ll also notice a wider selection of wines from around the globe. The food menu focuses more on snacks for sharing. You can still snag a legit steak, of course, but you won’t find ceviche.  

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Many of the cocktails involve house-infusions, like the Calabria Martini (RMB70), seeing coriander-infused gin, vermouth infused with spicy olive oil and lemon rosemary bitters shaken and served over ice. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Gin & Tonic Argentino (RMB60) is all about gin infused with Argentine yerba mate, topped with tonic. Other Argentine-inspired bevvies include El Porteño (RMB75) – a bold blend of vodka, Fernet, sherry, coffee, pastis and sugar, and the Negroni Sour (RMB75), with mate-infused gin, vanilla-infused vermouth, Campari and lime shaken together with egg white.  

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Classic cocktails and mixers, like Highballs, Aperol Spritz, Pisco Sour and Fernet & Coke range from RMB50-70. Jumping on the vermouth bandwagon that is maybe, kinda, sorta trying to gain headway in Shanghai, they also offer a prime selection of high-end options, like Del Professore Rosso (RMB65), Cocchi Storico (RMB60), and, of course, Gancia (RMB35), the most commonly sipped vermouth of Argentina. 

The Fernet selection is nothing to shake a stick at either – with seven varieties ranging from Fernet Gagliano (RMB40) to Fernet Branca Menta (RMB60) to Fernet Gancia (RMB65)

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Tapas spans pinchos and bar snacks, like Olives (RMB35) or owner brothers Javier and Diego’s grandma’s recipe for Pickled Eggplants (RMB45). After being cooked in vinegar, the eggplants marinate for three weeks in olive oil, oregano, garlic and other spices – a common family dish for Argentineans of Italian descent. There’s also fried bits, like Polenta Fries (RMB35), Arancini (RMB45) and a breaded and deep-fried Chicken Milanesa (RMB40)

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

You’ll find seven kinds of Empanadas (RMB25 each), with beef and ham & cheese being the classics. Unlike their fried Columbian counterpart, Argentineans bake their empanadas with a buttery, stretchy dough, resulting in a satisfyingly chewy pull in each bite. From 5-8pm, you can get six empanadas for the price of five, along with RMB38 house wine, Asahi and mixers like G&T or Fernet & Coke. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

When it comes to steaks, we suggest the Striploin (RMB110/200grams), served with a salad and chimichurri sauce. Upgrade to a Ribeye or Tenderloin for RMB155 – we told you they were great value, especially with a free drink thrown in Monday through Thursday. 

The Vibe 

On any given weekend, you’ll find an interesting cross section of laowai, Chinese and quite a few Japanese – essentially those seeking out a casual, South American neighborhood bar feel. A big focus of the bar is good music (owner Javier also sports a legendary selection of band t-shirts, too). From African and gypsy to blues and rock, it’s eclectic, and they encourage guests to bring their own records and partake in spinning. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Everything here is laidback, and they’re open to pretty much any kind of tunes – except reggaetón. Fuck reggaetón. Do not try to play reggaetón here unless you’re looking to get kicked out. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

La Bodeguita Del Sur is not trying to attract the Dianping KOLs, nor the food bloggers or netizen crowd that’s obsessed with seeking out the next Wanghong spot. It’s for repeat regulars looking to enjoy a casual cocktail, some funky tunes and maybe crush an empanada or two.

The atmosphere is dialed up to shots, laybacks and really testing the volume limits of that sound system as the evening descends into night – deserving of that crazy, party-seeking little sister’s stamp of approval.

Price: RMB100-200
Who’s Going: Argentineans of Shanghai, neighborhood-dwellers, vinyl lovers
Good For: Watching an Argentina soccer match while sipping Argentinean beer, eating Argentinean steak and washing it all down with a vermouth  

See a listing for La Bodeguita Del Sur. Read more Shanghai Restaurant Reviews.

[Cover Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]

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