From dirty burgers and pasta to falafel and foie gras, Wales’ capital city is bursting with flavour
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Over the last couple of years, Cardiff has become a real food hub of independent cafes, bars and restaurants whose dishes and drinks hail from all over the world – making up just one of the wonderful reasons our glorious capital is known as a cosmopolitan city. Its indie food scene has grown so much that even renowned food critic Jay Rayner praised the Welsh capital earlier this year after a visit he made in 2016 left a bitter taste in his mouth – but no more, it seems, as upon his return he has changed his tune, saying: "Things have changed, and so very much for the better. "
Cardiff has a fantastic variety of delightful delicacies dotted all over the '15-minute city' that are sure to tickle your tastebuds, from the much-loved Caroline Street – otherwise known as Chippy Lane – to High Street.
Read more: Cardiff is getting its first Camembert bar and it's going to be deliciously filthy
Whether you're a local and are popping into town to get your fill of pumpkin spice latte from our wide selection of coffee shops as the winter months draw in, or you're paying a visit for a rugby match and need to fill your boots with food before you enter the Principality Stadium, you are sure to be spoilt for choice.
So, if you need some inspiration of where to satiate your hunger when you're next in Caerdydd, read on as we round up some of our favourite haunts (in no particular order) and where to find them…
Small plates made with seasonal food, smooth wine from Italy and crisp cocktails with a twist sound right up your street? See in your Saturday night with this Venetian bàcari-inspired cafe and bar, which has brought a slice of Venice to the Welsh capital.
Wanting something a bit more filling? They also offer a 'primi' menu with heartier dishes like tagliatelle, cured meats and risotto.
Founded by husband and wife team Stephen and Juliette Wall after travelling the world, Pho is the couple's love letter to Vietnamese street food.
Pho (the dish is pronounced FUH, the restaurant is pronounced FOH) is the Vietnamese national dish, an aromatic, nutritious and delicious rice noodle soup served with a side plate of fresh herbs to add as you please.
But the restaurant is way more than just that. The rest of the menu is full of sharing starters, spicy salads, wok-fried noodles, fragrant curries, Vietnamese beers, a fab wine list, fresh juices and cocktails.
Travel to Cuba without having to leave the country with this authentic Spanish and Cuban restaurant in the heart of Cardiff. The family-run tapasaria "offers a genuine Latin dining experience" and uses the finest Spanish and local ingredients. You can expect tapas items such as Canarian potatoes, Pimientos de Padron, croquettes of the day, Spanish omlette and mains like paella, steak and egg and chipps with serrano ham or chorizo.
Some call it the best Italian restaurant in town; others say the whole of Wales. An unassuming shopfront sandwiched between a tattoo parlour and what used to be a strip club, Cafe Citta 's cosy interior houses just 13 tables and is run by an Italian family for more than a decade, fronted by Adriano D'Arezzo and his wife Diana. Speaking to WalesOnline some years ago, Diana said of their menu: "It’s not a la carte, it’s just good rustic honest home cooking. We don’t pretend to be something we aren’t – we're just casual.
"People come in and say what a lovely atmosphere we have in the restaurant but that’s the customers making that. Some say it’s like walking into your nonna’s kitchen. It’s tiny and it’s quite a squeeze, which isn’t for everyone. But we want to keep it small and cosy."
They also serve up some of the best wood-fired pizza in the city.
This much-loved pizza parlour is opening its first Welsh branch on Monday, October 24, and we can't be more excited for another pizzeria to grace our food-filled capital city. The "sourdough pizza pioneers" don't just promise stunning pizza. They promise simple, affordable and delicious. Its website states: "We don't overcomplicate. We don’t overprice. We don’t stuff crusts. We do sourdough pizza, as it should be".
Honest Burgers Cardiff
If you're a burger buff, you need to pay Honest a visit. While it is a chain – it has restaurants in Manchester, London and Bristol – it is one which does exactly what is says on the tin and serves deliciously dirty patties from its own butchery with oozing cheese and homemade rosemary chips. Yum.
Rosa's Thai Cardiff
You may have visited this Thai restaurant in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool. But earlier this year, Rosa's Thai opened its first restaurant in Wales. The company was set up by chef Saiphin, who grew up on a mountain farm in Khao Kho, northern Thailand. When she and her husband moved to the UK, Saiphin started selling home-cooked meals at offices and markets before they set up a permanent stall on London's Brick Lane in 2007 and a restaurant in 2008 on Hanbury Street. The menu offers a range of options, including curries, noodles, and stir fry dishes. It also offers seasonal specials, which currently include a tom yum noodle soup, salt and pepper crispy tofu, oyster mushroom tempura, and stir fry chilli tofu and green beans. Read our review, here.
Fat Hippo Cardiff
Church Street is lucky to be graced with not one, but two specialty burger joints and Fat Hippo packs just as much of a punch as Honest. Expect an extensive menu that offers oversized "get it all over your face" burgers, loaded fries and filthy sides, such as waffles, wings and more – most of which have gluten free and vegan options that aren't bland and boring – and make for the perfect pre-game grub.
Read our review of it here.
Ah, Cardiff Market. A glorious place to grab lunch and marvel at the bustling community below from the top floor while you stuff your face with food.
With feasts of any and every flavour going on at this staple stop off, such as Market Deli, Sage Deli – and Smashed Cardiff, Sage's sister stall – Tokyo Nights and Tukka Tuk, to name a few, you are going to be set for an afternoon of exploring (or beer-drinking at the stadium).
For our complete guide on the delectable delights in Cardiff Market, have a gander at this.
There are so many great places to grab a bite to eat inside the city's historical and glorious arcades that we have done a foodie round up of the places to try here.
And as well as fantastic coffee shops, vegetarian specials and a famous deli, you will find a tiny baguette shop that has people queuing round the block every lunchtime and it's just been named as one of the top places in the world to eat. Find out more about it here.
While Wahaca is a chain – and we love to champion independent places as much as we can – this restauarant is simply stunning. Serving up traditional Mexican food with a fresh modern take, Wahaca first opened in Covent Garden in 2005 and now has branches across the country. Tuck in to a plantain taco, cheesy quesadilla or zesty bean and feta tostada.
If you've ever been to the 'Diff, you'll have passed one of Cardiff's longest-running Italian restaurants, Giovanni's. With three stunning locations in Cardiff and Cardiff Bay, there's a reason this Italian restaurant has been serving the people of city since 1983.
The family-run bistro prides itself on its authenic Italian cuisine and serves up classic staples such as pizza and pasta as well as salads and fish plates – plus they have a stunning collection of desserts; tiramisu, cannoli and Classico Affogato Italiano and more. It's a real treat you'll want to return to again and again.
Hayes Island Snack Bar
It opened in 1948 and has remained one of Cardiff's most recognised buildings in the city centre – and one which offers one of the most bangin' bacon baps in Cardiff, might we add. For the thousands who visit it every year, it is a mecca for tea, coffee and the staple foodstuffs that have kept the city's residents well fed for decades. Think fish and chips, fish finger sarnies, jacket potatoes – the lot.
This delightful restaurant that's part of the much-loved Lounge Group, is snug and casual and has an array of breakfast, lunch and dinner plates. With walls adorned with paintings and mirrors and sofas in amongst the tables, it is a comfy and relaxed eating environment that, come match day, can become an exilerating hub of patriotism.
Expect burgers, generous sandwiches, salads and even tapas. With dedicated gluten-free and vegan menus too, there is something for everyone.
If you're struggling for where to pop on your lunch break and don't have time to stop in to a restaurant for a full blown meal or don't fancy Pret, McDonald's or a Tesco meal deal, Falafel Corner has your needs taken care of. As the name suggests, the salad bar specialises in authentic falafel and is vegan friendly, offering fresh Middle Eastern food prepared right in front of you. It say its meals are: "Nutritious, delicious, and affordable." And with their falafels being baked, it makes them light, healthy and tasty – which is the cherry on top. Get a loaded wrap or salad box for a taste explosion.
From the outside, Pillars could easily be overlooked – due to its small entrance nestled between two large buildings. But, despite this, this family-run restaurant in the heart of the city is very popular and provides traditional meals – with generous portions – and prides itself on being a prime value eatery and has stood the test of time.
One Facebook reviewer said of the restaurant: “5* 100% eat here every time we come to Cardiff every single morning. Delicious food. Amazing price. Fabulous staff!!!”
The Atma Lounge
This vegan cafe is run by Tŷ Krishna Cymru has an aim of "providing a sacred food and wellbeing sanctuary" in Cardiff. It provides a variety of warming curries, dals, wraps and thali – plus, if you are on the move, they have takeaway options. With a pay it forward scheme, the lounge says on its website: "Our ‘buy one, feed one’ approach subsidises meals for those in need. Rich in flavour and nutrition, our plant-based yoga cuisine from the East will revitalise your body and mind."
Lezzet Turkish Kitchen
If you're after authentic Turkish cuisine, you need to pay Lezzet a visit. A restaurant that has been going for 20 years, it was founded by Mr Hakan Sir and Bulent Eroglu in 2000 and has since gone on to become a well-established and much-loved food spot for visitors and locals thanks to its "outstanding" food, "great atmosphere" and incredible staff.
One Tripadvisor review said: "I would highly recommend this restaurant! The food, staff, cleanliness, and atmosphere was 10/10."
Eat the Bird
A relatively new addition to the Cardiff food scene, Eat The Bird opened its first Welsh – and third in total – location at the end of September and its safe to say, it has been very well received by the hungry punters of the city. Priding itself on "single handedly flipping your usual burger joint expectations upside down" with its "outrageous fried chicken sandos" and "crunchy-on-the-outside, moist-on-the-inside pieces of golden fried joy", ETB is a celebration of delicious dirty fried chicken, smash beef and plant-based burgers and filthily loaded fries.
Read our review of the new joint here.
Tŷ Madeira Restaurant
It has been described on Tripadvisor as being "The best food and experience I’ve ever had at a restaurant", and with five star reviews across the board we had to include it in our round-up. The family-run Ty Madeira was "born out of our passion for mouth-watering traditional and authentic Portuguese cuisine" and offers a wide array of plates on its lunch and dinner menus – from succulent meat dishes and tapas to seafood recipes, including the Bacalhau (salted cod), soups and espetadas. It even has a two-course rugby day menu!
Otherwise known as Chippy Alley or Chippy Lane, the lane – or alley – has a reputation for dishing out the most moreish, mouth-watering and hit-the-spot late night grub and is famous throughout Wales and beyond. The chippies date back to the 19th Century – read more on that here – and the small but mighty cafes and restaurants offer flavours from Mexico to France to the US and more. Caroline Street has plenty so much to offer so why not take a look at our very own complete food guide to Chippy Lane.
The Coconut Tree
The award-winning Sri Lankan street food restaurant and bar is made up of small tapas-style dishes that promise an “explosion of flavours” and “sweet and fiery” drinks – or cocotails, as The Coconut Tree call them.
The chain first opened in Cheltenham in 2016 and was founded by a group of Sri Lankan friends and family members who were "passionate about sharing uniquely Sri Lankan flavours with the world", says its website. Serving delicious Sri Lankan small plates, such as stir-fried chickpeas, coconut sambol and hot battered spicy cuttlefish, in a relaxed "island vibe" setting – supported by the soundtrack of "great tunes" – its mantra of 'Good Food, Good People, Good Times' has certainly been lived up to.
Read our review of it here.
Pitch Bar and Eatery
This delicious little place champions Wales with its menu and prides itself on simple, modern and honest food. We're talking dishes made from Welsh produce from local "farmers, growers, makers and markets" – such as Welsh sausage and mash, Welsh rarebit, a Glamorgan roast and more.
The Potted Pig
Tucked away in a former bank vault beneath the city – very cool – The Potted Pig restaurant and gin lounge offers up modern British food with a seasonal menu that offers "big flavours, generous portions and high quality ingredients treated with care". With an ever-changing menu whose influences come from Wales, France and New York City and a secret and mysterious underground setting, it's a restaurant that needs to be tried and tested at least once.
Fancy a steak? Look no further than Pasture which is all set up to put on a show with an "open kitchen showcasing charcoal grills and dry ageing cabinets displaying whole cuts of beef ready to be cut into our signature steaks".
Celebrating fire-based cooking, Pasture – which opened in 2020 – cooks its steaks over coal and cherry wood for added flavour and uses only the finest Welsh produce. Steak isn't the only thing on the menu as items such as the 45-day dry-aged burger, spring lamb, fire-roasted chicken and roasted aubergine are all up for grabs too alongside a great selection of cocktails and drinks.
And while booking a table at the restaurant is next to impossible – unless you book months in advance – see here for how to get a table sooner.
With an outside seating area on the High Street where you can watch the world go by, Italian wine bar and deli Prego – which is run by the man behind Toni's bar, Fontana Di Trevi and Topo Gigio, Toni Venditto – specialises in Sclavia wines from their family vineyard in the south of Italy. To go alongside the Italian wines there’s a compact menu of antipasti boards and bruschetta as well as a handful of mains including lasagne, Margherita pizza and Diavola – a spicy hot pizza.
Tucked away just off St Mary Street and High Street, Casonova is often overlooked by many, due to its location, but is a gem that needs to be praised from the rooftops. Read more about it here to see why.
Home of the "inauthentic taco", La Pantera whips up Mexican food like you've never tasted before. Founded by a "group of pals who wanted to bring tacos and mezcal to the people of Cardiff", this intimate establishment hosts a weekly-changing cocktail menu and tacos that will make you question everything you thought you knew before about tacos thanks to its unique flavour combinations – think mussels, onion bhaji and crab. It says: "You name it; we will, or already have, put it in a taco."
Run by three of Cardiff's most renowned siblings and business partners Natalie Isaac and Tom and Owen Morgan, Asador 44 is a Spanish-grill and wine house whose menu "features the freshest fish and seafood, dry aged steaks, suckling pig, whole legs of lamb, delicious vegetables all cooked over charcoal in an open kitchen". It is one of four ventures from the trio.
Its sister hotel, Parador 44 – which just so happens to be located above Asador – has just been named one of the top 10 best hotels in the UK by The Guardian, as well as Bar 44, which has been named as a runner up for Best Sunday roast and place to drink in the UK at this year's Observer Food Monthly Awards.
With such high-achieving sibling-companies, it's no wonder Asador 44 is also utterly incredible and consistently has glittering reviews. Read ours here.
One Tripadvisor visitor said: "A politely busy restaurant with polite, very well informed staff. A nice wine list & a short menu of Spain inspired food that is well executed & reasonable value." Another said: "All I have to say is amazing".
With three branches throughout South Wales and Bristol, Bar 44 – a sister company of the aforementioned Asador 44 – has grown, since its inception 20 years ago, into one of the city's most staple restaurants. Offering small Spanish plates and delicious wines and cocktails in a cosy and intimate dining room, it makes for the ultimate date night.
What's more is, if you've a penchant for sherry, the Cardiff branch is the only venue in the UK to pour three different sherries from full sized barrels behind the bar.
Much like Bar 44, Curado – introduced to the people of Cardiff by the team behind Ultracomida and Spanish Wines Direct – specialises in small plates called pintxos, traditional to northern Spain, and Spanish wine. With the bar's name – Curado's – literal translation being cured, it comes as no surprise that items like meatballs or chicken are seldom seen on the menu. More so cured meats, fish and salads. And bread, of course.
The Grazing Shed
Tucked away on Barrack Lane – next to the St David's 2 shopping centre – The Grazing Shed is a stone cold Cardiff classic for burger lovers far and wide. You can't go wrong with one of its Argie Bargie burgers or its Giant Haystacks. Their Super Tidy Burgers, too, have been about for years but still taste great.
Chapel 1877 Bar & Restaurant
As the name suggests, the grand building on Churchill Way in which this luxury bar and fine dining restaurant is housed was built in 1877 and was designed by renowned Welsh architect Henry C Harris. Only open for food between Thursday and Saturday, it offers a "bespoke experience" with fresh, seasonal menus and an impressive wine list made up of fine wines from all over the world.
It’s only a little shop but boy is this sarnie stop busy, with a queue nearly always out the door thanks to its amazing sandwich selection – made with bread from local bakery Nos Da. For those with an hearty appetite, this cafe in the middle of town, found on Charles Street – just off Queen Street – has quite possibly the biggest sandwiches we've ever seen in our life – aptly named the "Big Boy". Stuffed to the brim with fillings and oodles of flavour, it you will leave feeling fit to burst, in the best possible way. Don't worry if you're not as hungry as you thought, you can opt for something smaller or a salad – or save the other half for later.
A foodie's guide to eating out in Cardiff city centre – Wales Online
From dirty burgers and pasta to falafel and foie gras, Wales’ capital city is bursting with flavour