Oh, Canton. Some people love you, some people try to avoid you. Word is you’re getting posher by the minute and blurring with parts of Pontcanna.
Whatever the general consensus and the rumour spreaders say, we’ve put together a guide to the patch of Cardiff that lies the other side of the river, closer to the Cardiff City Stadium than the Millennium Stadium.
Read on, and you may be surprised about how decent a day out you can have in this often overlooked suburb.
Fuel up, builder style
Photo: The Breakfast Bar on Facebook
It might sound an obvious choice, but The Breakfast Bar is the perfect place for morning fuel. Serving hot and cold breakfast foods, it’s a casual no-frills cafe with a fun, varied menu and relatively cheap prices. Go for one of their country-themed cooked brekkies, such as The Spanish (slices of toast with chorizo, chilli beans and eggs) or The Irish (an egg muffin, hash browns and Guinness sausages).
There’s also Cafe Fresco, a greasy spoon with huge portions and an understanding of how to cater for allergies and special diets. Here, you can have chips with your cooked breakfast. Finally!
Go back to nature
Photo: Victoria Park in Canton
With that heavy stomach, take a gentle stroll through one of the pretty parks in and near Canton. Victoria Park is particularly picturesque; it’s a grade 2 listed green space with lots of pretty flower borders to admire and grassy patches to lay on. Make it your mission to find a statue of the legendary Billy The Seal, or play ‘spot the Doctor Who locations‘. There’s also Thompsons Park opposite Llanover Arts Centre. It’s smaller than Victoria Park but just as lovely to wander in, plus it has a duck pond.
If the rain clouds gather, move on to exploring the shops. There are plenty of charity shops to nosey around in, a few fruit and veg shops that always have colourful fresh produce and discount stores like Home Bargains to grab some penny-saving specials.
Grab lunch from the other side of the world
— Chai Street, Cardiff (@ChaiStreet) April 4, 2015
As Canton is just out of the centre of Cardiff, there are a significant number of independent restaurants and cafes serving international cuisine, as opposed to your standard inner city chains. Chai Street is all about Indian street food. The light snack-sized meals pack the flavour punch of Indian cuisine (heady spices, earthy depth and a little heat) but they don’t leave you feeling too full, as is often the case with heavier curry dishes. It’s perfect sharing food.
Nearby, Falafel Wales is home to authentic Middle Eastern dishes, specialising in falafel (the best ones in Cardiff) but also bridging out to lesser known delicacies of the region such as fatayer (savoury pastry parcels). Calabrisella is always a safe bet; their huge pizzas are cooked fresh on the spot and are really reasonably priced, as well as delicious.
Have an art attack
While we wouldn’t usually recommend only one place to go in the afternoon in our ’24 hours in’ guides, we’re making an exception for a very special place: Chapter Arts Centre. Cardiff’s long-standing cultural hub, you certainly won’t be bored here. There are two cinemas showing everything from blockbusters and kids movies to lo-fi indie productions and gory horrors, and often special screenings with guest speakers.
On top of this, there are multiple gallery spaces, two theatres and lots of workshop rooms, plus a lovely cafe for that you can work/doodle/chill out in. It’ll get your thought processes and creative juices flowing, no doubt about it.
Have a relatively posh tea for a reasonable price…
Photo: Purple Poppadom
Teatime, wahoo! As was the case with lunch, you’re unlikely to find yourself eating your evening meal in a chain restaurant if you’re in Canton. There’s nothing wrong with that, though; in fact, it’s exciting! La Lupa is a popular Italian restaurant that boasts authentic pasta and pizza. The creamy tagliatelle is always a winner, and the specials board usually has tempters on it.
…then down a proper Welsh pint
It may sound simple, but the best way to round off a day in Canton is to sit in one of its nicer pubs. The Ivor Davies is a Wetherspoons, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a tidy pint. The Plum Tree is a Brains pub so you can get all the usual Welsh beers there, plus the decor is fresh and modern.
If neither of these tickle your fancy, take a short walk into Pontcanna to enjoy one of their fancier bars; it’s worth the walk if you want something a bit nicer to end the day on.
Main photo: Art Car Bootique in Chapter by Glyn Owen