Pimp your mealtimes in Cardiff this year, with our essential guide to Cardiff’s best food and drink secrets.
Whether it be a hidden bar, a quirky space, an unusual menu or a great meal for a steal, we’ve got it covered.
1. You can swap midnight chips ‘n’ cheese for a steak dinner
Charlston Steak House on Caroline Street is open ‘until late’ says the website – we’ve had a full slap up Steak Diane and chips in this old-school restaurant as late as 4am. It’s pricey, but it’s worth the trip for those times when you just don’t want the night to end.
Charlston Steak House, 52 – 54 St Mary’s Street, Cardiff, CF10 1FF charlstonssteakhouse.co.uk
2. You can sip tequila on a mezzanine bar in Wahaca
Wahaca’s Cardiff restaurant has a lesser-known tequila bar on the 4th floor, complete with hanging chairs and a great view over the rest of the restaurant. It’s a great place to wait for a table, or just to go for a tequila cocktail or two.
Wahaca, 51-53 The Hayes, St David’s Dewi Sant, Cardiff CF10 1GA wahaca.co.uk/locations/cardiff
3. Prison food isn’t always bad news
— Ministry of Justice (@MoJGovUK) October 14, 2015
At The Clink – a restaurant situated inside Cardiff’s prison – the food is created and served up by prisoners working towards City & Guilds NVQs in Hospitality & Catering – and ultimately employment in the UK hospitality industry upon release. Expect first-class, fine dining style menus, but no alcohol.
Clink, Her Majesty’s Prison Cardiff, Knox Road, Cardiff, CF24 0UG theclinkcharity.org
4. You can create your own taste of the Big Apple
Everyone knows that the New York Deli does the best (and the biggest) hoagies in Cardiff, with all made to signature recipes with quirky names. Next time you’re there though, take advantage of the opportunity to go off-menu and create your own giant American-inspired sandwich.
New York Deli, 20 High Street Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1BB www.twitter.com/nydelicardiff
5. Eating (and drinking) with the seasons is easy
At Milgi, all of the focus is on plant-based food (that’s vegetarian to you and me) and eating with the seasons – even the cocktail menu gets a seasonal switch-up throughout the year. There’s a cool hispter yurt to drink them in out in the back garden, too.
Milgi, 213 City Road, Cardiff, CF24 3JD, milgicardiff.com
6. You can sample Cardiff’s best tapas for a tenner
— Bar 44 Cardiff (@bar44cardiff) September 29, 2015
Bar 44 is South Wales’s critically acclaimed tapas restaurant – with three locations in Penarth, Cowbridge and of course, Cardiff. Their lunchtime special offer is a steal; choose from their slow cooked spanish 1-pot ‘dish of the day’ for £6 or any 3 from a selection of tapas for just £10.
Bar 44, 15-23 Westgate Street, Cardiff, CF10 1DD, bar44.co.uk/cardiff
7. …Or dine in a bank vault on a pauper’s budget
One of Cardiff’s most popular restaurants, The Potted Pig specialises in a seasonal menu of modern British food and wraps it up in the cosy confines of a former bank vault. The lunchtime offer of two courses for £12 is hard to beat, and you can choose from starters, mains and desserts.
The Potted Pig, 27 High Street, Cardiff, CF10 1PU, thepottedpig.com
8. You can grill like a Korean in Canton
Food at Kimchi in Canton was off the freaking chain, hook etc. Go there! Blog post to follow….. pic.twitter.com/qhvoEgXKpB
— Kitchen Clonc (@KitchenClonc) April 4, 2015
Head to Kimchi on Cowbridge Road if DIY is your thing. Here you can choose your marinated meats and vegetables and cook your own dinner on the hotplates in the middle of the table. If hard work isn’t your thing, there are lots of other Korean favourites on the menu which require no such effort.
Kimchi, 72 Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff, CF11 9DU, myhkhst.com/kimchi
9. Or create a pizza with a real Italian family
Calabrisella – another Cowbridge Road favourite – is run by a real Italian family, and it you can really taste it. Next time you’re ordering a pizza from this friendly bunch, why not try making up your own topping combo? They like to mix things up; they’ve even got mini roast potatoes on one of their own recipes.
Calabrisella, 154 Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff, CF11 9ND, facebook.com/Calabrisellacardiff
10. You can learn the art of cocktail mixology
— Locke & Remedy (@LockeandRemedy) December 30, 2015
Book in to Locke & Remedy’s new Cocktail Sunday Sessions, and you can enjoy what they call ‘a cocktail adventure’ with their expert bartenders.The session includes two Locke & Remedy cocktails from a selection on the day, an introduction to shaking & mixing skills and a chance to get behind the bar. You’ll pick up tips about spirits, liqueurs, mixers, glasses, garnishes & ice, get some hands-on action, then enjoy your cocktails and relax.
Locke and Remedy, 18-19 Trinity Street, Cardiff, CF10 1BH, lockeandremedy.com
11. And it’s not always £20 to eat at Burger & Lobster
When Burger and Lobster first opened, there was much ado about the fact that there was a fixed price of £20 on all meals. Fast forward a year, and the Cardiff restaurant has now introduced a range of lower-priced specials – like an exceptional Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese, for just £10.
Burger and Lobster, 9-11, The Hayes, Cardiff, CF10 1AH, burgerandlobster.com/home/locations/cardiff
12. Creating your own menu is the most fun
— Old Custom House (@OldCustomHouse) October 8, 2015
Dinner at the Custom House in Cardiff Bay (Penarth side) always feels like being on holiday. Spanish guitar music wafts over the dining room, there views over the water from the windows, and a huge meat, fish and vegetable counter beckons, from which you can create your own perfect dish of the day.
The Old Custom House, Penarth Marina, Penarth, CF64 1TT. theoldcustomhousepenarth.co.uk
13. There’s a secret speakeasy on Barrack Lane
It’s called The Dead Canary and it’s only identifiable by an empty birdcage and a doorbell on the wall outside. Ring the bell and head inside for live jazz and strong cocktails – but book ahead at peak times or you’ll be turned away.
The Dead Canary, Barrack Lane, Cardiff, CF10 2FR, thedeadcanary.co.uk
14. Getting the inside info on Cardiff’s street food is simple
— DEPOT (@DepotCardiff) November 27, 2015
With Cardiff’s street food warehouse The DEPOT planning more regular weekend openings this year, now is the time to sign up for their mailing list. This way, you’ll get to find out what independent food traders they’re expecting each weekend, a bit more about the people behind them, and a preview of what’ll be on the menu that weekend.
The Depot, Construction House, Dumballs Road, Cardiff, CF10 5FE depotcardiff.com
15. You don’t have to eat all 3 courses in one place
Casual dining in Cathays or Canton can be more fun than the bright lights and big chains of the city centre. Head to a little family-run restaurant like Cafe Malaysia for epic noodles and Asian curries, then head a couple of doors down and finish your meal in another independent, like Coco Gelato! The combinations are almost endless.
Café Malaysia, 101 Woodville Road, Cardiff, CF24 4DY, cafemalaysia.co.uk
16. In fact, you don’t have to eat 3 courses at all
— CoCo Gelato (@cocosgelato) November 25, 2015
If ice cream is your weakness, why not skip the starter and the main all together? At Coco Gelato, you can spend £23.95 on an absolute monster serving of seven scoops of gelato, a pile of fresh waffles, whipped cream and a whole host of toppings. You won’t need to eat for a week!
Coco Gelato, 133b Woodville Road, Cardiff, CF24 4DZ, cocogelato.co.uk
17. There’s a secret Korean pop-up inside a falafel cafe
The ‘Secret K Garden’ popped up inside the Falafel Cafe on Crwys Road last year, serving up Korean favourites like Bi Bim Bap to Cardiff foodies in the know. It has promised to return in 2016 – follow them on Facebook to hear it first – this really is an insider secret.
Secret K Garden, 76 Crwys Rd, Cardiff, CF24 4NP facebook.com/secretkgarden
18. And a whole host of pop-ups inside a tea-room
The Wyndham Tea rooms in the old Victorian Wyndham Arcade in town often plays host to pop-up events after hours. From an Italian Wine evening to a vegan fine-dining feast, there have been all sorts of mini-events here over the last few months. Keep an eye on their Twitter feed to see what’s coming up in 2016.
Wyndham Tea, Wyndham Arcade, The Hayes, Cardiff, CF10 1FH, waterlootea.com/pages/city-centre
19. You CAN drink 10 different beers in a night
Our guest board is looking good even if we do say so ourselves! A few sours on for the folks taking it easy in Jan. pic.twitter.com/SS6peRClKD
— BrewDog Cardiff (@BrewDogCardiff) January 5, 2016
No, really. Sample three craft beers at a time (and without getting blind drunk) by ordering a ‘beer flight’ next time you are at Urban Taphouse or Brewdog – three third-pint servings of different beers for you to try.
20. There IS such a thing as a posh chippy tea
If you head to Rock & Malt in Pontcanna, that is. Expect super crispy batter, mushy peas, and even a wedge of lemon with your order – it still comes wrapped up in paper though!
Rock and Malt, 89a Wyndham Crescent, Canton, Cardiff, CF11 9EG rockandmalt.com
21. …And a vegan fry up
Though ‘Vegan’ and ‘Fry Up’ aren’t usually words you would associate with eachother, at Anna Loka, it’s a reality and it’s delicious. Crispy seitian rashers and sausages are served with tofu scramble – every bit as satisfying as the meaty version!
Anna Loka, 114 Albany Road, Cardiff, CF24 3RU, anna-loka.com
22. But you can’t beat a good peanut butter & jelly burger
— Got Beef™ (@Gotbeefco) August 27, 2015
So dodge the burger chains and keep it Welsh by heading to Got Beef on Witchurch Road – here you can sample a Welsh black beef, peanut butter, bacon and beer-jelly burger. You can thank us later.
83 Whitchurch Rd, Cardiff, South Glamorgan CF14 3JP, gotbeef.co.uk
23. Great food doesn’t always have to be ‘authentic’
Foodies make much ado about the authenticity of what they eat – it seems that the the more authentic the recipe, the better the meal. It’s not always the case though – at Katiwok, their Western twist on Indian street food means tasty fusions like Asian Pizza and Spicy Masala Fries. It’s great value too.
KatiWok, 53 Crwys Road, Cardiff, CF24 4ND, katiwok.co.uk
24. There IS such a thing as healthy pizza
— HungryCityHippy ✌️ (@HungryCityHippy) November 28, 2015
At the Pure Kitchen in Cardiff Bay, the focus is on ‘clean eating’ and they love all things paleo too, so it’s great if you’re following that diet plan. Order the pizza – with a base made from cauliflower (yes, really) – and feel smug as you chow down.
The Flourish, Lloyd George Ave, Cardiff CF10 4QH, thepurekitchen.co.uk
25. And finally, doing a good deed can be a tasty experience
— Pizza Pronto (@pizzapenarth) December 4, 2015
At Pizza Pronto in Cardiff Bay (they also have a Penarth hut) you can buy yourself a tasty pizza, then reserve an extra one for a homeless person for just £1. The #Eat1Feed1 initiative is an easy way to do something good – and of course, you get a feeding, too.
Pizza Pronto, 7-8 Bute Crescent, Cardiff, CF10 5AN, pizzaprontopenarth.co.uk
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Main image: Got Beef Cardiff