Looking for Cardiff restaurants? Here are our favourite restaurants near Cardiff station and in the Welsh capital. The best foodie spots include a tasting menu at Heaneys, coffee at Big Moose Coffee Co and brunch at The Early Bird. Check out our ideas for eating and drinking in Cardiff, from Queen Street to Cardiff city centre and beyond…


Best restaurants in Cardiff

Curado – best Spanish tapas

Curado, a pintxos bar created by pioneering Welsh deli brand Ultracomida, offers relaxed Spanish tapas with dishes such as chargrilled lamb cutlets with a garlic and parsley picada, baked Valencian goat’s cheese or cuttlefish a la plancha. Want to prolong the night? Next door, snug sister bar, Vermut, specialises in sherry and the eponymous herbal wine.


People conversing at Vermut bar

Bacareto – best Italian bites

Inspired by living in Venice during its art biennale, the owners of Cardiff art space and skate park Spit & Sawdust launched this homage to Venetian bacari: the small, back-street bars where cicchetti snacks flow alongside gluggable wines and zingy spritz cocktails. However, Bacareto is no slavish recreation of the form. Its menu is at least 50% vegan and includes some modish Britalian snacks, such as leek and cheddar arancini with burnt leek salt. Toppings on chef Owen Bowley’s crostini counter range from the classic Venetian baccalà mantecato (house-cured salt fish whipped with olive oil) to new wavers such as cashew ricotta with pickled carrot, or blue cheese, honey and walnut on rye.


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Heaneys – best diner and deli

Having moved into the site that was previously home to Arbennig, which owners John and Ceri Cook closed in May, Tommy Heaney - of Great British Menu fame - has finally opened his Kickstarter-funded diner. After a brief pop-up in the adjoining deli, the full launch has won over the locals, with a slicked-back bistro vibe and a choice between a set tasting menu (think oysters, beef tartare, cured monkfish, crispy quail and BBQ Welsh lamb) or more affordable lunch options (try the brill with sweetcorn, kale, Iberico Pancetta and smoked hollandaise). The Sunday roast is worthy of a return visit, but look out also for an impressive guest chef line up with the likes of Chris Harrod (The Whitebrook), Josh Eggleton (The Pony & Trap) and Michael Bremner (64 Degrees) all taking over the kitchen in 2019.


Read our full restaurant review of Heaneys restaurant in Cardiff here.

Heaney's restaurant Cardiff
Heaney's restaurant Cardiff

Milkwood – best seasonal bistro

A short stroll from Heaneys, Milkwood is the latest venture from the trio behind The Potted Pig, Porro, The Lansdowne and The Grange. After only a year in business, Milkwood - with its relaxed local clientele, extensive wine list and small but perfectly executed seasonal menu (try the ricotta gnudi with artichokes) - is the only new addition into the Michelin Guide 2019 for Cardiff, proving that chefs Tom Furlong and Gwyn Myring have continued to thrive, long after a fateful meeting in the kitchen of what was once Cibo Italian, housed in the very spot that Milkwood now calls home. Some things are just meant to be…


Milkwood restaurant Cardiff

The Classroom – best set lunch menu

A student canteen doesn’t often come as a recommendation when exploring a city’s gastronomical delights, but then not many educational establishments offer a memorable meal with panoramic views. Housed on the top floor of the Cardiff and Vale College, the floor-to-ceiling glass dining room showcases Wales’ future culinary talent, under the watchful eye of renowned industry professionals. The bargain three-course set lunch menu (think lamb sweetbreads, Snowdonia Black Bomber crème brûlée, roast pheasant and cardamom panacotta) is accompanied with bread from the on-site bakery. A heads up, though, it’s not such a hidden secret anymore so booking is essential.


Read our full review of The Classroom restaurant in Cardiff here.

The Classroom restaurant Cardiff
The Classroom, Cardiff

Dusty Knuckle – best pizza in Cardiff

A champion of the Slow Food movement, Phill Lewis has taken his love of seasonal, fresh ingredients and run with it, moving from pop-up to permanent pizzeria in The Printhaus’ outdoor courtyard in Canton. A recent win at the Sustainable Restaurant Food Awards is testament to Dusty Knuckle’s honest offering. With a dough to rival a Napolitano recipe, Phill’s efforts have secured a seal of approval from the culinary home of pizza, with an invitation to trade at the exclusive Italian food festival Dit Unto. Thanks to the unshakeable base, the team are left to play with seasonal toppings, from local cheese, vegetables, meat and seafood (typical offerings include the Blas Y Mor with San Marzano tomatoes, Fior Di Latte, lardons, Penclawdd cockles, laverbread and samphire). Come for the pizza, stay for the biodynamic wines and craft beers.


Dusty knuckle pizza, Cardiff
Dusty knuckle pizza, Cardiff

Asador 44 – Spanish grill and wine house

“The Spanish do family eating as well as any place on Earth, so we wanted to replicate that, with added Welsh warmth of hospitality and lots of wine,” says Owen Morgan, co-owner of Asador 44 in the heart of Cardiff. One of the Sunday highlights at this Spanish grill restaurant is the 60-day, dry-aged, coal-roast rump of Hereford beef with roast potatoes, manteca yorkshire pudding (made using the spiced fat from ibérico ham, smoked morcilla and pancetta), charred purple-sprouting broccoli, and rioja and bone marrow gravy. For the veggies, there’s grilled cauliflower, jerusalem artichoke purée, capers and raisins. Ribs of beef on the bone, whole suckling pigs and legs of milk-fed Castilian lamb are also available to share.


Best cafés in Cardiff

Big Moose Coffee Co

Another Kickstarter success story for the city, this time serving up coffee with a conscience, Big Moose Coffee is tucked on Frederick Street, off the main thoroughfare of the city centre, and returns all profits from the business to help homeless people back into work. Founder Jeff Smith and daughter Chloe now run the cafe, while the industrial interiors and Instagrammable neon signs welcome a loyal fan base with the familiarity of an old friend. The café’s homemade cakes (don’t miss the apple sponge with peanut butter frosting) sell out in hours and the doorstop sandwiches, made with local Pettigrew Bakeries sourdough, and made-to-order fluffy omelettes are a big hit.


Big moose restaurant Cardiff
Big moose, Cardiff

Waterloo Gardens Teahouse, Cardiff

Now up to five branches in and around Cardiff (the original Gardens in suburban Penylan is 15 years old this year), Waterloo sells more than 50 teas, many imported directly from Asia and brewed with exacting care. From the finest, full-flavoured Assam to delicate Silver Needle white tea from China’s Yunnan province, Waterloo covers all bases. And in cakes, too. As well as sandwiches and scones, Waterloo’s afternoon tea comes with a variety of mini desserts and macarons from the acclaimed, plant-based Pâtisserie Verte. Owner, Thibault Courtoisier, won Channel 4’s Bake Off:The Professionals in 2020.


Secret Garden

If you’re after a walled garden cafe with as much beauty as substance, then wander through the tree-lined paths of Bute Park, to find this independent set up. The team, run by Mel Boothman, (search out Penylan Pantry in Waterloo Gardens for her other culinary gold star) serves a killer coffee from local roastery Hard Lines, and a simple-but-delicious menu of organic veggies, seasonal soups, chunky frittatas, salads and creative cakes (grab a honey salted brownie or slice of the vegan chocolate and coconut loaf). Potted herbs, planted for the launch in April 2018, are now abundantly used in the café’s dishes, with honey coming from three resident hives in the park. Dogs are welcome, too, and a canopy and cosy blankets make it a year round option, no matter the weather.


Secret garden, Cardiff
Secret garden, Cardiff

Best food shops in Cardiff

Cardiff Market

Few places in the Welsh capital can claim to be a historic institution but Central Market proudly bears the title. Wandering under its Victorian glass ceiling is like taking a step back in time, with two floors of stalls that can fulfil almost every need. Need an aubergine for that recipe tonight? Cardiff Market. A fresh catch of siwen? Try Ashton’s in Cardiff Market. Not forgetting a fresh batch of Welsh cakes, hot off the griddle. Some stalls have been in residence for decades, others are new kids on the block. Of the latter, pick up the best cheeses at the Cheese Pantry and Holy Yolks’ scotch egg bar is a thing of beauty.


Cardiff market
Cardiff market


We all know that single-use plastic is a bad thing for the environment, and many of us have made great efforts to reduce our consumption this year.

Ripple, by former food writer Sophie Rae, opened in Cardiff in November 2018, and stocks some 160 bulk whole foods, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, cereals and dried fruits, as well as Welsh yogurt, eggs and milk, local kombucha with a glass bottle return scheme, plus pump-dispensed detergents, cleaning supplies and dishwasher powder, and much more.


Best street food spots in Cardiff

Sticky Fingers

A newcomer with high hopes, this happy gathering of the best street food ventures the city has to offer has recently opened in the basin of the Old Brewery Quarter. Trading Thursday to Sunday, the indoor market houses three bars and five permanent kitchens: The Two Anchors (doing dangerously good things with the freshest catch from Ashton’s nearby), Hoof (burgers worth shouting about), award-winning grilled cheese from Mr Croquewich, pizza from The Original Goodfillas and spice and all things nice (not least the fried chicken roti) from Makasih.


Sticky Fingers, Cardiff
Sticky Fingers, Cardiff

Best wine bars in Cardiff

Wright’s Wines

An offshoot of the brilliant family-run Wright’s Food Emporium at Llanarthney on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, this wine bar in Cardiff’s Victorian-built Castle Arcade is certainly compact but it goes big on natural wines from small growers, served by the glass and bottle. With so little space, the food menu is understandably concise but includes coppa and piccalilli, and a welsh rarebit and leek sandwich. Visit on Sundays when it sells any bottle at ‘shelf price’ with no corkage if you drink it on the premises, which essentially means a saving of more than a third.


A Victorian-built shopping arcade is home to Wright's Wines. There is a small sign outside the shop which reads 'Wright's Wines' with line drawings of wine bottles in the background


Tucked away between the Principality Stadium and the hazy lights of St Mary Street, next door to sister restaurant Curado, this pint-sized, backstreet bar will take you straight to Andalucia with its cheerful yellow walls, colourful Spanish tiling and seriously impressive collection of vermouth, sherry and Montilla-Moriles wine (another dry, sherry-like wine).

The best way to navigate the comprehensive menu is to start with something on draft: there are two vermouths from Madrid (white or red) and two Montilla-Moriles wines. Once you’ve discovered what you like, there’s a huge variety to explore by the glass, bottle or cocktail.

If you’re a sucker for a martini, the Morriña is a must. This take on the classic tipple uses Axta Vermouth Blanco, with olive-oil-washed Nordes Gin lending savoury notes and a glossy mouthfeel to the drink. Spritz fans can build their own – choose a red or white vermouth base; add cava or sparkling Spanish cider; and then top with soda, Vichy Catalan or lemonade.

Food-wise, cured meats and Spanish cheeses are the obvious choice, as well as cold plates such as fresh sardines pickled in white wine vinegar and carpaccio of smoked tuna with salsa verde.

curadobar.com/vermut. You can also buy all of their vermouths, sherries and wines here.

Click here for the best wine bars across the country

Images By @yonyphotography
Images By @yonyphotography

Words by Kathryn Lewis, Sophie Rae and Mark Taylor

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