North Wales foodie guide: where locals eat and drink
From rainbow-hued Menai mussels to Halen Môn sea salt caramel ice cream and a library that makes its own scones, North Wales is brimming with rare foodie finds
Looking for Llandudno restaurants? Want to know where to eat in Anglesey? Charlotte Morgan shares her insider tips for the best restaurants in North Wales, along with where to find the best organic seaweed gin, lobster mac ’n’ cheese and sea salt caramel ice cream. Check out more Welsh weekend getaway ideas here.
Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias, Colwyn Bay – for fresh seafood
Right next to Porth Eirias beach is a bistro headed by Great British Menu chef Bryn Williams, who grew up in a town less than 20 miles away. It’s an easy-going kind of place, with an open kitchen and sea-blue banquettes. Given its location, seafood takes precedence – try a mega fish pie made from chunks of salmon, smoked haddock and cod (all caught in local waters), or roast prawns with seaweed mayonnaise. There’s also a proudly Welsh drinks menu that includes Dà Mhìle organic seaweed gin.
Two Islands Ice Cream, Abersoch – for small batch ice cream
Come here for ice cream made “the proper way” – that is, with Welsh milk, Welsh cream, eggs and sugar, churned on-site in small batches. Try a scoop of smooth, pastel-green mint and choc chip flavour (made with local mint and brittle chocolate tempered on-site), or look out for specials like Halen Môn sea salt caramel – ask for the latter to be rolled in seeded nut brittle, for extra crunch. There’s also a counter heaving with homemade bakes including hazelnut brownie cookies, and a sun-trap garden lined with sea grasses and weathered cladding.
Dylan’s Restaurant, Menai Bridge – for outdoor dining
Situated in a prime position overlooking the Menai Strait, Dylan’s probably has the best views of any restaurant in this area, especially if you manage to nab one of the large window-side tables. In warmer months, pick a terrace table for panoramic views of the distant Grade I listed Menai Suspension Bridge. Seafood is their speciality, with fresh Menai mussels taking centre stage – sweeter, smaller and more brightly-coloured than standard rope-grown ones – steamed in white wine, shallots, garlic and cream. Gourmet burgers and pizzas are also on the menu, as well as an extensive range of vegan options (try the sweet potato tacos or Thai Green vegetable curry). Dylan's has also opened restaurants in Llandudno and Criccieth.
Bodnant Welsh Food, Colwyn Bay – for North Welsh produce
This place has everything: three restaurants, a coffee bar, a cookery school, and a family-run farm shop stocked with a deli, bakery, butchers and wine cellar. It’s a showcase for North Welsh produce, from the mussels served at The Hayloft (caught in nearby Menai) to the farm shop’s Black Bomber extra mature cheddar, made less than 20 miles away by the Snowdonia Cheese Company. Stay over at the adjoining six-bedroom stone farmhouse, complete with smart, comfortable bedrooms and Conwy estuary views.
Providero Coffee, Llandudno Junction – for bean-to-bar hot chocolate
The original Providero, a timber-clad coffee shop in Llandudno Junction, opened in 2014, followed three years later by a mini-version in nearby Llandudno. Both sites focus on ethically sourced and traded coffee, but also serve loose-leaf teas and lunchtime specials like beetroot, chickpea and mint smash on toast. Try a flat white made with creamy, banana-tasting Brazilian Caparao beans, hand-roasted by North Welsh coffee company, Heartland. Or order a real hot chocolate provided by nearby Baravelli’s, the first chocolatier in Wales to make bean-to-bar chocolate from scratch.
Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden – for homemade scones
Founded by Victorian statesman William Gladstone in 1894, Gladstone’s Library (housed in a Grade I listed neo-gothic mansion in the village of Hawarden) is Britain’s only residential library – you can sleep there, in one of 26 bedrooms. After a day of quiet study in the hushed reading rooms (choose from nearly 150,000 printed items), or a homemade scone with help-yourself cream and local jam at the library’s Food for Thought bistro, head upstairs to your bedroom, complete with book-print wallpaper and countryside views.
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Saltcote and Visitor Centre, Menai Strait – for salt
Loved the salt in your Two Islands salted caramel ice cream? Halen Môn has invested £1.25m into a new timber-clad saltcote (where its salt is made) and adjoining visitor centre, right on the banks of the Menai Strait. Join a guided tour around the saltcote, take part in a tutored salt-tasting, and eat local salt marsh lamb at the Tide café. There’s also a gift shop (spot the quirky light fitting, made from local driftwood), where you can pick up goodies such as oak-smoked water and, of course, pure white sea salt.
Hawarden Estate Farm Shop, Flintshire – for a family day out
The village of Hawarden has a lot going for it. As well as the aforementioned Gladstone Library, there’s also a 20-acre estate that’s home to a mega farm shop (complete with award-winning butchery; try the homemade black pudding) and deli, a food hall rammed with independent Welsh produce, a free nature trail, an occasional supper club and a pick-your-own fruit farm during the summer months. Oh, and don’t forget to try the minted Welsh lamb kebabs at the café and general store, set inside a converted shipping container. Sister pub The Glynne Arms (also in the village) is another spot worth detouring to; try perl las soufflé with truffle cream and pickled pear, Welsh rarebit with chipolatas and red wine onions or pressed leek terrine with scorched onion, allium seed and wholegrain mustard.
Where to stay in Llandudno – Bodysgallen Hall
It’s position, high on Pydew Mountain, means Bodysgallen Hall offers guests crystal-clear views of Snowdonia and Conwy Castle. There are also 200 acres of wooded parkland and formal gardens to enjoy, an oak-panelled library where afternoon tea is served, an on-site spa, and four different types of bedroom to stay in, including six stone cottages with meadow views. Take a stroll in a 17th century parterre, filled with sweet-scented flowers, before a dinner of roast scallops with gremolata made from Bodysgallen’s own wild garlic, home-grown baby beetroot with Welsh feta, and butter-poached local sea bass.
All hotels have been chosen independently by our editorial team. This page contains affiliate links and we may receive a small commission for purchases made, but this comes at no extra cost to you and helps us to continue providing top-quality content for our loyal readers.
Words by Charlotte Morgan, January 2020
Images: Ioan Said Photography