In recent years, the Cardiff food scene has come a long way. One of the world’s busiest port towns, it’s a cosmopolitan, diverse city – and this is reflected in its culinary offering, with a wealth of cuisines on offer, from French to Indian and everything in between. While once dominated by chain restaurants, a flurry of independent eateries have popped up over the past decade: both fine dining and more casual bistro-style offerings. Here we bring you the best restaurants in Cardiff, stretching from the ever-buzzing waterfront to the city centre and the chic Pontcanna area.
Best Restaurants in Cardiff For 2023
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Cosy neighbourhood cafe and restaurant Milkwood is located in the leafy suburb of Pontcanna, one of the most stylish parts of the city. During the week it serves a great breakfast and lunch, and on Friday and Saturday nights there’s a small plates menu on offer – with all dishes designed to make the most of the bountiful local produce (suppliers including non-profit social enterprise Cardiff Salad Garden and E Ashton Fishmongers). Head there for brunch to tuck into big piles of waffles (topped with buttermilk fried chicken, if you please), and big cooked breakfasts, or visit in the evening for the likes of Cornish cod with cauliflower, and BBQ chicken thigh skewers with kimchi. Pair with a Negroni Spagliato to channel House of Dragon’s Emma D’Arcy.
83 Pontcanna St, Pontcanna, Cardiff CF11 9HS, milkwoodcardiff.com
Widely accepted as one of the best spots for Indian in Cardiff is Purple Poppadom, located between the junctions of Wyndham Crescent and Severn Road. It was founded by Anand George back in 2007, who learnt his craft back home in Kochi, Kerala as well as across various top London kitchens. His aim was to change the way Indian food is viewed, focusing on more subtle flavours rather than over-spicing. On the menu you’ll find dishes inspired by his childhood, like Aloo Tikki – potato cake served on a bed of chickpeas, plus signatures like the Tiffin Sea Bass: pan-seared sea bass served on a bed of curry leaf infused mashed potato. It has won multiple awards over the years – and if you’re feeling inspired, there’s also a Purple Poppadom cookery school where you’ll learn the tricks of the trade from George himself.
185a Cowbridge Road East,upper floor, Cardiff CF11 9AJ, purplepoppadom.com
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Also found in Pontcanna, this French restaurant is something of a stalwart in the city, having been founded by Russell Bullimore back in 1996. Expect eclectic interiors and a friendly, informal atmosphere, well-suited to couples, friends and families alike. Seasonal Welsh produce is used to create bistro-style dishes – this winter, that includes the likes of spiced cauliflower steak with Thai butter, guinea fowl with fondant potato and chicken herb jus, and Welsh fillet tartare with Pecorino Romano. The restaurant does a great Sunday roast too, and there’s a carefully curated French wine list.
5 Romilly Cres, Pontcanna, Cardiff CF11 9NP, bullysrestaurant.co.uk
Top-quality food is served amid relaxed surroundings at Heathcock, a much-loved pub on Bridge Street. Head chef Dave has been a part of the team since its beginnings, and spearheads a seasonal menu which makes the most of the bountiful Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff produce – some grown in the restaurant’s own kitchen garden. Everything is made from scratch in the kitchen, from the sourdough bread to the fresh pasta and menus change twice a day to reflect what’s available that day. To give you an idea, though, recent dishes have included potato gnocchi with wine braised octopus, pheasant with smoked bacon and leek pie, and ricotta dumplings with butternut squash and sage – and a sharing-style format is encouraged, though there is a tasting menu on offer too.
58-60 Bridge St, Cardiff CF5 2EN, heathcockcardiff.com
Small plates and natural wines are the focus for local favourite Nook, tucked away opposite Victoria Park. Carefully sourced ingredients sit at the heart of the regularly changing menu, which features creative dishes packed with flavour. Begin with some focaccia and sweet friggitelli peppers ahead of a mix of meat, fish and veggie plates, like delica pumpkin with taleggio, mussels with nduja butter, Welsh aged florentine steak and hasselback potatoes with aioli. For dessert, there’s milk pannacotta with pistachio, or lemon polenta cake. All this can be paired with organic and biodynamic wines, and enjoyed amid the restaurant’s small, vibrant setting.
587 Cowbridge Rd E, Cardiff CF5 1BE, nookcardiff.co.uk
Great British Menu finalist Tommy Heaney and his partner Nikki’s eponymous restaurant is a relatively new addition to the Pontcanna food scene, having opened in 2018 following a successful Kickstarter campaign. A lot of thought went into creating the perfect atmosphere: dimmed lighting, DJs and lots of interaction from the kitchen helps achieve a fun vibe, and guests of all ages are welcome, including families. Food is fresh and simple, with a regularly changing tasting menu focusing on fish. That could include seabass with miso and smoked dulse butter, trout with yuzu and coal oil, and Welsh beef with black garlic, with the option to pair your dishes with biodynamic and organic wines from all over the world.
6-10 Romilly Cres, Pontcanna, Cardiff CF11 9NR, heaneyscardiff.co.uk
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Your best bet for vegan food in Cardiff is Anna Loka, the brainchild of Hare Krishna monk Adam, who set out to create somewhere fully plant-based, where vegans could go without worrying about cross-contamination of dishes. Open from breakfast through to dinner, it offers meat-free twists on classic dishes, from kebab bowls made with seitan to ‘tofish and chips’, alongside a wide range of burgers and wraps. For a dose of health pair with one of the ‘sacred juices’ or shakes (but wine is also available if that’s more your vibe).
114 Albany Rd, Cardiff CF24 3RU, anna-loka.com
One of the most renowned fine dining restaurants in Cardiff is Park House, a French-inspired spot housed in a Grade I listed gothic building in Cardiff’s old district. It used to be a private members’ club, and is now open to everyone – though there’s still an exclusive feel. The menu is refined and uses classical French techniques, with current dishes including chestnut gnocchi, Cornish lobster ravioli, and free-range roasted chicken with confit leeks and black truffle. Diners can also go for the tasting menu – either six or nine courses – paired with wines from the award-winning list. It’s perfect for special occasions, and there’s a private dining room if you’re after something more intimate.
20 Park Pl, Cardiff CF10 3DQ, parkhouserestaurant.co.uk
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