By Gwen at @ohgetstuffed
When life gives you a cheeky 4-day Bank Holiday, make plans! With time off work to indulge in the good food, good drink, and good local shopping that this city has to offer, I’ve created a list of my favourite places to spend the Bank Holiday in Cardiff.
With recommendations from 90s themed retro bars, to artisan cream filled pastries, to balcony-side wood fire pizzas, you’ll be sure to find something to fill your long weekend.
Priding myself on my local foodie recommendations, and frankly always being a woman on the brink of “hanger”, when it comes to the weekend my first priority is knowing what I’m eating and how far I have to go to get it!
One of many things I love about Cardiff is how you can stroll through the city center, amidst the forever rotating high street chains, and still find an abundance of independent food places, making their own lasting mark on the city’s food scene.
You just need to know where to look…
What to Eat
Coffee Barker / Barker Tea Rooms (Breakfast – Brunch – Afternoon Tea – hella good coffee)
Location: Castle Arcade & High Street Arcade
When I think of what makes the Cardiff Arcades so darn beautiful, it is the warm candle lit tables, pristine roses and wicker benches running the length of the pedestrian walkway. Who is responsible? Allow me to welcome; the Barkers. Coffee Barker in Castle Arcade and Barker Tea Room in High Street Arcade serve some of Cardiff’s best Afternoon Tea and coffee. If you’re looking for a place where you can lounge, people watch, catch up with a friend and take in the gorgeous vintage decor, Barkers are the answer: my favourite pieces are always the tassel lined lamp shades.
My Order: hot creamy soup of the day, served in an enamel saucepan, with a mountain of crusty bread.
Don’t go to the arcades without popping into one of the many Barker Institutions – because if there is one thing Stephen Barker knows, it is good grub and instagramable decor!
Ffwrnes Pizza (Brunch – Lunch – well, it’s pizza!?)
Location: Top Floor; Cardiff Market
If you’re going to Cardiff Market, you must grab a slice of Ffwrnes. Me deciding my favourite pizza joint in Cardiff is a game of would you rather, I’d rather not play. But I will tell you that Ffwrnes is up there!
A talented gang of pizza enthusiasts who are churning out constant perfection in the form of leopard spotted Neapolitan pizzas. Small well-designed menu made with local ingredients, short waiting time and indoor seating running the length of the market balcony. Have some time whilst you’re waiting for your pizza?Google “Cardiff Market Jail” – worth a read!
My Order: the Sobrasada; Fior de latte cheese, sobrasada spreadable pork, basil and raw Welsh honey.
Pierogi (Brunch – Lunch – they may look small but Christ are they filling!)
Location: Top floor; Cardiff Market
One of the newest kids on the Cardiff Market Block; Pierogi. Specialising in authentic Polish boiled savory dumplings – experimental menu accompanied with some fusion twists! (Check out their duck and hoisin dumplings too!)
Pierogi’s constant evolving menus keep you on your toes with flavour combinations. Browse their Pierogi’s Of The Day and watch bewilderingly at the effortless fingering mechanics of the talented ladies wrapping dumplings right in front of you…Incredible; I can barely tie a shoelace properly!
My Order: white mushroom, mild cheese, onion, fresh parsley, topped with sautéed onions and fried bacon.
Hanoi 1991 (Lunch – Early Dinner – best noodle soup in town!)
Location: Royal Arcade
A taste of Vietnam, via the Royal Arcade. Hanoi 1991 is where I go when I’m feeling good, feeling bad or even feeling hangover…it’s something in that Pho broth: leaves you feeling warm, cozy and vitalised. A small welcoming menu of Traditional Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soups, Bánh mì baguettes and sticky sweet Vietnamese Coffees.
It’s always busy, because it’s always so good – so take advantage of their upstairs traditional floor booth or outside seating areas.
My Order: Homemade Beef Brisket Pho with a cup of Vietnamese Egg Coffee. Damn she thick!
La Pantera (Early Dinner – Late Dinner – da-DA-dada-DA-da-DA, Tequila!)
Location: Quay Street
If I said every time you go here you are guaranteed a party, would you believe me? Well start believing, as this corner taco bar serves experimental ‘unauthentic’ Mexican tacos, banging cocktails and a party vibe both in front and behind the kitchen counter. A dive where you can sit back, watch some Luchas Libre wrestling, down a cold one and feel like you are in a real Mexican cantina. You can’t miss the place, just look for the Neon Pink Panther.
My Order: Chiles toreados with cheese sauce and a mango marg.
What To Drink
Bank Holidays are thirsty work, so why not plan some ‘water’ stops through your long weekend to keep you hydrated!
Hard Lines Coffee (Coffee – Tea – adorable china cups; get your mugs out!)
Location: Ground floor; Cardiff Market
There is nothing better than a weekend trip to Cardiff Market and grabbing a takeaway coffee from Hard Lines. Funky little hole in the wall coffee shop which serves top quality coffees, a selection of homemade bakes, groovy playlists and bags of Hard Lines OG ground coffee, to take home and make your own brew.
My Order: Flat White; sat-in with a white choc, maple and pecan cookie
Gin and Juice (Cocktails – Wine – Fizz – Beer – all the gin. No seriously, ALL the gin!)
Location: Castle Arcade
Mr Barker up to his old tricks again; offering us a 1920’s themed gin bar, glazed with fancy furniture, crystal glasses and wall to floor framed portraits of all the stars. If gin isn’t your thing, Gin and Juice offer a wide range of high-quality wines, beers and mocktails. But if gin IS your thing, you’re in bloody heaven!
My Order: The Wrecking Coast Honey Sloe Gin with Lemon Tonic and Blackberries 34.5%
Tiny Rebel (IPAs – Stouts – Sours – dirty good pub grub!)
Location: Westgate Street
The majority of my University student loan was handed over the bar of Tiny Rebel and years after my degree, I still haven’t left. Brewed in Newport and poured in Cardiff, Tiny Rebel offers you a rollercoaster ride of mad beer names and bizarrely good flavour combinations. Some of them are bonkers! *See raspberry doughnut IPA; don’t knock it till you try it! A hipster’s dream in terms of grungy red brick design, neon lights, rock show posters and the best playlist in town.
My Order: Tiny Rebel Peaches and Cream with a basket of frickles
NQ64 (Cocktails – Beer – 90s Retro Game Bar)
Location: St Mary Street
Nintendo themed cocktails and Guitar Hero: what more does your weekend need? NQ64 is a glow in the dark game bar which will bring out your inner child and get him tipsy on some strong booze halfway through a round of Mario Kart. A perfect way to end your evening with a bit of healthy competition and neon sharpies.
My Order: Power Star Martini; Finlandia Vodka, Passionfruit, Vanilla, Mango, Hoola Hooch and a round on the dance machine
What to Buy
Cardiff is the ideal Bank Holiday shopping destination. When you don’t want the hustle and bustle of shopping center crowds, you can meander your way through the beautiful Victorian Arcades and find a selection of handcrafted trinkets to carry home.
Secret Garden Florist – A tranquil corner of a bustling marketplace offering gorgeous flower arrangements, wreaths, dried flowers and modern minimalistic flower pots. Don’t wait for someone else, buy yourself flowers; treat yo’self.
Kelly’s Records – Top floor of Cardiff Market, pick up yourself new bangers, old classics and everything in between. Lose yourself amongst shelves of album art and endless music genres. Can you really come to Cardiff and not pick up a Tom Jones LP?
Ashtons Fishmongers – A wide range of locally caught fish, oysters, prawns, crab, scallops and much more, decorated with pride awaiting your arrival at the market gates. Walk your way around the market stalls with a pot of cockles in hand; just don’t forget the vinegar and white pepper!
Wally’s – A Cardiff trip isn’t complete without a trip to Wally’s Delicatessen. The ideal spot to pick up a gift for a loved one or a kitchen essential for yourself. Specialising in a wide range of Welsh and international cheeses and Bavarian inspired meats and sausage.
Friends in Knead – When it comes to a midday pick me up during a frantic shopping trip, nothing hits the spot like Friends in Knead’s sweet praline pastries and pistachio cream filled doughnuts. Perfect with a cup of their inhouse coffee. The only struggle is not buying the lot!
Fabulous Welshcakes – After blossom spotting in Bute Park or a stroll around Cardiff Castle, a well-deserved pit stop to grab a bag of warm welsh cakes from Fabulous is a must. To keep in theme with the Platinum Jubilee, for the Bank Holiday weekend Fabulous are selling red, white and blue welsh cakes (cranberry, white chocolate and blueberries)
Bird and Blend – The ultimate tea emporium; if you’re not a tea lover, this shop will help change your mind. The welcoming staff will find your perfect blend and lead you through a tea-infused journey of the senses. Perfect gift ideas for chai loving friends or essentials to keep you brewing.