National Geographic Traveller (UK)
This little corner of Cardiff city centre has emerged as a dining destination in recent years, with a mix of hip bars, first-rate smallplate restaurants and boutique grocers.
On the corner of Castle Arcade — one of the capital’s many Victorian covered streets — you’ll find Coffee Barker. Formally a men’s clothing shop, this Parisian-feel cafe is the place to order an expertly brewed coffee and a slice of chunky toast with jam and watch the city come to life. With tables lining the arcade, you can still sit ‘outside’ even if Cardiff’s inclement weather decides to put in an appearance.
Next, check out one of the city’s top attractions: Cardiff Castle. Contained within imposing romanesque walls are a splendid Victorian manor, a Norman keep and Second World War air raid tunnels that could shelter up to 2,000 people. Don’t miss the Animal Wall, designed in 1866 by architect William Burges and featuring 15 carved stone figures, including a hyena, lynx, pelican and vulture.
Head to Quay Street for lunch at La Pantera. Launched in 2020 by a group of friends eager to bring tacos and mezcal to the denizens of Cardiff, the brightly coloured, delightfully informal restaurant has a continuously changing menu of ‘unauthentic tacos’, with fillings such as sea bass, fried chicken, braised lamb belly and bubble and squeak.
Walk off lunch around The Castle Emporium, on nearby Womanby Street. This hub of indie shops sells everything from plants to art and skateboards to zines. If you fancy an afternoon pick-me-up, sidle over to Nata & Co for Portuguese custard tarts, or swing by Cardiff’s indoor market for Welsh cakes, hot from the bakestone.
If that puts you in the mood for booze, visit Pennyroyal, where the cocktails are as eclectic as the decor is dimly lit and mysterious. For dark and bitter flavours, try a coffee batanga; it’s laced with the three
Cs — coffee, Campari and cola — among other things.
For dinner, head around the corner to Spanish grill and bar Asador 44. Lauded by the likes of Tom Parker Bowles, it serves leg of Castillian milk-fed lamb and salt-aged Welsh flat iron steak, masterfully cooked over a charcoal grill and accompanied by wine or sherry from an impressive list.