‘If you consider yourself to be a real foodie, hunting out the best restaurants and spending weekends checking out the local farmers’ market for top-notch ingredients, then choosing where to go on holiday can be something of a minefield…’
All too often, you choose a destination and head off, full of excitement, only to find that the opportunities for eating out are limited, to say the least. There is a better way, though, and that is to research the very best foodie destinations in advance, and then map your holiday around those places – a foodie road-trip, if you like!
With Wales rapidly becoming known as something of a foodie hotspot within the UK, it’s the perfect place to try out this approach, so we’ve put together some of the very best Welsh places for indulging your inner gourmet. All you have to do is choose the ones you want to experience, and then stitch together a holiday to include them all.
The best food festivals in Wales
One of the UK’s most famous food festivals takes place in Abergavenny each year, in September. With over 35,000 people attending across the whole weekend, the festival takes over the town, with events and tastings at venues throughout the town and further afield.
There are markets to explore, expert tasting sessions, a cookery school, and plenty of opportunities to sample some incredible street food. In the evenings, there are full-on dining options, as well as live music and entertainment. There’s enough here to fill a long weekend away, but Abergavenny is also perfectly placed for combining the food festival with a longer holiday spent exploring the magnificent Brecon Beacons.
Abergavenny might be the headline food festival in Wales, but there are plenty of others to choose from. Cowbridge, in the Vale of Glamorgan, is a chic little town with plenty of independent boutiques and some great pubs and restaurants. Its food and drink festival takes place at the end of May, so it’s perfect for a late spring break.
Other great festivals to check out include the Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, which takes place in July, in the gorgeous harbour town of Aberaeron, and the three-day Cardiff Food and Drink Festival, in July.
The best farmers’ markets in Wales
If you’re a real foodie, then the chances are that your love of good food doesn’t just cover food prepared by other people – you love to cook for yourself, too. A meal is only ever as good as the ingredients that go into it, of course, which is why we all love a good farmers’ market, packed with artisan producers offering the freshest local produce.
There are quite a few markets spread throughout Wales, but the best has to be St. Dogmaels, which is so good that in 2016, it was recognised by the BBC as the best local producers’ market in the UK. St. Dogmaels itself is a charming village just down the road from Cardigan, and it makes a great base for a holiday exploring Cardigan Bay. You could even take a boat trip out into the bay to catch your own mackerel – a fabulous experience if you are staying in a self-catering cottage.
Some of the other great farmers’ markets to check out include Cardiff’s Riverside Market, the three (yes, three!) markets that take place in various locations in Swansea, and Brecon’s monthly market. All of these places also make great bases for a holiday in Wales, as they are all in amazing locations that are surrounded by stunning scenery and plenty of things to see and do.
The best restaurants in Wales
One of the best parts of any holiday is the opportunity to go out to dinner, enjoying some excellent food in fantastic surroundings. Whether your idea of a top dining experience is dinner in a Michelin-starred eaterie or enjoying street food on a harbour wall, Wales has so much to offer.
If you’re holidaying in the south-eastern corner of Wales, you could go all out and enjoy dinner at no less than three Michelin-starred restaurants: James Sommerin at Penarth, The Whitebrook in Monmouth and The Walnut Tree, at Llandewi Skirrid.
Further north, choose from Ynyshir, in the charming town of Machynlleth, Tyddyn Llan, in Llandrillo, or Sosban and the Old Butchers, in Menai Bridge. Whichever of these amazing places you choose, be sure to book well in advance, as their Michelin stars guarantee that tables are much in demand.
Stepping down from the lofty heights of Michelin recognition, there are still plenty of amazing places to discover. With so much coastline, it’s no surprise to find that there are some truly incredible fish and seafood restaurants in Wales.
Head to Aberystwyth to find Pysgoty, for some inspirational fish and seafood dishes. This restaurant’s outside eating area looks out across Cardigan Bay, and is simply stunning as the sun sets across the bay. Other great fish restaurants include Cardiff’s Fish at 85, and The Harbour Master, in Milford Haven. If you haven’t already tried it, make sure you sample that most Welsh of delicacies, laver bread – an edible seaweed that is sublime with shellfish or served warm, on buttered toast.
Wales is not just known for its amazing seafood though – it’s also earned a name for the quality of its pasture-fed lamb and beef, with many restaurants working to showcase the provenance and superb quality of the local meats available.
Asador, in Cardiff, serves exquisite rare breed steaks using a custom-built Asador grill, whilst Steak Frites, in Colwyn Bay, does exactly what it says on the tin – its menu has just one item on it, and you guessed it, it’s steak and fries! But oh, what a joyful meal this is, with the steak cooked to perfection, and served with exquisite fries and a fresh green salad. Sometimes, the simplest things really are the best!
The best street food in Wales
Rounding off our tour of the best foodie destinations in Wales, we take a look at the street food scene across the country. It might be poo-pooed by some food connoisseurs, but street food has come a long way in recent years, and some amazing meals can be found served from the back of a converted van by a passionate chef. Try a vegetarian Glamorgan Crumble from The Parsnipship, at markets in Swansea and Cardiff, or track down Miniyaki’s for some awesome Japanese Soul Food in and around Cardiff.
Cardiff actually has its own street food market, called Sticky Fingers, and it’s open from Thursdays to Sundays each week. From tandoori chicken roti to the most amazing grilled cheese sandwich you have ever tasted, Sticky Fingers is a great concept that is really generating a buzz in Wales’ capital city.
Up in Holyhead, Anglesey, there’s even a street food restaurant, serving Mexican, American, Italian, Korean and Asian street food – it sounds a chaotic mix, but it really works, and the restaurant is rapidly gaining a loyal fan base.
Hungry yet? We hope we’ve well and truly whetted your appetite to explore Wales. With so many amazing foodie locations to explore, it might be hard to find time for sightseeing, but Wales is an incredible country with some of the most breathtaking scenery in the UK, so make sure you take in more than just sensational food when you visit!
This article was written by Wales Tourists Online
About Wales Tourists Online
Wales Tourists Online (WTO) is a specialist holiday accommodation search engine, exclusively for Wales. With everything from self-catering cottages and B&Bs to glamping pods and campsites, it’s the easy way to plan a holiday in Wales.