Believe it or not, my recent trip to Cardiff was the first time I stepped foot inside the gorgeously lush landscape of Wales. Filled with lovely accents, friendly faces and the most delicious Welsh Cakes fresh from the bakery, my visit to Cardiff was everything I could have wished for, and more. I was lucky enough to stay with my friend Anna (you’ll find her on Instagram here: @fitnessgrains and @livingaveganlife) and was lovingly welcomed into their home just a short 10-minute drive from the city centre. Surrounded by green parks, the Roath Lake and wonderful cafés, this formed a perfect base for my adventures.
I shared all of my foodie finds, treats and eatings on my Instagram story, and I am so excited to now be sharing them all with you (perhaps, again) here.
“croeso i caerdydd”
Cardiff Indoor Market
First stop on my city tour was the indoor market. Who doesn’t love a local market? From the stalls selling gorgeously plump medjool dates among a rainbow array of fresh fruits and vegetables, to the beautiful bakery stands and the numerous lunch options, I was spoiled for choice. We returned several times through my visit and pictured here are some of my highlights:
What a find! A vegetarian and almost fully vegan market stall, Clancy’s seems a hidden gem among the other vendors. From falafels, lentil balls and pakora wraps available, the delicious homemade dahl, raw vegan cakes (delicious bounty bars for only £1.50!) and bakes (banana bread anyone?) to vegan sausage rolls, this stall has it all. What caught my eye however, were the shelves stacked high with every spice, superfood powder and herb you could imagine, all at really reasonable prices. I treated myself to some vibrant beetroot powder and was sorely tempted by the cacao butter, also.
I had been forewarned about Milgi’s – expect delicious and nutritious gluten free vegan food. And I was not disappointed. While we didn’t make it to the full Milgi restaurant, the market stall has a vast array of lunch and dinner bowl options as well as tasty looking raw and baked treats – I had my eye on the Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Flapjack. For me it was a no-brainer: The Rainbow Wholefood Bowl is everything I want in a buddha bowl. With baked carrot falafel, cauliflower, almond and sultana tabbouleh, red cabbage sauerkraut, chickpea hummus, steamed kale and a delicious tahini and turmeric dressing, it was a beautiful array of fresh ingredients and goes to show how exciting, varied and flavourful healthful plant-based food can be. Anna enjoyed a delicious Asian ramen-style noodle bowl packed with green vegetables, a herbed dressing, soba noodles, nori and lemongrass tofu. Other dishes that caught my eye were the Mexican Bowl with a bean chilli, sweet potato wedges and creamy dressing and the Bahn Mi sandwich with kimchi, lemongrass smoked tofu and coriander.
I loved my first (of many) Welsh Cakes from this local bakery in the Cardiff Indoor Market. I think I had one a day… simply delicious and (so I’m told) just how a Welsh Cake should be – and vegan. A firm outside with crunchy sugar, a moist and a little bit dense inside, plump sultanas finished with a touch of comforting love. These were the best. They also offer amazing twists on the original recipe with chocolate chip, lemon curd and jam variations, although these are not vegan (yet!).
Hard Lines Coffee
While we didn’t purchase anything from Hard Lines, we were immediately intrigued by their sign outdoors advertising delicious vegan cakes. Wow, did they look delicious! I am told by a trusted source that their Peanut Butter Cups are to die for, and they offer other vegan raw treats which looked divine.
From the outside, Beanfreaks doesn’t look like anything more than a cool independent health food store. While I love a good nosy round a new store, I was delighted to see that their Cardiff branch also offers fresh food. With a fridge stocked full of vegan food-to-go like ‘halloumi’ and falafel salads and sandwiches, they also have delicious vegan treats like Peanut Butter Bars and Chocolate Brownies. Then there is the juice bar! 100% fresh, natural and made just for you. On the good advice of an experienced beanfreak, I went for the Refuel Protein Smoothie which was the dream. Filled with banana, Sunwarrior vanilla plant-based protein, milk (I opted for oat rather than rice), dates and peanut butter… it was so thick and satisfying – perfect for the warmer weather.
Anna Loka, Roath
This fully vegan café and restaurant is perfect for a meal any time of day. Anna Loka offer amazing looking brunches (with a specific pancake menu section!), a lunch menu and a delicious dinner selection. I found out that ‘ANNA’ means ‘food, health or earth’ and ‘LOKA’ means ‘the world or planet’ in Sanskrit so describes perfectly how they represent an “eclectic, authentic, HEALTHY experience that facilitates principles, conscious choices but doesn’t compromise on quality of taste”.
I could have eaten anything and everything from the menu, although I knew exactly what called my attention more: Krishan’s Mighty Wholefood Bowl. Fried tofu, Bali’s peanut sauce, pilau wild rice, rosemary walnuts, avocado, pickled vegetables and tenderstem broccoli with a lime coriander dressing, decorated beautifully with edible flowers, it was the bowl of my dreams. The pilau rice had so much flavour, as did the rosemary walnuts to perfectly complement the creamy avocado and the crispy tofu. All day every day food. On the table also were the Anna-Loka Rodeo Burger – see those onion rings and delicious BBQ sauce on top of a homemade seitan patty? – the Ultimate Burger – beetroot, cashew and red lentil patty – and a ‘Fish’ Burger – battered tofu with seaweed and tartar sauce to really give the taste of the sea. We simply had to share the Peanut Butter Chocolate Slice which was heavenly! Quite rich, but a great balance between a cacao nutty base, smooth peanut butter layer and an indulgent chocolate mousse on top.
Blanche Bakery, Roath
What a gorgeous little café! Run by friendly individuals who pride themselves on their homemade vegan and dairy free bakes, Blanche Bakery is a popular café that delivers on all levels. It has a calming, modern but cosy vibe to sit alongside their colourful selection of bakes. When I visited there were only donuts available (that is never a problem with me!) but I know they also do wonderful cupcakes made to order and to go.
On a cloudy Tuesday, they offered no less than 6 different donut flavours: Chocolate Salted Caramel, Strawberries and Cream, Raspberry Ripple, Earl Grey, French Toast and Ferrero Rocher – we had a very difficult decision. So, we ordered two and decided to share, obviously. The French Toast offered sweet cinnamon flavours with a gorgeous icing, fluffy insides and fresh berries reminiscent of the much-loved brunch dish, while the Ferrero Rocher had an indulgent chocolate ‘nutella’ icing (we actually enjoyed these as decoration to homemade ginger chocolate mousse pots with cacao raw-nola). Anna also enjoyed a Strawberry Iced Coffee (gorgeous!) and I am told they do the best lattes around, all with oat milk.
Other Noteworthy Suggestions:
Fabulous Welsh Cakes
Fabulous is a gorgeous Welsh gift shop offering traditional keepsakes and freshly made Welsh Cakes from their Cardiff Bay Shop. One step inside the shop and you’re in heaven! They offer a variety of different flavoured cakes, from chocolate chip and cinnamon to extra-large and mini sultana cakes, they also make ‘fabulous’ vegan Welsh Cakes, too.
Sadly, I didn’t make it to Penylan Pantry which boasts a beautifully quaint Deli and a Café in Bute Park. The pantry is by no means vegan but has many vegan friendly options, that I am told, are delicious. They also promote local producers, the community and the environment which makes them much more than your average corner shop. They stock a wide array of pantry staples and more unusual offerings to keep your kitchen feeling vibrant.
Set back from the bustling city centre, you’ll find the gorgeous Welsh Arcades. Lined with individual and local shops, cafés and coffee shops, the fairy-light lit paths are definitely worth a wander around. On our musings we passed by Waterloo Tea in the Wyndham Arcade, and although we didn’t have time to enjoy afternoon tea here, we did go in for a look around. It has a really cosy atmosphere inside, with gorgeous and bright seating outside the café itself where guests can enjoy a selection of fine teas, savoury dishes and cakes. The best part of course is that they cater for a vegan diet. When we popped in they offered a sumptuous looking chocolate cake as well as a lemon one – this three-tiered affair is definitely on my list to do next time (I’m told its necessary to book afternoon tea a day in advance as everything is freshly made!).
Have you been to Cardiff, or are you going soon? I would love to hear of other recommendations for eating around the city and your personal highlights, as I definitely would love to visit again (in the meantime watch this space for homemade vegan Welsh Cakes…) x