Ollie Campesinos!’ Guide to Cardiff
Cardiff is a city that is rapidly changing. When I first visited it when my sister was studying at the University, the Bay redevelopment hadn’t even happened. Now with a major redevelopment in the centre, it is becoming the capital city that Wales deserves. In this guide I’ll show you where to eat, drink, shop and enjoy what Cardiff has to offer.
If you are West of the river go to Tuck In for a massive breakfast which has both chips and hash browns. A perfect breakfast if you are hungover or jetlagged. This place has become an institution on Cowbridge Road East - it's always mobbed at the weekends.
If you are East of the river go to Elma’s. It’s the hottest breakfast in town. It's full of cabbies and the bloke that owns it is super friendly and will give you extras, like Bubble and Squeak, free of charge. We took Dananananaykroyd there once and as there was so many of us we got a free round of drinks.
You can’t talk about Cardiff without mentioning Spiller’s Records, the world's oldest record store and a proud supporter of the Cardiff music scene. You can find everything from the newest releases such as No Age to the whole Little My back catalogue.
Cardiff Central Market is full of everything you could ever need from fresh fish, to Welsh Cakes, to curtain material.
So, in a city guide why should I tell you to go to the St. David's centre and check out the new Apple Store or the Cult shop? Don’t! Cardiff is full of some amazing Victorian Shopping arcades with some brilliant shops selling antiques, cameras and clothes.
Check out The Plan for the best coffee in the city. It also serves a wide range of dishes including vegan and vegetarian options. It has an upstairs with a balcony where you can watch the barista make your espresso. Garlands is a proper quaint tea shop, even down to the revolving cake stand. Food ranges from a Black Pudding and Pear Salad to jacket potatoes. The coleslaw is the best I’ve ever had. For massive sandwiches go to New York Deli - run by a true American who's not afraid to fill your sandwich so much that you can’t fit your mouth around it. For those of you who have been to NYC this is as close as it gets.
For the Tourist fix
Cardiff centre is dominated by the Castle. Dating back to Roman times, it is a proper castle. With a major refurbishment recently it is definitely worth a visit. Moreover, if you live in Cardiff, it's free entry! Whilst you’re there check out Bute Park.
The Cardiff Museum and Gallery is worth a visit with an interesting Natural History section and a gallery that includes works by Van Gogh and Rembrandt. The newly opened Cardiff Bay Barrage Walk allows you to walk across the bay to Penarth. You get to see Cardiff from an entirely new perspective. From here it's only a ten minute walk to Penarth beach.
Cardiff has the luxury of having three Japanese restaurants. Go to Ichiban in Canton for good sushi and noodles. Cardiff has a lot of great Indian restaurants, but instead go to Mint and Mustard; an Indian restaurant that has won countless awards for its modern takes on the classics like Korma and Balti.
Located in the heart of studentville is The Armless Dragon, a restaurant serving Welsh cuisine. Everything is locally sourced and the menu is constantly changing.
To find me or Neil propping up the bar, go to Dempsey’s, an Irish pub. You’ll regularly find people from the Cardiff Music Community in here. It’s also home to the world famous Twisted By Design indie night.
The newly opened Cardiff Art Institute has a good selection of beers and a nice relaxed atmosphere. The new Flux=Rad night hosts free gigs. As suggested by Stacey from Gavin and Stacey, go to Buffalo Bar. A wide selection of beers and good deals on cocktails. They’ve also hosted shows including Times New Viking and Copy Haho.
Clwb Ifor Bach is the best place to go and watch bands. A supporter of the Welsh music scene, you will regularly find an up and coming Welsh band supporting a national touring group. You used to have to be able to speak Welsh to get a job here.
The newly reopened Coal Exchange down in the Bay is a beautiful venue. A building that used to have more money passing through it than the Wall Street Stock Exchange, it has hosted everything from Monsters of Folk to Mogwai. The Gate is a converted church tucked away in a residential area of Cardiff. A beautiful building for bands such as Final Fantasy and Wild Beasts who have played there. It is also an important venue for Swn.