As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Mid Wales, Paul Bloomfield picks out a selection of cafés, restaurants, pubs and inns for local food and drink.
Two words sum up the food scene in Mid Wales: fresh and local. A flourishing food scene, inspired by the country's rich culinary heritage and an abundance of edible natural goodness on its doorstep, has put the region firmly on the foodie map. Wales even has its own food oscars – the True Taste Wales Food & Drink Awards, an annual event which celebrates some of the country's finest flavours.
Traditional favourites such as laverbread (confusingly not bread at all but seaweed), cockles, Bara Brith (a delicious sticky fruitcake), Welsh Cakes and Welsh Rarebit are as popular now as they've always been, and Welsh black beef and Welsh mountain lamb, cheeses and locally-produced drinks can be enjoyed in markets, festivals and food events across the region.
We have handpicked a selection restaurants, pubs, inns, and cafés which will allow you to sample the very best of Welsh food. Enjoy!
Black Mountains Smokery
Black Mountains Smokery Shop is Jo and Jonathan Carthew’s gourmet food and hamper business. Based in Crickhowell in the Brecon Beacons, they offer a UK wide mail order and gift service online or over the phone, as well as a lovely shop. Their award-winning smoked fish, meat and cheese, produced at the smokehouse, sourced with care from British suppliers are traditionally cured and naturally oak smoked. Delicious food delivered with friendly, reliable service. Don't miss a weekly Wednesday tour and tasting; an informative guided walk around the smokery including slicing demos, serving suggestions, sampling and a free product. Booking is essential to avoid disappointment on 01873 811566 smoked-foods.co.uk
Outdoor enthusiasts Carole and John have created just the sort of place they would hope to find after a long day exploring the surrounding Brecon Beacons. A short stroll from the centre of Brecon, the Bridge Café offers locally-sourced, hearty food and a relaxed, informal atmosphere. You’ll find delicious things like slow cooked Welsh lamb stew and salmon from the Black Mountains on the menu, and there’s bike storage and plenty of maps and local info for walkers and cyclists. Retire on full bellies to comfortable rooms (2 double, 1 twin) upstairs. bridgecafe.co.uk
This old house used to be a grand estate, but has recently been transformed into a university conference centre, with a café on site. Local suppliers include Monty’s Brewery, Tanners for wines, and Henllan Bakery for bread; vegetables and meat is sourced locally. Homemade Ice-cream and chutneys are all available to buy in the shop, as well as the chef’s homemade speciality sausages. gregynog.org
The Machinations Café
From crowd-pleasers, such as lasagne or shepherd’s pie, to a huge range of cakes and sweet treats (the lemon drizzle or apple pie are not to be missed), The Machinations Café serves local food with a friendly service. All their dairy products and meat are sourced from within Wales, such as their fantastic free-range pork sausages. machinationswales.co.uk
The River Café
On the banks of the River Wye on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, and within spitting distance of Wye Valley Walk path, Hay-on-Wye and the Black Mountains, this friendly café is the perfect place for a quiet coffee, lunch with friends, or a great stop off for well-deserved refreshments. The ever-changing menu features things like local Herefordshire steak and homemade pesto pappardelle. The café’s on the Sustrans cycle network. The café owns the canoe hire over the road so you can try your hand at wielding a paddle if neither walking nor cycling’s your thing! wyevalleycanoes.co.uk
The Workhouse Gallery and Café
A lovely café with an interesting side-line. This workspace was created by the owners to carry out repairs on National Trust carpets, a job they have been doing for over 30 years. In recent times, The Workhouse has seen expansion and now includes a café and a gallery which showcases events and exhibitions. The lovely, light café serves lunches – such as homemade soups, savoury tarts and salads – homemade cakes and speciality coffee and organic soft drinks. theworkhousegallery.co.uk
Overlooking the serene Severn valley, the imposing Gothic villa stands in several acres of mature gardens. Through the doors, the austere exterior gives way to a welcoming, friendly atmosphere within. Local, seasonal ingredients are used in dishes such as local smoked mackerel salad and seasonal fruit crumble are served up in the cosy, timber-framed dining room. Eight, traditionally-dressed en-suite bedrooms upstairs enjoy gorgeous, green views. dolforwyn.com
The Bear Hotel
A bustling bar, an award-winning restaurant, lovely, bright rooms, and a 14th-century building located in a busy market town in the heart of the Brecon Beacons. Owners Judith and Steve have created a menu that changes with the seasons: you might find local crab chowder, Welsh Rarebit, and stuffed field mushrooms, to be enjoyed either in the intimate, candle-lit dining room, or the larger dining room. You’re spoilt for choice for things to do: walking, cycling, and visitor attractions aplenty, right on your doorstep. bearhotel.co.uk
The Old Vicarage
The slate-roofed, blush-coloured guesthouse is surrounded by ancient, Mid Wales countryside which rolls away in every direction. Four spacious rooms upstairs, named after nearby rivers, are country-chic, with floral wallpaper, pretty bedsteads, and good linen. You’ll wake to delicious smells wafting into your room; organic breakfasts await you downstairs. Having notched up years of experience in some of the country’s best restaurants over the past few decades, Tim and Helen now offer an exciting, Welsh-focussed menu, which includes dishes like organic Hafod Cheddar cheese soufflé with apple, beetroot and walnut salad for starter, and roast Welsh mountain lamb with orange and laverbread sauce for main. theoldvicaragedolfor.co.uk
Tipple ‘N’ Tiffin at Theatr Brycheiniog
This popular little canal-side bistro is housed in Wales’ first solar-powered theatre, Theatr Brycheiniog. Have a bite to eat before the show, or stay on longer to enjoy a full supper. The menu is dictated by the seasons and includes dishes such as Deep fried Penclawdd Cockles, home-cured charcuterie, slow-roasted Welsh lamb, and plenty of Welsh cheeses. brycheiniog.co.uk
The Harp Inn
A traditional old pub with heaps of country inn charm, the Harp Inn has been serving locals and visitors alike since 1720. There are casks ales from Herefordshire and Wales, and a regular supply of guest ales. The seasonal, locally-sourced menu features things such as the Harp’s ploughmans, featuring lots of local Welsh cheeses, and homemade steak and Wye Valley stout pie. Glasbury-on-Wye is a fantastic location for all sorts of outdoor activities, and is within striking distance of lots of interesting and historic market towns, such as Hay-on-Wye and Brecon. Folk, Irish and jazz music nights are regularly held at the pub, as well as quiz nights and dart tournaments. theharpinn.co.uk
The Horseshoe Guest House and Restaurant
This 200-year old stone-built characterful restaurant and guest house is located in Rhayader, which claims to be one of the oldest market towns in Mid Wales. As far as locations go, it’s hard to beat: you’re just a few minutes’ from the River Wye and at the gateway to the Elan Valley and dams – cyclists, walkers and birdwatchers will find plenty of entertainment here. The modest restaurants offers up plenty of locally-sourced fare, such as delicious soups, Welsh Black beef, and locally-caught Salmon. They also have their own allotment for vegetables and hens which provide eggs for breakfasts; there are B&B rooms for guests looking for an overnight stay. rhayader-horseshoe.co.uk
The Lion Hotel
The red-bricked Lion Hotel is a small country pub in the tiny village in the heart of Wales. The hotel purchases as much locally-sourced produce as possible and uses seasonal ingredients for their homemade dishes. All meat is from Bruce Williams, the local butcher; the bar stocks a wide range of local Welsh ales. Friendly staff are a font of knowledge on the surrounding area. There are B&B rooms upstairs, and two self-catering log cabins on the edge of the village. lionhotel-llanbister.co.uk
The Tanners Arms
Originally three cottages housing workers of the nearby tannery, the Tanners Arms is a lively village pub which prides itself on a great selection of real ales, including regular monthly guest ales. Expect crackling log fires, brass pans hang on exposed stone walls, and comfy rooms upstairs should you wish to extend your visit. tannersarmsinn.co.uk
For information on local food and drink, nearby visitor attractions and activities, see our