The best pubs and restaurants in South Wales

Food and Drink

Posted by Courtney on 15th February 2022

What with there being so many places to visit and so many miles of coast path to walk in South Wales, you’re probably going to need to take a load off at some point. Luckily, we’ve collated the best places to eat in South Wales so you can focus on exploring this fabulous part of the country.

There are eateries to cater for everyone, with our list of best restaurants and best pubs in South Wales taking into account the best country pubs, the restaurants with the best views and the most family and dog-friendly pubs and restaurants.

Once you’ve hiked the coast or visited a castle and then had your fill of traditional Welsh food, treat yourself to one of our superb self-catering cottages in South Wales and start choosing where to have lunch the next day.

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Best pubs and restaurants in Pembrokeshire

Tafarn SincPhoto credits: @theresacallan (left) and @sirbenfro (right)

Best country pub: Tafarn Sinc, Rosebush

Certainly a quirky entry on our list, Tafarn Sinc which is known as the Tin Shed to locals, is a corrugated iron pub built in the 1870s. You can find this unique inn high on the Preseli Hills and, ever since its refurbishment in the 1990s, it has gained a reputation as one of the best country pubs in South Wales. Step inside after a long walk and find yourself faced with a treasure trove of memorabilia devoted to the area’s farming and slate mining history. Traditional Welsh food is served here and some of the beers are local too, including the specially brewed Cwrw Tafarn Sinc.

Why not try: Traditional faggots served with gravy, mash potatoes, and peas

Stay nearby: Llety Wen, Narberth | Sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

The Stackpole InnPhoto credits:  @mattwaldron77 (left) and @jintalog (right)

Best dog-friendly pub: The Stackpole Inn, Stackpole

Having already featured in our Prettiest Pub Beer Gardens blog, The Stackpole Inn is back as one of our favourite dog-friendly pubs in Wales. The beer garden goes some way to explaining why this is a great destination for four-pawed visitors, but dogs are also allowed in the bar meaning you can grab some lunch with your best friend snuggled by your feet. More than just a pub, it is also one of the top restaurants in South Wales, having won awards such as the Best Gastropub in Wales at a recent Great British Pubs awards.

Why not try: Roast Pembrokeshire duck leg, braised red cabbage, buttery mash, star anise sauce 

Stay nearby: Freshwater Bay 13, Freshwater East | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

The GriffinPhoto credits: @matt_the_beer

Best pub with a view: The Griffin, Dale

Right on the waterfront and looking out towards the Pembrokeshire coast, The Griffin benefits from floor-to-ceiling windows which let the Welsh sunshine flood in. You can watch the shore and the boats floating on the bay from the comfort of your table or you can take your pint outside and relax on the rooftop terrace or just lean against the sea wall. The food is exquisite, focusing on seafood which the local fishermen replenish on a daily basis, and they take pride in serving Welsh ales, with Evan and Evans’ Cwrw Haf proving to be a popular blond ale.

Why not try: Fish pie - white fish, salmon, smoked haddock and prawns topped with a Welsh Cheddar mash served with green steamed vegetables

Stay nearby: Marloes Court Farm, Marloes | Sleeps 6

The Fat SeagullPhoto credit: @vacation_on_sea

Best family-friendly restaurant: The Fat Seagull, Tenby

The children will already be over the moon that they’re spending their holidays in Tenby, what with its many fantastic Welsh beaches, but then you tell them that they're having lunch at The Fat Seagull and their excitement is likely to go into overdrive. This is due to their menu having a section dedicated to ice creams and sundaes! So, brush off the excess sand and take a seat in this bright, coastal restaurant. Before you get to the sweet treats, there’s plenty on the menu to choose from for the kids, like pasta and jacket potatoes, and for mum and dad, there’s seafood delights, steaks and Welsh lamb.

Why not try: Moules mariniere – Milford Haven mussels, white wine, garlic and cream sauce, fresh dill and garlic bread

Stay nearby: Giltar View, Tenby | Sleeps 5

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Best pubs and restaurants in Carmarthenshire

Dolaucothi ArmsPhoto credit: @my_new_life_in_wales

Best country pub: Dolaucothi Arms, Pumsaint

Having been welcoming travellers and locals alike since the 16th century, The Dolaucothi Arms Pub holds an enviable position in the undulating hills of the Cothi Valley in the Cambrian Mountains. The beer garden overlooks the valley and two rivers (Cothi and Twrch) and was once voted in the top 16 beer gardens in the country by Olive Magazine. If that wasn’t enough, in 2020 the Arms featured in BBC’s Countryfile Magazine Awards and the 30,000 visitors and readers voted it the Best British Country Pub of the Year. High praise indeed. The kids might enjoy a visit too as they may get to meet the hens, rabbits and a family of pugs.

Why not try: Pan-fried seabass fillet, white wine, lemon and prawn velouté, new potatoes and vegetables

Stay nearby: Y Sgubor Cellan, Lampeter | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

St Elli’s BayPhoto credits: @dustin.the.cobberdog (top left), @cooking_with_marisha (top right) and @miket8226 (bottom)

Best dog-friendly restaurant: St Elli’s Bay, Llanelli

This bistro and brasserie is located in such a top Carmarthenshire coastal spot that you’ll have trouble dragging yourself and your dog away from Llanelli Beach in order to get a table for lunch (don’t worry, St Elli’s Bay also does takeaway if you want to snack by the shoreline). When popping in with your pup, you’ll be taken to a dedicated area for dogs and dog owners, so you can just relax, knowing you’ve been welcomed into an eatery that really puts pets first. With water bowls dotted around this area, let your companion replenish his fluids whilst you order up a homemade gelato and gaze at the views towards the Gower Peninsula.

Why not try: Welsh Dragon Dog – smoked bacon-wrapped sausage, jalapeno relish, Snowdonia Red Devil chilli cheese and onions, served in a soft roll

Stay nearby: Gower View House, Llanelli | Sleeps 6

Mansion HousePhoto credits: @mansionhousellansteffan (bottom left and right), and @laurenjadekey (top)

Best restaurant with a view: Mansion House, Llansteffan

The Moryd Restaurant at Mansion House finds itself in the heart of the Carmarthenshire countryside, on the hills that drop down from the Cambrian Mountains to Carmarthen Bay. With a Georgian dining room that overlooks the verdant gardens and the estuary that feeds the River Towy, you’ll be able to enjoy fine dining from a kitchen that received two coveted AA Rosettes. Using local ingredients of the highest order, the highly trained chefs produce unique dishes that incorporate Milford Haven seafood, Llanybri eggs, fish from the River Towy, ales from Carmarthenshire breweries and Welsh lamb and beef. Table for two, please.

Why not try: 10oz sirloin steak, confit tomato, mushroom, hand-cut chips, peppercorn sauce

Stay nearby: Mayfair In Llansteffan, Llansteffan | Sleeps 2 + 1 dog

A girl eating pizza

Best family-friendly pub: The Caraway, Carmarthen

If you’re staying in the centre of Carmarthen with the kids, or even if you’re a little further afield, The Caraway is well worth the trip. Enter the spacious interior and head over to the Pizza Kitchen, where you can order and watch your pizza get sprinkled with your favourite toppings before your very eyes. Whilst you’re waiting for your food to cook, wander over to the under-fives indoor play zone so they can build up an appetite. And after you’ve filled your bellies, head outside to the children’s adventure playground to tucker them out before heading back to your cottage.

Why not try: Mega Hunter’s Chicken – two grilled chicken breasts topped with extra bacon, melted mature Cheddar cheese and sticky BBQ sauce. Served with chips, beer-battered onion rings and a side salad

Stay nearby: The Nook Garden, Carmarthen | Sleeps 6 + 1 dog

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Best pubs and restaurants in Glamorgan

A dog in a beer garden and a the bar of a country pub

Best country pub: Farmer’s Arms, Cowbridge

Traditional pub food served with a smile: this is what country pubs are all about, and the Farmer’s Arms has these qualities in spades. With a log burner for chillier nights and a spacious garden for summery days, you’ll always find somewhere comfy to sit and reminisce with your family and friends whilst you wait for some classic British cuisine. Set just outside the pretty village of Cowbridge, which was voted the ‘Best place to live in Wales’ as recently as 2017, you’ll find plenty to do to help you build up a hunger.

Why not try: Their renowned Sunday roast or their indulgent desserts

Stay nearby: Ty Melyn, Southerndown | Sleeps 5

Maenllwyd InnPhoto credits: @soozieloos (top left), @gazpitt_89 (top right) and @mr.l.mitchell

Best dog-friendly pub: Maenllwyd Inn, Rudry

Enjoy the scenic Welsh valleys before tucking into some hearty food in the quaint village of Rudry. The landscape surrounding The Maenllwyd Inn is astounding and you’ll want to take some time for yourselves and your pup to explore the Rhymney Valley and its wooded areas either before or after visiting this friendly country pub. There’s an open fire inside if wet paws need to be dried off and the garden and sun-drenched terrace outside are equally welcoming to visitors of four legs and two. If heading to the village in the autumn, check out the annual European folk festival, Pentreffest.

Why not try: The sharing board for two – lamb and rosemary koftas, Korean BBQ chicken strips, crispy salt and pepper squid, garlic and coriander flatbreads, houmous, dips, relish

Stay nearby: Rectory Retreat, Mamhilad | Sleeps 2 + 1 dog

The ClassroomPhoto credits: @soph_seeks_eats (left and bottom right) and @sarahfrancesp (top right)

Best restaurant with a view – The Classroom, Y Dosbarth

With possibly the best view in the capital, this Cardiff-based eatery is one of the best restaurants in South Wales. Fusing traditional Welsh elements of cuisine with modern European fine dining, The Classroom uses local Welsh ingredients on a menu that is freshly prepared each day, including the bread which is baked in-house. Once you pair this with the wow-factor views, you realise what an incredible experience this is. The restaurant, with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows, is swamped with light, giving diners the opportunity to breathe in the panoramic views of Cardiff Bay and the city centre.

Why not try: Roule of skate wing, salsify, leek, burnt butter hollandaise, tapioca crisp, nasturtium

Stay nearby: Dancing Stones, Southerndown | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Southerndown Beach, near the pub, and sausages and mash

Best family-friendly pub – The Golden Mile, Bridgend

Situated between Bridgend and Cowbridge, The Golden Mile could easily have ended up on our list as a pub with a great view. This is because of its proximity to the Heritage Coastline and the incredible Glamorgan countryside that surrounds it. But due to its vast outdoor patio which spills onto a pleasant grass area, we chose it as Glamorgan’s best family-friendly pub. Add in the enclosed children’s play area and a kids’ menu guaranteed to fill them up and you’ve got yourself a recipe for happy little ones. And if the heavens start to open slightly, gather around the log burner and regale the children with tales of this 17th-century inn.

Why not try: Butchers’ sausages, cider glazed onions, creamy mashed potato and red wine gravy

Stay nearby: The Rest – 56, Rest Bay | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Best pubs and restaurants in Breconshire

Books from Hay-on-Wye and the Brecon hills

Best country pub: The Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon  

With mountains, rivers and hills on all sides, The Felin Fach Griffin is sandwiched beautifully between the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons. Just beyond Hay-on-Wye, why not pick up a second-hand book and then head over and unwind in the comfort of this laid-back country gastropub? Pick your table in the Library or the Tack Room where you’ll be warmed by the log fires, or if you’re with friends and family head to the larger Aga Room. The garden is a prime spot for warming yourself in the Welsh summer sun. Wherever you decide to perch, the menu is the same and is full of locally sourced produce which is put together to create mouth-watering dishes.

Why not try: Sea bream, anise carrots, bok choi, wild mushrooms

Stay nearby: Terracotta Cottage, Brecon | Sleeps 4

The Bear HotelPhoto credit: @alwaysinthekitchen_

Best dog-friendly restaurant: The Bear Hotel, Crickhowell

Having been welcoming man and beast to Crickhowell for over 500 years, The Bear Hotel continues to attract locals and tourists who want a friendly pitstop after exploring the stunning Brecon Beacons. The proprietors work with local breweries to bring you the best in Welsh beer, and whilst you’re choosing an ale to sup, your pooch will be spoiled with a doggy treat from the bar. Stay inside and no doubt the locals will strike up a conversation with you or, if it’s a clear day, stroll outside to the flora-filled garden and let the fresh Welsh air fill your lungs.

Why not try: Slow beer-braised short rib of Welsh beef, garlic parmesan fries and salad

Stay nearby: Flannel House, Gilwern | Sleeps 4

The Vine treePhoto credits: @vinetreellangattock (bottom left and right)

Best restaurant with a view: The Vine Tree, Llangattock

The Vine Tree is the type of establishment in which you could find yourself easily whiling away several hours without realising it. Modern and stylish in both the bar and restaurant, this 19th-century coaching inn is fast becoming the hub of the village. Stop off in the bar and have one of their renowned and colourful cocktails, before moving through to the ambient restaurant which has three dining spaces: the Chef’s Kitchen, the Gallery and the Table View Restaurant. Choose the latter for enviable views of Crickhowell, its 13-arch stone bridge and the Black Mountains. Sit back and enjoy the atmosphere and the menu that showcases the best of Welsh produce.

Why not try: Cannon of lamb, fried sweet bread, fondant potato, black garlic miso, baby veggies and lamb jus

Stay nearby: Acorns – Crickhowell, Crickhowell | Sleeps 2

Pen y Cae InnPhoto credits: @penycaeinn (left) and @funkipickle (right)

Best family-friendly pub: Pen y Cae Inn, Pen-y-cae

Hidden in the upper end of the Swansea Valley, the Pen y Cae Inn is far from a secret. Having previously been named the Best Family Restaurant UK at the Great British Pub Awards and having also received the Trip Advisor Award of Excellence for the Best Family Pub in Wales, it’s clear to see why this pub has made it onto our list. What with its enclosed, lawned beer garden and licensed zoo, the kids will love it. Yes, you read that correctly: this pub has its own micro zoo! Some of the rescued and re-housed animals that you can visit for free include meerkats, wallabies, pygmy goats, ornamental waterfowl and Japanese cranes.

Why not try: Cajun chicken breast with sweet peppers, hand-cut chips and salad

Stay nearby: Miner’s Cottage – Bryndulais Row, Seven Sisters | Sleeps 4 + 1 dog

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Best pubs and restaurants in Monmouthshire

Raglan ArmsPhoto credits: @raglanarmsllandenny

Best country pub: Raglan Arms, Usk

This stone-built inn, which looks as if it is trying to emulate nearby Raglan Castle with its brickwork, is a traditional country pub and restaurant looking to do the simple things extremely well. Having picked up the AA Rosette award for culinary excellence in 2021, it is going from strength to strength under the watchful eye of head chef Peter Hulsmann. Choose from the restaurant, the conservatory dining area and the lounge bar – no matter where you end up, the gastronomic experience will be the same and the beautiful rural village of Llandenny will still be waiting so you can do some exploring as your food goes down.

Why not try: Local ale-battered deep-fried fillet of haddock, crushed peas, triple cooked chips, lemon and remoulade sauce

Stay nearby: Paddock Barn, Monmouth | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

The Greyhound InnPhoto credits: @thegreyhoundinnusk

Best dog-friendly pub: The Greyhound Inn, Usk

The name says it all really: best for dogs because it’s named after one! But seriously, The Greyhound Inn has a long list of things going for it: it won a Traveller Review Award in 2022 for its hospitality (towards two and four-legged visitors); it has an outstanding beer garden that is perfect for curious pups; it has roaring log fires to warm up wet paws, but we mostly love it due to its doggy play paddock. At the paddock, your dog can learn some new skills, have a play on the obstacle course or just socialise with other pups and have some fun. All of this is within the safe and enclosed garden and, when it’s all over, they get to have a puppuchino too!

Why not try: 10oz Welsh fillet steak served with peas and fried onions and either chipped, jacket, mashed, new or sauté potatoes

Stay nearby: The Cwtch Hut, Usk | Sleeps 2 + 1 dog

Llansantffraed CourtPhoto credits: @clairepark302 (top), @welshlambbeef (bottom left) and @mimi_and_fliss (bottom right)

Best restaurant with a view – Llansantffraed Court, near Abergavenny

The view from Llansantffraed Court is spectacular at any time of year but head over in the spring and you’ll be rewarded with blankets of snowdrops in and around the 20 acres of lawns and meadows. The Court Dining Room housed within this Grade II-listed building has previously won the Best Small Restaurant Award at the National Tourism Awards and you will find an expertly crafted menu on offer, with over 50 accompanying wines available to order by the glass. Go during the day and wander the exquisite walled kitchen garden and glasshouse which grows much of the produce used in the kitchen. This is a nice restaurant in South Wales for taking it slow and absorbing your natural surroundings.

Why not try: Slow-cooked belly of pork with cannellini beans and wild mushrooms

Stay nearby: The Old School House Cottage, Abergavenny | Sleeps 4

The Boat InnPhoto credits: @claire_bear_critch84 (left) and @rosscompton (right)

Best family-friendly pub – The Boat Inn, Penallt

A beautiful 17th-century stone-built pub, The Boat Inn sits on the banks of the River Wye and features magnificent, terraced gardens which lead up to a rock face waterfall. The kids will love spending time gazing at the cascading water, watching the bees buzz from one colourful flower to another, and even scrutinizing the occasional morris dancer. The pub serves local beers and ciders and traditional tavern food with a few local delicacies such as rarebit and a Welsh cheeseboard. Once you’ve had your fill, there are numerous family-friendly walks to explore from the pub, as well as cycling routes and kayaking opportunities on the Wye.

Why not try: Locally sourced chicken and leek pie served with your choice of mashed potato or chips, peas and gravy

Stay nearby: Fox and Hounds Cottage, Chepstow | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

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Stay in South Wales

Whilst you’re touring Wales’ best pubs and restaurants, you’re going to need a basecamp to fall back to, somewhere to recuperate ready for the next day’s three-course meal. Fortunately, we have lots of beautiful cottages all over South Wales. From family-friendly escapes with games rooms to dog-friendly retreats next to walking routes, we’ve got the property for you.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.