Here’s the idea: all independents, enough for a week’s worth; all with ‘proper meal’ set lunch deals at a range of prices. All tried and tested, of course. (And a bonus couple, because I live to give).
Crucially, all are open every weekday. Which means, of course, that you can rotate to your heart’s- and more importantly, belly’s- content.
In no particular order, then. Happy eating.
There’s limited seating: so be quick, but having your pick of 16 (yes, sixteen) options makes this an essential city centre choice. Since I told you about this place in September 2021 (you can read the original review HERE) it has become known as a frequent stop for anyone looking for a punchy bargain.
There are choices within choices- you can have the stir-fried chilli with pork, chicken or beef for example, ditto the stir-fried ginger- so it’s even more attractive an offer than it first seems.
All dishes can be prepared without meat: just ask.
Recommended: massaman chicken, pad si-ew prawn, pork with cashew nuts, Thai basil prawn stir-fry, getting there early.
Where? 33 Caroline Street Cardiff CF10 1FF
When? Monday – Sunday, 12 noon – 3pm
The Daddy. The Don. El Jefe: probably the best-known set price lunch on this list.
It has just had its biggest revamp since launch. Where you formerly chose between a £13 (with starter and dessert at £6 and £5 respectively) main of rump steak or fish of the day, or the vegetarian and vegan option, options are now far more lavish.
(By the way- any idea why we aren’t talking about head chef Paul Bainbridge as often and as loudly as we should..? No? No, me neither.)
So now it’s 2 courses for £25 and 3 for £30.
Some dishes are familiar, but now come in larger portions, like the steak bulking up to 300g, now aged rump. Starters now include the favourites like the smoked leeks and ex-dairy beef tartare, onion ketchup and cured egg.
Mains, all served with olive oil fries or seasonal salad, now offer whole grilled squid with ink mayonnaise and ex-dairy beef shin with salsa verde to existing choices. Oh and have that chocolate delice.
Asador 44 is my happy place: I could write thousands of words on what this place means to me and my family, the way it resonates with us. I will, one day. But I’ll spare you that for now. As I prepare to unleash this masterpiece upon a grateful public (it says here) it changes. The £13 is no longer unsustainable in today’s market. Sure, they could compromise on vac-packed meat or start using Cash’n’Carry freezer chips. But that would be them, would it?
But for the purposes of this guide, it symbolises something about food in the city that’s important, I think: the ability to have a grown-up, quietly elegant lunch in one of Cardiff’s leading restaurants, with exemplary hosting and sourcing, every day of the week. Things like this give me hope for the city.
For William Sitwell, it is a ‘tremendous emporium that celebrates the glory of rustic Spanish cuisine’; Tom Parker Bowles paints it as somewhere ‘scented with woodsmoke and happiness, a magnificent place where coals glow and spit.’ Me? I’ll just say: go already.
Recommended: All of it. Clearly. Don’t make me use that eye roll thing.
Where? 14-15 Quay St CF10 1DD
When? Monday to Thursday 12-3 pm; Friday 12 – 4 pm
The Chai St group is, unlike me, slimmer than it once was, and this High St branch is the last remaining. Theirs is usually a large menu, but the compact ‘Chai Lunch Deal’ offers you four choices. With inclusivity in mind, it is encouraging that half of them are vegetarian.
Round it up to a tenner by living that weekday rock’n’roll dream and having a half of Cobra. Go on, you little sausage. Dare to live a little.
Recommended: chicken kati and a crisp tumble of fries. Substantial enough to feel like a proper lunch, but light enough to at least look productive that afternoon.
Where? 15 High St, Cardiff CF10 1AX
When? Monday to Friday from 12.00
This is a proper lunch from Cardiff’s premier Italian : starters vary with seasonal menus, but recently menus have included starters like sgombro (mackerel and new potato salad) and beef dripping bruschetta with anchovies and fennel, or sanguinaccio spiced black pudding with celeriac puree and apple sauce.
Mains might feature peposo di manzo Tuscan beef stew, slow-cooked with red wine and served with parmesan mash; saffron risotto with smoked haddock; carne e pipazz, a slow-cooked Calabrian dish of pork with tomato, new potatoes and padrón pepper; or cavatelli pasta with Welsh lamb ragú.
The menu is kept short and seasonal, but vegetarian and vegan options will be available.
Recommended: booking ahead. The quality on offer here means lunch tables are frequently busy. And if that black pudding is on, have it: it’s the good stuff, from God’s own bit of England. (Lancashire, obviously.)
Where? 13 Quay St., Cardiff CF10 1EA
When? 12.00- 2.30, Monday to Friday
A Cardiff hospitality stalwart since 1985, now safely restored to the founding family fold, joining other Martinez Group restaurants La Marina and El Puerto at The Old Custom House, Caerleon’s The Priory, The Miskin Arms and El Prado. This has long been one of the city centre’s essentials: ome here for a grown-up meal, secluded from busy city centre streets.
The sample menu will draw you in with mentions of steak, mushroom and stout pie; or braised welsh lamb with scallion and jamón serrano mash and seafood paella with fresh Menai mussels and Atlantic gambas: but it changes daily, depending on what’s good that morning.
You’re always assured fish choices, of course. Everything is kept simple,
with little to distract from the produce: for example, a scallop will come simply grilled with garlic and lashings of butter, but it will be a pouting plump hand-dived Scottish scallop. With its roe intact, no less.
All main courses are served with a choice of home cut french fries or a jacket potato: those chips are among the city’s best. The charm of Le Monde, and its siblings, is the consistency.
Recommended: beef medallions with peppercorn sauce.
Where? 60 – 62 St Mary St, Cardiff CF10 1FE
When? Monday – Friday from 12.00.
This little place just off Queen St has become one of those (I hate the smugness of the phrase, but…) ‘those who know, know’ venues.
Serving a menu which draws inspiration from various Chinese regions, the lunch deals give you a £12 buys you nicely tender portion of your chosen meat, braised in a soy sauce-rich liquor; a Braverman-goading serving of tofu, rice, and a steamed egg white, lightly set, and seasoned with soy sauce.
Where? 11 Charles St, St Davids Centre, Cardiff CF10 2GA
When? From 1130am
Oh and don’t forget that Monday in Cardiff Market brings you Tukka Tuk Canteen, Thai Asian Delish, Nöglu and Ya! Souvlaki. You can find out more in my complete guide to where to eat in the Market, right here.
But not content with being open all week, Ya! Souvlaki run a lunch deal: pita wrap, fries and a drink £9.95.
Right, thst should be enough for you to be getting on with…
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.