We will be in North Wales for a week in May and are interested in good food. Both in terms of restaurants and pub food but also local specialties that are not to be missed. We will have use of a full kitchen and the skills to use it so great markets are also of interest to us. We will be staying near Llanberis but driving and walking all over North Wales so all areas are to be considered. Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.
I looked up Llanberis on line and it looks wonderful with lots to do and eat. We loved touring most if not all of Edward's Castles. You can get a Castle pass at the first one you tour. We did about 2-3 a day. Driving is not that bad. You'll have a great time. I didn't notice many big grocery stores. There must somewhere the locals shop. There are a number of different kinds and price level of cafes and restaurants.
See my post on your England Page.
North Wales is famous for its lamb so definitely try that. You will also find a lot of dishes including leeks, because they are a national symbol and they grow well in the area.
Angelsey sea salt known as Halen Mon is world renowned. It's not cheap but you can get it in many larger super markets. It's lovely. Really flaky and not too salty.
North Wales is a tourist destination so you will find lots of rock in the gift shops. Rock being boiled sugar sweets usually sold in sticks. Most of it is total rubbish but fun. The good stuff from my childhood was "number 8" rock. Pale brown and buttery mint with a number 8 going through the middle. Not gourmet but a taste of childhood.
The town of Mold in Clwyd has a good market. I think it's held on a Monday. The town also has a very good pie shop just by the market. I can't remember it's name but if you see a queue out of the door that will be the one.
Chester is a city on the Welsh border which is definitely worth a visit. It has a few good restaurants. One worth looking at is Stick Walnut. Very well priced and they are passionate about their food.
The local "delicacy" is Cheshire cheese. A crumbly white cheese. Cheshire is famous for dairy so you can also find some food ice cream if you look hard enough.
The 'national dish" is curry so definitely visit a curry house. You will find one in even the smallest towns.
A minor word of warning don't get too excited about the "pub grub". It can be very good but more often it is distinctly mediocre. Tasty and good fuel but nothing special. Also a lot of visitor think you should order fish and chips in a pub. You can, and they will be fine, but not the same as from a decent chippie. Fish and chips tastes best eaten from the paper, outside (or huddled from the rain in a car) whilst looking out to sea.
On your question in the English forum someone mentioned laver bread in Wales. This is a south Walean dish. I have never seen it in North Wales but they might have it on the menu in posher restaurants?
Emma - your note about fish and chips reminds me of growing up in Canada where they still wrapped it in paper and no one ever thought of putting catsup on anything, just good salt and vinegar. My mouth is watering already!
We visited South Wales in October and had some great lamb cawl, which was a wonderful lamb stew.
I second the recommendation that you try lamb cawl if you have the chance. My travels have only taken me to South Wales, but I once read something about lamb cawl in a murder mystery, went online, found a recipe which was easy to make, and loved it.
You’ll find variations on Lamb stew all over the north of England.
Scouse, famous in Liverpool, is very similar( basically identical!) to cawl.
Both cawl and scouse are very similar to Irish stew.
Lancashire has hotpot, which is, again, very similar but has a layer of thinly sliced potatos on top of the stew. Lamb stew is often served with pickled red cabbage.
Stew, both lamb and beef, often includes dumplings. Basically stodge to stretch the meat, but when done well it’s delicious.
Re food in North Wales, It has got pretty good. There is a Michelin-starred restaurant in Menai Bridge, but it is booked up for several months in advance. Menai Bridge has a good choice of restaurants ( a particular favourite of mine is Bocca, which is Italian but uses local meat etc). Dylan's also at Menai Bridge does Menai mussels. A lot of placesonAnglesey offer mussels but make sure they are offering fresh ones straight from the straits.
Reb Boat in Beaumaris does fabulous gelato, and Cadwalladers in Cricieth ( by the castle) does great ice cream and has outlets elsewhere eg Porthmadog. There are cheeses which are far more local than Cheshire! Lamb will be excellent. There is a great farmshop at Bodnant ( of Bodnant Gardens fame) with a very good, if expensive, range of locallyproduced meat, dairy produce, eggs etc. edwards of Conwy is an award-winning butchers, try the sausages. Welsh Black is the local beef. I suggest using tripadvisor to find places to eat, prioritising places that source food locally. There are plenty of supermarkets everywhere, they tend to be in retail parks on the edge of towns, though I think Sainsburys in Colwyn Bay is in town, as is Waitrose ( very near Telford's 1826 suspension bridge over tye straits) in Menai Bridge. Ther is a big 24-hr Tesco in Bangor, Asda in Llandudno, Morrison's and Tesco in Caernarfon, Tesco and Morrisons in Holyhead, Tesco in Porthmadog, Asda in Llangefni. Enjoy!
Forgot to say, have a look at www.visitwales.co.uk The website lists food festivals, though the May ones are way down South apart from the Llyn one in Pwllheli on the last weekend in May. They have ideas re food shops etc too. Also, there are small chocolatiers in Menai Bridge and Caernarfon, and amongst the touristy crap at the old railway station in Betws-y-coed, there's a shop selling good Welsh Cakes and a branch of Cadwalladers ice cream. The cafe at Pen-y-pass above Llanberis is very ordinary, but worth it for a scenic drive and to see the memorabilia about the early mountaineers who prepared for their attempts in Snowdonia.
I was in Conwy two weeks ago and had a wonderful lunch at the Erskine Arms, it gets quite busy so I recommend trying to make a reservation if you are short on time or if its the weekend. I also had a fantastic dinner at Bryn Williams Porth Eirias which is about a 20 minute drive from downtown Conwy.