Wiseman’s Bridge Inn, Pembrokeshire
Best beer terrace in Wales? Quite possibly. Looking out over Carmarthen Bay, the broad alfresco area sits on a lovely stretch of the Wales Coast Path between Amroth and Saundersfoot, in the south-east corner of Pembrokeshire. It has its own beach – used in rehearsals for the D-day landings – and there’s a hamlet and the stone bridge that some mythical wise man once crossed, built or praised. Food ranges from burgers and fish pie to sea bass or a large slab of gammon with pineapple.
Open from 26 April, first come, first served, no booking, wisemansbridgeinn.co.uk
Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon
The Felin Fach Griffin stands somewhat isolated on the A470, five miles from the town of Brecon, but as one of Wales’ most acclaimed food pubs attracts diners from all over south Wales. A typical lunch opens with aubergine, tempura courgette, miso ketchup and pak choi and wraps up with an Eton Mess. In between are meat, fish and veg mains; the focus of the kitchen is on sourcing as locally and seasonally as possible, so Wye valley asparagus is on the menu now, as well as garden-grown rhubarb, wild garlic and Welsh lamb meatballs. A local marquee-maker has erected a canopy for outdoor service and there are plenty of tables on the spacious lawns. The wine menu impresses and there are extensive sherry and brandy lists and beers from six local breweries, including Brecon Brewing, Rhymney and Monty’s.
Open from 26 April, no booking needed, felinfachgriffin.co.uk
Browns, Laugharne, Carmarthenshire
Rebranded as Dexters at Browns to emphasise a foodie slant under new management (which raises its own cattle and dry-ages the meats), this venerable inn turned posh B&B is famous as one of Dylan Thomas’s many favourite drinking dens. He lived at several addresses in the picturesque township, his parents lived opposite the Browns and Dylan and his wife, Caitlin, are buried in the nearby churchyard. The flower-framed terrace at the rear (Dylan’s Deck) gets its best sunshine at lunchtime, and is protected from any winds that sneak up the Tâf estuary. Food is beef and pepper or feta, bean and avocado burritos, stacked charcoal-grilled burgers or calamari with mango mayonnaise. Take a walk over Sir John’s Hill before or after lunch for views across to Worm’s Head Gower.
Opens 27 April, no booking, on Facebook
Sportsman Arms Inn, Denbigh
The idea of a beer garden at the “highest pub in Wales” may have you thinking of gales and forces, but the Sportsman – a popular stop for touring motorcyclists and campervanners – has a well-pegged canopy to ensure an enjoyable drink and a plate of homemade lasagne or fish and chips. The pub is on the A543, just south-west of Bylchau, and is surrounded by moorland that’s grey-green in spring and white (usually) in winter. It’s a genuine retreat when the weather turns foul.
Opens 30 April at 5pm, ready for the bank holiday, on Facebook
Boar’s Head, Ruthin, Clwyd
Covered seating areas and a “Jumbrella” have been installed to allow outdoor service at this much-loved local, which is introducing food to enable it to come back to life after lockdown. Having served beef brisket nachos and pro-level doughnuts during lockdown, owner Lois Meads – who took over the property during the pandemic – will welcome back customers with an alfresco outside grill. Roast hog will get things started from 1 May. Ruthin is a special little town, with a Grade II-listed gaol, interesting architecture and a working craft centre (soon to reopen) and art trail. Overlooked by those who aim for the coasts or Snowdonia, it’s well positioned for exploring the Clwydian Range and Dee valley AONB and is less than hour from Chester or Prestatyn by car.
Opens 1 May (fully booked on opening day), food will be offered Fridays-Sunday, booking required Friday-Saturday evenings, the rest of the time it’s walk-ins, boarsheadruthin.co.uk
The Gower peninsula might be a honeypot for hikers and other tourists, but it has a tiny population and struggles to keep its last few pubs going. The late 17th-century Britannia is the sole survivor of the four pubs that once served Llanmadoc, a village that thrives thanks to community spirit. The pub lounge has beams allegedly repurposed from shipwrecks “lanterned” by mean locals after booty, and also retains its original fireplace and bread oven – though these are off limits while restrictions are in place. New decking and a new patio, plus parasols, have been added to get “The Brit” ready for outdoor drinks and dining. Food is ambitious, featuring starters such as oak-smoked mackerel pot and fresh mussels in white wine, and mains of sous-vide Welsh lamb shoulder, slow-roasted poussin, Welsh cawl with lamb and Moroccan-style braised lamb. Local Gower Gold is on tap, along with two guest real ales.
Opens 26 April, no booking, britanniagower.com
The Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd
Winner of the Welsh dining pub award in the Good Pub Guide 2021, this gastropub takes food and drink seriously, running a bakery, serving a selection of cask and craft beers – including cider from Caerphilly, pale ale from Aberdare and bottled Pines IPA from Mold – and offering a menu that it continued to serve throughout 2020 via a takeaway service. Modish bites, such as vegan seitan buffalo wings and pork belly burnt ends, are balanced by more thoroughly Welsh dishes, such as pan-fried cockles, leeks and laverbread, and all dishes can be pre-booked when you reserve your table – there are only six of these, so it pays to book ahead.
Opens 26 April, no booking, bunchofgrapes.pub
The Ferry Inn, St Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire
On the River Teifi, the multi-award-winning Ferry Inn gastropub gives outdoor drinkers views over the estuary and surrounding countryside from several terraces and an adapted cabin – all with heaters. Fish and seafood are specialities, with a generous seafood basket, plus lobster and crab (in season) on the menu, as well as Welsh lamb and Welsh Back beef, and veggie and gluten-free options. There’s been a public house at this spot since 1833, attending to the needs of ferry passengers and, later on, walkers on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path (which starts/ends here). The interior and alfresco spaces, decked out in a contemporary style, feel more like a smart restaurant than a boozer. There are always three beers on tap, as well as a good choice of wines and spirits.
Opens 26 April, no booking, theferryinn.co.uk
The Cottage Loaf, Llandudno
Five streets in from South Parade and the North Shore beach, this pub (in a former bakery) is a showcase for Welsh ales, including Balchder Cymru/Welsh Pride – from Conwy Brewery 10 miles away – plus three guest ales. Source breweries include Great Orme in Llandudno, Bragdy Nant in Llanrwst, Purple Moose in Porthmadog, Heavy Industry Brewery in Henllan and Cwrw lal brewery in Mold. Seafood (squid rings, prawn cocktail, peppered mackerel fillet) or mezes (sweet peppers, olives, feta cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes) are perfect for sharing on the front terrace or garden patio. Try Parisella’s of Conwy ice-creams or sorbets for dessert.
Opens 26 April, no booking, the-cottageloaf.co.uk
Ship Inn, Red Wharf Bay, Pentraeth, Anglesey