Carmarthenshire’s lush fertile valleys and flowing rivers have awarded the county with a huge variety of fantastic local produce, grown and nurtured from the land; with a delicious array of traditional dishes served up as specialities across the county for centuries. One of the most famous is the traditional dish of Cawl, a warming winter stew, still gracing menus as a favourite in establishments across the county.
Traditionally made with mutton or lamb from the Black Mountains and crammed full of vegetable goodness including root vegetables, Welsh leeks and wild garlic, Cawl is a staple on the county’s foodie map; with each recipe boasting its own secret ingredient or 'twist' on the old favourite. From artisan delis in the market town of Llandeilo to thatched inns dating back to the 14th century, establishments across the county are serving up their own take on the hearty dish synonymous with Carmarthenshire cuisine. To help visitors discover the fantastic Cawl on offer across the county, a 'Cawl Crawl' has been launched; highlighting all of the best places to feast on the delicious stew. From cawl served with gin-infused bread to 'deconstructed' cawl assembled at your table, the trail has it all - the perfect excuse for a feast!
Carmarthenshire’s Cawl Crawl
1. Browns Hotel
King Street, Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, SA33 4RY.
Built in 1752, Browns Hotel is an iconic literary address and the favourite watering hole of poet and writer Dylan Thomas, with many celebrities, including Mick Jagger and Prince Charles, having followed in Thomas’ footsteps for a visit. After a refurb in 2012, Browns is now home to 15 luxurious bedrooms and a modern bar serving a host of homemade dishes - complete with the traditional charm of old wooden beams and Welsh real ales. Browns offers a modern take on Cawl using Eyons Butchery Ham (rather than lamb); served with Dragon Cheddar and local Laugharne bread - made just 20 yards down the road.
browns-hotel.co.uk 01994 427688
2. Gwesty’r Emlyn Hotel
Bridge Street, Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire, SA38 9DU.
Dating back over 300 years, this former coaching inn has recently undergone a complete transformation into a stylish 30 room hotel - offering chic accommodation, spa and Michelin recommended restaurant boasting a fresh daily menu. To add a depth of flavour to their Cawl, the Gwesty’r Emlyn uses locally sourced Welsh beef, for a distinctive change to lamb. Served with warm and crunchy homemade multigrain bread, plus a chunk of Dragon Welsh Cheddar, this hearty meal will be sure to satisfy.
gwestyremlynhotel.co.uk 01239 710317
3. Llanelly House
Bridge Street, Llanelli,Carmarthenshire, SA15 3UF.
This picturesque restored Georgian Town House offers homemade, traditional food in stunning historic surroundings. Ensuring only the best locally sourced produce is used, food is served to guests in the Plas Llanelli House Restaurant, with Cawl having played an important part in the Llanelly Family’s history (and the restaurant’s menu) for decades. Their Cawl is made using the same recipe that has been with the family for years - beef brisket, root vegetables, parsley stalks and a bay leaf or two - after all, "mam knows best".
llanelly-house.org.uk 01554 772857
4. Myddfai Café
Myddfai Community Hall and Visitor Centre, Myddfai, Llandovery, Carmarthenshire SA20 0JD.
Come to Myddfai Hall Café for a delicious Myddfai Cawl made to a special Myddfai recipe, developed by Welsh Celebrity Chef Margaret Rees Served with a choice of seeded roll and a chunk of Dragon Welsh Cheddar, For a hearty lunch before (or after) going for one of the stunning walks round Myddfai Café open 6 days a week 10.30am - 5pm (closed Mondays).
myddfai.org 01550 720449
5. The Angel Bistro
62 Rhosmaen Street, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, SA19 6EN.
The Angel is a bustling bar and restaurant set in the heart of picturesque Llandeilo. Offering a modern twist on the traditional Welsh pub, the bistro serves a wide selection of local real ales alongside delicious homemade meals with a contemporary twist. As part of the Cawl Crawl, The Angel are serving up an unusual twist on the traditional stew, using smoked pancetta and chicken - served with a side of crusty bread and grated cheese.
angelbistro.co.uk 01558 822765
6. The Boar’s Head Hotel
120 Lammas Street, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, SA31 3AE.
Dating back to the early 17th Century, The Boar’s Head Hotel is a former coaching inn steeped in history. Found in the centre of the thriving market town of Carmarthen, the old coaching inn offers an inviting, cosy pub atmosphere to guests - complete with 16 comfortable en suite rooms - boasting oak panelling and an inviting wood burner. Cawl is one of the pub’s most popular dishes, made from a traditional recipe and dished up with a fresh crusty roll and a block of Welsh cheese. You may have to book a place here, with coach loads of visitors regularly stopping by for a taste of the pub’s most famous dish!
boarsheadhotel.net 01267 222789
7. The Cowshed
Pen Back Farm, Ciffig, Whitland, SA34 0NG.
Newly opened in June 2014, The Cowshed bistro offers a fun menu of home-grown produce, including Cowpots icecream (made on site using milk from the farm) and quality home cooked food. The Cowshed’s bistro serves up Cawl made from the best quality home-reared, grass-fed Jersey beef alongside locally sourced vegetables; served up with a warm crusty roll and 'Gloria’s Gold' smooth Jersey cheese.
cowpotsicecream.co.uk 01994 240434
8. The Dolaucothi Arms
Pumsaint, Carmarthenshire, SA19 8UW.
Located just north of Llandovery alongside the Cothi River, The Dolaucothi Arms is a pretty grade two listed coach house - complete with four stylish B&B rooms, sprawling beer gardens and great local food. The relaxed pub serves home cooked Cawl made from tender Welsh lamb shoulder, root vegetables and a handful of chopped parsley, and is served with homemade organic bread, Gwenlais butter and a slice of strong Hafod cheese - sure to melt in your mouth.
thedolaucothiarms.co.uk 01158 650237
9. The Forest Arms
Brechfa, Carmarthenshire, SA32 7RA.
This traditional village pub with rooms is found in the heart of the Cothi Valley, having first opened its doors in late 2014 after a complete renovation. Boasting stylish interiors with plenty of traditional touches, giving a glimpse into the pub’s rich history, the pub’s delicious menu has visitors calling in from miles around. For its Cawl, The Forest Arms uses slow cooked Welsh lamb, flavoured by bay leaves, root vegetables and a very Welsh secret ingredient from the bar! The Cawl is served up with rustic torn bread and mature Welsh Cheddar cheese.
forestarms.com 01267 202288
10. The Ginhaus
Ginhaus Deli Ltd, 1 Market Street, Llandeilo, SA19 6AH.
The recently opened Ginhaus is a seriously cool delicatessen, gin and wine bar, set in the heart of the boutique market town of Llandeilo. Here you will find a quirky decor (including floors made from pennies!) alongside well-stocked counters of local cheese, breads, olives, antipasti, charcuterie and over 180 different types of gin; plus an assortment of traditional Welsh cuisine served up daily. The Ginhaus’ modern twist on the dish is Welsh Beef Cawl with Welshman's Caviar and Da Mhile gin rarebit as a delicious accompaniment.
ginhaus.co.uk 01558 823030
11. The Plash Inn
Llanfallteg, Whitland, Carmarthenshire, SA34 0UN.
Built circa 1880 as terraced housing for workers of the cardi bach, The Plash Inn first opened its doors as an inn back in 1891, when first landlord Henry Evan’s wife opened up their room into a public house. The current owners have kept the traditional charm of the building and serve fine real ales alongside homemade food, including their famous gluten free Cawl - made with Welsh lamb, plenty of root vegetables and a secret ingredient (not to be divulged!) served up with warm crusty bread and chunks of mature Cheddar cheese.
theplashinn.co.uk 01437 563472
12. The Plough Rhosmaen
Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, SA19 6NP.
Over the past ten years, The Plough Rhosmaen has grown from a small hotel into a 24-bed 4 Star hotel and restaurant, renowned for its excellent menu using fresh Carmarthenshire produce. The restaurant’s unique version of Cawl is served up as a deconstructed selection of ingredients, including seared loin of mutton, crispy leeks and potatoes, before broth is added by waiting staff at the table. Served up with homemade bread, this is a delicious and quirky take on the traditional dish, giving diners a real foodie experience to remember.
ploughrhosmaen.com 01558 823431
13. The Royal Oak Inn
Rhandirmwyn, Llandovery, SA20 0NY.
Previously used as a hunting lodge for the Cawdor estate, The Royal Oak Inn was transformed into a pub in the late 18th century by a Cornish miner and has remained so since; serving up a variety of local real ales and home cooked food in the beautiful village of Rhandirmwyn. The Royal Oak’s Cawl is made using local Welsh lamb, split peas, leeks and a healthy dose of black pepper; served up with a warm crusty roll, local bitter and Welsh cheddar cheese.
theroyaloakinn.co.uk 01550 760201
14. The Waun Wyllt Inn
Heol Horeb, Five Roads, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, SA15 5AQ.
Originally built in the 18th Century, the Waun Wyllt Inn has been an integral part of the village of Horeb for over 300 years. Refurbished and reopened in August 2014, the inn now offers five beautifully decorated rooms and fine dining made with locally sourced ingredients. Their hearty Cawl is made with the best quality trimmed neck of Welsh lamb, locally grown root vegetables and homemade lamb stock; served with Welsh Cheddar cheese and homemade bread with chopped parsley. There are also several secret ingredients thrown in for good measure - not to be divulged!
thewaunwyllt.com 01269 862941
15. The White Hart Thatched Inn and Brewery
Llanddarog, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, SA32 8NT.
Found in the village of Llanddarog, The White Hart Inn is one of the oldest thatched inns in Wales, and offers a warm, homely atmosphere and traditional interiors; including traditional oak beams and a cosy log fire. The inn even brews its own beer and cider on-site, with a new on-site distillery opening later this year, set to be Wales’ largest craft distillery. The White Hart serves Cawl throughout the winter months and ensures their signature beer is added to the mix alongside the traditional ingredients of Welsh lamb, vegetables and pearl barley. The warming Cawl is served alongside hot baked bread and Welsh cheese.
thebestpubinwales.co.uk 01267 275395
16. Wright’s Food Emporium
Golden Grove Arms, Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire, SA32 8JU.
Since the late 18th Century, this traditional coaching inn has served traditional, local food and refreshments. Now homing Wright’s Food Emporium, this quirky bistro-style cafe serves a host of locally sourced produce and fresh home-cooked dishes with a twist; with a huge focus on local, artisan goods and delicious deli staples. Their Cawl is a firm favourite amongst patrons, made using ham hock, shoulder of lamb, plenty of vegetables and served alongside raw milk Gorwydd Caerphilly cheese and homemade granary bread.
wrightsfood.co.uk 01558 668929
17. Y Talardd
Llanllwni, Pencader, SA39 9DX.
Set at the foot of Llanllwni Mountain in the picturesque village of Llanllwni, Y Talardd is a traditional Welsh pub with a friendly vibe. Once a pitstop for Drovers, who would stop for refreshments and a rest before driving their livestock to cattle markets over the border, Y Talardd is now a welcoming and characterful family pub well known for hosting a variety of regular community events.. Hearty, delicious home cooked meals are the name of the game here - using the owner’s grandmother’s recipe of lamb, Welsh root vegetables, thyme and black pepper - prepared over 3 days to create a depth of flavour. The Cawl is served with wholewheat bread from Popty Gwalia, Llanybydder and a chunk of local cheddar cheese; and visitors can enjoy their bowl with a pint of local cask ale in front of a cosy open fire. Talardd recently received a Bronze medal for Dining Out at the Carmarthenshire Tourism Awards.
talardd.com 01559 395633