One year ago I visited Bridgend after hearing that it was having a bit of a "moment" when it comes to food. With people visiting from outside the county to try out cuisines from all over the world, I'd read that one restaurant in particular that had just arrived was exceptionally impressive, and could easily rival those in big cities.

After a walk around town speaking to restaurant workers it became clear that Bridgend is the place to be when it comes to food, and as cliché as it sounds, had something for everyone. One year later, and now that even more have popped up, I was keen to go back and ask people if it was still just as buzzing - despite the enormous pressures facing the hospitality industry that have seen business after business in Wales' capital shut their doors for good.

The answer was a firm yes from everyone I asked, but anyone passing through can see how much it has got to offer. From classic greasy spoons to contemporary, slick restaurants, the sheer range of choice is certainly impressive. For the latest Bridgend news, sign up to our newsletter here.

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The Marble Steakhouse opened its doors in 2022 after its sister restaurant La Cocina selling tapas got off to a flying start just across the road. Daniel Aspee, who owns both restaurants, revealed this time around that they would also soon be opening a third restaurant on the street, named "Fusion", which is set to be a restaurant themed around a mix of Chinese, Thai and Japanese food combined.

Paper menu on a marble table next to cutlery and an empty glass. On the menu, it shows different sections, including 'starter & picky bits', 'sauces', 'mains', 'steaks' and 'speciality cuts.' The menu at the Marble, Bridgend, which is one of the newer additions in town.
The menu at the Marble, Bridgend, which is one of the newer additions in town.
Outside of a restaurant in Bridgend. The wall has a sign on the side of it, next to a window.
Marble Restaurant, which opened in December 2022 and has been described as somewhere that could 'easily rival' similar restaurants in big cities.

Gabriel Almada, who manages the steakhouse, said: "Business has been fairly good, we've been quite surprised by the numbers we've had. It was very good around Christmas and new year and now that has just continued. Bridgend is a great scene for restaurants at the moment, there are so many choices and people actually come from far away.

"When I speak to the guests and say where are you from people travel miles to visit from the valleys, and Cardiff and Swansea. So people are actually coming into Bridgend to have a meal, and it's great.

"I've been living here for 10 years and I would say that there has definitely been a shift. It used to be the other way around, that people would leave the area to eat somewhere else. We're kind of blessed because we're so close to the train station and customers can catch a train, have a lovely evening, enjoy a drink and then go back home.

"There is a demand. We are filling up the seats every night, and that's what has allowed us to open up somewhere else. There is quite a lot going on in Bridgend at the moment food wise. You've got Gin & Sake, the Japanese cocktail bar, Morgan's Bistro that do European contemporary food which is really nice and a lovely pizza place opened by a gentleman called Franco's down the road so there is lots on offer."

When asked if he would be branching out again any time soon apart from Fusion, the pair smiled, saying nothing else but I think it's safe to say we can look forward to seeing what else they might introduce to the town in the future.

But in this foodie haven, how does each business stand out? Next door, Dragon Café is one spot which people can't seem to get enough of. Get the best user experience with WalesOnline’s Premium app on Apple or Android.

Woman sitting in a yellow booth in a Bridgend café. Other people can be seen behind her and there is a glass door and window leading onto the street. The woman is called Iulia Caciur, and she is inside Dragon Café.
Iulia Caciur who works in Dragon Café
The outside of a café. Customers can be seen eating inside the business. It is called Dragon Café and is located in Bridgend.
The outside of Dragon Café in Bridgend, which workers say stands out in this foodie town.

They've seen establishments come and go over the years, but say that what makes people keep coming back through their doors is the friendly atmosphere and great food. When I went in during a Wednesday lunchtime, the café was absolutely heaving. Almost every table was occupied, with an atmosphere that was truly buzzing.

Iulia Caciur said: "It's usually pretty busy. We have lots of customers and I think our atmosphere probably helps to draw customers in. I don't think there is much competition as well and we definitely do the best breakfasts."

In the centre, next to the roundabout on Dunraven place, is another oldie but a goodie. Il Panino is an Italian café that has been in Bridgend for over 12 years serving locally sourced breakfast and lunchtime meals. The menu is ever-changing, always keeping up to date with what goes down well.

Their building gives a real European atmosphere and is a gorgeous addition to the area. Joshua Christopher told us last year that the town has become a proper "food hotspot", and he says that nothing has changed this time around.

Joshua said: "It has remained fairly consistent with footfall. The market traders have moved into the town so that's really helped boost footfall in the town centre but I think more could be done to boost footfall in the centre. But overall it's been fairly similar.

Man outside restaurant in Bridgend. The restaurant walls are a shade of coral pink, and some of the produce can be seen through the door inside.
Josh Christopher, who runs Il Poninio, says the food scene in Bridgend has continued to grow over the last 12 months
Italian style café in the Welsh town of Bridgend. The restaurant walls are a shade of coral pink, and some of the produce can be seen through the door inside.
The Italian café, Il Panino in Bridgend.

"The food scene is great. The best part is that there's a lot of independents and it's great supporting the different communities and local traders. In terms of the variety of restaurants there's a lot of different places, you definitely come for the dining experience and atmosphere."

Over the last 12 months, a handful of new businesses have joined Bridgend centre from Tholos, which opened with the aim of introducing a new approach to modern Greek food and the Bridgend dining scene, to 280Grammi, the restaurant owned by two Italian brothers selling pizza to die for.

And it's not just in the centre where you can enjoy a great dining experience. There have also been an impressive amount of new restaurants and cafes popping up across the county, with a few to note including Michelin-loved restaurant, Hiraeth, which relocated from Cowbridge to the popular Court Colman Manor hotel, in Pen-y-fai.

The outside of Bridgend’s Court Colman Manor Hotel, where Hiraeth is now based. The building is white and there is a large grass area outdoors.
Bridgend’s Court Colman Manor Hotel, where Hiraeth is now based.
Tables and chairs inside restaurant, featuring green seats, a wooden floor, a green wall next to a pink wall, a black ceiling and ambient lighting. The restaurant is called Hiraeth, and is located inside the Court Colman Manor Hotel.
Inside the new Hiraeth restaurant at the Court Colman Manor Hotel.

Welsh Coffee Company has also opened a café on the seafront with gorgeous views over Ogmore-By-Sea, and décor that is in line with the company founder's likes - surfing, walking, yoga and nature. And over in Porthcawl, Saltlake Seafood Co. has also arrived on the seafront as part of the town's £2.4m leisure development that has transformed a corner which was formerly overlooked.

So whether it comes to a cheap full English, a proper roasted coffee or a fine dining experience you won't forget, it seems Bridgend is a county that has it all. At a time where independent businesses are under more pressure than ever, long may it continue.