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Finding good food in Cathays

2 May 2014

It was nearing closing time at the Arts and Social Studies Library. I was tired, hungry, and felt like a stroppy child craving a sugar fix. At home there was nothing left to eat but a can of beans and some stale bread.  If, like me, you’re somewhat lazy when it comes to food and can’t cook anything edible except for a bowl of pasta, or maybe a lasagne with the right preparation and few hours graft, this might sound like a familiar predicament!

Pondering which chain store I would buy yet another plastic ready meal from, I suddenly found a new resolve; tonight I would try something new! Now the hard part, how to decide where to go? Each night on the walk home from the School of History, I pass under the neon signs of countless restaurants, cafes and bars that flood the streets of Cathays, the area of Cardiff near the university campus filled with student residences. But I had no clue what was good to eat. Cathays is filled with kebab shops, chippies, Chinese restaurants, Indian takeaways, Italian, Polish, Persian…the sheer number of different places to try was staggering.

So I take a chance and follow my nose, which leads me through the doors of Abo Ali, a restaurant on City Road serving Lebanese cuisine. The spacious diner is about half full, so I settle into one of the comfy sofas in the far corner of the calmly lit room.  After briefly browsing the menu, I look up to a smiling waiter ready to take my order. Within five minutes a sumptuous luncheon is placed before my eyes, a freshly cooked falafel wrap, with juicy green chilies, rice and salad trimmings, all for a fiver. Needless to say I devoured it all, practically licking the plate for the blobs of red chilli sauce that blurted out of the wrap. After I’d finished, I just sat in stasis, taking in the chilled vibes of the restaurant, letting the cool burn of the spice and flavour sizzle on my tongue. If you need a good, filling meal on a budget, I highly recommend dropping by Abo Ali.