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Where to Eat in the Lake District

By Kathryn Bennett
More by Kathryn

Restaurants, Cafés, Pubs and Delis

There are few places in the UK with as many fantastic eateries packed into one inspiring region as there are in the Lake District. Fewer still where you’ll be able to choose from such an abundance of the best rustic pub grub alongside inspired, modern dining. From the beautiful southern Lakes to the north tip of Ullswater, we’ve handpicked this selection of the region’s best restaurants, pubs and delis to help you decide where to satisfy your culinary cravings. Whether you’re spending time relaxing and soaking up the scenery or are out and about hiking in the highest of the fells, there’s nothing that quite sets you up for a day in the Lakes more than an unforgettable meal.

Scroll down to see the best places to eat in the Lake District, or click the link to a specific eatery.

Best Places to Eat in Cartmel

Whilst your visit to the Lake District might not always take you as far south as the village of Cartmel, we recommend anyone staying in the south Lakes makes time to journey down. Here, you’ll find the first restaurant with 3 Michelin stars in the north of England. That, combined with the region’s infamous sticky toffee pudding, has made this an absolute hotspot for foodies.

L’Enclume

A 12-acre farm nearby provides most of the produce for Simon Rogan’s flagship 3 Michelin star restaurant. Previously a smithy for over 800 years, there is no other venue in Cumbria which quite blends old and new like this. A treat in the truest sense of the word, any meal here will be worth the journey. See their website.

Rogan & Co

 

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Rogan’s other restaurant in Cartmel offers an affordable alternative to the flagship L’Enclume, but still sticks to his principles of highly seasonal, local produce. Set up with a brasserie feel in an intimate stone cottage by a river, you’ll find the experience a more relaxed affair but equally enjoyable. See their website.

The Cavendish Arms


A 450-year-old coaching inn with beams overhead and a rustic interior creates a traditional pub atmosphere in the Cavendish Arms, whilst the menu assembles an incredible array of dishes to create the ideal Lakeland experience. Expect recipes that pluck ingredients from both the nearby coast and the fells, whether that’s marinated mackerel or Lune valley lamb shank. See their website.

Best Places to Eat in Kendal

The Lake District’s largest town is full of great restaurants and cafés, but it’s well worth delving outside the centre to its neighbouring villages and hamlets to find some hidden gems.

The Moon Highgate

 

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There are plenty of fantastic pubs in Kendal and nearby. If you’ve got a hankering for something a tad different, head to The Moon. Seasonal modern British food is served in a cosy but stylish space, whilst local ingredients such as Yorkshire lamb and Cumbrian beef are made to sing with cutting-edge accompaniments. See their website.

Punch Bowl Inn

 

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More than worth the short drive from Kendal, this gastropub is a must for any foodies. Pub food is elevated with satisfying innovations that blend British and French cuisine. Their most iconic dishes include a twice-baked Lancashire cheese soufflé, Creedy carver duck breast and lemon tart with damson sorbet. See their website.

Wilf’s Café


The perfect stop off on a drive to or from Kendal, Wilf’s Café serves up fantastic lunches made with love. Try their rarebit, a mouth-watering version of grilled cheese on toast, which they serve up with plenty of delicious optional toppings. The best part is that a visit here takes you into Staveley’s Mill Yard, an incredible little culinary pocket of the Lakes also home to a brewery, artisan bakery and more. See their website.

Best Places to Eat in Windermere

Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere: two bustling little towns on the edge of England’s largest lake. Well worth exploring, this is a hub for locals and visitors alike, and many incredible eateries have emerged to meet their needs.

Wateredge Inn

 

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You’ll want to enjoy a meal served up in view of one of its many eponymous lakes at some point on a visit to the Lake District. The Wateredge Inn delivers both on location and menu. Head here in the warmer months to enjoy simple, classic pub dishes done well, and a local ale or two outside in their peaceful beer garden. See their website.

Gilpin Spice


This is a Michelin star restaurant that thrives on Cumbria’s fascinating history. Influenced by the region’s past role at the centre of the spice trade through nearby ports, an open kitchen serves tapas-style pan-Asian dishes which blend local ingredients with recipes from the Philippines, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and more. See their website.

Homeground


A gorgeous little café tucked at the bottom end of Windermere’s main street, you’ll want to head here early on the weekend to get a table for brunch. Their menu takes influence from all sorts of cuisines and, with a licence, they’re also great for a boozy lunch, serving up local craft beers by the bottle. Their home-baked treats are simply scrumptious – pocket a few for your walk later that day. See their website.

Best Places to Eat in Ambleside

Seated smack bang in the heart of the Lake District, Ambleside’s place as a crossroads for most Lakeland adventures has created a melting pot of culinary delights with the variety to satisfy all.

Zefferellis and Fellinis


A Lake District institution, Zefferellis has been serving up delicious, Italian-inspired vegetarian cuisine for over 40 years. Perfect for families, couples and groups, its universal appeal led to such success that they were able to open a second restaurant down the road, Fellinis, this time taking influence from the Mediterranean. Both venues feature cinema screens, and the Zefferellies often offer live music, making this the perfect choice for a complete night out. See their website.

Rattle Ghyll Deli


Meeting all your on-the-go needs, Rattle Ghyll Deli is owned and run by two passionate Lake District lovers who formally ran an Ambleside café. Now focusing all their efforts on this fantastic little deli, they offer home-cooked and home-baked delights to fuel your adventures. It’s also worth stopping here for their store, packed full of locally and ethically sourced foods, and a plastic-free refill shop. See their website.

The Apple Pie Café

 

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Going strong since 1975, the Apple Pie café is a go-to place to pick up a fantastic spread for a picnic, with a bakery full of the best homemade traditional British fare. Their café is well worth making time for too, with an extensive breakfast and lunch menu featuring plenty of variety, but especially ideal for those with a sweet tooth. Try their scone with clotted cream and jam or the eponymous apple pie. See their website.

Best Places to Eat in Langdale

As one of the Lake District’s most beautiful valleys, Langdale naturally has some fantastic pubs and cafés where you can take the time to soak in the views.

Old Dungeon Ghyll

 

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A favourite for locals and tourists alike, the Old Dungeon Ghyll has a strong history in the area; some of the most iconic names in British mountaineering have passed through these doors. Nowadays, you can enjoy some pub food and, if you’re lucky, maybe even some traditional music from local folk players. Enjoy the wonderful ambience as all varieties of visitors to the fells end their adventures here. See their website.

Sticklebarn

 

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This is another great stop after your hiking or ghyll-scrambling adventure in Langdale. A cosy stone, slate and timber building houses affordable yet exciting meals perfect for all the family, from classic Cumberland sausage suppers to vegan chilli nachos. What’s more, as the National Trust manages the pub, all the pennies you spend here are funnelled back into protecting the Lake District. See their Facebook.

Chester’s By The River

 

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Situated – you guessed it – just next to the lovely river Brathay, which flows out of Langdale, Chester’s is a fantastic café, deli and shop that makes for a great day on its own. Relax on their riverside deck and enjoy a tremendous salad or woodfired pizza with a local craft beer, or pop into their to-go shop on your travels for delicious homemade pasties and artisan coffee. Great for vegetarian and vegan options. See their website.

Best Places to Eat in Keswick

Seated on the shores of Derwentwater, Keswick is a market town with a lot of heart. Passionate locals who love where they live have created a series of fabulous cafés, restaurants and bars for you to choose from.

Fellpack and The Round

 

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A collective taking the Keswick culinary scene by storm, the team running the Fellpack and its subsequent creations are only going from strength to strength. Head to their first restaurant, Fellpack, for excellent ‘fell fuel’ served in a stylish, relaxed bistro, or try the Round in the main square for top-notch burgers and innovative cocktails. See their website.

Lake Road Brunch

 

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The Lake District’s only dedicated brunch and cocktail venue is worth a visit. This well-travelled team has created a remarkable world-inspired menu to suit all, ranging from a proper full English to mouth-watering eggs shakshuka, masala dosa and more. Wash it all down with a bloody Mary or mimosa and you’ve got the perfect Lakeland rest day. See their website.

Bar Es

 

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There are a few places to get tapas in Keswick so why not try Mexican to mix it up? Tucked away in the backstreets, Bar Es has that perfect hidden-gem feel. Pick from a fantastic variety of classic tapas dishes with cheeky Mexican twists, or dig into larger meals like spicy bean enchiladas or pulled chicken burritos. If you’re into your tequila, you can’t miss out on their incredible selection of spirits and margaritas. See their website.

Best Places to Eat in Ullswater

One of the Lake District’s most stunning valleys, this is the place to go to feel truly in nature. Take in the views, wander along the shore, and then head to one of our favourite culinary venues.

Inn on the Lake


This luxury hotel boasts an award-winning restaurant, a stunning lake-view bar and lounge, and an orangery with a 360-degree view – everything you might want in one incredible venue. Enjoy dinner, lunch or afternoon tea made from the best local ingredients whilst soaking in the Inn’s spectacular lakeside location. See their website.

Fellbites

 

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Situated in the picturesque village of Glenridding, underneath one of the Lake District’s highest peaks, Helvellyn, Fellbites is a fantastic little café within walking distance of the Ullswater steamers. Enjoy a satisfying sandwich, a refreshing salad, or indulge in a hearty helping of loaded fries after a big hike in the hills. See their website.

The Secret Garden


Pooley Bridge, at the very north tip of Ullswater, is home to a few fantastic pubs, cafés and restaurants. We recommend The Secret Garden for its lovely riverside location, with outside seating and heaters to let you enjoy the outdoors even in the colder months. We also love their varied menu, which mixes things up from your typical pub food with offerings such as fish tempura and succulent kebabs. See their Facebook.

Best Places to Eat in Coniston

Coniston is a beautiful part of the Lake District and shouldn’t be skipped! You’ll find lovely places to grab a bite in the village and along the shores of Coniston Water.

Drunken Duck Inn

 

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People rave about the Drunken Duck Inn far and wide, and once you’ve been, you’ll understand why. Coming here is a real treat; the staff are very friendly, the food divine and the interiors warm and welcoming. Inside, you couldn’t imagine a more perfect country pub with wood furnishings, old leather chairs and plenty of wall decorations to keep you entertained for hours. See their website.

Steam Bistro

 

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Relaxed bistro dining at its finest, the Steam Bistro doesnt take itself too seriously. Expect good food and a good atmosphere. The menu changes daily based on local and seasonal ingredients and what inspires the team. Aim to visit on a Sunday for one of the most scrumptious Sunday lunch menus in the Lakes. See their website.

The Terrace (Brantwood)


Brantwood used to be John Ruskin’s home, and you can’t really argue with the fabulous location of the Terrace Coffeehouse & Restaurant which used to be Ruskin’s old coach house. Splendid views, beautiful gardens and outdoor seating on hot weather days, and fascinating museum on wet weather days. You may not expect much from a visitor centre cafe, but the Terrace serves excellent coffee, cakes, and main meals. See their website.

Taste Your Way Around the Lake District

Meet the Author: Kathryn Bennett

I grew up on the edge of the Dales in Yorkshire, fed by small but beautiful walking and cycling days out and holidays in the UK, where I discovered it’s more than possible to love being outside no matter the weather. Many soggy sandwiches eaten in the rain later, and this joyous determination to experience the outdoors only grew, pushing me to learn and do more than I ever imagined I would.

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