Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.
“I spend my money on holidays and eating out, and it allows me to be generous.” – James Nesbitt
We should all play by this rule! Food plays a massive part of any holiday, whether it’s food we prepare ourselves, food we buy on the move or food we enjoy when we eat out. For many people, a holiday is all about food.
Trying new recipes and delicacies from new places is one of the best ways to get everyone together when on holiday and it’s a lovely way for people to reconnect over the joy of eating good food. Put delicious grub and bottles of wine in front of any group and it will be a gabfest all night! In the Lake District, we have lots of traditional food and drink that can be enjoyed during your visit.
When thinking up your next holiday location, it is a good idea to make sure there are lovely pubs, restaurants and cafes close by that offer great places to sit, relax, eat and catch up. They are the perfect places to slow down and enjoy each other's company without worrying about the cooking or the cleaning up – this is the best part for most who run a family. Whilst cooking in your holiday cottage kitchen can be refreshing and fun in itself, there something even better about going out for dinner and returning to a clean house!
There are great restaurants throughout the Lake District which offer up delicious meals and gorgeous settings, making a night out in this great region one to remember. Here are our top 10 restaurants in the Lake District…
This is a welcoming restaurant at the heart of the village of Ambleside, housed in the former office of William Wordsworth. This is a quiet and intimate venue tucked away in a quiet corner of Church Street which is run by two brothers who share a passion for good food and delicious tastes. Ryan and Craig Blackburn opened in 2014 and have since developed a popular and memorable place to eat for locals and visitors alike.
The menu honours the historic traditions of Cumbria whilst showing innovation with modern twists in both flavour and influence. With meat and vegetables being sourced locally, along with seafood and fish, this restaurant proudly supports local business throughout Cumbria. They were awarded their first Michelin star in October 2019.
Location: Church Street, Ambleside, LA22 0BU
Harrys Café can be found in the amazing establishment that is Yew Tree Barn, a family-run business that has specialised in architectural reclamation since 1986. Time spent at Yew Tree Barn is time well spent, being a one-stop shop where you can enjoy shopping, socialising and eating all in one. As well as two floors of antiques, old-fashioned furniture and artwork, there is a lovely gift shop selling local crafts and seasonal gifts. Here you can pick up some souvenirs to mark your trip and, if you have a house to decorate, why not invest in some old antiques?
The café is lively and welcoming and serves a range of delicious dishes from light snacks to main meals and the vibe here is warm and friendly. It is a charming place to spend some time enjoying great coffee and cream tea, soup and a sandwich or a filling seafood platter! Remember to try the sticky toffee pudding, the trademark of Cartmel itself.
Location: Low Newton, Cartmel, LA11 6JP
Forest Side is an award-winning restaurant set in Forest Side Hotel in the Lake District that can offer you an evening of luxury and romance in a beautiful setting. This would be a good place to come to if you are looking to celebrate something special or just to treat those you love. This establishment passioniate about food, so much so that they have their own kitchen garden which is planted with over 100 varieties of vegetable and 25 types of herbs, supplying them with 60-70% of produce needed. The garden also supplies the kitchen with an array of micro greens, used for garnishes, a growing technique that increases the nutrient content by up to ten times.
Covering lunch and dinner, the menu is both elegant and impressive in variety. Catering for vegetarians also, everyone will be able to have fun picking a delicious meal to enjoy. You can choose from either the six-course La’l ‘Un or ten-course Grand ‘Un tasting menus which will surprise you on every course. If you are looking for a unique experience which surprises on every mouthful, then this is the place for you.
Location: Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9RN
Lyzzick Hall is situated on the site of an old farmhouse dating back hundreds of years and it takes its name from the ancient woodland area behind the building which was once known as Lyzzick Wood. For the last 35 years, Lyzzick Hall has been a hotel, with the current owners taking it over in 1986. After some loving renovating and restoring, they turned it into the homely and well-loved hotel it is today offering first-class service, a relaxing setting and wonderful food.
The restaurant is open to non-residents as well as its own guests and welcomes you in for a meal to remember. All meals are prepared by talented chefs using the finest ingredients sourced from local suppliers. Herbs used in recipes are grown from their own garden and their meat is supplied from the local butcher in Cartmel. The food combines traditional and contemporary British food with the occasional international twist. Start the night off with a cocktail, treat yourself to a three-course meal accompanied a glass of fruity wine, and end the night on a crème brûlée high.
Location: Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4PY
Applegarth Villa is a stylish restaurant and lounge bar which offers a sophisticated venue for your night off in the Lake District. Set in a stunning conservatory, it boasts beautiful views of the fells and magnificent sunsets which can be enjoyed from the comfort of your table. You will be able to admire the luxurious furnishings and perfectly designed surroundings whilst you catch up over a glass of wine or a delicious appetiser. The oak-panelled contemporary bar is a lovely place to ponder over the cocktail menu.
The head chef, John Kelly, has featured in many magazines and periodicals and is renowned for his passion for food. His menu is diverse and creative and ranges from pan-seared scallops and pan-fried sea bream to mushroom pate-topped pork fillet and Cumbrian fillet steak. An evening spent here will have you smiling with happiness through every course because the food is just that good. If you are after a lighter treat, keep the sumptuous afternoon tea in mind – it’s just splendid.
Location: Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1BU
For something a little bit more relaxed, head to the Steam Bistro in Coniston which focuses on simple, relaxed dining with a great ambience and great recipes. Celebrating local business and produce, this friendly establishment creates heart-warming food with homegrown produce sourced around Cumbria. Having won ‘restaurant of the year’ at the Cumbria Life magazine food and drink awards, this is a popular place to eat with locals and visitors alike.
Offering two set menus, you have the choice of two or three courses during your visit to Steam Bistro. You can pick from a daily list of specials which changes all the time based on what the chef feels inspired to cook and, although they are not licensed, you are welcome to bring your own tipple and enjoy an alcoholic beverage inside. The pedigree Dexter beef and Herwick lamb will not disappoint, and the seafood sourced at the Lake District Lobster Company will only have you coming back for more.
Location: Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8ED
Located in the heart of Whinlatter, Cumbria’s mountain forest, this is a tranquil establishment designed to create a haven of peace and relaxation. Here you can dine in a setting that is bursting with charm, letting you experience the views over the forest and watch red squirrels foraging for their next meal. Candlelit dinners can be expected here whilst you taste the creations of talented head chef Ben Wilkinson, a creative and innovative cook.
If you are looking for a sophisticated experience then this is the place for you; it adds that touch of ‘special’ that we all hope for in a meal out. Open for lunch and dinner, you can sample an array of meals with a great selection of starters, main courses and deserts. The menus are changed regularly reflecting the seasonal produce that is on offer throughout the year, so if you visit the Lake District more than once there will always be something different for you to try.
Location: Whinlatter Forest, Braithwaite, CA12 5TW
Here you can experience the ultimate Lake District dining experience with an array of international dishes which are cooked on a 3-metre-long wood-fired grill in a stylish open kitchen. Steaks, meats, fish and veggies are all cooked over hot embers letting the different woods add extra flavour to the plate with elder, birch and oak being common contributors.
This classy eatery is the newest addition to Low Wood Bay Resort and Spa and offers something totally different to other places throughout the Lakes. With the interiors being subtle and trendy, this would be the perfect place to take the family for a grown-up treat, or the one you love for a romantic meal. You can also look forward to an afternoon tea at this stylish establishment; with views out over Lake Windermere, what could be a nicer way to spend your afternoon?
There is also a spa here which you can read about in our guide to the best spas in the Lake District.
Location: Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1LP
This is an AA Rosette award-winning steakhouse in Keswick and is all about spectacular meat and stunning food. Based in Keswick’s only four-star hotel, the Inn on the Square, this trendy modern restaurant offers a lovely place to spend the evening. The Danish inspired décor and huge wall murals showing off the popular cuts of a cow, pig and chicken (handy for those who don’t know their rump from their rib-eye) add to the trendy atmosphere. Another establishment celebrating local produce, you can be sure the meat you eat is Cumbrian and the vegetables locally grown.
From juicy rib-eye to tender chops, oak-smoked rump, juicy fillets, and even the ultimate Chateaubriand, everything is cooked exactly to your taste and grilled to perfection. With over 15 sides to pick from, you can design your plate to fit as little or as much as you want on! Enjoy pre-drinks or a coffee in the adjoining lounge and enjoy the relaxing ambiance and friendly atmosphere of the whole place.
Location: Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5LW
And one for the non-meat eaters out there, here is a restaurant that is solely focused on the vegetarian pallet. Quince & Medlar celebrates fine vegetarian dining in the heart of Cumbria and invites you in to enjoy its intimate, warm and relaxing restaurant packed with character and charm. You can enjoy good, honest food whilst admiring local artwork which lines the wall, and you can try delicious new dishes whilst enjoying the company of your friends.
Quince and Medlar has been recognised for 30 years by 'The Good Food Guide', an accolade held by very few restaurants in the UK. You can expect a varied menu of cheesy mini millet muffins, tomato-coated courgette and baked honey cheesecake, amongst many other treats. So, if there are any vegetarians in your group then this is the perfect location!
Location: Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 9EU
Have we inspired you to book a table at some of the best restaurants in Cumbria?
With many self-catering cottages set throughout the region, you will be able to find a cottage which is close by these amazing places to eat. We recommend you book in advance to all of these places, as they are some of the most popular in the region. As well as restaurants, there are great pubs and cafes which offer a more casual and relaxed approach to eating out. Check out our guide to the 5 best pubs in the Lake District.
If you are holidaying with your dog, make sure you take a read of our guide to dog-friendly places to eat and drink. You will definitely get some ideas of places to take them, so you don’t need to leave them behind.
If you are thinking of travelling to Cumbria for your next holiday keep our self-catering cottages in mind. Whether you are coming as a family, a couple or a group of friends, we have Lake District accommodation that will suit you. From large lodges to cosy cottages and dog-friendly cottages, our collection stands out as some of the best holiday accommodation in Cumbria.