When we think of the Lakes, we conjure up images of towering peaks, glassy lakes, and forests that cling to the mountainside like ivy on a cottage, but stunning scenery worthy of a screensaver isn’t the only thing going for this spectacular corner of the UK. With nature at its heart, the Lake District enjoys a buzzing foodie scene that makes full use of the area’s bountiful larder.
You’ll find lakeside cafés with big and beautiful breakfasts, top-notch restaurants that boast Michelin stars and a menu to die for, and cosy pubs you can fall into after a mammoth ramble through the fells. It’s not just eateries that cater to every hankering though, oh no. With such an impressive array of food producers in the Lakes, you’ll find a hearty collection of delis, butchers, and independent food shops ready to fill your picnic basket with a fabulously moreish feast – Cumberland sausage sarnie, anyone?
Ready to stretch your legs and satiate your cravings? Here are a few of our favourite places to eat in the Lake District for you to sink your teeth into…
Finkle Street, Ullswater, Pooley Bridge, Penrith CA10 2NN
Whether you’re after a dog-friendly pub where you can put your feet (and paws) up after a day out in the Lakes or you’re looking for somewhere special to celebrate, you’ll find the warmest of welcomes at Pooley Bridge Inn. A log fire turns the pub into a haze of cosiness, while the restaurant and beer gardens offer a more airy setting for your meal.
Speaking of… The menu at this traditional inn is a true celebration of pub grub, as well as the comforting cuisine found across Cumbria and Scotland. Dig into a mouth-watering Cumberland Sausage (when in Cumbria, after all) with mash and gravy, swoon at the wholetail scampi from Whitby, or delve into the vegan menu for some plant-based delights, from plant dawgs to their epic moving mountains burger.
Town Head, Troutbeck, Windermere LA23 1PW
Another of the many welcoming pubs in the Lake District, Queens Head has you covered from full Cumbrian breakfasts to lip-smacking Sunday roasts that are sure to set you up for the week ahead. The menu is deliciously varied, with the likes of venison burger, butternut squash ravioli, and duck and damson sausage making it rather hard to settle on any one dish. The desserts are equally tempting. Whether you’re in the mood for crumble or sticky toffee pudding, you’ll be sitting down to a wonderfully homemade sweet treat.
The menu doesn’t end here as this incredibly dog-friendly pub has an entire menu dedicated to your furry friend. Oh yes, the pooch can dine with you on the likes of chicken, mashed potato, carrots and gravy, or fish, new potatoes and broccoli – they even have a bark-worthy bar, with doggie beers and wines so you can toast to your four-legged friend in style.
Magic Hill, Whinlatter Forest, Braithwaite, Nr Keswick CA12 5TW
Tucked away in the reaching heights of Whinlatter Forest, this Michelin-listed restaurant is quite literally one of the top places to eat in the Lakes (in both quality and height above sea level). Northern produce is at the very heart and soul of this dappled eatery, with local food producers and head chef Sam Miller ensuring the food on your plate is the best of the best – even the water is sourced from their very own spring on Magic Hill!
The tasting menu is a culinary whirlwind of flavours, ready to whisk your tastebuds through the fells. Dine on Herdwick hogget, local langoustine, or onions with Allerdale goats cheese. You can also add the matched wines to really round off your dining experience.
Keswick Road, Grasmere LA22 9RN
Another of the Lake District’s tree-lined eateries, Forest Side melds the beautiful surrounding landscape with a fresh menu that really makes the most of the local natural larder – it’s all about seasonal produce that fills the soul and the stomach! Light pours in through the windows that overlook the grassy lawns and dappled woodland that peaks through to the Lakeland Fells beyond.
When it comes to the menu, you can look forward to a top-tier four or eight course menu, both of which shine a light on ingredients that have been grown or reared within the Lakes – 60% of the fruit and veg is actually grown in their very own kitchen garden in Grasmere. Let your eyes gobble up the beautifully presented likes of cheese from The Courtyard Dairy, Jerusalem artichoke, and aged Cartmel Valley deer, all while sinking some glorious small organic and biodynamic wines.
13 Crescent Road, Windermere LA23 1EA
If you love pork, then head on over to The Pig where you’ll find an outstanding menu full of pork dishes alongside a variety of cask ales and world wines. The wonderfully relaxed interior joins forces with the cosy wood-burner to create a welcoming space you’ll gladly spend an evening enjoying – and that’s before you take in the tempting menu.
Start your culinary feast with some salt and pepper calamari or a goat's cheese salad (while pork is a staple here, the menu caters to all), continue on to rolled pork belly or beer battered haddock and chips, and finish things off with The Pig cheese board or a piece of warm apple pie. Or, for a real treat, we recommend going for the pig platter for one, which features pigs in blankets, BBQ pulled pork, pork belly, Parma ham, chips, coleslaw, corn on the cob, apple sauce, and mustard – it’s a feast of epic portions (we mean proportions).
Longtail Hill, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3JF
Once owned by the Lake District’s very own Beatrix Potter (the logo is actually in her handwriting), this beautiful house combines fine dining with even finer views – not to mention a menu full of seasonal specials that will have you counting down the calendar. Pop in for some light bites and a glass of something special as you catch up with friends, or stop by for a feast-worthy dinner – we’re particularly in love with the salt aged sirloin steak and the green peppercorn and cognac sauce!
Delving into the menu, you’ll be blown away by the attention to detail, from the “ham, egg, and chips”, which combines ham hock terrine, pickled vegetables, quail egg, and potato crisp (with homemade ketchup), to the citrus cured salmon with sous vide fennel, tomato, capers, and a lime emulsion. If you have any room left, the dessert menu will fill the corners thanks to a combination of lemon tart, sticky toffee pudding, and a selection of cheeses that’s sure to bring on a cheesy grin.
Ambleside LA22 9NJ
With a mouth-watering mix of fresh bakes and vegan and vegetarian lunches, Chester has a little something for everyone – there’s even a shop full of scrumptious interior knick-knacks! This Ambleside bakery is the perfect place to stop for a homemade sweet treat – chocolate brownies, cinnamon buns, and doughnuts to name a mere few – while the café offers veg-filled lunches that pack a flavourful punch. Feast on wood-fired pizza, loaded chips, and homemade soups, alongside a sumptuous selection of hot drinks – all of which you can enjoy sitting in or as a takeaway.
In the summer months, you can take your feast outside and dine on the sun-soaked deck, or you can cosy down by the wood-burner with a pastry in-hand – utter bliss! We whole-heartedly recommend stopping by before heading out for your stomp as nothing fuels a walk in the Lakes quite like a bag full of homemade goodies.
The Old Stamp House, Ambleside
Church Street, Ambleside LA22 0BU
The Old Stamp House is a quirky place with local art hung on its low-ceilinged rooms and a Michelin Star to boot. Housed inside the former office of William Wordsworth, this intimate restaurant melds the old with the new flawlessly, all while celebrating Cumbria’s famous cuisine and culture.
The tasting menus, which can be enjoyed at lunch and in the evening, are the perfect way to tour the many flavours and textures found around the Lake District, from the depths of the coast to the highest peaks. The evening tasting menu is made up of dishes inspired by the fields, farm, lake, bay, fells, and hedgerows. Even the drinks menu shouts loud about Cumbrian and British flavours, with local beers, ales and spirits adding to the menu, alongside some sip-worthy English cocktails.
The Wild Boar, Kendal
Crook Road, Kendal LA23 3NF
Boasting a grill and smokehouse restaurant, a lounge and bar, and a rather distinctive afternoon tea, every visit to The Wild Boar is a unique experience. The chilled vibes and soul-warming décor of the restaurant is perfect for those wanting to ease into a comfy chair after a day traversing the fells, while the lounge and bar offers guests a fireside respite, complete with exposed beams and a bar that boasts over 100 whiskies.
Taking you from breakfast all the way through to dinner, with a Sunday lunch in between for good measure, it’s always a good time to pay this traditional inn a visit. A wide range of dishes ensure every taste is catered for, with the likes of Scottish mussels, Cumbrian fell lamb, and seasonal pie getting the taste buds tingling. The inn’s famous ‘alternative’ afternoon tea is particularly tempting, as it’s made up of all manner of savoury delights, from wild boar and black pudding scotch eggs to treacle cured salmon – it even comes as a takeaway picnic you can enjoy in the surrounding woods.
Ready to taste your way around the Lakes? Explore our beautiful holiday cottages in the Lake District and start planning your culinary adventure.