Lake District restaurants

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Price guide: Mid-range
expert-rated restaurants in Lake District
Best for Families -
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

Dinner and a movie? There's nowhere better.

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The Apple Pie

Price guide: Budget
expert-rated restaurants in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

The one-stop café-shop.

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expert-rated restaurants in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.1 (out of 5)

Drink coffee overlooking the water.

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You can eat out better now in the Lakes than ever before – from Sunday lunch to an afternoon cream tea.

The Lake District has reinvented itself as a bone-fide foodie destination in recent years with the rise of local celebrity chefs and the great British gastropub.

The region boasts four Michelin-starred eateries: Holbeck Ghyll, Sharrow Bay, The Samling and, most notably, L’Enclume in Cartmel. The latter, the domain of top Cumbrian chef Simon Rogan, would give Heston Blumenthal a run for his molecular-gastronomy money.

But while quality is high, the cost of dining out doesn’t have to break the bank. There are also plenty of little cafés, local markets and small, independent shops to refuel, try local goodies and stock up for a picnic.

I’ve made a point of including these in my listing, as well as more traditional restaurants, to offer something for all tastes and budgets.

Traditionally, the local fare is hearty – it reflects the rural, agricultural nature of the area. But while good-fuel pies, stews and sugar-punch sticky puddings remain on the menu, these dishes have often been given a contemporary makeover.

Meat lovers will not go hungry with Cumberland sausage and fell-bred Herdwick lamb traditional favourites. Fish is also well represented with Morecambe Bay home to cockles and shrimps.

Vegetarians may find less to interest them overall, but plenty of delis and cafés cater for non-meat eaters.

Two local specials to look out on your travels are Cumbrian cheese and microbrewery beers. The former should feature on any self-respecting cheese board, while the latter has become a major draw in its own right.

No trip is complete without sampling a foaming pint of Lakeland Gold or Bluebird Bitter. Cheers!

Things to consider when eating out

  • Many pub kitchens only serve between noon-2pm and 6.30pm-9pm, so you could struggle outside of those times.
  • Look out for set menus, especially at smarter eateries and hotel restaurants, which offer a good-value option, drawing on the longer a la carte menu.
  • Some restaurants only allow children aged 12 or above to eat in the main room; others pull out the stops to offer a kids’ menu and bedtime milk – shop around.
  • Look out for set menus, especially at smarter eateries and hotel restaurants, which offer a good-value option, drawing on the longer a la carte menu.
  • A service charge is automatically included in many café and restaurant bills, so there's often no need to add a further tip. However, it's good form to leave a 10 per cent tip if you had particularly good service.
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I've been regularly reviewing places to stay in the Lake District for several years now as a full-time travel writer. I’ve eaten everywhere from chip shops to Michelin-starred hotels.

The ones I've picked for Simonseeks range from top-notch delis to fine-dining hotel restaurants. This is quite deliberate as some of the most memorable food experiences I’ve had in the Lakes are simpler one: a great coffee shop, a delicious ice cream.

I’ve also primarily featured places offering modern British fare. While there are some excellent Thai, Indian and Chinese eateries across the Lakes, I’ve chosen to steer my selection towards the best of the local food.

You'll also find suggestions for places to eat outside of the main central Lakes area. These may be a drive from the main visitor hub, but I’ve included them as they are well worth the extra journey – quirky, unconventional and very definitely Cumbrian.

If you would like to suggest a restaurant to the community that I haven't recommended, then please get in touch.