The Best Pub Food in the Lake District

There are so many wonderful pubs in the Lake District serving fabulous food, that narrowing our choice down to just eight hasn’t been easy – it could easily run to twenty or more.

Sometimes you just want a pie and a pint, and sometimes you want something a bit more sophisticated. Either way, you’ll find something to suit all tastes in our selection. Tuck into the…

Eight we rate – The finest pubs for grub in the Lakes

Home > Lake District Guide > The Best Pub Food in the Lake District 

The Hare & Hounds

This characterful 17th-century coaching inn in the serene surroundings of Cartmel Fell, just a short drive from Windermere, is everything you’d expect in a quintessential English country pub – roaring log fire included but, there are also Tracey Emin prints dotted among the more traditional pictures on the walls.

Owned by Jeremy Rayner-Langmead (ex-PR man) and Andrew Black (former publisher of trendy style guide Wallpaper), they have created a stylish yet welcoming, community-first pub that also attracts the odd celeb who make the trip up north, thanks to the well-connected owners. But it’s also won praise for its locally sourced menu.

What’s on the menu?

You can expect the usual pub classics like fish and chips and steak and ale pie, but daily specials and interesting flavour combinations spice things up nicely.

How does Sauté of garlic king prawns with kimchi tomato sauce, finished with coriander & black sesame sound? Or Wild mushroom, butternut, spinach & mozzarella lasagne, glazed with cherry smoked cheese sauce and served with truffled salad leaves?

You can just have a comforting bowl of soup or other light bites if you fancy – we like the sound of Cumbrian ale rarebit on wild English sourdough with Bloody Mary ketchup & dressed leaf salad.

And we’ve heard good things about their Sunday roasts too.

Children are catered for with a small but tasty menu (including gelato from Kimi’s of Staveley), and there’s also a short but thoughtfully chosen wine list – with sherry on offer as a digestif.

The Wild Boar

Ancient inn bursting with rustic charm? Check. Comfy leather seats? Check. Oak beams and a roaring fire? Check. On-site microbrewery and smokehouse serving food and drink that people travel from far and wide to enjoy? Check. 

Located in the gorgeous Gilpin Valley on the road between Kendal and Windermere, the Wild Boar deserves its foodie go-to reputation. Head pan wrangler, Dylan Evans uses locally sourced ingredients where possible but takes inspiration from Italy and the Middle East to conjure up a range of culinary delights to tickle the taste buds.

What’s on the menu? 

Well, to start, you could go for the seafood with Scottish scallop, razor clam and palourdes (clams), followed by the 15hr smoked English long horn beef brisket. And if you’ve still got room, finish off with Blackberry Eton mess. Yum.

Or maybe you’d prefer to go veggie with Roasted seasonal squash velouté with crispy sage, toasted walnuts and cold pressed walnut oil; then Chestnut gnocchi with caramelised celeriac, girolles, crispy sage and truffle vinaigrette.

Maybe go traditional with a twist and opt for the whole grilled Cornish plaice with burnt lemon and dulse and pink peppercorn butter, served with triple-cooked chips. 

Or pop in for their alternative afternoon tea, which consists of Mini fish & chips, Pork scratchings and Pigs in blankets – don’t worry – there are scones with jam and cream to follow too. And a vegetarian version for non-meat eaters.

The Brewery Tap

Tucked away between the fells of the Ennerdale Valley in the less-visited west of the Lake District, The Ennerdale Brewery is an unpretentious, family-run craft brewery with a tap room and bistro next door.

Serving quality homemade food in a cosy setting, using fresh ingredients from local suppliers, they aim to create a relaxing family-friendly atmosphere where everyone is welcome – and that includes your four-legged friends. 

What’s on the menu? 

Kick off with the starters and small plates, which include Halloumi fries, a Haggis, black pudding and lorne sausage stack, and Vegan creamy mushrooms. 

Mains cover all the usual pub classics like Steak & ale Pie, Wild boar sausages with black pudding mash, Ennerdale Blonde battered fish & chips, and a range of pizzas and burgers – Buttermilk chicken, chorizo, pesto and mozzarella burger, anyone?

There’s also a hearty brunch menu featuring fry-ups, sausage and bacon-filled ciabattas, loaded with hash browns, omelettes, and Belgian waffles for those with a sweet tooth. 

Drunken Duck

Lake District pubs don’t get much more iconic than the Drunken Duck. It feels a bit like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but it’s actually only a couple of miles from bustling Ambleside. Consequently, this former farmhouse (although it’s been a pub for over 300 years) is always packed with locals and visitors who come to drink beer brewed in the on-site microbrewery, fill up on the locally sourced food, and enjoy the far-reaching fellside views.

Given a nod from the Michelin guide, its food is a step up from traditional pub grub, and you can rock up and eat in the relaxed bar area or book into the more formal restaurant. Either way, you won’t be disappointed – though booking is recommended.

What’s on the menu? 

There are two fixed-price menus (lunch and dinner) to choose from every day, and you can look forward to starters that include Venison & pigeon terrine, with spiced marrow chutney, and sourdough, or Teriyaki king oyster mushroom, with charred melon, satay, and sesame marshmallow.

Mains include tastebud pleasing dishes such as Venison bourguignon with suet pudding, and sticky red cabbage; simple yet delicious Moules frites; Heritage carrot wellington with girolles, charred hispi, and truffle; and Cod, salt baked with celeriac, braised turnip tops, and apple ketchup. 

There’s also a small selection of puddings to finish things off – the Chocolate, caramel & roasted hazelnuts, caramel ice cream sounds right up our ginnel.

Plus, on Sundays, they dish up a 3-course roast.

Masons Arms, Strawberry Bank

A Lake District institution, the 17th century Masons Arms not only serves up good food – a mixture of pub classics and modern flavours using locally sourced ingredients, but it does so in a gorgeous setting on a hill (watch out for the hairpin bends as you make your way up) with sensational views over the Lyth Valley. 

There’s plenty of character inside too – you’ll find low-beamed ceilings hung with pewter tankards, flagged and creaky wooden floors, crackling open fires, and little nooks with furniture that doesn’t match in this Lakeland gem. 

A word of warning – there’s little to no mobile signal so you’ll just have to post the pictures of your food when you get back to your cottage.

What’s on the menu? 

If you’re going to have a meat-free burger then make it the delicious Spinach, aubergine & smoky harissa burger from the Masons’ wide-ranging menu. 

You can also enjoy trad grub like Steak & ale pie (of course), Beer battered fish & chips (goes without saying), and relax, carnivores, the mighty, meaty Masons house burger, with crispy bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onion rings – not forgetting the skinny fries. Plus there’s always the Masons Arms’ famous ribs, slathered in their secret barbecue sauce.

If you fancy something lighter for lunch, the Goat’s cheese and beetroot salad or the Fish finger sandwich will hit the spot. And we also like the sound of the Lamb koftas from the starters selection.

Roast topside of beef is on the menu on Sundays (there’s a luxury nut roast or homity pie for veggies) and there’s also a children’s menu too. In short, something for everyone.

Dog & Gun 

If you feel like treating yourself, the Michelin-starred Dog & Gun in Skelton should be your destination. When it comes to winning awards, this independent pub in the north Cumbrian village of Skelton is a past master, having garnered many an accolade since it opened under chef and owner Ben Queen-Fryer in 2017.

You won’t find starched tablecloths or snooty sommeliers with long and confusing wine lists here – it’s a welcoming, relaxed, unpretentious country pub that happens to serve world-beating food at prices that won’t have you crying into your very good local pint.

There are no frills here – just beautifully cooked food that is several cuts above what you would normally expect to find in a sleepy village pub – and it’s all the better for it. Cumbrian-born food critic, Grace Dent, loves it. And if it’s good enough for Grace…

What’s on the menu? 

While the menu changes regularly depending on what’s available from Ben’s local suppliers, the served piping hot in a cast-iron skillet Twice-baked Torpenhow cheese souffle is a non-negotiable always-on. 

Other devourable delights on the fixed price menus include Ox-cheek bhuna with puffed wild rice and coriander; Pringle House lamb with crispy sweetbreads and courgette; Roast Cartmel Valley venison loin and hotpot with blackberry mustard, smooth celeriac and cavolo nero; and to finish, Vanilla crème brûlée with lavender shortbread. Hungry yet?

Brown Horse

Located in the eye-pleasing Winster Valley, this former coaching inn on a quiet road a short drive from Windermere is a must-visit. Family-run and voted as Cumbria’s best pub and bar in 2023 in the National Pub and Bar Awards, it’s a rightly popular foodie hot-spot, serving perfectly cooked, locally sourced food in traditional surroundings (open fire, exposed beams, you get the picture), either in the cosy restaurant or bar (tail-waggers are welcome in the bar).

Their menu changes regularly and there is an extensive wine list to work your way through, so one visit probably won’t be enough. You can even go for breakfast if you want to.

What’s on the menu?

Highlights include mouthwatering choices like Spiced Cumbrian potted chicken with chicken butter, kohlrabi & carrot pickle, curried aioli & crispy chicken skin and brioche; Serrano ham croquettes; and Fillet of hake, puy lentils, Jerusalem artichoke, pearl onions, pancetta and thyme jus; Fig tart tatin, goats cheese ice cream and a spiced port reduction.

Pub classics make an appearance too, with Beer battered haddock, chunky chips, mushy peas & tartare sauce; Sirloin steak Served with grilled vine tomatoes, flat mushroom, fine beans, French fries, onion rings, & peppercorn sauce or garlic butter, among the delights on offer.

Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for too: the Wild mushroom & artichoke risotto, baby leeks & pecorino caught our eye as one to try. And the Sunday roast is a winner too.

Kirkstile Inn

Away from the crowds in Loweswater, in the shadow of Melbreak Fell, the cosy and traditional Kirkstile Inn is a long-established popular stop for walkers in need of refreshment. It serves up hearty, homemade food made from locally sourced ingredients in the cosy and unfancy, low-ceilinged bar.

The head man at the stove is Paul Willamson who, with his dedicated team of six, whips up a range of freshly prepared meals designed to fill bellies and thrill the taste buds.

What’s on the menu? 

Expect above-average pub classics like Steak & ale pie; Lakeland lamb burger with sriracha mayo; Loweswater Gold battered fish & chips; Slow cooked lamb shank; and wild mushroom risotto.

There are also daily changing specials, which include dishes such as Chicken, Chorizo and Leek Suet Pudding and, Stuffed Flat Cap Mushrooms

On a Sunday, two roasts are always on the menu – and to satisfy sweet teeth, get stuck into Sticky toffee pudding. 

You’ll also find plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, and a children’s menu too.

Rest up 

After all that eating, you’re going to need somewhere comfortable and relaxing to recover. Happily, we have cottages all over the Lake District designed to do just that.

Bon appetit!

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