The best restaurants in Windermere

Aside from stunning vistas, towering peaks and absolutely buckets of rain, the Lake District has also become a haven for foodies in search of modern British food in a jaw-dropping setting. If you find yourself in these parts looking for the best places to eat in Windermere, just scroll down for our pick of the best restaurants in the area.

Updated on 10 May 2022

Windermere itself being rather small, we’ve expanded the boundaries of our search to include Bowness-on-Windermere restaurants, as well as nearby Ambleside and Grasmere. Tourists aplenty head up this way, either with walking boots in hand to scale famous Cumbrian peaks like Scafell Pike and Helvellyn, or to gaze over the expansive lakes at Windermere, Coniston or Derwentwater. As a result, many of the best places to eat in Windermere are housed in hotels, such as Gilpin Lodge or The Samling.

That said, there are other more relaxed options. Yes, you can head to the beautiful Forest Side for a tasting menu of the highest quality, but there are plenty of relaxed eateries too - The Drunken Duck in Ambleside, and the much-loved Francine’s bistro in Windermere, for example.

This list sums up our thoughts on the very best restaurants Windermere has to offer, but it’s not an exhaustive list of what’s available in the area. You can check out our full listings for restaurants in Windermere right here. In the meantime, scroll down to take a look at our favourite local restaurants in Windermere and its surrounding villages.

Forest Side

Forest Side

Wildsmith Hotel, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9RN

The menu at Forest Side takes inspiration from the incredible landscape and larder of the Lake District, combining wild ingredients, local produce and vegetables grown in the kitchen garden to incredible effect. There are vegetarian menus on offer too, which offer some genuinely thoughtful, contemporary cooking, like spring peas with chamomile, and barbecue Roscoff onion with whey and ramson. 

Over £80
British
Holbeck Ghyll

Holbeck Ghyll

Holbeck Lane, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA23 1LU

Fabulous surroundings and stunning views abound at Holbeck Ghyll, which sits proudly overlooking Lake Windermere. The restaurant doesn't venture into quite the same modern territory as the likes of Henrock and The Samling, but here you get well-executed modern European cooking, available via a la carte and tasting menus. A terrace overlooking the lake is ideal for summer alfresco dining and afternoon teas. 

Over £80
Modern European
The Old Stamp House

The Old Stamp House

Church Street, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0BU

William Wordsworth fans in the Lakes might be interested to visit The Old Stamp House, as the famed romantic poet once used the building as his study. If you're here for the food though, you'll be just as impressed - menus of course fluctuate with the seasons, but you can expect a Cumbrian spin on contemporary British dishes, such as hand dived scallop, cauliflower and spiced mead velouté, and trout, asparagus and shrimps with brown butter sabayon.

£30 - £49
British
One Michelin star
Henrock at Linthwaite House

Henrock at Linthwaite House

Linthwaite House, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3JA

Surrounded by immaculate gardens and boasting stunning views over Lake Windermere, Linthwaite House hotel is the perfect setting for Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan and his farm-to-fork cooking. Henrock’s focus is on hyper-seasonal small plates, but dishes like saikyo miso glazed aubergine with furikake, black garlic and smoked dashi, and cured mackerel in jalapeno cream with buttermilk-fried oyster take clear inspiration from Rogan's travels, as well as from his restaurants in Hong Kong.

£50 - £79
Modern European
British
HRiSHi at Gilpin Hotel

HRiSHi at Gilpin Hotel

Crook Road, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3NE

Inside this swanky Edwardian retreat high above Lake Windermere you'll find HRiSHi - the flagship, Michelin-starred restaurant of Hrishikesh Desai, who has long established his reputation as a legendary Lake District chef. HRiSHi trends a little on the more old-fashioned side of fine dining by comparison with Simon Rogan's modish restaurants, but the food is still some of the best in all of Cumbria, with dishes like scallop with peach carpaccio and carrot puree, and halibut fillet with crispy okra stuffed with white crab meat. 

£50 - £79
Modern European
International
One Michelin star
Langdale Chase

Langdale Chase

Langdale Chase, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1LW

Idyllic hotel Langdale Chase boasts breathtaking views of Lake Windermere and a modern British restaurant to match. Choose to eat in the dining room, bar area or sunlit conservatory and enjoy some smart British cooking, with a focus on local sourcing. If you're in the area looking for well-executed, classic flavours, Langdale Chase is the place to go - try the chicken, coconut and lemongrass ballotine, or pork fillet, cheek and belly with pomme Anna, cauliflower and pear. 

£30 - £49
British
Hooked Windermere

Hooked Windermere

Ellerthwaite Square, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1DP

Popular Windermere bistro Hooked specialises in fish and seafood, surprise surprise, with a menu that shows off the best local produce with classic British and Mediterranean cooking. Sustainable fish and seafood is sourced from Hartlepool docks each day, so you know what you're eating is as fresh as it gets. 

£30 - £49
Mediterranean
British
Fish
The Drunken Duck Inn

The Drunken Duck Inn

Barngates, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0NG

A reliable, renowned gastropub in the heart of the Lake District, The Drunken Duck provides several roaring fires to go alongside stunning views and delicious gastropub grub like crab, chive and apple crumpets with Parmesan, venison bourguignon suet pudding with sticky red cabbage, and chocolate tart, cherry sorbet and cinder toffee.

£30 - £49
Modern European
British
Gilpin Spice

Gilpin Spice

Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3NE

Hrishikesh Desai's second restaurant at Gilpin Lodge is a less formal affair than Michelin-starred HRiSHi, and Desai takes inspiration from countries along the old spice road with lots of ingenious small plates. Expect everything from Mumbai street food like chilli-fried paneer, to laksa, to Thai-style octopus.

£30 - £49
Pan Asian
International
Indian
Francine

Francine's

27 Main Road, Windermere, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1DX

This relaxed, friendly restaurant serves an a la carte menu of classic bistro dishes as well as daily specials, which focus on fish and seafood. There's a surprisingly hefty wine list too, as well as speciality ales from all over the Lake District. Head there for mid-week dinner, but be prepared to book or wait for a table. 

£30 - £49
British
Bistro
Porto Restaurant

Porto Restaurant

3 Ash Street, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3EB

Five minutes from the shores of Lake Windermere, surrounded by rolling fells, Porto has an envious location in Bowness. The restaurant is a calming combination of grey, blue and green, with natural oak tables and comfy upholstered chairs. Best of all, the food matches up to the whole experience - elevated British cooking is really well-executed, as evidenced by how busy the restaurant is on most evenings.

£30 - £49
British
The Samling

The Samling

Ambleside Road, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1LR

With its own 67-acre estate overlooking Windermere, The Samling boasts a long-standing reputation as one of the Lake District's most picturesque old hotels. The food offering is pretty special too - there's an a la carte that sticks to tried and tested British classics, but go for the tasting menu if you're ready for a new Nordic culinary odyssey, combined with ingredients foraged and grown on-site.

£50 - £79
Modern European
Lake Road Kitchen

Lake Road Kitchen

Lake Road, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0AD

The space may look modest and a little IKEA-chic, but that belies the complexity of what's going on in the kitchen. Lake Road Kitchen serves a tasting menu of sorts, though the restaurant prefers to think of it as a dining experience - diners are given a choice between eight or 12 servings, with optional wine pairings available for each. Expect to be led on a wild culinary ride -Lake Road Kitchen chef James Cross used to work at world-beating Noma in Copenhagen before deciding to shake up touristy Ambleside with his radical cuisine.

£50 - £79
Modern European

If you're in Windermere, why not expand your restaurant search to the rest of the lakes? As long as you're travelling by car most of the Lake District is within reach, and there are plenty of other great restaurants in other parts of Cumbria. Check out our full list of the best restaurants in the Lake District for more.