Ambleside is a small town resting amidst the southern portion of the Lake District in Cumbria. A once quiet and small parish, this town is now a popular tourist destination with much to see and do. And with all the sightseeing, hiking and mountaineering to partake in amongst the British countryside, you’re sure to need a hearty meal to keep you going.

Luckily Cumbria is known for some classic British foods so you shan’t go hungry out in the sticks with local Cumberland sausages, sticky toffee pudding, and the well-loved Kendal Mint Cake!

Conveniently there is free roadside parking in Ambleside restricted between 10am and 6pm to one hour, but you can also find parking in the Rydal Road Car Park. All the best restaurants can be found in the heart of small Ambleside with unique offerings for the weary traveller.

So to help you out when visiting, here’s a few of our favourite restaurants in Ambleside. Places loved by locals. Let’s dig in!

The Best Restaurants In Ambleside For Food, Views & Fun!

1. Zeffirellis

Not only is this an independent cinema, but an authentic vegetarian pizzeria and relaxed jazz café too!

This award-winning pizzeria welcomes you with warm, informal, and stylish arms. Related to three other vegetarian restaurants in Ambleside, Zeffirellis is dominating the restaurant scene in this small town.

For over 40 years Zeffirellis has been a favourite with locals and the many tourists that come through the town, winning awards for culinary expertise and hospitality. Its contemporary modern style with notes of art deco offers guests a taste of Italy, a unique cinema experience and often live jazz music

Look no further for great service, food, and ambience. As well as the welcoming indoor setting, you can find seating on the lovely terrace upstairs should you wish to take the opportunity to enjoy brighter days.

You can expect beautiful food prepared daily with an Italian-inspired vegetarian menu, homebaked pizza, and delicious pasta dishes.

The evening menu comprises an array of Antipasti and Insalata, rich pasta dishes and indulgent desserts. Locals and tourists alike highly recommend Zeffirellis and the menu is a hit with vegetarians and vegans especially.

Some local favourites are the Quattro Macaroni Cheese, as well as Mushroom and Leek Pappardelle, not forgetting a must-try vegan Sticky Toffee Pudding. With multiple gluten-free options and suitable offerings for the kids on the menu, Zeffirellis can cater for everyone in your party so you all leave feeling satisfied.

One of the best restaurants in Ambleside and a great spot to break up your Lake District adventures.

Address: 2 Compston Rd, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9DJ, UK

Opening Times: Mon-Sun 11:30-22:00

2. Sheila’s Cottage

With a mix of modern and old features, Sheila’s Cottage is a cosy restaurant and tearoom, tucked away down a quiet lane.

The small indoor space comprises modern lighting, air conditioning and home-cooked food for lunch and dinner with a smile. Sit back and take in good quality food away from the liveliness of the touristy centre and enjoy the homely feel of this dog-friendly establishment.

The staff here are smiley and attentive and if you’re bringing your tuckered-out furry friends, expect water to be lovingly offered and perhaps even a treat.

Sheila’s simple day menu served 12-4.30pm includes sausages and mash, tomato pasta and a small selection of sandwiches. For vegetarians, a previous favourite has been the Greek-Style Filo Tart with spinach, feta, goat’s cheese, sesame seeds, apple & walnut salad.

The evening menu served from 5.30pm has included dishes such as Haddock Fish and Chips as well as Sea Trout Fillet with rocket, parmesan and red onion salad, roasted beetroot, lime and chive mayo. If meat’s more your thing, many have enjoyed past menu items such as Lamb’s Liver Bacon. Mains often are served with potatoes & seasonal vegetables. While vegan offerings have included a Moroccan Vegetable Tagine, with sultana and almond couscous.

Not only are the dishes simple delights, but kids can also enjoy some great small portioned versions of classics like sausage and mash or chicken goujons. 

In addition to all main menu items, who could forget afternoon tea? Where possible, ingredients have been sourced locally and you can enjoy a wide range of loose leaf teas or fresh ground coffee as well as wines, spirits and beers.

All the wines have been supplied by Staintons wines in Kendal just down the road. And visitors love the chunky chips and triple-decker club sandwich at lunchtime, and many make mention of the fantastic sharing boards on offer in the evening.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, Sheila’s has a B&B under the same ownership just down the road called The Gables. Make the most of your time in the Lake District and visit one of the best restaurants in Ambleside.

Address: The Slack, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9DQ, UK

Opening Times: Mon-Sun 12:00-16:30 and 17:30-21:00

3. Lake Road Kitchen

A multi-award-winning restaurant, dining here is a whole experience from arrival to departure, going on a journey that will tantalise your tastebuds.

Dine in this intimate setting with an open kitchen and enjoy the special treatment from personable chefs and attentive front-of-house staff. If you’re visiting with the family, get the kids a sitter for the evening and go indulge.

Lake Road Kitchen boasts a well-thought-out taster menu that helps you to savour each new small course you’re presented with. With that you can choose an eight or twelve-course tasting menu paying per head for a high-class high-quality dining experience.

There is also a pescatarian serving menu available and those with other dietary needs can choose from an eight-course vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or dairy-free eight-course menus. The well-paced and artistically presented servings give you just enough to satiate your hunger and leave you ready for the next course with taste and texture combinations that will have your senses reeling.

Highlights of previous menus have included homemade sourdough bread and flavour combinations such as halibut and miso. In addition, visitors praise the dishes accompanied by thoughtfully chosen wines.

This is the perfect place for a special occasion. Not only are you able to indulge in the incredible tasting menus, but Lake Road Kitchen has been known to also have A5 Gunma Wagyu on offer. Sink your teeth into the most luxurious beef in the world in the heart of the Lake District.

The chefs can often be found showing off their latest skills and dishes on Instagram so go and take a look to see their latest talents.

Lake Road Kitchen should go on a list of reasons why to visit the Lake District and is certainly one of the best restaurants in Ambleside!

Address: Lake Rd, Ambleside LA22 0AD

Opening Times: Wed-Sun 18:00-21:30

4. Fellinis Restaurant

As previously mentioned, Zeffirellis has a few sister restaurants in town and just a few minutes away from the pizzeria is Fellinis, a vegetarian fine dining restaurant.

Also running an in-house studio cinema, upstairs with a bar lounge right by the screen, Fellinis shows the latest art house and live link theatre screenings. Many niche productions are available to see as well as opera, ballet and theatre shows.

The restaurant’s dazzling interior enhances Fellinis fine dining experience of creative dishes in a calm and enjoyable atmosphere. The service matches the quality of the ever-changing menu, often leaving customers wanting to return.

A classy, romantic indoor setting is the home to modern ‘vegeterranean’ dishes with a seasonal menu. The simple menu layout consists of starters, mains, side dishes and desserts.

With a great selection and variety of dishes to choose from, there’s something for everyone here including those with dietary needs such as gluten-free and numerous vegan options.

Offerings have included Dolcelatte, Strawberry and Arugula Salad with Grilled Polenta Croutons, as well as Cajun Cauliflower Steak with Avocado sauce, Balsamic glaze and Pomegranate seeds, plus for dessert Roasted Pineapple with Rum and a Coconut Sauce served with ice cream or sorbet.

Fine dining often needs an acquired taste, but older children are sure to find something to enjoy on a visit to Fellinis. 

A favourite for many visitors and locals, Fellinis is a fantastic choice out of our best restaurants in Ambleside list.

Address: Church St, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0BT, UK

Opening Times: Mon-Sun 17:30-22:00

5. Luigis

A family-run business, Luigis has been serving in Ambleside for over 30 years. With a simple menu based on traditional Italian recipes, this restaurant is an easy crowd pleaser.

Enter a warm, cosy, rustic indoor seating area perfect for a romantic night with pleasant service and subtle background music. Name an Italian dish you love, and Luigis’ menu probably has it.

Luigis boasts a wealth of Classic Italian pasta dishes, rich Puttanesca, creamy Lasagne, as well as delicious Cannelloni and Carbonara, all beautiful traditional dishes done well.

In addition to pasta, you can find luscious and well-presented bruschetta in addition to tasty risotto and saucy chicken dishes. Vegetarians will be glad to know there are some simple options available to you too, and Luigis make fantastic dietary accommodations with gluten-free pasta available on request.

Perfect for dinner with the kids, Luigis offers child-sized portions of all pasta dishes, so your little ones can dine in style at your side and enjoy a delicious, nutritious meal.

For those without parenting responsibilities, you’ll be glad to hear that happy hour is between 6 and 7pm Monday to Saturday, so you can kick off your walking boots and fill up on delicious pasta and all the drinks you can manage.

Simple but effective, Luigis is easily one of the best restaurants in Ambleside.

Address: Kelsick Rd, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0BZ, UK

Opening Times: Mon-Sun 18:00-21:00

baked pasta on a ceramic plate

6. The Old Stamp House

In the former office of William Wordsworth, the Westmorland Distributor of Stamps, you’ll find The Old Stamp House serving food inspired by Cumbria.

In this intimate 28-cover restaurant you can find authentic Cumbrian food courtesy of the Blackburn brothers who opened in 2014.

Head chef Ryan Blackburn and Restaurant Manager Craig Blackburn have been influenced by Cumbria’s roots in the seafaring trade with distant lands in the Americas, Caribbean and India. It’s because of this unique history that The Old Stamp House utilises many of the imported spices and rum we enjoy today brought to the shore through the historic coastal ports of Whitehaven and Maryport.

Combining the tradition of the past and present in their taste creations, The Old Stamp House gained a Michelin star in October 2019. And the sleek yet rustic feel of the place goes well with the efficient and attentive service.

This is fine dining at its finest, and Michelin star dining notoriously doesn’t seek to cater to specific dietary needs. However, you can expect a call from the chef the day before dining to check everyone’s dietary needs. This nice touch shows how the Blackburns go above and beyond to see how they might be able to accommodate their guests within the parameters of their carefully thought-out menu.

The chef creates an ever-changing, innovative and seasonal dinner menu with past offerings in the realms of crab with tomatoes from the north of Cumbria and wild garlic capers, as well as mushrooms found in the woods around Ambleside with confit egg yolk and spring truffle.

Extraordinary desserts are a favourite too, such as Bee Pollen and Elderflower Meringue with Sweet Cicely Marinated Strawberries.

Pay per head and treat yourself to a truly sensational dining experience without the kids. Alternatively, nearby sister restaurant Kysty can offer more casual lunch and dinner dining with the same attention to detail on a well-crafted menu.

Without a doubt one of the best restaurants in Ambleside and Cumbria as a while.

Address: Old Stamp House, The, Church St, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0BU, UK

Opening Times: Wed 18:30-00:00, Thurs-Sat 12:30-00:00

7. The Priest Hole

Part of Kelsick Old Hall, one of the oldest buildings in Ambleside, The Priest Hole brings you a relaxed and enjoyable dining experience.

Boasting a dog-friendly outside terrace for alfresco meals and a traditional gastro pub look and feel to the place, despite it not being a pub at all! It’s just got that simple, cosy British feel to it that is consistent in the food too.

Expect friendly and attentive service and multiple menu options including an All Day Menu, Sunday Lunch Menu, Sandwich Menu, Tuesday Fish Night, Thursday Steak Night, Children’s Menu and Dessert Menu.

If all that isn’t enough, The Priest Hole have fantastic ‘market day’ specials each night you’ll want to keep an eye out for. Serving fresh homemade traditional Cumbrian/British food sourced locally, alongside a lovely wine list and locally brewed ales and beers.

There have been some great vegan and veggie options including Spicy Vegan Meatballs, Sweet Potato Spinach and Roast Pepper Pilaf, as well as Falafel Burger, served with chunky chips and local ‘Hawkshead’ relish.

But the main event has to be that British classic, the Sunday Roast. The generous portions of beef or lamb with all the trimmings are sure to end your week right, and often a veggie alternative is available like a Homemade Butternut Squash and Beetroot Wellington. Locals and visitors can’t fault it for good ol’ British comfort food. 

With plenty of gluten-free options available and a diverse kids’ menu compared to most places, it stands out as one of the best restaurants in Ambleside.

Address: Church St, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0BU, UK

Opening Times: Mon-Sat 12:00-21:00, Sun 12:00-20:30

8. Lucy’s On A Plate

It’s all about the personal touch at Lucy’s On A Plate, where visitors feel almost as if they’ve been invited to a dinner party. There is a humble and homely feel to this restaurant that’s sought to be a place for everyone for over 25 years.

This unique dining experience starts when you call to book, which is an imperative step, as you’ll be asked some questions about your likes and dislikes and whether it’s a special occasion. Guests’ answers then decide the menu. That’s right, the evening menu is written up afresh every day, made to order and using seasonal local ingredients.

Lucy, herself takes good care of customers and is often seen front-of-house with her friendly and attentive staff. Dog owners will be pleased to know your pet is welcome here, and those with disabilities can rest assured of wheelchair access to the main restaurant.

There are multiple dining areas too, including the cosy front with an open fire and smaller tables, a walled garden area at the back to enjoy in the sunnier months, and a conservatory perfect for families and larger parties. The conservatory and upper conservatory can hold private parties of 12-50 guests. 

Renowned for creating that daily personalised menu, with a love for any occasion or celebration, Lucy’s passionate chefs ensure that no two days are the same when dining in this unique establishment.

Enjoy nibbles, starters, mains and desserts made to order with you in mind accompanied by your choice of drink including unique cocktails. Previous guests have commented on menu items such as Lamb Shank with meat that just falls off the bone as well as Venison cooked to perfection, the desserts are particularly popular.

Lucy’s On A Plate shows good vegetarian knowledge in their creations too, and almost anything can be made gluten or dairy free because of the made-to-order nature of the service. For young diners, there will be perfectly portioned options that they will love and locals love to gush over the resident dog Basil, a well-behaved friendly favourite.

Lucy’s On A Plate is unsurprisingly very popular with locals and with the ever-increasing flow of tourists to the area. This restaurant’s take on dining extends to other establishments including the Lucy Cooks Cookery School.

Lucy’s On A Plate is a firm favourite and one of the best restaurants in Ambleside to date.

Address: Church St, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0BU, UK

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 17:00-21:30