Last updated on January 31, 2023 by Wandering our World

Kendal is a charming market town located in the heart of the Lake District, known for its picturesque views, historic architecture and abundance of outdoor activities.

But what many people may not know is that Kendal is also home to a thriving food scene. From independent cafes and restaurants to traditional pubs, there is something for every taste and budget.

The town is particularly known for its use of local and seasonal ingredients and its diverse offering of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

Whether you’re a foodie looking to indulge in some of the best cuisines the Lake District offers or simply looking for a casual spot to grab a bite to eat, Kendal is sure to have something to suit your palate. Let’s show you why!

Close Up Of Waitress Working In Traditional English Pub Serving Breakfast To Guests
iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

The Best Restaurants In Kendal: Food Worth Waiting For!

1. Joshua Tree Bistro

A cosy neighbourhood bistro where the food is served fresh, dogs are welcome, and you can enjoy the atmosphere of one of Kendal’s oldest buildings.

The Joshua Tree Bistro  is a true gem in the charming town of Kendal.

Opened by Nick and Shelley Allen, a dynamic duo who’ve done their fair share of time in some of the world’s most renowned restaurants, Joshua Tree Bistro is a reflection of high-end experience, made into a comfortable neighbourhood local.

The restaurant is nestled inside one of Kendal’s oldest buildings, a charming and rustic 16th-century beauty adding to the restaurant’s historic character. After all, with the excellent service and food, you’d swear Joshua Tree has spent decades in the business.

As soon as you step inside, you’re greeted by the warm and inviting atmosphere of the restaurant.

The restaurant is small, with a romantic atmosphere. The gnarled wooden frames of the old building stand out amongst the ceiling, and if you close your eyes, you can almost picture yourself in a countryside setting.

Of course, the food will only push your imagination further. Joshua Tree’s menu prides themselves on using locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients. And the quality of their meals is nothing short of extraordinary.

Yet it’s still honest-to-goodness English cuisine, so don’t be surprised that two of their most popular menu items are the Full English and fried Fish and Chips. Luckily, while the rest of their menu may undergo some seasonal changes to keep up with their suppliers, these two will always remain!

Saturdays are dedicated brunch days, with tasty tidbits ranging from Veggie Breakfasts to Fried Chicken. Is that our stomach growling? We think so.

And just for an added bonus, the third Wednesday of each month is dedicated to their Starter and Pudding Club. 5-courses of new and creative meals, exclusively for one night only.

You can tell that the staff takes pride in their work and are passionate about providing an excellent dining experience too. They are always willing to go the extra mile to ensure you are satisfied with your experience.

After all, you can expect nothing less from one of the best restaurants in Kendal; from food to atmosphere, it doesn’t get better than Joshua Tree Bistro.

  • Opening Hours: 9:30 am to 3 pm Tues – Sat; Closed Mon & Sun
  • Location: Yard, 11 Stramongate, Kendal
Fish and chips with beer
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Daviles

2. Stanley Coffeehouse & Kitchen

Coffee and good food? Stanley Coffee House & Kitchen is a hidden gem that caters to all your breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea needs in a casual and cosy environment.

If you find yourself in Kendal, then add Stanley Coffehouse & Kitchen to your list of must-visit restaurants. A quaint family-owned and operated cafe, this unassuming venue is a hidden gem tucked away on Library Road.

They’re known for their sumptuous homemade meals. As a result, they’ve quickly become a local hangout for families, friend groups, and tourists alike, just itching for a casual and laid-back dining experience.

Their menu is a collaboration of homely meals, from breakfasts, lunches, and even afternoon tea; you can indulge in some delicacies that make you reminisce on doe-eyed childhood memories.

By far, the afternoon tea is one of their most popular and busiest times of the day. Serving up piping scones, soups, and fluffy sandwiches, we can easily see why their visitors adore the concept.

But that’s not all they adore; while Coffeehouse might be in the name, Stanley’s is known for another beverage option. Cocktails! So if you’re looking for a boozy brunch venue, congrats, you’ve found it!

Other than that, join them for their variety of meals, from burritos to French toast and not to mention their fruitful menu of ales, gins, and other drinks, including coffee, tea, and soft drinks.

The service is friendly and attentive, with the staff treating visitors like well-beloved houseguests and showering you with the skill of professional hosts. Who could ask for more?

So please take a seat in their spacious dining area, enjoy a view of some quirky wall art, and soak up the sun flowing in from the shopfront.

Overall, Stanley’s Coffee House & Kitchen is a perfect spot for a casual meal with friends or a special occasion. The food is delicious, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and they serve up a mean gin and prosecco!

  • Opening Hours: 10 am to 4 pm Mon – Thurs; 10 am to 9:30 pm Fri & Sat; Sun Closed
  • Location: 1-3 Library Rd, Kendal
afternoon tea
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Aiselin82

3. Cafe Olive

Enjoy the flavours of Turkey in this neighbourhood hotspot, serving tapas and cocktails. With its lively and vibrant atmosphere, there’s no better spot for a casual escape than here.

Sometimes we need to find a taste of adventure without all the visa and passport nonsense getting in the way. And Cafe Olive is the perfect escape from the everyday bustle of Kendal without actually leaving Kendal.

After all, food is the heart of any good travel experience, so what better way to have an exotic experience than dining at an exotic restaurant?

The cafe has a highly rated reputation for its delicious food and cosy atmosphere. The venue is decorated beautifully with rustic finishes and pendant lights inspired by the colourful Turkish lampshades we’ve grown to know and adore!

On warmer days, they even open up a small outdoor section on the curb, where you can people-watch to your heart’s content!

The menu at Cafe Olive is a reflection of the cafe’s inspiration, offering a variety of dishes full of wonderful ingredients and flavours.

The menu features a range of options for traditional Turkish dishes, including mezze platters and borek boxes. All dishes are freshly prepared and served with a touch of Mediterranean flair, using locally sourced ingredients, although you’d swear they were imported if authenticity is anything to go by!

The cafe counter also offers a window of delicacies from freshly baked pastries to desserts like Baklava and Revani, a Turkish sponge cake.

To drink, might they interest you in a touch of imported coffees and teas served in patterned cups and saucers?

The cafe is cosy, partially due to its snug dining area, but this adds to the charm. The atmosphere is welcoming, and the staff are incredibly friendly! And for a casual dining experience, you can’t get much better than this.

  • Opening Hours: 9:30 am to 3:30 pm Wed-Sat; Closed Sun – Tues
  • Location: 3 Stramongate, Kendal
Selection of Turkish dishes
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Yulia Gusterina

4. The Moon Highgate

Fine-dining in a laid-back setting, enjoy the quirky and creative wonders created by Chef Whitehead in the good company of friends and family at one of the best restaurants in Kendal.

When it comes to the world of the culinary arts, we look for creative and sometimes mad inventions to excite our palates. That’s why names like Heston are so popular. But what if we told you you could find something equally as inventive in Kendal? Don’t believe us? Well, just visit The Moon Highgate.

A cosy, elegant restaurant tucked in the Highgate is as unassuming as it gets. But, inside, a rustic treasure is hidden, where worse-for-wear is fashionable; in fact, it just makes it feel suaver!

Worn-down flooring, exposed bricks and scandi-style furnishings make for a contemporary feel that reflects the dining experience to come!

Chef and owner Leon Whitehead is an artist with food and only makes use of Cumbria’s finest ingredients to invent dishes that are sure to blow your socks off.

His imaginative renditions of modern British cuisine have become the talk of the town, with dishes like Yorkshire Lamb, Cumbrian Beef and Cauliflower steaks quickly gaining him devotees from far and wide.

But, of course, because the menus are seasonal, you have to be quick on the draw to ensure you get a taste of the year’s offerings. So choose from an a la carte menu, or go for 5 courses. And if you’re lucky enough to be around on a Sunday, be sure to join them for their roasts!

Out with the old and in with the new! Modern dining has never looked better, and we can only expect further excellence from the team at The Moon Highgate.

With their excellent service, from well-trained, eager and friendly staff all the way down to the sweetness of their desserts, the Moon Highgate is not a place to be slept on, and as one of the most popular restaurants in Kendal, we can only hope we’ve said enough to encourage a visit!

  • Opening Hours: 5 pm to 10 pm Thurs – Sat; 12 pm to 6 pm Sun; Closed Mon-Wed
  • Location: 129 Highgate, Kendal
Chef adding drizzle to fine dining plate
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Kuzmin

5. Comida

Spanish cuisine is a treat to behold, and Comida serves all the best fixings of it in Kendal. Colourful, lively and family-friendly, come enjoy a taste of something exotic.

When the owners of Comida first moved to Kendal in 2012, we bet the last thought on their minds was creating a Spanish Tapas bar, Comida, that’d fast become one of the town’s most popular restaurants.

Found in Highgate, they’re a stone’s throw away from the central hub of activity in town. Their shopfront is easily identified by its Gatsby-Esque gold trim, not to mention the bustle of movement through the large windows!

Once you step into the restaurant, you’re greeted by colourful patterns, rustic furnishings and the smiles of happy staff members, eager to guide you to your seats. But if you want a quick visit, then waltz straight over to the counter and grab your meal to go.

But, as always, we encourage everyone to really immerse themselves in the experience, so grab your nearest table and get ready to order.

Their cuisine is inspired by Spain. Namely, dishes inspired by and recreating classic and authentic tastes of the Iberian Peninsula. And like any Spanish cuisine aficionado would know, the tapas is the way to go.

Pile your tables with plates of Wine and Honey Chorizo, Albondigas and halloumi skewers, and for gluten-free and vegetarian options, just look out for the helpful “V” and “GF”; you’d be surprised at the versatility.

If you want to join them for brunch, you’ll be delighted to find that, yes, the Tapas menu is an all-day affair, and up until 5 pm, you can also get your hands on dishes like Full Spanglish, Spanish omelettes and bagels.

And, of course, brunch would only be complete with a good old glass of libations to wash it down. Well, you’re in luck; Comida serves a host of imported liqueurs, wines and cheeky Sangrias.

  • Opening Hours: 12 pm to 8 pm Wed – Fri; 10 am to 8:30 pm Sat & Sun; Closed Mon & Tues
  • Location: 90-92 Highgate, Kendal
Offering concept with many kinds of tapas
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Gulcin Ragiboglu

6. Waterside Cafe

Nothing beats good food and good views, Waterside Cafe offers both, and is 100% vegetarian with plenty of vegan options too.

For good views and vegan food, we have just the hidden gem for you. The Waterside Cafe is set on Kendal’s beautiful Riverside, offering a beautiful view of the River Kent with a cup of coffee and a bite to eat. They’re a vegetarian and vegan cafe, so meat lovers, be warned!

We know what you’re thinking. But we’d like to remind you, as we’ve said many times before, you’d be surprised at the versatility and creativity that can make vegan and vegetarian meals into something unforgettable.

Waterside Cafe prides themselves on being organic and only sources their ingredients from local, farm-fresh suppliers to bring you the best renditions of homely vegan and vegetarian cuisines. Each meal is made with passion, and you can expect nothing less than freshly prepared meals from farm to table.

The menu takes inspiration from across the globe, and the masterful chefs behind the scenes create their own veggie-based renditions of Morrocan Stews, Homemade Buddha bowls, and not to mention the overall crowd favourite, the plant-based burgers.

But if you’re strolling along the treelined walkway and want to pop by for something quick and easy, they also make some incredible smoothies and vegan milkshakes which can be taken to-go.

The cafe offers a casual, isolated spot to enjoy a peaceful meal. With a cosy atmosphere that envelops the entire restaurant, you can’t help but feel right at home under the exquisite care of their friendly staff.

They haven’t been without their hardships and have bounced back from the brink after a flood nearly ruined them for good in 2016. Fighting off natural disasters and global pandemics, the Waterside Cafe continues to thrive! Remaining one of the locals’ favourite spots for breakfast or a late lunch.

  • Opening Hours: 9:30 am to 4 pm Mon-Sat; Closed Sun
  • Location: Kent View, Kendal
Buddha bowl
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Elena_Danileiko

7. The Wheatsheaf Inn

Time has been good to The Wheatsheaf Inn, which is still a go-to spot for locals and visitors to enjoy traditional English cuisine amongst a countryside backdrop. And it’s pet-friendly too!

The Wheatsheaf Inn has the charm of years of experience, close to 2 centuries, to be precise. The original inn has been around since the 1880s and has been an idyllic spot for guests to relax and enjoy the Lakeland area.

They’re known for the countryside charm, and upon entering the pub, we’re all for the cottage-core vibe going on in there; aesthetically pleasing and cosy, what more could you want? Well, maybe your best friend by your side! And that’s possible, too; Wheatsheaf is dog-friendly!

Aside from the incredible hospitality shown to their guests harboured in any of their 6 rooms, the pub is open to the public and is known for being one of the best restaurants in Kendal to get a pint and a bite to eat.

They’re known for their versatile selection of beers, from local brewers to big-name brands; you’ll find something to sip on while you wait for the chefs to finish preparing your meal.

Their menu is nothing shy of traditional, authentic English cuisine. From game dishes, like pheasant, to kiddies-portioned Fish and Chips, you can find something the whole family can enjoy.

Plus, if you’re hanging around Brigsteer village on a Sunday, you absolutely must head to The Wheatsheaf Inn to try their legendary Sunday Roast. It’s their most talked about occasion and offers the perfect excuse to sit in their garden and enjoy a lavish meal al fresco.

But if you prefer indoor dining, you’ll be greeted by exposed brickwork, whimsical pictures and comfortable furnishings that just scream old-style pub.

And once you’ve eaten and drank to your heart’s content, you can settle down in one of their cosy rooms or continue to explore the Lakelands just out the front door. Nothing soothes the soul better than good food and a casual stroll in the English countryside.

  • Opening Hours: 12 pm to 11 pm Daily
  • Location: Brigsteer Brow, Brigsteer, Kendal
Sunday roast display
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/CBCK-Christine

8. Corner 124

European cuisine served in a flamboyant yet casual restaurant that thrives on the excellent quality of their food and service.

Located near the heart of Kendal, Corner 124 is a must-visit restaurant for anyone with a zest for good food and an incredible atmosphere.

Recently, they reinvented the wheel after a new owner took the helm in 2020. Tracie works for hand in hand with the previous owners, Ian and Fran, and all three can be found around the bustling restaurant on any given day, sharing old war stories from their hospitality days while ensuring a tight ship is run.

But, while changes have been made, one thing remains the same; you can expect nothing less than incredibly high standards.

The staff are well learned in the ways of Corner 124, from their elaborate wine list down to the ingredients of the dishes to ensure all guests have a pleasant and unforgettable experience.

But, what really makes Corner 124 one of the best restaurants in Kendal, is their unbelievable menu.

They garner inspiration from European cuisine and seasonal ingredients (both local and imported) to create an elaborate and unique selection of dishes. Everything is made fresh and with impeccable finesse, ensuring each plate looks, tastes and smells like a masterpiece.

Guests adore their whimsical menu that favours dishes from across borders, with their most popular option being their rendition of a hearty Spanish Paella. However, for those looking for something light and exciting, their starters also make for a delightful range of tapas for sharing or hogging; that’s completely up to you.

The atmosphere of the restaurant is warm and inviting. Abstract artwork decorates the walls, giving glimpses into other worlds and adding some colour and vibrance, as well as interesting conversation starters.

The small dining room is surprisingly spacious, offering intimacy without removing guests from the heart of the action! It’s always merry, and excited chatter fills the air with the occasional hushed silence from tables just savouring every moment of their meal.

We can’t blame them, of course.

  • Opening Hours: 5:30 pm to 9 pm Mon, Wed & Thurs; 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm Fri & Sat; 12 pm to 3 pm Sun; Closed Tues
  • Location: 124 Stricklandgate, Kendal