Vegetarian menus have the ability to whisk us away to faraway places. From fragrant Pad Thai’s to ‘green’ afternoon tea, the Lake District has some of the very best vegetarian eateries. We travel from the North Lakes to the mecca of Lake District veggie food, Ambleside, to bring you the very best.
Whilst not an exclusively vegetarian café, Granny Dowbekin’s Tea Room and Garden is a truly relaxing eatery for the laid back vegetarian. Classing themselves as an ‘inclusive café’, Granny Dowbekin’s caters for all. This includes people with coeliac disease, vegetarians, dairy intolerances, children, dogs, ducks and swans.
The café’s riverside location is a treat in itself. The newly opened spacious Garden Room and adjoining outdoor Riverside Terrace are coveted seats when the sun’s out.
Decorated in a zesty green and floral wallpaper, designed by a local artist, GD’s is more than just a vegetarian-friendly café. It is a place to soak up the friendly and relaxed riverside atmosphere of Pooley Bridge. We’d highly recommend the hearty green breakfast or the veggie afternoon tea.
Upfront Gallery Café and Vegetarian Restaurant is a veggie café that offers more than lunch. The wholesome vegetarian menu is a pull in itself. ‘As is the art gallery which is surprisingly big – running across several rooms. Plus a superb gift shop, and a uniquely designed 140-seat Puppet Theatre. Shows take place at Easter, summer and Christmas and delight all ages, from 4–94! For lunchtime diners, there’s seating indoors, in the main gallery, as well as on the delightful English country garden patio.
Like the ‘in-house’ crafted theatre, the food at Upfront is homemade too. And this is a place for those that love their greens and pulses in a hearty fashion. You’ll find a wholesome take on staples like chilli, pasta and lasagnas, as well as lighter lunch options, such as soup and sandwiches. The homemade quiche and savoury pancakes are particularly tasty. This is food like you would cook at home, and you’ll leave feeling full and wholly satisfied – not just from the delicious food.
Influenced by great chefs like Ottolenghi and Fearnley Whittingstall, the guys at the Rattle Ghyll Café bring our first veggie option in Ambleside – the hearty, beans, pulses, salad and cakes kind of place. If you’re on a 3:2 diet or have a good ‘5 a day’ philosophy, then you’ll easily satisfy your quota after a relaxed brunch here.
The healthy and wholesome couple owners have been in residence for 8 years, and have created a warm, welcoming and classically Lake District atmosphere. The walls are filled with local artwork. Plants and flowers adorn the entrance and fresh, local produce, all made onsite (except for the bread from around the corner), fill the open counter.
The tasting platters are particularly good and there is even a sweet one! Alternatively, if you’re just passing, pick up a filling burrito to take out.
Ambleside is often called the vegetarian capital of the Lake District. That is because it is home to Zeffirellis Vegetarian Restaurant and Jazz Bar, and Fellinis Vegetarian Restaurant. For almost 40 years the family-run Italian business, cinema and restaurant have been welcoming visitors and locals alike. Fellinis brings a contemporary vibe to Ambleside, with a vibrant Mediterranean vegetarian restaurant. Locals love the daily pizza and pasta specials at Zefferellis. The fine dining 2 course menu at Fellinis is popular as a preconcert meal or special occasion dinner.
Cementing Ambleside’s reputation as a veggie hub, is the daytime haunt Gandhi’s Café. Gandhi’s vegetarian café has only been on the scene in Ambleside for a year, but their Asian-inspired lunchtime menu has already gained quite a loyal following. This is in part inherited from its former guise as a travelling street-food set up, Gandhi’s Flip Flop, which you may have seen at Glastonbury or Kendal Calling. The globally-inspired menu is eclectic, offering weekly veggie sushi, falafel kebabs and Thai dishes, as well as traditional Indian platters. It is no surprise that Gandhi’s have made Ambleside their veggie home from home.