Carlisle's 10 Best Restaurants: Top Cumbrian Eats

Charming view of Scotch Street | © morebyless/WikiCommons
Charming view of Scotch Street | © morebyless/WikiCommons
Photo of Heather Hamblin
9 February 2017

Located almost as far north as you can get in England, Carlisle is just 15 kilometres from the border with Scotland. This pleasant town is home to the University of Cumbria and perfectly melds modern convenience with English history and charm. The region has been voted as one of the most beautiful in the country, and Carlisle was even named the happiest place to live in the UK. With that kind of reputation, it would be a perfect place for a holiday.

Alexandros Greek Restaurant and Deli

Deli, Market, Restaurant, Greek, $$$
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Alexandros Greek Restaurant and Deli serves up authentic Greek and Mediterranean dishes with a variety of choices to suit any preference. For a relaxed meal, dine in the restaurant’s comfortable dining area, or join them for one of their Greek nights for live music and a lively time. Alexandros also has a takeaway and deli menu for days when you are on the run. Whichever you choose, you must try the house-made hummus and a piece of flakey spanakopita. Oh, and be sure to browse their small market of imported goods, and perhaps take home a bottle of wine or olive oil to enjoy at home.

Bari Restaurant

Restaurant, Contemporary, Bangladeshi, Indian, $$$
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English Street, Carlisle
English Street, Carlisle | © Ed Webster/Flickr
An Indian restaurant that shines especially bright in Carlisle is Bari Restaurant. Owned by a family from the north-east region of Bangladesh, the restaurant has been in business for over 15 years. Located across the street from Bitts Park, and just a short distance from Carlisle Castle, Bari is central to many of the town’s main attractions. Stop in after a museum or church visit for classic dishes like meat korma or masala or something new like the adhraki chicken cooked with green olives and fresh green chillies. Great food at very reasonable prices.

David’s Restaurant

Restaurant, British, European, $$$
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Elegant and tasteful, David’s Restaurant is one of the best places to go in Carlisle for fine dining. Celebrate a special occasion, or visit David’s for a business lunch that is sure to impress. The menu is seasonally driven and always fresh, with ingredients often being sourced from local farms and purveyors. The chefs are happy to accommodate special dietary needs. With rich dishes like smooth duck liver and orange parfait, and grilled beef fillet with potato rosti and haggis beignet, a meal here is sure to be remembered.

Foxes Cafe Lounge

Cafe, British, Vegetarian, $$$
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Foxes Cafe Lounge has been described as laid back, chilled out, warm and quirky – all of the makings of a great night out. From sunup to sundown, there are excellent food and drink options at Foxes. In the morning, stop by for an expertly brewed cup of coffee and one of their house-baked sweets or a stack of warm pancakes. Lunchtime serves up specials like the ruffian burger with a homemade chorizo jam. And during the evening hours, this place really heats up. Get a bite to eat, or a pint of local craft beer and enjoy live music or open mic night. An ideal way to join the locals and have a great time.

The Golden Fleece

Hotel Restaurant, European
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A traditional sticky toffee pudding
A traditional sticky toffee pudding | © Katherin/Flickr
Think Carlisle is too small for world-class dining? Think again. The Golden Fleece is Michelin-Star rated, and in one visit, you will understand why. Enjoy hearty country classics like slow-braised lamb shoulder, pheasant schnitzel, and steak pie with gravy. For a delightfully sweet end to your meal, indulge in a Poor Knights of Windsor apple pudding, sticky toffee pudding, or a burnt Cambridge cream (similar to a crème brûlée). The atmosphere of the restaurant is entirely quaint and inviting. The Golden Fleece is also an inn, so rather than cutting the evening short, you can stay on-site and head up to your cosy cottage-style room to relax after your delicious meal.

Prior’s Kitchen Restaurant

Restaurant, British, $$$
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The priory at Carlisle Cathedral
The priory at Carlisle Cathedral | © Raymond Knapman/WikiCommons
Carlisle Cathedral has been a landmark in the small town for nearly 900 years. It is a beautiful place to visit, whether you are just passing through or living in the area. If you do visit during the morning or afternoon hours, make your way to the Prior’s Kitchen for a charming meal. The diners enjoy their meals under medieval vaulted ceilings, in a large room that was once a dining hall for the priory’s monks. Tea and coffee is served alongside fresh-made rolls, cakes, and scones in the morning. During lunch hours, refresh yourself with salads, soups, sandwiches, and quiches. It’s a great way to see the inner-workings of the cathedral, and further enjoy a valuable piece of local history.

Ristorante Adriano

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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This restaurant is giving Carlisle a taste of Italy. The chef and owner of Ristorante Adriano began his training at a young age in Northern Italy and brought his passion for Italian cuisine to Carlisle over 40 years ago. Now, guests can enjoy both classic and innovative Italian fare, all in an atmosphere that is as welcoming as can be. Just a quick note to be aware: Ristorante Adriano had to temporarily close in December 2015 due to some flooding in the building, it is due to open early in 2017 and details can be found on their website.

The Shabby Scholar

Restaurant, Spanish, British, Vegetarian, $$$
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Beautiful Carlisle Castle
Beautiful Carlisle Castle | © Soloist/WikiCommons
Borrowing a tradition from Spain and making it decidedly English, The Shabby Scholar serves tapas and casual plates in a relaxed yet hip atmosphere. Since opening just four years ago, this restaurant has quickly garnered a loyal local following. Each small plate is created from fresh ingredients, with innovative and unexpected flavour combinations. Nosh on slow-cooked pork belly with maple syrup, deep-fried brie cheese balls, and carnivore nachos with pulled pork. Not only does The Shabby Scholar have great food but it also boasts an impressive list of creative craft cocktails. With excellent drinks and dishes that are meant to be shared, grab some friends, order a cocktail, and make a night of it.

The Thin White Duke

Bar, Restaurant, European, British, $$$
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Carlisle’s Thin White Duke has borrowed one of David Bowie’s names, and celebrates a certain raucous irreverence and artistic flair. The restaurant and bar take advantage of this cool historic building, with exposed brick walls, antique lighting, and plenty of character. Try something from the bar’s playful cocktail menu, like a rhubarb cosmo or a spiced pear mojito. Along with drinks, the kitchen offers both small bites for grazing, plus burgers, sandwiches, and main dishes for heartier appetites. With plenty of tongue-in-cheek ironies and wicked good humour, the folks at Thin White Duke know how to have a good time.

The Viceroy

Restaurant, Indian, $$$
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Step outside of your normal routine and visit a restaurant that has won numerous awards for the city and the region. The Viceroy was established by a family from Bangladesh, eager to share a piece of their culture with every guest. The cuisine is similar to that which you might expect at an Indian restaurant, but with its own unique regional ingredients and flavours. Of course, there is no shortage of curries on the menu, from lamb and chicken to prawn and vegetarian options. Or try something new, with the biryani dishes or the Murghi Nabibi (a house specialty of chicken, garlic, almonds, pistachio nuts, and fragrant spices). The Viceroy is certainly a good choice to spice up your mid-week doldrums.