When it comes to eating out Cairns offers a wide choice of different cuisines, ranging from French and Italian to Australian, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Thai, and Filipino.
In terms of culinary standard and setting, the choice is no less varied, all the way from economical backpacker eateries to elegant and sophisticated venues catering for the discerning palate.
Here is a small sampling of what’s on offer.
35- 41 Wharf Street
Tel: (07) 4030 8897
Cuisine: Australian, Asian Fusion
This restaurant is part of the Reef Hotel Casino and serves contemporary Asian food with an emphasis on Thai cuisine. Can get noisy on a Saturday night after 9pm (due to the band) so best to book early on Saturday nights. Atmosphere is elegant but casual with romantic lighting.
4/46 Aplin Street
Tel: (07) 4031 1110
An unassuming café on Aplin Street, great for breakfast and lunch. Good service and very good, fresh salads (try the Caesar salad).
6/2 Pier Point Road
Tel: (07) 4041 7733
Great atmosphere but quite noisy. This waterfront restaurant is a good place to soak up the atmosphere of Far North Queensland while gazing out across Trinity Inlet. Stunning views and very good food (especially the steaks).
115 Grafton St
Tel: (07) 4028 3452
This is arguably the best sushi in Cairns, with complimentary soy, wasabi, and ice tea. The sushi is freshly made and is constantly being replenished to keep up with demand. It gets very busy at lunch time and there’s sometimes a queue outside the door. So best to get there before midday.
20 Spence St
Has all the atmosphere of an authentic Japanese noodle bar. Indeed, it’s so authentic that the (Japanese) staff may have difficulty understanding you. Great place for ramen! There’s not much seating so this is primarily take-away.
62 Shields Street
Tel: (07) 4051 7777
Cuisine: Italian Seafood
This is a small restaurant, ideal for a couple’s romantic dinner. Probably the best of the Italian restaurants in Cairns. Try the Seafood Marinara.
Hilton Hotel Cairns/34 Esplanade
Tel: (07) 4051 6075
Cuisine: Indian, Thai
Although this restaurant is part of the Hilton Hotel the prices are quite reasonable. Great atmosphere and delicious food – Indian cooking at its best. The naan bread is superb.
43 Shields Street
Tel: (07) 4051 0100
All the ingredients used in this restaurant are sourced locally, in Far North Queensland. Specializes in emu, kangaroo and crocodile flavoured with Australian native herbs.
Waterbar & Grill Steakhouse
Pier Shopping Centre/Pier Point Road
Tel: (07) 4031 1199
Cuisine: Steakhouse, Seafood
Fantastic location – great to sit on the deck and watch the yachts at the marina as you dine. Wonderful views! Excellent steaks and beautiful potato mash.
Cha Ba Thai Spicy
49 Grafton Street
Tel: (07) 4051 6390
Excellent Thai food on a par with Bangkok restaurants. The vegetables in their curries are fresh and you don’t need to worry about the food being too spicy – you can choose anywhere from mild to hot.
20 Lake Street
Tel: (07) 4051 4488
Authentic French restaurant with French-speaking staff. Not too expensive – the lunch menu is great value. Fills up quickly in the evenings so definitely make a booking.
3/1 Marlin Parade
Tel: (07) 4051 0399
Cuisine: Australian Seafood
One of the most popular restaurants in Cairns, with a lovely atmosphere and beautiful waterfront views. Not as noisy as some of the other waterfront restaurants. Great food.
26-36 /17 Abbott Street
Tel: (07) 4051 5137
This restaurant has been part of the Cairns culinary landscape for several decades – as good as eating in Italy.
79 Abbott St
Tel: (07) 40316655
Unassuming décor but fantastic Korean food…at a very reasonable price. Try the beef rib soup!
Ihaw Ihaw BBQ/GRILL
7/35 Lake Street
Tel: (07) 4041 3559
Excellent and very affordable Filipino food. Try the Lumpiang Sariwa. Only open for dinner Thurs to Sat.
43 Spence Street
Tel: (07) 4041 1422
Of the various Indian restaurants in Cairns, this is perhaps the best, serving authentic Indian food. The Chicken Tikka Masala is excellent!
Corner Lake & Gatton Streets, Cairns North
Tel: (07) 4047 7955
Award-winning restaurant with authentic Balinese atmosphere. Specializes in banquet-style menu comprising many small dishes of beef, pork, chicken and seafood. Don’t miss the corn fritters!
Sheridan St & Grove St, Cairns North
Tel: (07) 4041 6955
Delicious Indian food at affordable prices.
El Mundo Tapas
3/124 Collins Avenue, Edge Hill
Tel: (07) 4032 0550
Cuisine: Tapas, International
Fascinating and tasty menu which changes each month with a focus on a particular country. Can get crowded quite quickly so book early.
Linga Longa (formerly The Naked Nut)
120 Collins Avenue, Edge Hill
Tel: (07) 4032 2136
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Australian
The walls of this restaurant are decorated with portraits of famous people, who (like Franco, the owner) have balding pates. Hence this restaurant’s former name, the Naked Nut. This suburban restaurant is located about 15 minutes drive from the city. Great food!
459 Varley Street, Yorkey’s Knob
Tel: (07) 4055 7099
This Yorkey’s Knob restaurant serves delicious food, either dine-in or home delivery. Very popular with locals.
Yorkeys Knob Boating Club
25/29 Buckley Street, Yorkey’s Knob
Tel: (07) 4055 7711
Great location for a memorable dinner, watching the yachts at their moorings as dusk gathers. Popular venue with locals.
75 Vasey Esplanade, Trinity Beach
Tel: (07) 4057 8855
Located on the seafront at Trinity Beach, this restaurant offers spectacular views. The pizza and pasta are both excellent.
Paperbark at Kewarra Beach
Kewarra Street, Kewarra Beach
Tel: (07) 4058 4000
A spectacular setting under a rainforest canopy and surrounded by paperbark trees, just a short stroll from the beach. Great for a romantic dinner! The food is excellent.
1 Veivers Road, Palm Cove
Tel: (07) 4055 3000
This is one of the most beautifully located restaurants in Cairns. Dining by candlelight with full linen under coconut palms just metres from the beach, with the sound of softly breaking waves. As you would expect with these prices, the food is excellent.
371 Mulgrave Road, Westcourt
Tel: (07) 4054 2252
Excellent food at an affordable price. Can get quite cramped so make sure you have a booking. Try the Ginger Chicken and Pad Thai!
578 Mulgrave Road, Earlville
Tel: (07) 4033 1328
This Chinese restaurant is a fair hike out of town (at Woree) but the décor and atmosphere are great, as is the food.