seafood meal in cairns

The Best Restaurants In Cairns For 2021

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If you’re looking for the best restaurants in Cairns, there are no shortage of great places to eat, casual dining and takeaway food options. The Cairns Marina and Esplanade are especially popular for dining out, with places to eat to suit different budgets – from fine dining to fresh seafood right off a boat!

One of the hardest decisions you will have to make when visiting Cairns is what to eat when you simply have so many choices! To help you out, we’ve put together a list of some of the best places to eat in Cairns.

wine and glasses on the table at Cairns Marina

The Best Restaurants In Cairns

Cairns is a great foodie destination if you love to travel and eat! We sure do. And the location alongside the ocean means plenty of opportunity to enjoy fresh seafood and local cuisine.

But that’s not all… Cairns is also home to some amazing international cuisine as well!

Trying out the food is one of the most fun things to do in Cairns!

Whether you are passing through Cairns on a Queensland road trip or staying for a while, these Cairns restaurants and foodie experiences are just part of why Cairns is a great place to visit!

Breakfast

When it comes to starting your day strong before kicking off your adventures and day trips from Cairns, a hearty breakfast will set you on the right path!

The Backyard Cairns

Rustic Avo Toast The backyard Cairns

Shangri-La Hotel, Pier Point Rd, Cairns City

Located near the entrance of the Shangri-La On the Marina, The Backyard serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and also offers a takeaway menu and a heat at-home menu.

We had breakfast included with our stay at Shangri-La, however, this is also open for anyone not staying at the resort. 

This is a fantastic option for breakfast with hearty meals to start your day and many of the tables offering marina views while you dine. 

Recommended Dishes: The rustic avo toast for breakfast 

Lunch

A lazy lunch may be exactly what you need after a morning of fun in the sun. And you simply can’t go past the Cairns breweries for great lunch dining and a sneaky craft beer or three while you’re there!

Hemingway’s Brewery

Tacos hemingways brewery places to eat in cairns

Wharf St, Cairns City

Located on Wharf Street, near the Marlin Marina, Hemingway’s Brewery is in a great spot for meals, drinks and entertainment.

Hemingway’s Cairns is relatively new with a second waterfront brewpub located in Port Douglas in case you want to travel a little further north instead!

They often have live entertainment on weekends and there is plenty of space to dine with friends and family.

Best of all, the food is great! The tacos were one of the highlight meals of our trip and could possibly be the best tacos I’ve tried outside of Mexico! Big call…

Recommended Dishes: Smoked pork tacos and the Southern fried chicken burger.

Sauce Brewing Co

34-40 Lake St, Cairns City

The Sauce Brewpub located on Lake Street is another place for great atmosphere, beer and food!

They have a large food menu and an even larger drinks menu for a leisurely lunch or dinner. They even have a kids menu, which is always a winner if you’re visiting Cairns with kids!

Recommended Dishes: Pork Burger – slow cooked and marinated in Sauce beer.

Dinner

Wind down after a big day of exploring, swimming, sunshine and fun with a delicious dinner. Many of your dining experiences come with great views of the Marina or ocean, or simply offer the perfect atmosphere for your holiday vibes!

Dundee’s

Best restaurants in cairns seafood platter dundees

3/1 Marlin Parade, Cairns City or 5 Florence St, Cairns City

Dundee’s has two restaurants in Cairns – at the Marina right beside Ochre and at the Cairns Aquarium.

While similar, there are some differences between the menus for each location and both offer prime locations for dining. 

The menu has plenty of local seafood options, or modern Australian cuisine. 

We dined at the waterfront location on the Marina, however, if you want a special treat or are visiting with kids, the Aquarium is a perfect option! They have dining and aquarium tour combos.

Dine beside a massive aquarium or book a meal and tour option for lunch or dinner and have a private aquarium tour as part of your dining experience.

Recommended Dishes: The Seafood Platter

Ochre Restaurant

Best steak where to eat in cairns ochre

1 Marlin Parade, Cairns City

Located along the Marina waterfront dining precinct, Ochre Restaurant offers a modern Australian menu with seafood and steak options, along with international flavours.

They have a 3 course set menu option for $72 per person, which is great value as you can pick most items off the menu to include.

They also offer a 6 course degustation menu if you want to really indulge. This can include wine for $170 per person. 

We did the 3 course set menu and the mean was incredible. This was easily the stand out meal of our time in Cairns and highly recommended. 

Recommended Dishes: The sirloin steak, the chocolate and cherry parfait and the mussels entree. 

Fine Dining

When visiting a destination as beautiful as far north Queensland, why not treat yourself to some fine dining! After all, it’s not every day you get to dine alongside such incredible coastline and the Great Barrier Reef.

If you’re looking for fine dining restaurants in Cairns, there are many options!

Tamarind

Pullman Reef Casino, 35-41 Wharf St, Cairns City

Tamarind Restaurant is located within the Pullman Reef Casino in Cairns and is one of the most awarded restaurants in Cairns.

Enjoy Asian fusion and a mix of contemporary Australian dishes that offer something for every taste. Their menu includes a kid’s menu as well!

They also have an extensive wine, beer and spirits list and unique cocktail offerings.

Recommended Dishes: Penang Duck Curry or the whole Crispy Baby Barramundi

C’est Bon’ Restaurant Francais

20 Lake St, Cairns City

Located in Cairns City on Lake Street near the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino, C’est Bon is a French restaurant priding themselves on authentic French cuisine.

They have both an a la carte menu and a set menu option for both lunch or dinner. They also have an extensive wine list.

Recommended Dishes: Pork belly and the Creme Brûlée.

Seafood

You simply cannot come to Cairns or anywhere in North Queensland without trying fresh seafood and it doesn’t get much fresher than straight off the boat and into your belly!

The Raw Prawn

Seafood platter at The Raw Prawn Cairns Restaurant

101 Esplanade, Cairns City

The Raw Prawn is located along the Esplanade in Cairns and is a place many of our friends and family have raved about! After we got home…

So while we don’t have personal experience with this one, it needed a mention! The ratings speak for themselves online too!

They offer Japanese, seafood and modern Australian dishes making it a great place to get your seafood fix, a steak or something a little more exotic!

Like many of the finer dining restaurants in Cairns, The Raw Prawn has a set menu option that can make your fine dining much more budget-friendly too!

Recommended Dishes: The Mixed grilled platter and the prawns.

Prawn Star

Prawn star restaurant in cairns on boat

Pier Point Road, Marlin Marina

Prawn Star is one of the most unique dining experiences you can enjoy in Cairns, aboard a restored fishing trawler.

You will find the Prawn Star trawlers at Cairns Marlin Marina, sitting alongside each other, decked out with bench seats and chilled beverages.

The menu couldn’t be more simple, consisting of oysters, prawns, mud crabs, crayfish and salmon sashimi. This is a must-do dining experience for seafood fans!

Recommended Dishes: All of them – get a mixed platter!

Cheap Eats In Cairns

If you want a variety of cheap eats in Cairns that you can eat on the go or somewhere that you can try a mix of cuisines and dishes, don’t miss a visit to Rusty’s!

Rusty’s Markets Cairns

57-89 Grafton St, Cairns City

Rusty’s Markets operates 3 days a week in Cairns City – Friday to Sunday. Here you will find cool local products, gift ideas, cheap clothing and accessories… and food!

While you will feel like you are wandering through an Asian market with delicious Asian street food stalls, you can also find plenty of sweet treats and other cuisines as well. Crepes, gelato, churros and more.

This is a great place to sample a few different things or pick a favourite to try instead. Or pick up fresh ingredients to cook back at your accommodation in Cairns!

Other Cairns Restaurants To Try

If you’re still hungry after that epic list of the best restaurants in Cairns, there are many more that come highly recommended. We have not tried these ones ourselves yet but the reviews are great so they need a mention!

  • Fusion Art Bar & Tapas – Light meals & share plates
  • Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum – Japanese Raman takeaway
  • Caffiend – Breakfast and coffee
  • Salt House – Italian and modern Australian
  • Waterbar & Grill Steakhouse – Locally sourced organic beef from Atherton Tablelands
  • Bushfire Flame Grill – Brazillian BBQ

When it comes to finding Cairns best restaurants, the options are wide and you may well leave Cairns with several new favourites rather that just one! There are so many great places to eat in Cairns, with fresh seafood, international flavours or a good ole Aussie steak!

Best Restaurants in Cairns