Whilst Cairns isn’t the obvious first choice for a foodie getaway, unbeknownst to many, this tropical city is home to many a fine gem. With abundant fresh seafood, relaxed vibes and native seasonal fare, Cairns is a smorgasboard of rich, flavoursome delights. You’ll find everything here from bush tucker-inspired banquets and fresh out-of-the-ocean seafood, to fine dining degustations and even the casual curry. Every taste and cuisine is well and truly catered for.
So, to help inspire your next dinner date, we’ve tasted our way around the city to bring you the best restaurants in Cairns. Here’s your exhaustive guide to one heck of a food coma.
Inspired by the vibrancy and flavours of Asian street food, Little Sister brings traditional ingredients to the table in a deliciously fun way. Located on The Esplanade, they embrace a shared dining experience with flavoursome food, crafty cocktails and a well-seasoned, friendly approach to hospitality.
101 The Esplanade, Cairns
Located idyllically on the marina, Salt House boasts the best of Cairns local offerings. With a focus on fresh and seasonal produce, Salt House brings fine dining to tropical Queensland. Opt for locally caught tiger prawns or a steak fresh from the custom woodfired grill. Fancy something a touch more casual? Head to the cocktail lounge that boasts luxurious days beds and some dang fine bar food. Think wagyu cheese burgers and build your own baos.
6/2 Pierpoint Road, Cairns
Fine dining fiends, this one’s for you. Utterly unique, Ochre thrusts distinctively Aussie ingredients into the limelight and transforms them into works of art. Championing stunning local ingredients like wild limes, Kakadu plums and warrigal greens, diners can look forward to the likes of salt and pepper prawn and crocodile followed by wattle seed pavlova. One for the bucket list, Ochre is more of an experience than a mere feed. Don’t forget to grab a jar of pineapple chilli jam on the way out.
1 Marlin Parade, Cairns
Waterbar & Grill Steakhouse
Renowned for their succulent steaks & ribs, big flavours, exceptional service and superb Cairns waterfront location. It’s no wonder Waterbar & Grill is the local’s choice for lunch and dinner.
Committed to sourcing and serving produce of the highest quality available, this has contributed to this establishment being awarded Far North Queensland’s Best Steak Restaurant on numerous occasions.
The Pier, Cairns
Treat yourself to Cairns’ most delicious seafood on offer at this highly awarded seafood restaurant. Choose from the daily fresh fish list then match it with one of their 6 unique cooking styles. Not a fish lover, then the extensive a la carte menu will have something for sure. Located at the Cairns Marlin Marina with spectacular Marina and Mountain views.
The Pier, Cairns
Dundee’s on the Waterfront
Dundee’s on the Waterfront is a dining hotspot, watch the reef boats come and go whilst you indulge in some of Australia’s best local beef and seafood. If the name hasn’t reeled you in, then the extensive offerings will. Boasting an oyster bar, a hot rock experience (grill your own) and an entire bush tucker menu, one night might not be enough. Oh, and did we mention the house baked bread?
1 Marlin Parade, Cairns
Nu Nu Restaurant
Hanging ferns with a lush open feel, Nu Nu Restaurant is a beachfront dining experience that kicks-off early in the morning and rolls on well into the night. Their three menus – breakfast, lunch and dinner – reflect tropical Queensland, with renowned chefs using fresh local produce. Sourdough bread is made in-house, and the coffee is roasted locally by Tattooed Sailor Coffee Roasters, while in the evening, the colourful plates light up the night. Nu Nu’s Co-Owner and Executive Chef, Nick Holloway, has appeared on Channel 10’s Masterchef Australia twice as a guest chef.
1 Veivers Rd, Palm Cove
Fancy a low-key vibe and a mammoth bowl of katsu curry? Look no further, dear readers, because Wawawa Izakaya is the best in the biz. Smack bang in the centre of Cairns, it’s been said this Japanese-inspired eatery serves up the best miso in town. Offering up a super relaxed atmosphere, the menu boasts fresh ingredients along with a whole host of vegan options, including some pretty renowned mushroom tofu gyozas.
92 Lake Street, Cairns
CC’s Bar and Grill
Drawing inspiration from the ruggedness of the Australian outback, CC’s Bar and Grill is redefining the traditional steakhouse.
Winner of recent Restaurant & Catering Awards, CC’s is famous for its steak, the majority of which is sourced from our backyard, the Atherton Tablelands. The stellar menu celebrates the best of local ingredients and the finest beef.
Ground floor, Crystalbrook Bailey Hotel, 163 Abbott Sreet, Cairns
With a ton of awards under its belt, this Asian fusion restaurant serves up all kinds of Eastern-inspired flavours. Adapting to the seasons, look forward to a range of seasonal dishes, from beetroot risotto through to fresh tuna poke. If you’re feeling opulent, the tasting menu comes highly recommended. Boasting an extensive wine list and array of decadent, handcrafted dishes, Tamarind ticks every box.
35-41 Wharf Street, Cairns
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