When it comes to eating out in Cairns, it is highly unlikely that you will ever be disappointed. From exclusive five star restaurants, to the stalls at the night markets every budget and taste is adequately catered for.
Seafood is of an extremely high quality in the city and if you are a fan, you should certainly give it a try. The best places to do so are usually to be found around the harbour but there are also several excellent seafood restaurants scattered throughout the city. Those along the harbour, however, offer wonderful views particularly at night and most have both indoor and outdoor seating which provides a very pleasant experience for all those of who have travelled from less desirable climates.
As well as seafood, you should also sample some of the local delicacies. Unfortunately, many of these dishes are created with meat eaters in mind. But, if you are partial to meat, many of the traditional Australian restaurants will have emu, crocodile and kanagaroo on the menu.
And, if none of the above sound like something that would tempt your tastebuds, don’t despair. There are a multitude of international restaurants offering a choice of anything from American to Italian dishes to the ever-hungry hordes of backpackers. It is also worth remembering that many of the pubs in the city also provide large portions of good food at a reasonable price and these menus are usually quite varied for the fussier among you.
Finally, while many restaurants are licensed to sell alcohol, many others are not. In this case it is a BYO or bring your own alcohol establishment so it is a good idea to find out before you arrive.
43 Shields Street, Cairns, Australia
Typical Price - From $18
Slightly more expensive than some of the restaurants on this list but well worth the extra dollars. Specialising in traditional Aussie cuisine, this place has won numerous awards for what it does with native Australian game. It’s also fully licensed and has a verandah for those of you who wish to avail of the chance to dine outdoors.
Tropical Arcade, Cairns, Australia
Typical Price - From $10
This place certainly qualifies as a restaurant with a difference. The décor, the food, the music, everything about this place is fun. It is designed to encompass 21st century Australian culture and does so in a wacky way which you just have to see.
29 Spence Street, Cairns, Australia
Typical Price - From $12.
If you’re looking for an authentic Australian restaurant serving dishes of the same calibre then Dundee’s is well worth a visit. With traditional Aussie dishes including crocodile, kangaroo and emu on the menu, it is a really popular choice and you will need to book in advance.
102 Lake Street, Cairns, Australia
Typical Price - From $10.50
This is an excellent choice for groups of you looking for somewhere reasonable for dinner as if offers a variety of cheap buffet meals which feed up to four. Also good if you’re missing good old Chinese take-aways as this is another area in which the Silver Dragon is only too happy to oblige.
41 Shields Street, Cairns, Australia
Typical Price - From $13
Situated in the middle of the Shields Street restaurant precinct, this place really doesn’t need to worry about the competition. One of the most popular Italian eateries in the city, it attracts both locals and visitors in their droves so you should book in advance. Also has an extensive wine list which is updated on a regular basis.
65 The Esplanade, Cairns, Australia
Typical Price - $25
A slightly more upmarket restaurant with an enviable location right on the harbour. Here you can pick your own lobster from the tank and sample a wide variety of delicious seafood. It is slightly more expensive than some of the other listed restaurants but if you eat before 7.00pm you receive a 30% discount which makes a big difference to all you backpackers on a tight budget.
Cnr. Alpin & Grafton St., Cairns, Australia
Typical Price - Excellent meal for minimum of two for $24
A typical Greek restaurant serving a variety of seafood and pasta dishes with a distinctive Mediterranean flavour. Also featuring belly dancers every Friday and Saturday night and providing a take-away service from Sunday to Thursday, this is a really enjoyable restaurant for a night out.
Rydges Plaza, Cnr. Spence & Grafton St., Cairns, Australia
The most popular Chinese restaurant in Cairns thanks to the extensive range of live seafood and Cantonese cuisine the authentic Hong Kong chefs come up with every day. Featuring a sushi and a noodle bar, it’s both reasonable and generous and is guaranteed to keep you going for the evening.
253 Sheridan Street, Cairns, Australia
Built around a giant fig tree, this Irish style restaurant offers the chance to sample traditional Irish fare in a tropical Queensland environment. And, when you finish your meal why not head to the bar where there’s live music five nights a week.
82 Sheridan Street, Cairns, Australia
Typical Price - From $15
A quaint little Mediterranean style BYO garden restaurant where you can relax and enjoy a healthy and tasty meal in picturesque surroundings. A good choice for a quiet night out.