Best Places To Eat In Cairns

Best Places To Eat In Cairns Image | East Coast Tours Australia

As Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, it’s no surprise that tourists flood the city year-round. Therefore, Cairns is jam-packed with trendy cafes and restaurants ready to feed the hungry flock of visitors. Whether you’re after freshly made poke bowls, spicy Caribbean street food or craving authentic Italian pizza, the city has got you covered! 

Best places to eat in Cairns for...

The best breakfasts in Cairns

Bang and Grind

8/14 Spence St, Cairns City

This trendy hotspot is for all the coffee lovers out there. Serving two types of locally made coffee blends, this cafe offers Turkish coffees, turmeric lattes, the classics and more. Not only is coffee a highlight, but the food is also divine. From warm waffles with ice cream to wholesome bircher muesli bowls, Bang and Grind have a wide selection of brekky choices. The boutique cafe offers takeaway if you’re in a hurry and dining if you’ve got a slower-paced morning ahead of you.

Vegetarian Breakfast Bang and Grind cafe platePhoto: Bang & Grind Roastery

Rusty’s Markets

57/89 Grafton St, Cairns City

Rusty’s is open Friday through to Sunday and is the ideal place to go if you’re chasing variety. With over 180 stalls and located directly in the heart of Cairns, it’s a must-visit! Rusty’s is perfect for an easy breakfast option (even better if you’re with others and can’t all decide on the same place) as the options include pastries, exotic fruits, smoothies, coffee, fresh bread, international cuisine, sweets and more!

Smoothie in Rusty's market with fruit and veg market


72 Grafton St, Cairns City

You can find Caffeind right around the corner from Rusty’s. It’s a popular coffee hub and the ultimate way to kick-start the day. With locally sourced coffee beans, the artsy cafe sure does make a scrumptious brew. The menu is a 10/10 with delicious meals like miso scrambled eggs, lemon meringue pancakes and smashed avo. Not to mention the beautiful wall art and friendly service the staff provide, it’s a win in our eyes! 

Plate with miso eggs, avo, salmon and toastPhoto: Caffiend

Best lunch spots in Cairns


117a Abbott St, Cairns City

If you’re chasing fresh, wholesome meals then Crave Eatery and Bar has your name all over it. Conveniently located in the centre of Cairns, this modern eatery has all you could ask for. The cafe has both a smoothie bar as well as a fully licensed bar. Whether you’re feeling like a fresh juice or a fruity cocktail, you can get your fix right here! The menu is also scrumptious and we recommend ordering the poke bowl with scrambled tofu, the chicken tacos or the sweet potato and corn fritters.

Bowl of poke salmon, veggies and ricePhoto: Crave

Hemingway’s Brewery

Wharf St, Cairns City

Hemingway’s is a craft brewery, independently run and located in a heritage-listed building on the waterfront. Beer is the specialty here, however, they offer to-die-for cocktails if beer isn’t your thing. The venue also has a tasty menu ranging from pepperoni pizzas to sweet potato salads. If you’re after lunch with a view, the brewery is for you. Plus it’s the place to go if you’re travelling with a larger group as the venue is quite spacious.

Hemmingways Spread with beer, cocktails and colourful food

Bagus Cafe

149 Esplanade, Cairns City

Bagus Cafe serves traditional Indonesian food and the best part is that it’s cheap! You can order their signature fried rice from $11 (which in these crazy times is pretty decent). It’s obvious that the chefs here cook with love, as the meals are a flavour sensation. The cafe is also well known for serving the best Nasi Goreng in the area. Definitely the place to go if you’re looking for a meal to fill your belly up that is both affordable and delicious.

bagus Cafe takeaway with rice, chicken and greens

Best restaurants for dinner in Cairns

La Pizza Trattoria

93 Esplanade, Cairns City

La Pizza is a locally owned Italian restaurant serving (you guessed it) pizza! It’s located in the middle of the busy esplanade making it the perfect place to dine at after a day on the reef or before your night out. Grab your friends, enjoy the authentic atmosphere, watch the chefs roll out the homemade pizza dough and sip on Italian wine. If pizza isn’t what you’re craving, the restaurant also specialises in traditional Italian dishes from risotto to ravioli.

3 pizza and cocktails cheersingPhoto: La Pizza Trattoria

The Roti Shack

4/93 Lake St, Cairns City

The Roti Shack is a traditional-style Caribbean restaurant run by a family who is passionate about their food. They make handmade flatbread, chickpea or beef curries, and different types of dahl. Their food is traditional and served in a street food style. If you’re after authenticity (and affordability) pop on over to the Roti Shack!

A platter of roti from the Roti ShackPhoto: The Roti Shack

Howlin’ Jays

1 Pier Point Rd, Cairns City

Now, this place is a one-of-a-kind experience. Located across from the water, near the marina is where you can find Howlin’ Jays. It’s colourfully decorated with all sorts of unique and quirky items (we’re talking prayer flags, fairy lights, crazy artworks, surfboards, and even kids toys). The groovy restaurant has an equally groovy food and drinks menu. Halloumi burgers, man ‘n’ cheese balls, spicy chicken wings, waffle burgers, or sweet potato fries make up some of the food menu. While tequila cocktails, peach and vodka shots, apple ciders and beers on tap are a few of the drinks to name!

Howlin Jays Fried Chicken spread with chips, macncheese, sauce

Photo: Howlin' Jays

Where to get dessert in Cairns

Churro Time

71 Esplanade, Cairns City

You can’t leave Cairns without experiencing a heavenly churro from Churro Time. Located at the entrance to the Night Markets on the esplanade, these hot and crispy sugar-coated treats come in all forms. Whether you want a churro filled with Nutella, dipped in white chocolate or served with ice cream, the list of options is endless. They also serve a range of Bubble Tea which means it's definitely the place to go to satisfy your sweet tooth!

5 churros covered in different toppings

Night Markets

54-60 Abbott St, Cairns City

The Night Markets in Cairns has a wide assortment of stalls and shops for you to stroll through. One thing it does offer is treats, designed to please that after-dinner sweet tooth. Grab a gelato or ice cream from one of the vendors and wander the markets. Admire the clothing, handmade souvenirs, jewellery and artwork that the markets offer. Stop by the lolly shop called Candy Lane if you really want to go wild on the sugar rush! The shop consists of over 120 different types of sweet treats so you’re bound to find something to hit the spot.

Night Markets signage illuminated by spotlights


9/93 Esplanade, Cairns City

Shout out to all the gelato lovers out there - this one's for you! Gelocchio is an ice cream wonderland, serving over 25 flavours of authentic Italian sorbet and gelato. Dragon fruit, piña colada, crunchie or soursop are just a few of the unique flavours. Offering gluten-free and dairy-free options at an affordable price, it’s the perfect treat to indulge in during summer to keep you cool from the hot Cairns heat. 

Two women holding ice creams

Best Cafes in Cairns for Vegetarians and Vegans

Snoogies Health Bar

Main Arcade, 82 Grafton St, Cairns City

Snoogies is a healthy vegetarian and vegan eatery and juice bar. The vibrant venue is nestled within the heart of Cairns and has been operating for 15 years. With salads, wraps, curries and snacks of all kinds, this vego bar is guaranteed to tickle your tastebuds. Even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, Snoogies is a great option if you’re trying to eat healthier and organic foods as they specialise in all things fresh and clean!

Salad spread with corn and veggiesPhoto: Snoogies

The Lillipad Cafe

72 Grafton St, Cairns City

If you want to be swimming in vego options, the Lillipad cafe is overflowing with choice! This cafe is known for serving large portion sizes, bursting with delicious nutrients. Their extensive menu doesn’t just cater to vegetarian or vegan diets, it does have meat options. However, half of the menu is purely vego which is rare for most cafes. Vegan antipasto platters, veggie-filled burritos, tofu and mushroom eggs benedict or a gourmet Turkish breakfast consisting of roast vegetables, fresh tomatoes, boiled eggs, olives, avocado and more served on Turkish toast are just a few incredibly scrumptious vego meals we recommend you try!

Bowl of mexican bean and tofu with garnishPhoto: Lillipad

Root Vegetarian

C/82 Lake St, Cairns City

Root Vegetarian is an Asian-Argentian plant-based cafe in the CBD. This quaint little cafe serves hearty and healthy meals to satisfy your tastebuds. Teeming with curries, noodles, salads, stir-fries or rice dishes as mains and sushi, rice paper rolls, samosas or fritters for something smaller, this place is a vegetarian and vegan fave! A perk about Root Vegetarian is that their menu is constantly changing and evolving which means you can explore all the wonders of veganism or vegetarianism in the one place!

Root Vegetarian sushi platter vegetarian

Complete your Cairns experience with an unforgettable East Coast adventure... sun-soaked days on the reef and colourful meals await! 

Call our travel experts, or live chat with a team member today, as we design an itinerary to suit your travels dreams and budget! 

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