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…
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
Housed in a former 1920s bank shrouded in lush greenery, The Chambers scores top points for style and ambience. The décor alone will reel you in – rattan backed chairs and sage accents set the scene – but the food will ensure you return again and again. One bite of their creamy house-made ricotta gnocchi and you’ll be in flavour heaven. Promising fresh, uncomplicated and seasonal fare with a buzzing atmosphere, The Chambers never disappoints. Now, please excuse us whilst we indulge in a warm apple and butterscotch pudding…
21 Spence Street, 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
A waterfront 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
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 center 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
Technically this one isn’t a restaurant, but this list would be seriously lacking without mentioning Prawn Star. Freshly caught seafood sold straight off the trawler? Yes please. Prawn Star’s no-fuss fare comes with friendly service and reasonably priced beverages. Fresh oysters, tiger prawns and salmon sashimi abound on this ocean-to-table vessel.
Marlin Marina, E31 Berth, Cairns City
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
Combining great coffee, art, fine wine and fresh food, Fusion Art Bar & Tapas is your go-to coffee and culture spot. The industrial-style space, decked out with curated vintage goods, also doubles as an active art gallery, so you can peruse beautiful masterpieces while you dine. Staying true to artisanal goodness, you’ll find house-made pickles, handcrafted cheeses and a selection of seasonal tapas dishes on the menu. Smoked buffalo mozzarella, buttermilk fried chicken and gold band snapper ceviche are just a few of the share plates on offer.
12 Spence Street, Cairns