With some of Australia’s best fishing spots nearby, it’s no surprise the culinary pride of Port Douglas is seafood. You can’t leave town without ordering the catch of the day or enjoying a seafood platter for two. If seafood isn’t your preferred choice, you can still find the odd Italian, Mexican or Spanish restaurant in town.
Watergate on Port Douglas’ main street celebrates contemporary Australian cuisine. Try the kangaroo loin, crocodile san choy bau, or macadamia-encrusted eggplant stack, paired with a drink from the restaurant’s extensive wine list.
Sassi La Cucina e Bar
Sassi La Cucina e Bar serves authentic Italian dishes in the middle of Port Douglas. Go for dinner to get the full range of pastas on the menu, including the Tagliatelle Nero Con Gamberi (or the squid ink tagliatelle with prawns). Order the whitebait or salt cod croquettes to start.
For a slice of Spain on Queensland’s tropical coast, try Seabean Tapas. A range of small dishes (tapas!) makes this the perfect place to share with a group of friends, with four types of paella for those with a big appetite. If you’re a keen fisherman, there’s also the option to bring your own catch of the day to the restaurant, and have it prepared by the restaurant’s chefs. (Enquire ahead to brush up on their BYO fish policy.)
The Mexican is home to Port Douglas’ best tacos. There are your usual suspects (pork, beef, chicken), but then there’s the crocodile, soft shell crab and pork belly tacos to take it to the next level. Vegetarians will also be happy with a few different options on the menu.
Salsa Bar and Grill
If you want a hearty meal and great service, Salsa Bar and Grill has you covered. For an upmarket version of a steakhouse, the food at Salsa’s is quite experimental. There is even coral trout on the kids’ menu. The lunch and dinner menus are a patchwork of cuisines – from creole Jambalaya to slow roasted duck – but if you’re stuck, you can’t go wrong with a juicy beef fillet or pasta. Even more varied is Salsa’s drinks menu, with a huge range of cocktails and wines from regions across the continent. Salsa’s is also available for wedding receptions.
Flames of the Forest
If you didn’t get enough of the rainforest during daylight hours, return in the evening romantic outdoor dining. Flames of the Forest is a candle-lit dining experience among the towering trees. Indulge with a sumptuous six-course meal that features tropical flavours, accompanied by premium Australian wines. It’s an experience that’s well worth the hour’s drive.
The Beach Shack
On the opposite end of town – literally, at the southern end of the Four Mile Beach – is The Beach Shack. Unlike most restaurants on this list, this is where to go for truly casual dining. The social, seaside vibe makes it feel like more of a bar than a restaurant. Get a pizza or fish and chips to complete the scene.
Nu Nu is a highly acclaimed, all-day restaurant in Palm Cove, around a 40-minute drive south of Port Douglas. You might just find the best meal on the tropical coast here. Co-owner and head chef Nick Holloway is a bit of a celebrity in Australia’s food scene, and has led Nu Nu to a number of awards, including Queensland’s Restaurant of the Year and the state’s Best Breakfast. Speaking of breakfast, if you can make it to Nu Nu before 11.30am, you won’t be disappointed by the tropical-themed menu. Between banana and coconut pancakes, mud crab omelette and avocado on toast, you’ll find something for everyone. Lunch, served from 11.30am to 4pm, offers a broad range of seafood, meats and salads. The dinner menu is similar with a few extras. You might want to try some local fresh fish, or you could always get the tasting menu for $89pp to try a bit of everything!
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