Cairns is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Queensland because it’s a gateway to both the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. Fortunately, there are plenty of bars, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy in the city, which specialise in various cuisines. From French to Asian fusion, here are the 10 best Cairns restaurants.
Restaurant, Australian, Seafood, $$$
Brunch at Salt House | Courtesy of Salt House
With dreamy mountain and ocean views, Salt House is a must-visit restaurant, bar, and pizzeria in Cairns
. The restaurant is fitted with an Argentine-style wood-fired grill, which produces perfectly cooked steaks sourced from across Australia’s east coast. The menu also includes many seafood dishes and daily lunch specials. Next is the pizzeria, which serves breakfast in the morning and pizzas all afternoon and evening. Finally, the bar at Salt House is known for its cocktails, relaxing day beds, tapas bar menu, and occasional DJ and live music sets.
Restaurant, French, $$$
C’est Bon is the only truly French restaurant in Cairns. They’re a “marriage of French sophistication and down-to-earth local charm,” which fits in perfectly with Cairns’ laid-back tropical setting. C’est Bon has an a la carte menu, as well as seasonal lunch and dinner menus. The seasonal menus include special two- and three-course menu options. Dishes on offer at C’est Bon include snails, baked barramundi, black angus beef eye fillet, and confit duck leg.
Apex Milk Bar
Restaurant, Australian, $$$
The delicious food available at Apex Milk Bar | Courtesy of Apex Milk Bar
“The greatest burgers, fish and chips, hotdogs, and milkshakes ever.” This is what Apex Milk Bar claims to serve daily to Cairns locals and visitors. Opened since 1960, the casual eatery is proud to use predominantly local produce in their indulgent menu. There are 12 burgers on the menu, which include beef, chicken, pork, fish, and vegetarian options. Don’t miss trying the best burgers in Cairns (and the world) at Apex Milk Bar.
Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum
Restaurant, Asian, $$$
Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum is consistently rated as one of the top restaurants in Cairns, and it’s definitely the best place for ramen. Guests can sit at the bar and watch the chefs cooking up a storm in the kitchen, while they sip on a cup of cold, sweet tea from their bottomless jug. However, the best part of Ganbaranba may be the ramen refills for the bargain price of $1.50.
Waterbar & Grill Steakhouse
Restaurant, Steakhouse, $$$
Just one of the meaty dishes on offer at Waterbar & Grill | Courtesy of Waterbar & Grill
For the best steak in town, head to Waterbar & Grill. Located on Cairns Marlin Marina, guests will love both the waterfront views and menu. The grain-fed and aged organic beef is sourced locally from Morganbury Meat Company on the Atherton Tablelands
. Many of the Waterbar & Grill’s dishes boast African and Portuguese flavours. This includes the Portuguese chicken and Boerewors, which is made with traditional South African sausages. But the standout dish might be the Espatada: rump on a hanging skewer that’s dripping with red wine and chilli sauce.
Perrotta's at the Gallery
Restaurant, Australian, $$$
Perrotta’s at the Gallery is an all-day dining option that opened in 1997. It’s earned a reputation for great coffee, excellent food, and friendly staff. Connected to Cairns Regional Gallery, enjoy feasting on its Mediterranean-inspired lunch and dinner menu, while people watch from the covered deck.
Restaurant, Asian, Fusion, $$$
Duck, duck, goose is a signature Tamarind dish | Courtesy of Tamarind
Tamarind is the multi-award-winning and signature resident at The Reef Hotel Casino
. The Asian fusion restaurant is made with the finest regional produce. There’s the Taste of Tamarind set menu, which allows you to sample the restaurant’s best dishes. Otherwise, some of the standout dishes include Mt Uncle Botanic Gin and Tonic Salmon, Organic Tablelands Pork, and Penang Duck Curry. Ensure you leave room for dessert; the sweets menu is inspired by local suppliers and their produce.
Bushfire Flame Grill
Restaurant, BBQ, Brazilian, $$$
Bushfire Flame Grill is an award-winning Brazilian-inspired barbecue experience on the Esplanade in Cairns. The all-you-can-eat Churrasco Experience involves a variety of Australian meats slow roasting on an open flame churrasco grill. Then the metre-long skewers are carried around the restaurant, where staff cuts the meat directly onto your plate. The perfect (included) accompaniment is the caramelised pineapple slices direct from Mareeba. The a la carte menu also includes a range of delicious meat dishes.
Restaurant, Australian, $$$
Bush foods at Ochre Restaurant | Courtesy of Ochre Restaurant
Ochre is the jewel in Cairns’ crown. Considered by many in Cairns as the quintessential Australian dining experience, this restaurant is a the best place to go for authentic fare. Ochre excels by delivering astoundingly good Australian food and presenting and crafting an unforgettable bush cuisine experience. Even those already familiar with the finer Australian dishes will feel that they are experiencing something outstanding. Ochre is a superb example of the diversity and ingenuity of local Australian chefs and the nations emerging culinary traditions.
Fusion Art Bar & Tapas
Bar, Restaurant, Tapas, $$$
Fusion Art Bar & Tapas is a newcomer to the Cairns restaurant scene. Their tagline is that they specialise in “good coffee, fine wine, and great food.” Their space has an industrial-chic vibe, with vintage furnishings, high ceilings, and exposed red brick walls. The bar is “fused” with UnderArt Gallery next door, hence the name. Fusion Art Bar & Tapas’ menu includes share plates, tapas, and cured meats and cheese.