The Best Restaurants in Cairns

Dining options in Cairns include Prawn Star, a popular seafood restaurant on a boat
Dining options in Cairns include Prawn Star, a popular seafood restaurant on a boat | © Genevieve Vallee / Alamy Stock Photo
Kylie McDowell

The tropical setting of Cairns provides an inspiring backdrop for your gastronomic adventures. Unsurprisingly, restaurateurs have made use of the rich environment, which means you can eat on the water, on the beach or in the rainforest. Here’s our pick of the best restaurants in this far north Queensland region of Australia.

1. Tamarind

Casino Hotel

Tamarind, the only hatted restaurant in Cairns, offers Eastern-inspired dining created with locally sourced produce. Its ambient and sophisticated setting makes it ideal for a special night out. It’s located inside the Reef Hotel Casino, so there’s excitement to be had once your meal is over. But before you head to the flashing lights, make sure to enjoy a glass or two from the Australian wine list. Booking is essential.

2. The Chambers

Cafe, Restaurant, Australian

Based in a converted 1920s bank, the Chambers serves modern Australian food as photo-worthy as the space. The muted interiors include original brickwork, bank shutters and steel beams, and there’s plenty of outdoor space on the deck. The kitchen team take fresh produce and create innovative yet wholesome dishes that you’ll want to show your friends. The brunch menu is highly recommended.

3. Paperbark Restaurant

Resort, Suite Hotel, Spa Hotel

Dine among the melaleuca trees at this farm-to-table restaurant, which serves modern Australian food. The open-fronted eatery sits within a rainforest and offers a tranquil setting. If you’d prefer to be on the beach with your toes in the sand, go to sister eatery Kewarra Beach Shack. Here, you’ll find wood-fired pizzas, cocktails and music. Be sure to book a table – it gets packed.

4. The Backyard

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Australian

Based on the mouth of Chinaman Creek, the Backyard offers an informal dining space overlooking the marina. Depending on your mood, eat fresh seafood in the restaurant or gather with friends in the garden for a barbecue. Bar nibbles are also available, should your quick pint turn into an evening session. If you’re looking for a decent breakfast, the Backyard’s Kiosk serves pastries and coffee.

5. Prawn Star

Restaurant, Seafood

Hop on the quirky vessel better known as Prawn Star. Once a fishing trawler called Lewis Venture, the boat was bought in 2013 and converted into a seafood restaurant. Now moored at Cairns Marlin Marina, the restaurant enjoys calming views across the water and a chance to experience Queensland’s fishing heritage. Opt for one of the stacked seafood platters, best enjoyed with a buddy.

6. La Fettuccina

Restaurant, Italian

The oldest Italian restaurant in Cairns, La Fettuccina, has been serving up delicious Italian food for more than 30 years. When it first opened, it was the only restaurant on the street. Now the area can claim to be Cairns’s foodie enclave. Despite the years, La Fettuccina has stuck to its origins, serving traditional Italian fare done properly. A favourite among locals, this humble and affordable dining experience has fresh pasta daily and an extensive wine list.

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