Restaurants and Bars - Eat and Drink
As with much of Cairns, you can divide the city into The Esplanade, the places within a block of it, and the rest of the city. The Esplanade is littered with seafood and bar and grill places supplying red meat and beer. It's relatively difficult to find anything open before 11am since they expect the clientele to be sleeping in! The rest of the city has small cafes and milk bars catering to locals. The number of Japanese tourists here makes Japanese food a fairly reliable option, although prices can be steep.
Some of the more expensive restaurants on The Esplanade, particularly towards the north end, offer discounts of 20-30% for early birds; usually you will need to order by 6.30pm and pay and leave no later than 7.30pm to get a discounted meal.
- Lillypad Cafe A funky little hippy-vibed cafe serving wonderful dishes, and a really good option for breakfast or lunch. The service can be a bit slow and it's usually pretty busy but it's good value and tastes great!
- Hide's Coffee Cafe A couple of streets back from the Esplanade and a good place for a filling and relative cheap (under $10) breakfast or lunch. They have free WiFi for guests too.
- Perrotta's At The Gallery If you want to escape touring the bar and grill places, Perotta's is just off The Esplanade and presents a more sophisticated spread. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with meals approximately $20. Try the French toast with roast pear for breakfast.
- Sushi Express A sushi train made up to look like the Kuranda Railway in the Orchid Plaza. It's popular but not wildly busy, and the tempura seems to get more attention than the sushi or sashimi. Plates from $2.50 to $4.50.
- Villa Romana Trattoria Italian meals with delicious seafood options and overworked wait staff! You get a 25% discount if you order before 6.30pm, but meals are generally $25-$40.
- El Mundo Tapas A gem of a little tapas joint, not too expensive and frequented by locals.
- Bushfire Flame Grill Flame-grilled meat on skewers is brought to your table and cut off fresh, Brazillian BBQ style, and there's a lot of it! It's fun and unique, but best of all the food is mouthwatering.
- Bayleaf Balinese Restaurant Enjoy exotic food in a bubbling and nicely decorated atmosphere. The food is fresh and interesting and quite good value compared to other Cairns restaurants. You should book.
- Ochre Restaurant A fantastic mod-Australian restaurant serving seafood and game (think cuddly Aussie animals!). The meals are inventive and beautifully prepared, but in no way cheap!
- Tamarind The best restaurant in Cairns is located in the Reef Casino, serving excellent modern Asian cuisine with perfect service from beginning to end. Yes, it's expensive, but your meal will be flawless.
Cairns has pubs and bars to cater to travellers, students, and locals. The nightlife is vibrant.
- Rattle 'N Hum A large bar and grill in the midst of one of the busiest parts of The Esplanade, fun for sitting out back once they light torches in the evenings, playing pool and having a meal. They do a number of mains, including wood-fired pizza (approximately $20). The staff are highly variable in quality, so ordering a cocktail can be risky, but they're certainly able to pull a beer.
- Blue Sky Brewery Bar & Restaurant With a wide selection of boutique beers, a wine cellar, a diverse cuisine and relaxed atmosphere, you'll be set! All of the beers are handcrafted, unpasteurised and brewed on-site naturally.
- Rhino Bar Cairns A party bar with themed nights popular with backpackers.
- The Woolshed Chargrill & Saloon Bar If you are looking for a place to find all the travellers, this is it!