Cairns’ best cheap eats
Dig into Cairns’ best food stalls, markets and downright delicious cheap eats.
By Leah Dobihal
With turquoise waters and white sand, Cairns may be known for its natural attractions. But it’s foodie endeavours are exciting and ever-evolving. From night markets and food stalls to Asian eateries and tasty pubs, Cairns’ list of cheap eats keeps on growing.
Here are eight of the best.
When to go
Rusty’s Markets are open every week from Friday to Sunday. Check opening hours on the market website.
Where: 57-89 Grafton St, Cairns
A Cairns foodie icon, Rusty’s Markets are a must-visit. These markets feature more than 180 stalls offering everything from fresh seafood to steamy samosas. Stop by The Grateful Coconut for a fresh fruit salad served in a coconut bowl, or check out Gyorgyi’s Delights for vegetarian frittatas and arancini loaded with sauerkraut. No matter your tastes, you’ll find something to make your mouth water.
Where: Shop 84, Smithfield Shopping Centre, Smithfield
Ready to try Cairns’ best falafel? Look no further than Falafellicious, a Middle Eastern eatery serving up delicious pitas, wraps and plates loaded with options for vegans, vegetarians and meat-lovers. The freshly baked pita and crispy falafels are only available at lunchtime, so plan your day accordingly.
Where: 7/12-20 Spence St, Cairns
You’ll often see a line out the door at Ganbaranba; that’s just how good their Japanese style noodles taste. Open for both lunch and dinner, Ganbaranba serves up some of the best ramen in town, filled with hearty ingredients like slow-cooked pork, black mushrooms and prawns. You’ll even find refreshing cold noodle dishes specially created for Cairns’ tropical weather.
Where: 58 Lake St, Cairns
Inside Orchid Plaza – a shopping centre offering health, beauty and retail services – you’ll find some of Cairns’ most diverse Asian food stalls. Hungry Wombat is a local favourite, serving up udon soup made from scratch; the udon curry soup comes highly recommended. Grab a bite from Corea Corea for authentic Korean dishes, or simply wander through the plaza’s selection of bubble tea, bubble waffles and Thai fare.
Cairns Night Markets
Where: 54-60 Abbott St, Cairns
Cairns’ famous Night Markets are a treasure trove of clothing, jewellery, hand-made goods and, of course, tiny food shops boasting big flavour. Head to the Abbott Street Side of these markets to find authentic Vietnamese food alongside a range of dessert shops. Grab dinner and a sweet treat before hunting for a bargain.
Where: 174 Esplanade, Cairns
Located right on the Cairns Esplanade, Muddy’s Café is a spot for the whole family. You’ll find great special throughout the week on tasty dishes like tacos and fish n’ chips – expect generous portions, too. Visit on a Friday to enjoy live music alongside your dinner.
Where: 131-145 Draper Street, Portsmith
If you’re looking for something quick and tasty for breakfast or lunch, head to Lukure Caff. For brekkie, choose from simple yet delicious dishes like golden flaky pastry filled with eggs benedict and coconut panna cotta with granola. Fresh salads and loaded paninis are the stars for lunch here, and don’t forget to grab a takeaway coffee for a caffeine boost.
Where: 24 Shields St, Cairns
The Cotton Club may be a cosmopolitan restaurant by day, but come nighttime, this venue becomes a more intimate pub scene. Find a great menu of drinks and classic pub meals, with specials and live music on offer. Located near the water, this is a great spot to end the night.