Some of the oldest buildings in Cairns are its pubs and there are few better places to get your fill of a sense of heritage as well as a crisp, cold beer and a hearty meal. You’ll find an enormous choice of bars, restaurants, cafes and fast-food outlets facing the waterfront on the Esplanade, at the marina and in the city itself. Seafood such as local barramundi and tropical produce dominate, and don’t miss the chance to try a slice of crocodile.
Try some TNQ seafood. Picture: TEQ
Our top picks
6/2 Pier Point Road
This breezy waterfront bar and restaurant at Marina Point is a triumph of hip tropical design and is popular with both locals and visitors. Enjoy weekend breakfast, a set lunch menu, bar snacks or dinner seven days. For dinner, think sashimi yellowfin tuna with Moet dressing, mixed reef paella or, for meat lovers, Tablelands rib-eye on the bone from the wood-fired grill.
Reef Hotel Casino, 35-41 Wharf Street
If there is a five-star dining must-do in Cairns, it is the multi-awardwinning Tamarind. Tamarind has a reputation far beyond North Queensland for its Asian fusion cuisine which showcases the best in local produce. Choose the seven-course tasting menu, with or without wine, or opt for full a la carte, with vegetarian options.
Eat like a local
103 The Esplanade
Cairns ex-pats have fond memories of Barnacle Bill’s, from well before there was a redeveloped Esplanade and a huge free swimming lagoon. This restaurant harks back to a time when the exclusive view at low tide was nothing more than a wide mud flat. Something of a Cairns institution, it maintains a long-running reputation for great seafood with excellent service – but meat-lovers don’t miss out.
Enjoy a meal at Barnacle Bill's. Picture: TEQ
Corner Spence & Lake Streets
Enjoy a drink, lunch or an evening meal, or simply take in the entertainment at this state heritage-listed pub. With a history dating back to the 1890s and a recent multi-million-dollar refurbishment, this is a landmark city venue for locals and tourists alike. From burgers to carbonara, steaks to pizzas, this is good, honest pub fare.
20 Lake Street
It is hard to miss the red, white and blue awning and the mini Eiffel Tower where France meets North Queensland in this multi-award-winning restaurant. An established Cairns favourite with fixed-price lunch and dinner menus, or full a la carte. Get your French food fix here with garlic snails, confit duck and crepes Suzette.