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5 best restaurants in Cairns

Our favourite places to eat

Cairns is known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Australian northern tropics. There are copious tourists flowing through the city at any given time but despite its popularity, you can always guarantee an excellent, quiet dining space in which to enjoy delicious cuisine.

1 Osprey

Prepare to be wowed!

Panoramic sea views are on the menu along with modern Aussie fare at Osprey's Restaurant, located 15 minutes south of Port Douglas within Thala Beach Nature Reserve. Gaze across tropical North Queensland and Cape Tribulation to the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage forest, listening to the calming songs of birds flying above as you sample fresh seasonal produce. Steamed barramundi and pulled beef rib are just a couple of the specialities, followed by mareeba mango mousse or warm homemade ginger pudding.

Thala Beach Nature Reserve, Private Road, Oak Beach, Port Douglas 4877        + 61 7 4098 5700

2 Ochre

Divine dining

The most highly awarded restaurant in Cairns, Ochre takes you through a tour of the culinary delights of Australia. Set in a stunning location on the inlet, it's brimming with local charm thanks to its outback timber style and indigenous artwork. Native ingredients are essential to Ochre too, producing a range of exciting dishes from sustainable regional produce. The menu changes with the seasons, from tasting plates and afternoon snacks to lunch and dinner, all accompanied by new-world wines and beers.

6/1 Marlin Parade, Cairns, Queensland 4870        + 61 7 4051 0100

3 Bayleaf Balinese Restaurant

Indonesian innovation

Transport yourself to the beaches of Bali at the Bayleaf Restaurant, which boasts a tropical ambience and a traditional Indonesian menu. Mouth-watering mie goreng and nasi goreng (noodles or rice with chicken, fish and egg) are specialities, along with braised beef in coconut milk and marinated grilled prawns. Choose a few dishes and they'll be served on platters at your table, followed by a dessert buffet. Chefs are trained at a highly regarded cooking school in Bali and it shows.

Corner Lake & Gatton Streets, Cairns, Queensland 4870        + 61 7 4051 4622

4 The Raw Prawn

Fresh from the sea

It's not all about blue prawns - from mud crab to seafood chowder, this elegant yet friendly restaurant serves a whole host of treasures from the sea with five-star service. Traditional Aussie favourites are fused with an Asian twist and a list of fine wines, making for a sophisticated night out or a special lunch (try the set menu with wine included). Soak up the sun and the views across Trinity Inlet from the vibrant Cairns esplanade and relax in style.

The Esplanade Centre, Esplanade, Cairns, Queensland 4870        + 61 7 4031 5400

5 Dundee's

A huge hit

No crocodiles here - set on the waterfront of the Great Barrier Reef, Dundee's serves succulent steaks from the grill, fresh seafood, delicious pasta and traditional Aussie dishes from a classy location beneath the Cairns Harbour Lights Hotel. Watch boats bob past as you sip on a Sauvignon or Shiraz and sample the likes of shrimps and scallops, surf and turf and seafood linguine. Indulge in a spot of people-watching in a perfect location.

Harbour Lights, 1 Marlin Parade, Shop 3, Cairns, Queensland 4870        + 61 7 4051 0399