One of the big attractions of Far North Queensland is its incredible local cuisine.
When you’re visiting a bigger centre, such as Cairns, you’re going to have at your disposal most of the cuisines of the planet.
There are, of course, a lot of convenience food joints here. You’ll get that anywhere in the world.
However, the city also has some really great restaurants serving various foods from China to France and from Japan to Argentina. It’s a gourmand’s delight and the quality is excellent. You’ll also see a lack of pretension in most establishments (there are one or two exceptions for sure!) that’s refreshing.
It probably has to be admitted that the dining in Cairns isn’t amongst the cheapest in Australia. A meal for two in a medium level restaurant (not fast food but not top-drawer either) will set you back about A$100 or say €70 / £58. So, ‘reasonable’ is probably a fair description.
OK, it’s possible to say “why is Chinese food in Cairns any better than in say Sydney or Melbourne?” Well, part of the answer is in the incredible freshness of many of the ingredients that just roll out of the seas and the vast agriculture areas in this part of the world.
Come and try it and see for yourself!
If you’re staying in say Port Douglas luxury accommodation then the local area isn’t going to be on par with Cairns for choice.
However, what you will find is a stunning variety of local dishes (plus international of course).
Try the crispy port belly with scallops or perhaps the locally caught coral trout. Not tempting you?
What about the tiger prawns and squid in a homemade chilli sauce?
What you’ll see in the smaller towns is a more boutique and experimental cuisine that’s unique to this part of Australia. Once again, the prices are likely to be very reasonable (perhaps an average of A$35 per head for a typical main course) given the quality and freshness of what you’ll be eating.
Be aware that eating outside of the big centres such as Cairns often brings you closer to nature. So, in some restaurants you’ll have bandicoots (a small marsupial) wandering around and even the odd snake. That’s all part of some components of the out-of-town Far North Queensland dining experience.
Yes, if you wish to or are on a very tight budget, there are plenty of very reasonable budget and fast-food restaurants though they may be confined to the larger centres.
A typical fast food burger meal will set you back around A$8 per head and it’ll be of standard international quality levels for this type of establishment.
As you might expect, fish plays a big part in the typical Far North Queensland dining experience though local meat is also a big speciality.
Many of the restaurants provide an authentic but imaginative local food menu and although other cuisines abound, you’ll also be able to sample the best of what’s sometimes called ‘modern Australian’ cuisine. Don’t expect rock-bottom prices for the better quality establishments but you’re not going to feel exploited either.
It’s hard to beat dining by the coast here or inland under a little of the rainforest canopy if you’re outside of Cairns. Why not give it a try?
By Eby M