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Cheap Eats In Cairns

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Jess Munro
Updated Wed 14 Feb 2024

Travelling on a tight budget and looking for some of the best cheap eats in Cairns City to fill your belly? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this article we’ve highlighted some of the best places to visit that’ll hit the spot without breaking the bank.  

Food Spread

Rusty's Markets

Rusty's Juice Bar

Situated in the heart of the city below Gilligan’s, Rusty’s Markets is a great pit-stop for hungry travellers on a thrifty trip. Every Friday Saturday and Sunday from 5am Rusty’s is a hive of activity as over 180 stalls sell a wide variety of delicious delights such as exotic fruits, divine delicatessens, fresh breads, and seafood, while a host of well-priced international food and beverage stalls will tempt your senses with the aromatic smells of Thai food, coffee, chocolate and so much more!

The Night Markets

Churro Time

Undoubtedly a popular spot on the Esplanade for travellers and locals alike, the Night Markets in Cairns offer up a buffet of affordable street food from all over the world. Try the tantalising tastes of Pho Street Vietnamese, Hero Sushi Japanese cuisine or traditional Chinese takeaway. While you’re at it, why not grab a sweet treat from the Mango Bar, Crepe Shop or Churro Time?!

Imm Thai Cafe

Thai Food Sign

Right next to the Night Markets entrance on Abbott Street is Imm Thai Cafe. It’s got that typical street food feeling with the open kitchen and little tables and stools all crammed in together, but at the same time, gives it that authentic Thai atmosphere.

The food is fresh and dished out in large portions, giving you awesome value for your money. I always have to ask for a takeaway container because I can never finish it all. Leftover Thai is always a good choice! 

The Courtyard

Taco Tuesday Spread

In the mood for Mexican? Then The Courtyard on a Tuesday is the place to be! Perfectly positioned on the Esplanade and open from 11am ‘til late, the Courty’s Taco Tuesday is the theme where $5 tacos are served all day. From spiced fish and prawn filled tacos, to pulled pork, chipotle chicken, shredded beef and Mexican beans with guac, these baby’s will surely go down a treat! 

Fettas Greek Taverna

Mediterranean Food

There’s nothing quite like that feeling of being transported to the Greek Islands for an authentic tasting Greek feast, and Fetta's Greek Taverna will deliver you just that! Featuring an open kitchen, courtyard and street dining area, the locally owned venue has a genuine ambience of a traditional Greek Taverna.

Their takeaway menu offers a budget-friendly range of those Greek dishes we all know and love! From $10, enjoy a galore of a lamb, chicken or mixed combo Yiros, and for the plant-based - halloumi and veg, or falafel pitta wraps. What more could you want in a cheap place to eat in Cairns!

The Roti Shack

The Roti Shack

If you’re after a hearty curry in a hurry, then you can’t go past The Roti Shack! Positioned on Lake street near the Cairns Museum, This locally owned, family run business serves the best authentic traditional Caribbean street food.

Their curry wraps are absolutely mouth-watering, made so by sourcing only the freshest ingredients where possible and making everything from scratch, onsite daily -  including the roti bread! You can mix and match your fillings with the likes of chicken, beef, prawns, potato and veggies. Wraps start from about $13, pack a punch and won’t disappoint. The veggie dahl, chickpea, rice and potato wrap is my fave!

P.J. O’Brien’s Irish Pub

P.J. O'Brien's Irish Pub

Centrally located a short walk from the Esplanade, P.J. O’Brien’s Irish Pub is a favourite amongst both locals and travellers for a pub feed.

The atmosphere is friendly, warm and inviting with its traditional Irish décor, and dark timber furnishings. Live music is a regular highlight and their daily pub feed specials include $23 parma and pint, $20 burger and beer, and even a homey $18 Sunday roast! Head down there on a Wednesday night if you’re a fan of karaoke, with prizes up for grabs. 

The Jack Hotel and Backpackers

Pub Food

Another popular pub spot with cheap eats in Cairns is The Jack Hotel, located right next door to Rusty’s on the corner of Sheridan and Spence Street. They offer affordable pub grub with weekly lunch and dinner deals on steaks, schnitty’s, pizza and pasta from $17.50.

Enjoy a tasty feed with friends and fam out in the beer garden while watching your favourite sports team on the big screens, or keep cool in the comfort of the air-con inside. The Jack is budget-friendly and has cheap eats for everyone in Cairns.  

Waffle On

Four Latte's

If you’re craving a proper good brunch but are on a budget, then Waffle On is your go to savior! Located a couple doors down from  Jimmy’s Burger Co., they have a reputation for the best waffles in town and they have the raving reviews to back it up!

The menu is chock full of all the goodies, featuring both savoury and sweet waffle options, organic coffee, tea, and fresh juices, smoothies and shakes. And with super creative and cute names like the “Chronicles of Banania”, and the “Robert Brownie Jnr”, I have no doubt these waffles will set the bar high for your future brunch expectations!

From local markets to casual cafe’s, Cairns has a variety of the best cheap eats that offer up tasty and filling meals without emptying your pockets. So, whether you're a budget backpacker, or a local just looking for a well-priced and satisfying meal, Cairns has plenty of options to tease your taste buds!

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