Staff writers

Email Staff writers
Share this article

40 must-try Cairns cheap eats for $15 or less


We'd be lying if we said 'cheap eats near me' didn't regularly appear in our search history ...

Luckily, Cairns has stacks of places to pick up a bargain bite. 

From sweet to savoury, breakfast through to dinner – it's all made its way into Tropic Now's handy list of 40 cheap eats for $15 or less. 

Oh, and bookmarking this page for future reference wouldn't be a bad idea either. Just sayin'.



1. Korean Burrito at Calaveras Street = $14.90

A Korean Burrito, say what? But with bulgogi beef, kimchi-slaw, rice, gauc, jalapeno mayo, cheese and iceberg lettuce, we reckon it's definitely worth trying.  

39-49 Lake St, Cairns


2. Lime n Pepper calamari at The Pier Bar = $14.50

Take a seat overlooking the Esplanade and enjoy this seafood dish, complete with chips and a salad!

1 Pier Point Rd, Cairns


3. Nasi goreng at Bagus Cafe = $11.90

Who doesn't love fried rice? Bagus Cafe do it best, trust us.

149 The Esplanade, Cairns


4. Beef roti at Roti Shack = $12.50

Melt in your mouth taste of the Caribbean. Enough said. 

Shop 4, 93 Lake St, Cairns


5. A pie from Meldrum's = around $7

This much-loved bakery on Grafton St has long been a favourite for those partial to a good pastry, with lots of varieties to choose from including a popular gluten free option.

97 Grafton St, Cairns


6. Pumpkin and zucchini curry at Richard's Salt and Pepper = $15.00

Richard's famous for his goat curry, but this vegetarian option is also worth a whirl. Find this food van cooking up delicious curries from Wednesday to Sunday. 

Holloways Beach Access Road, Holloways Beach


7. Cheesy Evo at Evo Burger = $12.90

A classic burger, with cheese, tomato, lettuce, red onion, mustard, ketchup, mayo, pickles, plus (of course) an Angus beef patty.

105 Lake St, Cairns


8. Fried prawn curry at Bento Paradise = $13

A delicious savoury Japanese curry with rice and tempura fried prawns.

99 Mulgrave Rd, Parramatta Park


9. Epicurean chicken at Bang and Grind = $11

On Turkish with bacon, salad, cheese and aioli. Mm-hmm.

8/14 Spence St, Cairns


10. Lunch deal at Jambo Pastry = $10

The menu changes but it's all delicious traditional Filipino fare, served buffet style. Don't leave without trying the jackfruit ice cream.

1/180 English St, Manunda



11. Avocardio at Waffle On = $13

Homemade waffles served with some big brekkie flavours: smashed avo, scrambled eggs, bacon and spring onion.

62 Shields St, Cairns


12. Spanish tapas at Three Wolves = $10

There's more than just fab cocktails at this laneway bar.  Their $10 Spanish-style tapas dishes are also a must-try. 

32 Abbott St, Cairns


13. Bruschetta Pizza at Rattle n Hum = $15

A delicious combination of garlic oil, tomato, spanish onion, basil, mozzarella, balsamic glaze and parmesan on one wood-fire pizza!

67 The Esplanade, Cairns


14. Greek sausages at Fetta's Greek Taverna = $10

Lightly spiced sausages with cooked onion, cucumber and chili sauce, served with pitta bread. A bargain at ten bucks.

99 Grafton St, Cairns


15. Lunch special at Jade Chinese Restaurant = $10

One of the best value lunches in Cairns. Includes a meat seafood or vegetable dish with steamed or egg fried rice plus salad or soup of the day.

313 Kamerunga Rd, Freshwater


16. Curries at Khin Khao = $8.90

Classic Thai red, green or Panang curry with your choice of meat, veggies or tofu.

21 Aplin St, Cairns North


17. Quarter chook at Howlin' Jay's = $13

Nashville-style fried chicken with bread and pickles in a great location.

1 Pierpoint Rd, Cairns


18. Poached eggs and sourdough toast at Caffiend = $9.90

Breakfast eggs don’t get much better than this very cheerful combo.

5/72-74 Grafton Street, Cairns


19. Beef stew at Pho Viet = $14.90

Think Vietnamese-style comfort food, with bread or rice noodles to boot!

Shop 5, 78 Abbott Street, Cairns


20. Eggs your way at Hopscotch = $11

Eggs cooked however you like on thick toast, with a herb salad for even more value.

32 Mulgrave Road, Earlville


21. Udon at Happy 4 10 = $12

Seafood, tempura, beef, veg and chicken noodle options. Too easy.

82 Sheridan St, Cairns


22. Boss's Special at Chill Cafe = $15

This one is for the adventurous. Smashed avo, tomato, and vegemite on toasted Turkish bread with a poached egg as the cherry on top.

Shop 1/41 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove


23. Lunch special at Goong = $9.95

A ten buck note gets you your choice of teriyaki chicken or tonkatsu pork with rice.

16 Aplin St, Cairns City


24. Grilled fish and chips at Cock and Bull = $14.5

Enjoy freshly grilled fish, served with a side of hot chips and a garden salad.

6 Grove St, Cairns


25. Cheesy pretzel at the Bavarian Beerhouse = $7.50

This tasty Bavarian treat is made in-house and also available with jalapenos for an extra $2. Nice!

1/77 The Esplanade, Cairns


26. Chicken coconut soup at Café Thailand = $8.90

A winter warmer for the Tropics! 

7/93 The Esplanade, Cairns


27. Banana & walnut bread at NOA = $9

A ‘best banana bread’ award should be created just to be given to this dish.

1 Pyne St, Edge Hill


28. Daintree tea at Café Botanic = $4.00

Enjoy a delicious tea surrounded by the lush landscape of the Cairns Botanical Gardens. Flavours range wildly from earl grey to peppermint.

Flecker Botanic Gardens, Collins Avenue, Edge Hill


29. Bacon and egg roll at Ozmosis = $12.90

Enjoy the atmosphere as you eat a mouth-watering bacon and egg roll.

1/116 Collins Ave, Edge Hill


30. Fishburger at Mobil on Spence = $7.50

Locally-caught Spanish mackerel for under eight dollars? Yes please!

8/14 Spence Street, Cairns City


31. Nana's Jaffle at Cafe Ten One Twenty = $10

Leg ham, cheddar, picalilli, aioli, deliciousness.

10/120 Collins Avenue, Edge Hill


32. Chicken Katsu Curry Rice Bowl at Sushio Tokio = $9.80

This Smithfield hideaway boasts a variety of delicious curry rice bowls. The chicken katsu is just the tip of the iceberg.

75 Captain Cook Hwy, Smithfield


33. Kurodama at Ganbaranba = $8.90

A pork broth with special garlic oil, infused for over two hours.

7/12-20 Spence St, Cairns


34. Chicken Tikka at Indian Brothers Restaurant = $11.95

Sometimes it's hard to beat the classics, especially at this price. 

58 Lake Street, Cairns 


35. Bruschetta at Lillipad Café = $13

A healthy serving of pesto, tomato, and Spanish onions tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette, on toasted Turkish bread topped with feta and parmesan cheese. We know your mouth is watering.

72 Grafton St, Cairns


36. Eggs benny wrap at Wharf One = $12

The breakfast classic, in a tasty wrap form.

Wharf Street, Cairns 


37. Sand crab sliders at Dundees Waterfront Dining = $14.50

Enjoy the stunning view of the waterfront while you munch on a lightly toasted brioche slider roll filled with gem lettuce, avocado, semi-dried tomato, freshly-picked crab meat and lime mayo.

1 Marlin Parade, Cairns


38. Ramen lunch deal at Ramen Street Cairns = $14.95

New ramen joint in Manunda with seriously delicious and authentic dishes. Amazing value with a bowl of ramen plus three free gyoza for their lunch deal.

Shop 2, 1 Jensen St, Manoora


39. Jabche with rice at Corea Corea = $13.90

Stir-fried beef, vermicelli and vegetables with Bulgogi sauce. A hearty meal for under $15.

Orchid Plaza, 32/58 Lake St, Cairns


40. Tempura Prawn Udon at Wara Sushi = $13.00

Japanese udon noodles in a delicious broth, served with tempura prawns.

Shop 144, 1-21 McLeod St, Cairns