50 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 50 cheap eats for $15 or less. 

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


1. Bahn mi and iced coffee at Thi Thi Vietnamese = $10

One of our favourite office lunch runs. This deal's only available at Thi Thi's food bar on Grafton St when they're not at Rusty's.

GO THERE: 47-49 Grafton Street, Cairns City

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!

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 149 The Esplanade, Cairns

4. Beef roti at Roti Shack = $12.50

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

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 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. 

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 105 Lake St, Cairns

8. Fried prawn curry at Bento Paradise = $13

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

GO THERE: 99 Mulgrave Rd, Parramatta Park

9. BLT at Bang and Grind = $11.90

One of the classics with homemade mayo. Enough said. 

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 62 Shields St, Cairns

12. Steamed Chive & Pork Dumplings at Three Wolves = $14

Served with chilli oil, black vinegar and soy sauce, this is just one item on the bar's new Asian share plate menu. 

GO THERE: 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!

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 313 Kamerunga Rd, Freshwater

16. Bagel Dog at Bury Me Standing = $13.20

A meat-free dog with your choice of cheeseburger-syle toppings. Yum. 

GO THERE: 49-51 Spence St, Cairns City

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

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

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 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!

GO THERE: Shop 5, 78 Abbott Street, Cairns

20. 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.  

GO THERE: 39-49 Lake St, Cairns

21. Udon at Happy 4 10 = $12

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

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 6 Grove St, Cairns

25. Falafel at Falafellicious = $15

The best Middle Eastern in Cairns, hands down. The menu's also 100 per cent vegan!

GO THERE: 49 Grafton St, Cairns City

26. 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!

GO THERE: 1/77 The Esplanade, Cairns

27. Chicken coconut soup at Café Thailand = $8.90

A winter warmer for the Tropics! 

GO THERE: 7/93 The Esplanade, Cairns

28. Tropical spiced muesli at Nu Nu Restaurant = $12.00

Spiced pineapple and coconut cream soaked muesli, mango, fruit and toasted coconut. No further explanation needed. 

GO THERE: 1 Veivers Road, Palm Cove

29. Bacon and egg roll at Ozmosis = $12.90

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

GO THERE: 1/116 Collins Ave, Edge Hill

30. Fishburger at Mobil on Spence = $7.50

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

GO THERE: 8/14 Spence Street, Cairns City

31. Falafel kebab at Hasham’s Dips = $9

Everything you could wish for in a kebab. We also recommend you tack on a box of baklava.

GO THERE: Civic Shopping Centre, Cairns City

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.

GO THERE: 75 Captain Cook Hwy, Smithfield

33. Kurodama at Ganbaranba = $8.90

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

GO THERE: 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. 

GO THERE: 58 Lake Street, Cairns 

35. Truffle and tofu toastie at Guyala Café = $14.90

Well balanced combination of mushroom, cashew and truffle pate, confit tofu with shiitake salt, gruyere and gouda, and soy pickled onions to finish.

GO THERE: 2 Smith St, Cairns North

36. Eggs benny wrap at Wharf One = $12

The breakfast classic, in a tasty wrap form.

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: 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.

GO THERE: Shop 144, 1-21 McLeod St, Cairns

41. Tom yum noodle soup with prawns at Café China = $14.90

Spicy, zesty and vibrant. Just like Cafe China’s famous laksa (which is only a few dollars more) tom yum hits like something else.  

GO THERE: 79 Mulgrave Rd, Parramatta Park

42. Dahl tadka at Punjabi Nights = $14.50

Traditional tempered dahl with garlic chillies, onions, tomatoes, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Chuck a few dollars on for naan – you won’t regret it.

GO THERE: 229 Kamerunga Rd, Freshwater

43. Smoked salmon crossaint at Vivo = $10

Served with tomato and a seaside view. 

GO THERE: 49 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove

44. Beer cheese dip at Hemingway’s = $10

Served with pickled onion and grilled flatbread, this is one of Cairns’ best plates to pair with a good brew.

GO THERE: Wharf St, Cairns City

45. Tacos at Muddy's Cafe = $14.50

Three super filling tacos, with your choice of chicken, pork, salt & pepper calamari, falafel or fish. Even better, they're just $10 a serve on Tuesdays! 

GO THERE: 174 Esplanade, Cairns City

46. Soft shell crab steam buns at Ellis Beach Bar and Grill = $10

Tempura soft shell crab, Bao buns, cucumber pickles, XO sauce, and coriander for a tenner – and at one of the prettiest places in the Far North.

GO THERE: Lot 13 Captain Cook Hwy, Ellis Beach

47. Traditional panino at Angelo’s Deli = $10.50

Prosciutto, pickled eggplant, capsicum, and olives with mozzarella on the crunchiest piece of pane. Ring to order ahead as Angelo’s is well-frequented by people working in Portsmith.

GO THERE: Shed 1/81 Fearnley St, Portsmith

48. Pork larb at Imm Thai = $14.90

Spicy minced pork packed with traditional Thai flavours of lime, fish sauce, coriander and mint. And a good dose of chilli, of course.

GO THERE: 60 Abbott St, Cairns City

49. Margarita toastie at Newell Street Café, Tattooed Sailor = $10

House-made passata, flame-torched tasty cheese, and garlic on woodfired focaccia. The best toasties in Cairns, trust us. 

GO THERE: Corner of Newell and Barry St, Bungalow

50. Sausage rolls at Mama Coco = $9.50

Served with a homemade tomato and pink peppercorn relish, this Filipino-style sausage roll is gargantuan-sized. And we’re so here for it.

GO THERE: 4/196 Mulgrave Rd, Westcourt