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. 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. 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.

47-49 Grafton Street, Cairns City


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. 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. 

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.

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. 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.

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.

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. 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.

2 Smith St, Cairns North


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


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.  

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.

229 Kamerunga Rd, Freshwater


43. Crispy mussels at Vivo = $14

A decent portion of lightly-battered mussels served with chilli aioli.

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.

Wharf St, Cairns City


45. Chicken shawarma at Falafellicious = $13.90

Served in a freshly-woodfired pita pocket, trust us when we say this is authentic Middle-Eastern fare.

Shop 84, Smithfield Shopping Centre


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.

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.

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.

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 passata. The best toasties in Cairns, trust us. 

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.

4/196 Mulgrave Rd, Westcourt