After just finishing the lap of Australia and returning to one of my favourite cities in Queensland, I craved some tasty and affordable meals. Where could I find the best cheap eats in Cairns? I set off on a fact-finding mission to them. I was happy to kick my appetite into full speed and taste my way through this culinary gem to discover the best cheap eats in Cairns. I’m happy to report that it was easy on my wallet and so satisfying for my stomach. Are you ready to try the best cheap eats in Cairns too?
Let’s begin! 12 Best Cheap Eats in Cairns – in no particular order.
1) Bagus Cafe – Cheap and delicious Indonesian food
Best cheap eats in Cairns is all about Asian comfort food for me. This cafe has what you need, trust me.
If you’re craving a generous serving of the best Nasi goreng (fried rice) ever, head to Bagus Cafe. This place cooks with love, and you can taste it!
Fried rice starting at $11.90, you can’t find cheap eats in Cairns that will beat the price and satisfaction you’ll get from this humble eatery.
My favourite dish from this list of best cheap eats in Cairns – Ramen from Ganbaranba
If we have to start with my favourite cheap eats in Cairns, we have to start with this busy place that I absolutely love. Aside from the amazing and extensive list of ramen soup they offer, the gyoza and other menu items are all top-notch! The staff are awesome too, always so welcoming and polite.
Ramen is one of my favourite meals in the world and eating here brings back memories of sitting in small ramen joints in Japan – it’s so damn good. Just go there and you’ll know what I mean.
A big bowl of Ramen starts from $10.95. If you need extra noodles, order some for less than $2. Yum!
Japanese food doesn’t get much better than from this little spot located in Rusty’s markets.
Yum! That is all I said as I nodded my head (it’s what my body does naturally when I’m absolutely loving the food) and chowed down on this delicious tray of fresh Japanese food. I highly recommend the Special Combo lunch at $14.50, but the udon noodle meals and sushi hand-rolls get my (many) nods of approval for the best cheap eats in Cairns too.
NOTE: Rusty’s Markets is only open for business on Fri, Sat and Sun from 05:00 – 18:00
6) Evo Burger
Sometimes you just want to smash a good burger. If that’s how you’re feeling and you don’t want it to break the bank, Evo’s Burgers will satisfy your craving. Burgers start from $11.90, but I’d recommend ordering the Oink Oink Burger.
The Oink Oink comes loaded with bacon, cheese and this yummy relish. Recommended, and it’s especially good after a big night.
Sometimes you just crave a good Aussie pie. Meldrums has got you covered…so many varieties to choose from.
Craving a good Aussie pie? This is where you’ll find it. One of the most popular cheap eats in Cairns and an institution here,
Meldrum’s bakes over 40 creative varieties of the classic Aussie pie. From the standard steak pie to interesting flavours such as Caribbean chicken, pumpkin gnocchi or tuna mornay (fancy stuff). The best cheap eats in Cairns is all about good value – and Meldrum’s offers you this!
Prices start at around $6.50. What are you waiting for?
If you’re anything like me, you seek out a good pho in any city you visit. This place does a great one, for a decent price.
Great tasting Vietnamese food at the right price. This list of cheap eats in Cairns wouldn’t be complete without Pho Viet Noodle Bar. The Pho, starting at $13.90 is absolutely delicious, but my hot tip is to try the Viet’ Bun Nem Nuong (special grilled pork or beef on bamboo stick) mixed with vermicilli noodles, fresh herbs and nuoc cham sauce. So good!
Do I look happy with this Bahn mi sandwich? You bet I am! One of the best cheap eats in Cairns for sure.
My favourite sandwich of all time! And when it’s this good, and starting at just $8 for a roast pork Bahn Mi sandwich – you’ll be back time and time again! These ladies have you sorted. The crusty Vietnamese bread is perfectly warmed and crunchy and they fill it with all the usual suspects that come with any good Bahn Mi. You’ll be transported back to the streets of Hanoi in Vietnam in no time.
The best Thai food in Cairns. Right here..come and get it.
Who doesn’t love Thai food? Well, this is on my list of the best cheap eats in Cairns because Thai cuisine is one of my faves. And for a generous serve of your choice of delicious Thai classic dishes, you’ll be loving life too! Mains are priced under $15 and believe me, you’ll enjoy every mouthful.
If you’re craving some cheap and tasty Korean food – you’ve found it! Best cheap eats in Cairns right here!
All you need is a $10 note to enjoy some seriously tasty Korean food at this cosy little place located on Spence St in Cairns. Their $10 lunch specials are a hit! Serving a variety of Korean rice bowls lunch until 2.30 pm, don’t miss out.
This pho tastes identical to the ones I’ve eaten in Hanoi, Vietnam. I love how food transports you like that! Best cheap eats in Cairns is all about this kind of food.
I guarantee that you will follow your nose to this place if you find yourself searching for the best cheap eats in Cairns. You can’t miss it. The aromatics of that pho noodle broth is unmissable. Better yet, the cute little tables and plastic chairs out the front of this bustling little cafe will give you flashbacks of travelling in Vietnam.
Did I mention the food? These guys get a 5 star review from me. Affordable, memorable and delicious.
MY EXTRA TOP TIPS FOR DISCOVERING MORE CHEAP EATS IN CAIRNS
The more time you spend in this delicious city, the more cheap eats in Cairns you will discover. My top tip for discovering other amazingly affordable dishes here is to check out Orchid Plaza in central Cairns City. This plaza has many Asian eateries that offer some really good deals, plus the food is on point!
As I mentioned above, Rusty Markets operates on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays. There are some great snack options such as fresh almond croissants or pastries from Frenchies Bakery or home-made Indian samosas just opposite for $3 a piece.
Also, if you’re a coffee addicts like us, don’t miss one of the best coffees in Queensland from the ladies at Barista Sista. These girls know their coffee, don’t miss it.
If you swing by Rusty’s Markets around 2.15 pm on a Sunday afternoon, you may well pick yourself up a few bargains. The fruit and vegetable vendors are slinging cheap produce, so fill up your baskets for the week ahead. And, if you’re lucky enough, you can grab some cheap sushi or perfect pastries at half the price. Perfect!
My last tip for more cheap eats in Cairns is to wander along Grafton Street in Cairns. This is the city central and this street has all the food options you can hope for. International cuisine at its best, for prices that you’re going to love.
There you go! 12 of the best cheap eats in Cairns according to me! This list may grow longer as I keep eating, however, please let me know in the comments below your favourite cheap eats in Cairns.
Rach is a self-confessed travelling foodie. Her passion for food and culture has seen her eat her way through 186+ countries. She's currently on a big food adventure to visit EVERY country in the world!
When Rach isn't travelling, you can find her at the beach, drinking coffee or wine with friends or chowing down on the best eats around her home city of Melbourne, Australia.