cheap eats in cairns food featured

Post updated Jul, 2023

I set off on a fact-finding mission to them. I was happy to kick my appetite to full speed and taste this culinary gem to discover the best cheap eats in Cairns.

I’m happy to report that it was easy on my wallet and 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

1) Bagus Cafe – Cheap and delicious Indonesian food

best cheap eats in cairns fried rice
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), head to Bagus Cafe. This place cooks with love, and you can taste it!

Fried rice starts at $15.90; you can’t find cheap eats in Cairns that will beat the price and satisfaction you’ll get from this humble eatery.

Address: 149 Esplanade, Cairns City

2) Ganbaranba – Best Ramen in Queensland!

best cheap eats in cairns ramen Ganbaranba
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 I love.

Aside from the amazing and extensive list of ramen soups 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 $12.95. If you need extra noodles, order some for less than $2.50. Yum!

Check out their menu on Instagram.

Address: 7/12-20 Spence St, Cairns City

3) Corea Corea – Best Korean food in Cairns

best cheap eats in cairns corea corea bibimbap
This bibimbap was awesome! This place earns its spot on the best cheap eats in Cairns for sure!

If you haven’t eaten much Korean food in your lifetime, this is where you should start. And if you know this cuisine well, then you’ll enjoy the food that Corea Corea dishes up!

This place made our list of best cheap eats in Cairns because that’s exactly what it is. Value for money? You betcha! You can order a delicious meal here starting from $13. Read reviews about Corea Corea on Tripadvisor.

Address: Level 1, Orchid Plaza, 58 Lake St, Cairns City

4) The Roti Shack – The best Caribbean food

This is a family run business serving the best Caribbean roti you’ll ever taste (at least until you visit Grenada or go Island Hopping in the Caribbean).

This handmade flatbread wrapped around a delicious mild West Indian curry will make you smile. Starting at just $13.00, the price will too! 

Check out the whole menu on the Roti Shack website.

Address: shop 4/93 Lake St, Cairns City

5) Rusty’s Markets – Japanese Special Combo Lunch

best cheap eats in cairns japanese food rustys markets
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 $15.50, but the udon noodle meals and sushi hand-rolls get my (many) nods of approval for the best cheap eats in Cairns too.

Address: 74B Sheridan St, Cairns City Located inside Rusty’s Markets Food Hall.

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 $12.90, 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.

Check out the reviews on Tripadvisor.

Address: 105 Lake St, Cairns City

7) Meldrum’s Pies

best cheap eats in cairns meldrums pies
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 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 $7.50. What are you waiting for? Check out their website here.

Address: 97 Grafton St, Cairns City

8) Pho Viet Vietnamese Noodle Bar

best cheap eats in cairns pho vietnamese food
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 $16.90 is delicious, but my hot tip is to try the Viet’ Bun Nem Nuong (special grilled pork or beef on bamboo stick) mixed with vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs and nuoc cham sauce. So good!

View their website here.

Address: 5/78 Abbott St, Cairns City 

9) Thi Thi Vietnamese Food Bar

best cheap eats in cairns bahn mi
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 street foods of Hanoi in Vietnam in no time.

Address: 74B Sheridan St, Cairns City (Located inside Rusty’s Markets Food Hall) PLUS another location below.

NOTE: Rusty’s Markets is only open for business on Fri, Sat and Sun from 05:00 – 18:00

Address: Shop F/47-49 Grafton St, Cairns City

10) Imm Thai Cafe – Cheap and delicious Thai food

best cheap eats in cairns thai food
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. 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.

This will make you want to book that flight ticket and head to the country immediately! It shouldn’t surprise you that eating everything in this country is on my list of 15 Amazing Things to do in Thailand.

Read some reviews on Tripadvisor.

Address: 60 Abbott St, Cairns City

11) Mando – Cheap Korean food lunch specials

best cheap eats in cairns korean food
If you’re craving some cheap and tasty Korean food – you’ve found it! Best cheap eats in Cairns right here!

Starting at just $10.90, come here to enjoy some seriously tasty Korean food. This cosy little place located on Spence St in Cairns is great.

Their $10.90 lunch specials are a hit! Serving a variety of Korean rice bowls lunch until 2.30 pm, don’t miss out. Check out Mando FaceBook Page for more information.

Address: 14 Spence St, Cairns

12) Pho Street Cairns

best cheap eats in cairns pho soup featured
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 you will follow your nose to this place if you search for the best cheap eats in Cairns.

You can’t miss it. The aromatics of that pho noodle broth are unmissable. Better yet, the cute little tables and plastic chairs out the front of this bustling 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. 

Address: Shop 15, Night Market, 54/60 Abbott St, Cairns City


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 really good deals, and the food is on point! 

As mentioned above, Rusty Markets operates on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Some great snack options include fresh almond croissants or pastries from Frenchies Bakery or homemade Indian samosas just opposite for $3 a piece.

Also, if you’re a coffee addict 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, you may 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 centre, and this street has all the food options you can hope for. International cuisine at its best, for prices you’ll love.

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Best Things to Do in Cairns

Cairns has so many amazing things to do; the list is endless. CLICK HERE to see the best of Cairns’ activities and day trips.

Alternatively, my three favourite tours are listed below.

There you go! Twelve 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.

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