As the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is teeming with an abundance of restaurants offering fresh, local catches and exceptional seafood. Find the stand-out seafood dishes in Cairns below.
You’re going to want to wear stretchy pants because Dundee’s platters are sure to loosen the belt buckle. Indulge in the Chef’s Choice Seafood Platter for two with a huge selection of chilled and hot seafood as well as fresh tropical fruit. Or really take it up a notch with a Dundee’s Ultimate Seafood Experience that includes an even bigger array of seafood sure to please the tummy (and your Instagram).
The Raw Prawn
Whilst it’s named The Raw Prawn, you can rest assured your seafood will arrive at the table cooked to perfection. If you’re on the hunt for mud crab, The Raw Prawn is your go to. With the options of steamed and served with garlic butter, or wok fried in a Singaporean chilli and ginger sauce, their mud crab has been on the menu for over 17 years – proof of how good it really is.
Also recommended is The Mixed Grill – a chargrilled platter of Queensland seafood including shelled jumbo gulf prawns, split Moreton Bay bugs, barramundi and crispy calamari fritti – cooked using simple methods to ensure the flavours remain fresh and true.
Ochre’s contemporary Australian cuisine is always a crowd pleaser and their seafood is no exception. Skewered on lemongrass with green papaya salad and a sweet chilli, lemon myrtle dressing, the award-winning Tempura Gulf Bugs epitomise Ochre’s dedication to native produce and beautiful flavours. And with a constantly evolving menu, there’s always something new and fresh for you to sample.
Bellocale Italian Seafood Restaurant
Bellocale has gained a well-deserved reputation for exceptional, gourmet Italian cuisine. With a menu featuring out of this world (or sea?) dishes such as Risotto alla Pescatora, with Moreton Bay bugs, Gulf prawns, calamari, fish, mussels and clams with a saffron Pernod bouillabaisse and Napoli sauce; or Pappardelle Bugs, a seriously mouth-watering ribbon pasta served with sautéed ginger, garlic and chilli, flambéed with brandy and finished with spanner crab meat and rosa sauce. Sorry, you might want to wipe up your drool on the table…
With generous servings and bonus points for freshly grated, quality parmesan cheese, Bellocale gets a double thumbs-up.
Appropriately served in a sticky tamarind, chilli and garlic sauce, Tamarind’s Whole Crispy Baby Barramundi is a flavour explosion and a favourite of many. Tamarind’s menu also features a range of other quality seafood entrée and main options and coupled with the ambient atmosphere, it’s the fine dining destination of choice by many locals and visitors.
Joining the hit-list is the ultimate mix-and-match Fish List at Tha Fish. Choose between five different fish types and pair it with one of five cooking styles. The Fish List changes monthly, with each month featuring battered, pan seared, chargrilled, baked and crusted options and an ever-changing menu of flavours and styles. The hardest part will be picking which combination you’d like the most.
Samgasat Thai Cuisine
As a nation also renowned for its seafood, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a Thai restaurant makes this list. With a range of incredible seafood dishes packed full of flavour, the poached chicken and crab salad deserves a special mention – its fresh, herb base ideal for a balmy tropical evening – but it’s the whole crispy fried market fish that is the real showstopper. While the name partially hints at what to expect, the dish is drizzled in a sweet, spicy, tangy and sticky sauce that will blow you out of the water (pun intended). It’s best to preorder this meal as there is a limited number available each day. If you miss out, fear not, there are plenty of other seafood sensations and other options sure to impress on the menu.
Prawn Star takes the cake for the most exciting location, dining on one of their two boat decks situated right on the water at the marina. Teamed with their Jumbo Platter featuring fresh oysters, prawns, sashimi and bugs (and only $5 for beer and wine), it’s fun, it’s tasty and it’s perfect for those warm tropical days.