Cairns is one of the best places in Australia to find cheap food and drinks. Most hostels offer free breakfasts or free evening meals, and often both. Pubs often have the best deals, with $5-10 backpacker meals every night. Many hostels supply free meal vouchers to the Woolshed (24 Shields Street, Cairns), a famous bar/restaurant where a hearty $10 meal turns into a night of cheap drinks and dancing. PJ O’Brien’s (87 Lake Street, Cairns) also has cheap food, drinks and a good atmosphere. There are fast food joints all over town and the Cairns Central Shopping Centre has a huge food court with cheap places to eat, as well as a Coles supermarket. There is a Woolworths (103 Abbott Street, Cairns) in the city centre. There are also a couple of Night Owl convenience stores for late night snacks and some pizza and sandwich places stay open late for the party crowd as well.
There is a wide range of international dining in Cairns, from modern Australian to Vietnamese. Takeaway Thai and Chinese restaurants are a popular choice for many backpackers and Cairns has some very good sushi places. Try Café China in Rydges Plaza (Spence Street, Cairns) for excellent noodle dishes. The local tropical fruits are used by juice stands and the best place to sample and buy fresh fruit and vegetables is Rusty’s Markets next to Gilligan’s Hostel. Grafton Street and the Esplanade are loaded with cafés and are the best places to look for cheap breakfast and good coffee.