Finding good vegan food while travelling can be a challenge. Here are all the best places I found when eating vegan in Cairns, Queensland.
This is one of those lovely, but touristy, restaurants along the marina where the view over the water is half of the appeal.
Ochre is billed as a Modern Australian restaurant, and we chose to visit at lunchtime when they had a special for a two-course meal with a glass of wine or beer for $37.
They had one vegan main on the menu, also a single entree and a dessert. I wasn’t feeling like the main offered though, and they weren’t busy, so I asked if they could make me up some sort of vegan salad.
They were happy to do it, and the huge bowl of salad I received was delicious. It wasn’t just plain lettuce either but filled with all sorts of delicious morsels. They were even able to make up a vegan dressing.
For dessert, there was a vegan brownie. So often, restaurants will offer a vegan entree or main, but rarely is there a vegan dessert, so I had to jump at this as one of my two courses.
It was rich and dense, and oh-so tasty. I was glad though I shared it with my husband as half of it was enough for me.
This is one of the restaurants I found with a quick google of “Vegan Cairns”. It was also well regarded on the Happy Cow app that I use to help find vegan options.
Corea Corea serves standard Korean meals. It’s located upstairs in a shopping centre and was the only place open when we visited for dinner one evening.
It is a little like a food-court eatery, so very casual, but even though everywhere else in the area was closed, Corea Corea was full of diners, even the seats out on the concourse were full.
There were two vegetarian options and I chose the Bibimbap, and asked for it to be vegan (they removed the egg).
The no-frills meal turned up at our table quickly and it was just as I would expect a Bibimbab to be. The veggies were fresh and tasty, the rice fluffy, but burnt and crispy on the bottom. So good.
My husband had a non-vegan meal, and he liked it so much he kept suggesting we make a return visit here for the rest of our trip.
My only complaint is I would have liked one or two more vegan options – I know there is a lot of great vegan Korean meals.
We came to eat here after our day out snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. It had been recommended, was near to where our boat docked and was an opportunity to try the craft beer too.
We arrived about 4:30pm, and discovered that their evening menu did not start until 5pm. We could have waited half an hour, but we were hungry, so decided to order from the pizza menu which is all that is available between 3 and 5pm.
Hemingway’s has a vegan cheese option for their pizzas, gluten-free bases if you need them, and two vegetarian standard pizzas to choose from as a starting point.
They were very accommodating and were happy to do a half-and-half pizza to include some pepperoni and pesto for my husband on his half for only a token extra charge of $1.
The main menu available after 5 pm has a multitude of vegan food options, including artichoke tacos, soba noodles, a vegan burger and some sides too. I would definitely have tried the tacos!
We chose True Thai from the Happy Cow app because it was close to our accommodation, and, as you will notice from this list, we do like Asian food!
There was nothing particularly special about the meal here, we had spring rolls for an entree, and then I had a simple chilli and basil veggie and tofu dish that was tasty and filling. I also had some coconut rice which I love.
Overall this was a solid option without being special. They do takeaway and delivery within 10km, so this could be a good option if you want a lazy night in.
Cairns has a huge range of Asian restaurants and this is another of them. Rendezvous-Du-Vietnam is located just off the esplanade and we discovered it as we were walking past and the vegan/vegetarian menu caught my eye.
We went back later for dinner, and I chose one of the two vegan set menus. They also have a vegan degustation menu for two or more people.
The option I chose was an entree of spring rolls, mains of mixed steamed veggies and a clay pot of rice, tomato and tofu. Dessert was chosen by the chef, but for us, it was a lychee jelly.
I can not fault the food, it was all very tasty. The meals were just a nice size too, not too big since we were having three courses.
My husband chose a similar, but non-vegan, set menu, which was great. Often he has to eat vegan with me if we choose these types of menus.
Rendezvous-Du-Vietnam is definitely more of a restaurant rather than a cafe or takeaway place. It’s a little more formal than many places but still relaxed enough to just stop in and eat without feeling like you need to go home and get dressed up.
You can take a look at their vegan menu here.
Pho Viet Vietnamese Noodle Bar
Just around the corner is a Vietnamese place at the complete opposite end of the scale. This is more of a casual lunch place and we stopped in here for an early lunch on our last day in Cairns.
We were rushing to get to the airport, but knowing we wouldn’t have much food until we landed in Adelaide that evening – and I completely forgot to get a photo of the food.
They don’t have vegan options on the menu as such, but their veggie noodle soup is accidentally vegan and was a really tasty option for a good price.
Annee’s Caphê Sua Du
I found this listed as “the best Vietnamese coffee in Cairns” so I had to give it a try. I don’t normally drink coffee, but occasionally I will have one, and to try this, I made an exception.
Getting coffee with non-dairy milk is a given almost everywhere in Australia, but many Asian-style drinks, like Vietnamese coffee or Teh Tarik from Malaysia, rely on condensed milk, and that is less commonly available as vegan
When we arrived the first time (we ended up coming here twice) there was a line of about fifteen people waiting for their coffee, so clearly Annee’s is very popular.
I couldn’t see anything vegan listed on the menu, but there was a big notice saying they had oat milk.
When it was time to order, I asked which items could be made vegan, and the answer was – pretty much all of them! Not only do they have oat milk, but they also have coconut condensed milk, so all the dairy could be substituted.
I ordered a Creamy Coconut coffee, and it was so good! I love coconut in general and have in the past had coconut coffee while travelling in Vietnam. While this was an iced version not hot, it was still that sweet, strong coffee I remember.
I’m kinda glad I don’t live in Cairns, because I could see this coffee becoming a habit if I did – it was that good!
Most gelato/ice cream places tend to have the token one or two vegan options. It’s always lemon sorbet, or berry sorbet, or occasionally, vegan chocolate.
Here at Gelocchio, there was a whole section just of vegan options, twelve different varieties. I’ve become un-used to having so many choices and it took me way too long to choose – and we ended up returning again a couple of days later to have some more.
On the first day I chose dragonfruit and apple & guava, and for the second visit it was lychee and passionfruit (yes, I was getting my tropical fruit fix!).
I’m thankful I discovered them towards the end of my trip because I could have very easily visited every night just to try all the flavours.
Grill’d is a chain burger place found all over Australia. I haven’t eaten there in years (since before I became plant-based) but I had previously noted that they had plant-based options.
We needed a quick meal on our first night and happened to be passing a Grill’d location (there are two in Cairns) so it was an easy option.
There are four different vegan burgers, I chose the “Vegan Impossible Garden Goodness”. It was a decent burger, tasty enough without being amazing. I would eat it again.
Grill’d is a good choice if you need a quick meal.
We ended up at Schnitz on a Monday night (our last night) when our options were limited and we were struggling to find somewhere appealing. We didn’t want pizza, we didn’t want Asian, we didn’t want to spend a fortune – and I had run out of ideas.
Schnitz is another casual chain that advertises vegan options. They’re not in South Australia, though, so I am not very familiar with their offerings and found the build-your-own concept to be a little confusing when navigating the vegan options.
I was told every schnitzel can be made vegan, but I’m dubious about that claim, as the server also said it is just a different protein – so I would ask more questions if you decided to get a veggie parmigiana, for example, as the cheese may not be vegan.
The veggie schnitzel is more like a vegetable pattie rather than vegan meat schnitzel and it comes served only with chips. We paid extra to get a side salad to also have some greens.
While the meal was fine, it was not my favourite, and I would probably choose other places in the future. Lots of people like it though, so that might just be my personal taste.
Other Places I Saw with Vegan Options
These are some of the other places I saw that I considered eating at but didn’t get the chance. They could be options for you during your trip to Cairns.
If you eat at any of these places, I’d love to hear what you think.
During our day trip to Kuranda we grabbed a quick lunch at German Tucker – which I don’t necessarily recommend because they are cash-only (we didn’t have cash and had to do a bank transfer) and even though they said my hot dog was vegan, I am not 100% convinced.
Just after we left I discovered Fruibies just metres away (I was kicking myself!) which was entirely vegan with a range of options available for a quick lunch. I recommend giving them a go instead.
There are two Dundees locations in Cairns – one at the Aquarium and one on the marina (right next door to Ochre)
When we visited the Cairns Aquarium I had the opportunity to read the menu outside and was happy to see that they have a range of vegan options.
We had planned to go there Monday night for dinner, but discovered when we got there that they are only open for lunch on Monday – whoops.
From what I could tell, The MED had only been open for a couple of weeks before our visit to Cairns. They serve up Mediterranean street food, and the sign out the front caught my attention.
We went back to get takeaway from there on Tuesday before our flight. Online it says they open at 11 am. We arrived at about 11:05, their signs were out but the door was still locked, and we didn’t have long until we had to be getting to the airport so we went to Pho Viet instead.
The menu looked good though, so they could be worth a visit.
Still planning your Cairns trip? Read these posts next
How to get from Cairns Airport to City
TRAVEL PLANNING ESSENTIALS
Find flights – I always use Skyscanner as my starting point when searching for flights. One search will give many options including airlines I may not have thought of. This means I can find the best possible flights to suit my needs
Book accommodation – my go to is always Booking.com for the best places to stay. It’s not just hotels anymore, but hostels, apartments, B&Bs and more. I love that the bookings are usually cancellable, and that I can book now and pay later.
Hire a rental car – RentalCars.com is my go to here. It allows me to do just one search and it finds cars from many of the different supplies, so no checking multiple websites to compare.
Get travel insurance – you would have heard by now that saying “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel”. If we’ve learnt anything from the last couple of years it should be how essential travel insurance is. I use CoverMore for my insurance.
Pick up an eSIM – I tried an eSIM on my last trip and it was fantastic. I set it up before I went so it was ready as soon as I landed, and I still had access to my home number for emergencies. Get your own eSIM at Airalo.
Book activities, tours & attractions – I use a few different websites for this. Viator and Get Your Guide tend to be the first places I look. In Asia, Klook often has more options, and in Australia it’s Experience Oz.
Manage your money – the best way to manage your different currencies is with an account from Wise. You can hold money in many different currencies, and use them with the ATM card or from your phone.
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