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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats


Updated: May 30, 2023

Wow, Cairns, what an intriguing and wonderful place you are. Packed full of natural beauty, and some of the most incredible wild animal encounters we had on our trip, we really have tonnes of magical memories from our time in this city in the far north of Queensland. As soon as you get off the bus and see signs about crocodiles, and some of the big and fascinating bugs hanging around, you realise that this place is very different to the more southern and easterly parts of Australia! But honestly, it was an amazing place to experience - from checking out the delights of the Great Barrier Reef, to taking a cable car over the Kuranda rainforest - I am so glad that we had the opportunity to visit!

Eating Vegan in Cairns

“In Australia, we don’t have a distinctive Australian food, so we have food from everywhere all around the world. We’re very multicultural, so we grew up with lots of different types of food.” – Hugh Jackman

Honestly, Cairns is not the easiest place to eat vegan. The options aren't as readily available as they are in other cities across Australia - though there are a good selection of restaurants that do offer a vegan menu, or have a couple of vegan options on their standard menu. There is one veggie-vegan place that we would have loved to have tried (see the special mention at the end of this blog) but sadly it was unexpectedly closed while we were visiting. If you've been there, please let us - and everyone else - know how it was in the comments section! So while you might have a bit more of a challenge eating vegan in Cairns, all hope is not lost! Below are the places that we managed to find some good plant-based food in the city: read on, then watch our video at the end of this blog, to find out more!

1st: Vitalia's

Shop/G9 Pier Point Rd, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

Vitalia's was a real surprise to us - a very pleasant surprise! We wanted something a little fancier on our last evening in Cairns, so we checked out the restaurants by the pier and wow, we were delighted to find this place! Vitalia's is an Italian restaurant with a romantic vibe (they also have a street food place in the city) where you can enjoy a softly lit al fresco meal by the waterside. And the best bit? They offer a full menu of vegan starters, mains, and desserts alongside their standard menu.

We went for the Frigola Primavera because honestly, it sounded great! This dish offered short pasta with mushrooms, white wine, fresh basil, diced tomatoes, vegan cream, and vegan parmesan. Though their menu also included vegan pizzas, gnocchis, and other pasta dishes, this one sounded so unique and intriguing that it really won our hearts. And when we ate it? It absolutely lived up to our hopes: this pasta was so yummy! The presentation was great, and the flavours incredible: the creaminess of the sauce, with that added tomatoey touch, alongside the soft earthiness of the mushrooms... I was in heaven. This also is not a pasta shape we've tried before, so that excited us too. I loved that it came topped with fresh rocket and the nutty cheesiness of the vegan parmesan: I had to slow myself down, it was so delicious, I didn't want to eat too fast and my experience of this dish be over too quickly!

This was freshly made vegan pasta at its best. For that, and the prime, romantic location under the setting sun, you'd expect to pay a little more; so we thought that a price of AU$22 per portion (approx. £11.76, €13.52, or $14.62) wasn't too bad, and this price was pretty standard for their vegan menu with only a couple of things, containing more expensive ingredients, costing significantly more. So for a fancy meal, with excellent service, a beautiful view, and delicious vegan food, Vitalia's is well worth considering!

2nd: Tokyo Dumpling

46 Lake St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

Tokyo Dumpling is a fun Japanese restaurant in the centre of Cairns. We really enjoyed visiting this place for something a bit different while we were in the city. Tokyo Dumpling offer a small vegan menu with lots of vegetarian options on their full menu too. They seated us really quickly and we enjoyed the ambiance of the place: from families tucking in together to people eating solo with a book, it felt like a really wholesome place to hang out.

I ordered the Vegan Fried Rice, while Mike (who is vegetarian) went for the Vegetarian Ramen from their main menu. The food was made and served quickly, and to a high standard: we were really pleased with the portion sizes too, I actually couldn't finish all of my rice, Mike had to help out! The flavours were sometimes subtle, but good: this was a healthy yet filling meal that we were both pretty happy with. Mike's ramen was full of the crunchy beansprouts that he loves, while my rice had all kinds of vegetables cooked perfectly to retain their bite, and even some pickled ginger on the side (I actually don't like the taste of this, but I can definitely appreciate it aesthetically!)

Overall, though the vegan options aren't super fancy, it's great to have this concise menu of plant-based versions of their dishes. And if you are veggie rather than vegan, there's even more choice for you on the main menu. For a hearty Japanese meal we were quite pleased with the price: Mike's vegetarian ramen came in at AU$17 (approx. £9.08, €10.44 or $11.29), while my vegan fried rice was AU$19 (approx. £10.15, €11.67, or $12.62). The restaurant is in a really convenient location too!

3rd: Grill'd

Two locations in Central Cairns (we went to 77 Esplanade, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia)

Grill'd is a chain burger joint specialising in healthier fast food. We headed there for dinner after a long day of snorkelling to get our fill of something a little indulgent, and Grill'd absolutely delivered. They offer primarily meat burgers, but their menu has a really good selection of plant-based options too.

I ordered the Impossible Cheeseburger, while Mike went for the Impossible Australian. Clearly he was missing the amazing vegan Aussie Burger we tried in Brisbane! While these burgers were tasty, they weren't the best vegan burgers we've ever had; the flavour was slightly lacking by comparison. However, we were pleased that they offered vegan cheese and vegan mayo! We also tried three of their sides (what can I say, we were hungry!) and found them satisfying, but not mind-blowing. The onion rings, zucchini chips, and famous grill'd chips were again, just a little lacking in flavour - though we really appreciated all of the carbs this day, and it was a solid place to get a filling and convenient vegan meal.

The prices were fairly reasonable here, with the Impossible Cheeseburger costing AU$15 (approx. £8.01, €9.21, or $9.96), whilst the Impossible Australian was AU$16.90 (approx. £9.02, €10.38, or $11.22). Meanwhile, the side dishes cost AU$5.20 (approx. £2.78, €3.19, or $3.45). It's also worth noting that they offer a Meat Free Monday deal, where vegan burgers are two for the price of one!

SPECIAL MENTION: Root Vegetarian

Shop C/82 Lake St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

We're giving this special mention to Root Vegetarian because, honestly, it looks like it would be maybe the best place for vegetarians and vegans to eat in Cairns. Their menu includes loads of things that we would have loved to have tried, including salad bowls, asian-inspired dishes, and freshly baked sweet treats.

However sadly, when we headed to Root, it was unexpectedly closed - so we weren't able to visit this place while we were in Cairns. Have you visited Root? Please add a note in the comments to let us, and anyone who is visiting, know how your experience was and if you'd recommend others checking it out while they're in Cairns!

Where is your favourite place to get plant-based food in Cairns? Are there any new places or old favourites that we've missed? Leave us a comment to let us know (and others who might be visiting too!)


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Cairns is best known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef!

Where should I stay?

For the convenience of accommodation in the centre of the city, as well as excellent reviews, and modern, recently renovated private and dorm rooms, check out The Village, Cairns. For more of a social vibe, with a swimming pool, BBQ facilities, hammocks, a TV room, and the choice of privates or dorms in a homely atmosphere, Travellers Oasis, Cairns is really popular with tourists.

Tours & Experiences

Some of the most beautiful and unique views in this area come from the incredible village of Kuranda - and the train ride to get there is one of the most famous and scenic in the world. Why not try this Kuranda Scenic Railway tour, which also includes the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, for spectacular views over this ancient rainforest! Or, if that's not for you, check out some of the top-rated Viator tours below!

Please note that the tours displayed below are automatically selected for their popularity by Viator, not chosen or recommended by us. Please carefully consider the ethics of animal-based tourism activities before taking part!

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