From where to get the best coffee in town to fresh seafood lunches and unique tropical dining experiences.
Far North Queensland’s ultimate holiday hub of Port Douglas abounds with eateries that make the most of its tropical climate, lush local tropical fare and seafood caught fresh from the ocean on its doorstep. Here’s our pick to take you through from sunrise to starlight.
This funky cafe, decked out in shades of green and wooden accents, is tucked away on a side street between the marina and main drag Macrossan Street and operates proudly on tropical time. A specialty roaster, it also serves arguably the best coffee in Port Douglas plus a selection of pastries including artisan doughnuts from local outfit Dukes Doughnuts.
Pull up a pew at its shady street-side tables with an iced latte as the day starts to heat up.
For more great coffee ‘on the fly’ – or to have perched on a curb-side stool on Macrossan Street – stop off at Sparrow, which serves Allpress coffee and also has breezy branches in Brisbane, Byron Bay and Bangalow.
Located in the Portico Shopping Centre on Port Douglas’s buzzy Macrossan Street, laid-back cafe Little Larder is a great go-to for breakfast and brunch.
Each item on the menu is a recognisable favourite given a creative twist: its avo toast is served with gremolata, pomegranate, radish and micro green salad, with a squeeze of lemon on sourdough; its waffles are of the lemon ricotta persuasion, accompanied by wild berries, toasted pecans and vanilla.
When it comes to refreshments, Little Larder serves all types of coffee and house-made cold drinks including fresh turmeric and ginger lemonade and spiced tomato juice. And its ‘supplemented smoothies’ including the Nutcase – packed with raw cacao, nut butter, banana, cinnamon, LSA (a linseed, sunflower seed and almond mix), almond milk, prebiotics, dates and cacao nibs – will more than set you up for the day.
This lovely space with plenty of street-side seating is an artisan bakery-cum-casual cafe that puts a modern spin on traditional pastries and has a beautifully presented all-day breakfast menu. With all products made in house daily, this includes an egg and bacon roll on a fresh-baked milk and butter bun and bircher muesli pots made with local Mungalli Creek Dairy yoghurt, rolled oats and fresh-grated apple with house-made muesli and berries.
Grant Street Kitchen also serves small-batch roasted specialty coffee from Freehand Coffee Roasters, and does a great line in hot pies fresh from the oven – choose from steak, prawn and coral trout, jungle curry or a rotating vegetarian option.
Take the iconic old Bally Hooley train trip from the marina out to St Crispins and have lunch in leafy lakeside surrounds at St. Crispins.
Its all-day dining menu includes everything from eggs your way and smoothie bowls to Southern fried chicken burgers, fish and chips and barramundi spring rolls with Asian slaw and dipping sauce.
Drinks to linger over include freshly squeezed juices, beers and a locally made kombucha.
Or save yourself for the end of your Bally Hooley excursion by heading to the operator’s bright and breezy waterfront cafe, Choo Choos at the Marina. Its satisfying lunch menu includes a chipotle-spiced chicken burrito, Greek salad with crumbed barramundi, and a bucket of locally caught prawns with cocktail sauce and a twist of lemon.
Or choose from the all-day breakfast menu with comforting options like a ham and cheese croissant and potato and pumpkin rosti.
The Court House Hotel might be Port Douglas’s oldest pub, but you’ll find a modern bistro menu here made from fresh local ingredients: from vegan bowls to fish tacos and Thai fish cakes, as well as classics like chicken parmigiana, sirloin steak and nachos.
The iconic Courty occupies a plum spot on the corner of Macrossan Street and Wharf Street, overlooking Anzac Park and the harbour, and sports a heritage Queenslander facade and wide verandahs inviting you to linger over your lunch, sinking a beer or an espresso martini on tap while you’re at it.
Alternatively try On the Inlet next door (temporarily closed), a Port Douglas seafood institution, or a couple of doors down, the perennially popular Salsa Bar & Grill, a bright and airy space serving global fusion plates.
Head down a flame-lit lane leading from Macrossan Street to find some of the best modern Australian cuisine in town courtesy of executive chef Lee Neate, who uses local produce and seafood straight from the region’s tropical waters.
Dine in elegant and atmospheric surrounds inside or out – where the space is festooned with pendant lighting and greenery.
Opt to have a pre-dinner tipple or post-dinner dessert and coffee in the restaurant’s attractive lounge.
Melaleuca Port Douglas
Opened in April 2020, Melaleuca is run by award-winning head chef Adam Ion and his wife Namhee on Wharf Street and serves a menu of contemporary Australian dishes with a hint of Korean flavour that speaks to Namhee’s heritage.
Try Moreton Bay bugs in a Thai coconut curry broth with bok choy leaves, Asian herbs, lychees and steamed jasmine rice or pan-seared Daintree barramundi with cauliflower and vanilla puree, sautéed seasonal veg and toasted almonds.
This ambient restaurant has plenty of outdoor seating to make the most of Port Douglas’s balmy tropical nights.
Have a Euro trip without leaving the country by heading down Wharf Street to Seabean Spanish Bar & Tapas. Inspired by the culture of Spanish bodegas, Seabean is the spot to go for everything from sundowners to late-night snacks and a hearty dinner in between, with bites like paella and tapas plus meat-based dishes like sherry-infused chorizo with broad bean and onion jam, and seafood like grilled octopus with Spanish salad and gazpacho dressing. There’s a good range of vegetarian options too.
And where else in the world but here would you get a crema catalana served in a half coconut for dessert? Wash it all down with Spanish wine and sangria.
For a different kind of Port Douglas experience, head down to the Beach Shack on Four Mile Beach. Beloved of locals, this relaxed and funky affair has a shoes-optional sandy floor to curl your toes into while you wine and dine.
Head to its restaurant for pasta, pizza or mains like beer-battered Spanish mackerel and chips, or risotto of the day topped with wild-caught barramundi. For drinks, choose from cold beer, good wine and tropical-inspired cocktails.
Or head to the Shack bar and pizza lounge, which has comfy couches, cocktail tables, a pool table, good music and laid-back vibes. It’s open from 4pm for drinks and $5 tapas and from 5.30pm for pizzas.
The Beach Shack’s sister venue, 10 minutes out of town, is Flames of the Forest – a magical night of rainforest dining whose Aboriginal Cultural Experience blends Indigenous storytelling with nature, candlelight and a tropics-inspired menu. Its alternative performance offering, the Rainforest Dining Experience, is geared to romantics and features the musical accompaniment of an acoustic guitarist.
This stylish waterfront cocktail bar and restaurant is located at the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina and is the place to go for a sundowner – particularly if you’re a rum aficionado. Barbados has an extensive and ever-expanding rum list, with many originating from the historic home of this seafaring spirit, the Caribbean. Try a signature house-infused rum or a rum cocktail: perhaps a Caribbean Mojito with ginger beer and spiced pineapple syrup, a Black Pearl, which puts a spin on the old fashioned, or a Coconut Sour that comes topped with roasted coconut chips.
Also set on the marina with an abundance of outside space to soak up views of the water and bobbing boats, independently owned Hemingway’s Brewery and brewpub is a popular local fixture pouring authentically local craft beer. It also serves gastropub fare such as share plates, burgers, seafood and pizzas.