A friend recently asked me where to eat in Port Douglas. I’ve written posts about eating overseas but not about home. I thought it was about time to write about this as I’ve spent nearly 10 years total living and working in Port Douglas as a chef. Port is a beautiful tropical holiday destination, one of the best places to visit in Queensland and, of course, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. A boat trip to the reef must be on your holiday itinerary! The pandemic lockdowns saw me returning and keeping a finger on the pulse of the local restaurant, take-away, and cafe scene.
Most weekends and nearly all holidays used to see me working at possibly the nicest resort in town. On rare days or evenings off, I loved nothing better than heading out with the family to sample other great Port Douglas eateries.
Over 6 years I managed to eat at nearly all of the establishments. From breakfast to brunch or lunch right through to the formal dinner or maybe just prawns and beer on the deck. Read on to hear my guide of where to eat in Port Douglas from a Port Douglas chef.
Where To Eat in Port Douglas
Your budget, time of day, your tastes, and expectations will obviously be individual and my best Port Douglas restaurant may not be yours. There is casual dining, fast food, limited Asian, plenty of chips-with-everything, along with very good European, and, of course, sea food. Best for breakfast won’t be best for dinner. Best with your kids won’t be best for a romantic dinner. We talk about most places to eat in Port Douglas below.
Wet Season Restaurant Operating Hours Port Douglas
While the ‘wet’ season starts back in December you won’t notice much of a difference until the end of January. Both February and March are very quiet months in Port Douglas. February is when numerous restaurants will close up and give their staff a break.
It is worth checking out with restaurants directly as to their hours over the wet season months. Even if they stay open operating hours will be greatly reduced in most cases.
The Best Restaurants in Port Douglas
The best restaurants in Port Douglas are widely considered to be the following top places to eat. Most I would agree with, one we had a bad experience at. I’ll talk more about each one further down the page.
These are also probably the most expensive restaurants in Port Douglas, along with the hotels. My personal favourite places to eat are Sassi, for Italian and good seafood, along with St Crispin’s cafe (out of town) for breakfast and Toast, near Cole’s. Salsa is also very good and a reliable option. I’ve never eaten at Nautilus, but we’ll be putting that right soon. Zinc get a special mention for keeping us well fed with home deliveries during lockdown. For cheaper meals we always liked The Beach Shack, but that has now been sold. When it re-opens we’ll check it out. If you want a burger go to N17, for take-away fish and chips or chicken, try Dave’s.
Breakfast and Coffee In Port Douglas
Possibly my favourite time of the day to head out and grab a bite to eat. The resorts in town all (used to, pre-Covid) offer buffet-style breakfast which suits some people, and if you have kids or are staying in resorts this may be perfect for you.
One of my personal favourites is the breakfast served up at Hi Tide, a great little restaurant located on the esplanade, overlooking Four Mile beach. The full cooked breakfast is delicious and cooked to perfection. Few things beat sitting here over breakfast and a coffee watching the world go by.
St. Crispins Cafe & Events
9 St Crispins Ave, Port Douglas 0400652906
My new favourite place for breakfast and coffee, sitting on the deck overlooking the golf course and lake hoping to spot a saltwater croc. The food is very brunch/breakfast orientated and they’re not open in the evenings. Coffee is also great here and it is very easy to spend a quiet morning here with breakfast & coffee
Grant Street Kitchen
shop 4/5 Cnr Grant St and Macrossan, 0478769987
This locally owned and run bakery has really lifted and now delivers outstanding bakery items from traditional croissants to full family size lasagnas. The coffee is great here too. Open for both takeaway and eat in from 6 am you’ll be sure to find something here you like. I highly recommend their pies or lasagna.Expect huge portions, we usually split a pie or cake between two.
21-23 Warner Street, 07 4099 4586
From humble beginnings, Origin Espresso has gone from strength to strength. They roast their own beans locally and offer filter coffee and pour-overs as well as cold-drip coffee If coffee isn’t your thing they serve fresh-squeezed cane sugar juice. A weekend wouldn’t be complete without grabbing a coffee and watching the world go by at Origin.
Breakfast With the Birds
Editor Note: Due to Covid 19 restrictions there are no buffets being served at present although you can still visit. We haven’t eaten at the Wildlife Habitat since our kids were small, so we really can’t give you much guidance on quality. It’s worth you taking a look though!
Port Douglas Rd, 07 40993235
Breakfast with the birds is also a family favourite. Located at the Wildlife Habitat park, this buffet breakfast used to be held inside the bird enclosure. Don’t worry, all the food is covered, but keep an eye on your bacon, birds have been known to swoop down and steal from unattended plates. Kids absolutely love this and adults have a similarly good time. This is most popular with foreign tourists and we have taken all of our overseas visitors here. Breakfast includes the park entrance fee, meaning the kids can burn off that energy after filling their tummies. You can read more about Queensland wildlife here.
Lunch in Port Douglas
Being on holiday you may get up too late, skip breakfast and head straight out to lunch. Nothing wrong with that, isn’t that what holidays are for?
Numerous Port Douglas restaurants offer set menus for lunch at great prices. In fact, the best lunch places are also great for dinner. The clear favourite across town with most locals would have to be Salsa Bar and Grill.
Salsa Bar and Grill
26 Wharf Street, 07 4099 4922
This local institution has been around for years and even had to move to bigger premises, first on the high street then wharf street, its current location. Lunchtime sees taster plates served, they are different every day. Traditional favourites and a seasonal menu are also there in this relaxed restaurant.
N17 Burger Co
22 Macrossan St, Port Douglas 07 42234704
N17 is both a sports bar and a burger bar. Playing a huge variety of sports from ALF, NRL right across to Premier League and MMA action there is always something on. Their burgers are brilliant and have many varieties to suit everyone from meat lover to vegetarians. They also stock a wide variety of beers including some locally brewed varieties that will really hit the spot. Not just open for lunch but also dinner and late into the night, especially if sports are playing.
10 Grant St, Port Douglas, 07 4099 6880
Menu Thai on Grant Street offers quick and relaxed OK Thai. I regularly come here if we are in town. Both of my kids like the food on offer and it’s one of the cheaper eats in Port Douglas. Worth noting it is only open at lunch and dinner and closed between 3 pm – 5 pm.
Afternoon Drinks and Nibbles
Two places come to mind for lazy afternoon beers and people watching.
Super Yacht Marina, Port Douglas, 07 40995201
The first is Lure restaurant down at the marina. Here you can order a serve of prawns with beers and wine and watch the reef boats come in. They also have a wide variety of items on their menu, it’s a big menu and we last ate there very recently. This place always used to be our Sunday afternoon favourite after the markets, the kids used to like hanging out here with the boats and fish. Beer and wine are plentiful and during happy hour well priced. Grab a seat on the deck for the best view across the marina. Currently, they are closing quite early.
My son was very enthusiastic about their jumbo steak sandwitch with the works, I had a prawn sandwich, my other son the coral trout and chips. Look out for daily specials.
Super Yacht Marina, Port Douglas, 07 40996663
Port Douglas now has it’s very own brewery located on the marina’s waterfront. With reduced opening times you can still enjoy your weekends here with great local craft beers and decent food. They brew a number of their own craft beers to suit most tastes but if you want wine or spirits they have you covered too. Great views out over the marina and to the hills behind. We like their salt and pepper squid, there are also burgers, pizzas, and so on.
The Tin Shed
7 Ashford Ave, 07 4099 5553
The Tin Shed, or Combined Club is another spot for a cold one and a snack, or indeed, full meal. This is really the only place in Port Douglas with a view out to sea, other than the restaurants on the marina. The Tin Shed is a club, expect club food. They have a new deck overlooking Dickson Inlet which is a beautiful spot to watch the boats coming back from the reef at the end of the day. They serve both lunch and dinner with a fully serviced bar where you can just order drinks. Outside of set dining times you can usually order cold cooked prawns with cocktail sauce on the side. This is usually how prawns are served in this part of Queensland.
Dinner in Port Douglas
This one is open to all-sorts of establishments. Simply put, it depends on what you want.
Sassi La Cucina and Bar
Cnr. Wharf & Macrossan Street, 07 40996744
Authentic Italian cuisine, Sassi is run and owned by Tony and Di Sassi. Tony can still be found in the kitchens producing real Italian food with fresh tropical ingredients. Their seafood platter is a particular highlight of the Port Douglas dining scene. Either indoor or outdoor seating available, pizzas are also available. Bookings recommended during the holiday season.
Rattle and Hum
38 Macrossan St, 07 40995641
At the other end of the scale, you have Rattle and Hum pub doing great pizza and steak. Casual atmosphere with an open wood-fired pizza kitchen. Pool tables and sports channels are scattered around the pub.
The Court House
18-20 Wharf St, 07 4099 5181
The Court House hotel doing pub grub to a reasonable standard. On the weekends you often have live bands playing which adds to the atmosphere. Good views over to the Port Douglas Sunday Markets makes for a great people-watching location.
Portico, 3/53-61 Macrossan Street, 07 40996860
Zinc is a great restaurant at the Four Mile beach end of Macrossan street that offers fantastic food. Modern Australian and seafood. A family-friendly restaurant that requires booking an advance table in the busy season. A great atmosphere and the aquarium in the restrooms need to be seen to be believed.
30 Macrossan St, 07 40996330
Bel Cibo, an Italian restaurant serves great food with a view over Macrossan Street. Located on the second floor of the Saltwater building you can look down and watch the world go by.
Unfortunately due to a leak in an apartment above Bel Cibo, it is closed until further notice while they repair the restaurant. With Covid hitting hard Bel Cibo is still shuttered up and there is talk of moving to a new location.
Where to Eat in Port Douglas
That is my take on where to eat. Restaurants are always changing, staff, menus, suppliers, and expectation never remain constant. I’ve eaten in nearly all the restaurants in Port Douglas, some good, some bad. There are now a few new ones and some old ones have passed. Take what I’ve said with a grain of salt, as a chef, public expectation is everything and it isn’t uncommon to get your best and worst comments on the same night. The restaurant scene in Port Douglas is vibrant, that is one of the best things about the town. Being able to eat at a different place, for each meal on a 10 day holiday isn’t normally easy in a town this size.
Have you got a favourite Port Douglas restaurant? Where would you or have you eaten in Port Douglas? Could you hit the red Pinterest button for us please? You’ll probably want to see our post on Things to Do in Port Douglas too!