The jewel of tropical North Queensland, Port Douglas is a relaxed coastal village only around an hour away from Cairns. Located in the only spot in the world where two World Heritage-listed areas exist side by side (the Great Barrier Reef and the region’s tropical rainforests), Port Douglas offers natural beauty, world-class accommodation, an abundance of fresh, local produce and top dining options. From freshly-caught barramundi, trout and prawns to a huge array of tropical fruits and organic vegetables, there is an array of quality, local food for restaurants to use in their dishes. If you love to sample a region’s finest cuisine while on holiday, go ahead and book a hotel in Port Douglas and then read on for 10 quality restaurants to consider on your next tropical North Queensland holiday.
A Port Douglas institution, Salsa Bar & Grill is popular with locals and tourists alike. Housed in a tropical-looking white Queenslander building, this waterside restaurant features a peaceful wooden deck that overlooks Dickson Inlet in addition to a broad modern Australian menu range and an extensive wine list. The restaurant is also regarded as the perfect afternoon cocktail spot to sit and watch the sunset.
A Port Douglas mainstay that’s been operating for 56 years, Nautilus is set among luscious tropical gardens and is one of the most elegant fine-dining options in the area. Perfect for a romantic meal or special occasion, the restaurant specialises in premium service and signature seafood dishes. The chef’s tasting menu is always popular and includes six courses, and the broad wine list suits a variety of budgets.
2 Fish serves up much more to its diners than just two fish — it’s a seafood extravaganza! The menu includes more than 15 types of fish as well as a signature seafood platter for two people. With a stylish alfresco dining area and ocean-themed blue glass panelling in the interior, this restaurant is a perfect blend of breezy simplicity and elegance.
One of Port Douglas’ finest Italian restaurants, La Cucina is known for contemporary and classy cuisine in an elegant and intimate dining room. Set in a prominent area in the CBD, the restaurant offers great views of the nearby Anzac Park and the Coral Sea — and people watchers will be kept busy viewing the passing parade of locals and tourists!
A slick restaurant that is renowned for its floor-to-ceiling aquariums in the bathrooms, Zinc is a unique combination of restaurant, lounge bar, bistro and cafe. The drink list includes more than 70 wine varieties in addition to a huge range of 110 different liqueurs and spirits. The food menu includes the seafood specialties and Asian-fusion flavours that the restaurant is popular for, as well as plenty of modern Australian dishes.
Another seafood restaurant known for its fresh catch, On the Inlet has fantastic views to go along with its fun atmosphere and great service. As suggested by its name, the restaurant juts out over Dickson Inlet and features a huge deck area where diners can enjoy the tropical weather or await the late afternoon arrival of George the grouper fish, who feeds most days!
With a chef that previously worked with celebrity foodie Matt Moran at Aria in Sydney, Bel Cibo is another classy Italian restaurant that’s bringing the “bellissimo” to Port Douglas. With a lovely alfresco deck that is great for people-watching and stylish decor inside and out, Bel Cibo is stylish yet relaxed. The restaurant utilises the area’s freshest local produce and seafood and also creates fresh, handmade pasta.
With good food and friendly service, plus a refined wine list and French-inspired menu, Harrisons restaurant in Port Douglas is a perfect dining choice for tourists. The establishment is owned by Spencer Patrick (who earned a Michelin star at London’s Cafe Royal Grill Room and has worked with the likes of Marco Pierre White), and his experience and creativity shows in the innovative menu options.
Another Italian institution in Port Douglas, Sassi’s Cucina is the place to go for memorable dining, excellent service and a laidback yet classy atmosphere. Owned by Tony and Di Sassi, who have been culinary stalwarts in the area for more than 20 years, Sassi’s will satisfy with its handmade pastas, fresh seafood and decadent desserts.
Set well away from the main street in a small shopping centre, Otz Food is run by former Sydney sisters Elizabeth and Karen Fines. Serving up simple yet tasty dishes from breakfast to dinner, Otz specialises in local produce and home-baked goodies.
About the Author: Jenny Maverick is a foodie, blogger and travel writer who loves to dine at Australia’s finest restaurants. She enjoys discovering the best new options around the country and frequently heads to Port Douglas for holidays.