Cairns Best Breakfast

cairns best breakfast

Breakfast is apparently the most important meal of the day and here in Cairns, I’m not arguing.  We have a wide range of breakfast options to choose from and in this article I’ll run through my favourites.

  • Lillipad
  • Brother Jenkins
  • Jaffle Head
  • Ozmosis

But first,

What is it that i’m looking for in a breakfast?

My desires are perhaps a little different  to most, as i’m heavily lactose intolerant.  This makes me one of those annoying customers that requests weird things, like a vegan meal with extra bacon.  The challenges my diet throws down to the chefs in these places and the way they handle it, is how i really gauge how good the restaurant is.

My standard breakfast order is a dairy free big breakfast while my girlfriend normally orders something a little on the lighter side.  

Lillipad Cafe

This is the crazy busy little place across the road from Gilligans.  Head here on a weekend between 8am and 10am and expect to wait a while for a table.  

This is due to the amazing food, friendly staff, huge meals and lowest prices you will find in Cairns.

The meals are surprisingly cheap to begin with, then the food arrives and it’s hard to make sense of how they even make a profit.  These meals are enormous.

The big breakfast at Lillipad will easily fill two people and the quality is absolutely on point.  With everything you would expect and a little more, Lillipad well and truly earn’t their place in this list.  

There are plenty of healthy options and they happily cater for any dietary requirements ( vegan, dairy free, gluten free, etc).  The staff are busy, as you would expect, but they are very attentive and helpful when you need them.

Locals tip

Go late, they do breakfast all day.

Brother Jenkins

This is one of the newest places on my list.  It is an edgy little cafe in Manunda, just outside of the city set in on old house with a beautiful open air courtyard and leafy decorations.  

This is the most welcoming breakfast location in Cairns.  It is rarely over busy like Lillipad and the staff really seem to enjoy working there.
Breakfast is a relatively small menu that certainly ticks all the boxes, like me though, you may need to ask what some of the ingredients are because they use some pretty radical things.

There is an excellent big breakfast that is only missing baked beans and plenty of super healthy options for someone who doesn’t treat bacon as an entire food group.

They cater to vegan, gluten free and never seem to have any trouble with dairy free either.  The food portions are plenty enough and it is all cooked with passion and flair.

Pricing is nothing special but also nothing too bad.  Expect to pay around $25 for breakfast here.

Locals tip

Sit out the back in the garden if you can.

Jaffle Head

Do you remember your grandmas old toastie machine?  The one that squeezes the bread together and creates a seal around the outside?  Well these guys made a business out of it and it’s amazing!

Imagine stuffing anything you want inside two pieces of bread then toasting it to perfection, well now you can!

Jafflehead has a huge menu that keeps evolving and having random sandwiches like “The Bunnings” added to it.  Fyi, The Bunnings is literally sausage, onion, mustard and tomato sauce…. simple and delicious. 
Unfortunately to get a dairy free jaffle i need remove the cheese as their menu doesn’t currently have dairy free cheese.

For everyone who isn’t lactarded, this is a must do for breakfast if you are in Cairns.  Jafflehead is also a very affordable breakfast with all sandwiches coming in under $15

Locals tip

Go with the special, they are wild!


If you are willing to travel 5 mins outside of Cairns City, you could find this little street in Edge Hill that is home to a few of the nicest little cafes in Queensland.

Be prepared, they are expensive and they are busy.  Jump into any of these cafes and you will be surrounded by middle aged women in yoga pants and middle aged men in lycra.

It can be a bit off putting but the food is worth sticking around for.  Ozmosis is the pick of the bunch but don’t be afraid to try the others if Ozmosis looks too busy.  

The breakfast here is very satisfying, very healthy and very accommodating to vegans, vegetarians, glutards and lactards.  The staff are generally very nice but food times can vary greatly. 

Locals tip

If it’s busy, forget it.

Breakfast Summary

Here in Cairns we are graced with the presence of numerous great places for breakfast.  We seem to have a new cafe opening up every week and unfortunately one closing down every other week.  The Cairns food scene really seems to keep up with global trends while remaining down to earth enough for us Aussies to get it.  

If you have an allergy or a dietary requirement then all you need to do in most places is tell the staff about it.   Sometimes they don’t understand and if that is the case, just move on.

I was at a cafe not long ago and asked for dairy free.  My pancakes came out covered in whipped cream. I returned those to the kitchen and their second attempt was covered in chocolate sauce.  This kind of thing is actually reasonably common so make sure your waitress understands and speaks clear English.

Being a multicultural city you will often find backpackers with limited understanding of our language taking the orders, so just be careful.

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