Cairns' Best Burgers

For those of you who appreciate the craft of a great burger, Cairns and its surrounding Tropical North region boast some impressive contenders for the title of the best burger. However, before we dive into the delicious details of patties, bacon and cheese, let’s explore the criteria that define the ‘I Love Cairns – Best Burger’ list. That way you will know if you are on the same burger page as us, when it comes to what counts in ranking Cairns’ Best Burger.

  1. Accessibility for All: The top-rated burger spots must be readily accessible to both locals and tourists. It’s essential to focus on establishments where everyone can enjoy these culinary delights, avoiding the disappointment of unattainable burgers.
  2. Celebrating Local Artisans: We’re skipping the chains in this quest. Our aim is to spotlight the best local burger craftsmen, choosing to promote unique, locally-owned businesses over ubiquitous multinational franchises.
  3. Commitment to Quality: Only fresh, never pre-made burger patties make the cut. We’re in search of excellence, where the quality of ingredients and the craft of burger making are paramount.

Important Burger Information: As you embark on this delectable journey through Cairns’ best burger joints, remember to balance your quest with the multitude of other activities this stunning destination offers. While savoring the finest burgers is a must, don’t let it overshadow the other diverse experiences Cairns has in store, such as  snorkeling, scuba diving, exploring rainforests, jumping into waterfalls, island breaks and outback adventures. Consider treating yourself to a gourmet burger as a delicious reward after a day of exploring the wonders of Cairns. And even better, some of our recommended burger spots are perfectly situated for you to combine culinary and adventurous experiences, into one awesome day.

waterbar burger feb

Water Bar Burger if you ever needed an excuse to go out, this burger could be it.

Waterbar & Grill Steakhouse at The Pier Marketplace: A Decade of Excellence

Topping my list for over 10 years, the Waterbar & Grill stands out with its signature offering, the ‘Waterbar Beef Burger’. This burger is a masterpiece, adorned with extra cheese, bacon, pickle, tomato, lettuce, a fresh bun, and the distinctive lekker sauce, accompanied by a side of fries. For those seeking an additional twist, the creamy mushroom sauce side is a decadently delightful choice. Besides its famed burgers, Waterbar & Grill is renowned as one of Cairns’ premium dining establishments. So, even if your travel companions aren’t burger enthusiasts, there’s something for everyone here – but, in jest, consider updating your travel circle if they don’t appreciate a good burger!


Skip the entrée - this burger's the star of the show.

Copper Bar and Grill on the Cairns Esplanade: Big and Saucy

The Copper Bar and Grill flew under my Burger Radar until a lucky stroll along the Cairns Esplanade set off my burger alert. These burgers are in the running for Cairns’ best, offering size, plenty of sauce, and undeniable deliciousness. The signature Copper Beef Burger is loaded with bacon, cheese, fresh greens, and a standout burger sauce. Accompanying the burger, the thick-cut steak fries are the ideal complement. Given their fantastic Steaks and Ribs, it’s easy to anticipate this place filling up quickly. Secure your spot with a reservation to ensure your burger dream becomes a reality.

Jimmy Burger Cairns

Jimmy Burgers, really it is like you have died and gone the burger heaven.

Jimmy Burger & Co – Sheild St – Burgers, Fries and Shakes

Jimmy’s is a place I’m thankful to be at a reasonable distance from, primarily because of my weakness for the ‘Jimmy’s Classic’ burger, especially with added bacon.  What sets Jimmy’s apart is the freshness that permeates every aspect of their burgers, from the buns to the patties themselves. The fries are great, and the shakes are so thick they might as well come with a spoon. Beyond the food, the décor of Jimmy’s adds to its charm, creating a cool ambiance, and the staff have always been friendly and welcoming on our visits.


Howlin' Jay's , chicken burger perfection, with a Nashville twist.

Howlin' Jay's – The Pier – Chicken Burger Heaven

Howlin’ Jay’s at The Pier, Cairns – your haven for Fried Chicken Burgers and Fries! From the creators of Jimmy Burger & Co comes a sensation with a Nashville twist. Sink your teeth into crispy tenders, nestled in fresh buns with slaw and Jay’s Comeback sauce – a flavor blast! With vibes as cool as Jimmy’s, indulge in the passion poured into every detail. Whether for a quick bite or a night out, Howlin’ Jay’s promises a journey of flavor and fun. Experience fried perfection!


12 hour smokey Brisket, cheese, bacon, pickles, tomato sauce and bbq sauce...

Slap and Pickle Low And Slow Smokehouse - A Taste of Texas on Shield St - Smoked Perfection

Did I hear you say brisket? Indulge in the Low & Slow Brisket Burger at Slap and Pickle Low And Slow Smokehouse, where the art of Texas-style BBQ shines. This burger features brisket, a succulent cut from the breast of the beast, smoked low and slow for 12 hours to achieve perfect tenderness. Paired with crispy bacon and melting cheese on a toasted roll, and complemented by tangy pickles and a blend of tomato and BBQ sauces, each bite is a flavor revelation. Accompanied by golden chips, this isn’t just a meal—it’s a tribute to the craft of smoked BBQ. A must-try for any burger enthusiast!


evo Burger Cairns you can see the burger love in these.

evo Buger Cairns – Lake St – Burgers, Fried Chicken and Thick Shakes

Finally discovered evo Burgers in Cairns and I’m amazed it took me so long! The photos clearly show how seriously they take their burgers, crafted with love and each a masterpiece. The ‘Oink Oink’ burger especially caught my attention. Its smoked mayo and sweet onion jam gave it a unique twist, and the thick-cut fries were the ideal accompaniment. This place definitely deserves many more visits, especially when you need to cure a case of Burger Deficiency Syndrome (BDS).

Hemingways Cheese Burger

Hemingway’s Hero Burger the perfect beer companion.

Hemingway’s Brewery – Cairns and Port Douglas Dual Delight: The Ideal Spot for Beer and Burgers

When the craving hits for both a quality burger and a craft beer, this duo of locations in Cairns and Port Douglas is your go-to destination. The ‘Hero Burger’ here is our top pick. While these burgers may not be the largest, you’ll encounter their size is thoughtfully balanced to leave room for the impressive selection of craft beers. An additional highlight is their appetizing pizza, ensuring your travel group has a variety of choices. Conveniently situated near the reef boat marinas, both outlets serve as the perfect capstone to a day spent exploring the reef, allowing you to relax and savor your meal in a prime location.


Cobbold Gorge, the best burger you’ll find within a 250km radius.

Cobbold Gorge, the best Outback burger by a country mile…

Packing your bags for an outback adventure doesn’t mean you have to give up on finding the perfect burger. Although burger joints are scarce as you venture west, there’s a hidden gem waiting just beyond the outback mirage, McDonalds Deck Bar (not Maccas) and Bistro at Cobbold Gorge. Here, the beef burger is a standout, expertly crafted with ground beef, crispy bacon, melted cheese, and fresh salad. It’s arguably the best burger you’ll find within a 250km radius, making it the ideal lunch treat after a morning of exploring one of our favorite outback destinations.

Questions About Cairns Burgers

Should you have a burger every day you are in Cairns?

If you live in Cairns, then no that would be ridiculous, but if you are holiday and that is going to make you happy then go for it, you have the rest of the year to work out, hit the gym and pay for your burger sins.

Have we missed another awesome burger joint?

We are always keen to find new venues, if you have one in mind then send us an email we will head over and check it out. We sadly lost a few great burger joints in the last few years.

What about the big chains?

Maybe check these guys out at the airport on the way out.

Are we going to do more of the “best of Cairns’?

Yes we are planning to do more of these, what about the best pizza and not to be limited to food we are also considering things like the ‘the best sunrise locations in Cairns’ and more specific topics like ‘Best drone locations’, if you have any ideas we would love to hear about it.

Cairns Burgers What You Need To Know

Crafted from my own experiences and perspectives, this guide is intended to be taken in a light-hearted spirit. However, if your travels bring you to Cairns, consider this as yet another reason to fall in love with this vibrant city. I encourage you to visit these establishments and support local businesses with your patronage. It’s the dedication and hard work of these local entrepreneurs that fuels Cairns’ economy and shapes its future. By choosing to spend your money here, you’re contributing to the community and helping to sustain the unique charm that makes Cairns so special.

About the Author

Richard's early years were spent in Southern Africa, where he grew up. During his childhood, he frequently explored game parks and enjoyed caravan adventures. Now residing in Australia, Richard replicates these family experiences with Julie and Ethan. Passionate about outdoor adventures, he eagerly abandons his desk job to either hook up the caravan for a journey or strap on a scuba tank. His explorations are primarily focused on the diverse wonders of North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.

Follow Us On Instagram

© I Love Cairns 2024

Website created by RJ New Designs

Share via
Copy link