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Drink/Dine ian 1/5/2014

When going on holidays, dining out is usually part of the experience and if you happen to choose badly for a restaurant meal, apart from the disappointment, it is a good one you have missed out on. While we at Rydges Tradewinds think the best restaurant in town is our very own Sea Level Restaurant for the three things we look for in top dining – location, cuisine and service – we have chosen our other Cairns top five restaurants a walk from your Tradewinds Cairns waterfront accommodation…

Waterbar & Grill CairnsDown at the Marina with the waterfront ambience of clinking masts there’s the Waterbar & Grill. It presents as the best steakhouse in town (having won Far North Queensland’s Best Steak Restaurant in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012) but there are also delicious seafood, chicken and lamb dishes. From the grill perhaps the Espatada (350g of flavoursome skewered rump dripping with red wine & chilli sauce) or the Boerewors (traditional South African sausage, served with garlic mash).

Another local favourite is Iyara by Sakare on the Esplanade upstairs. It is a Thai restaurant - the food and service are fantastic, plus the location on the balcony overlooking the Esplanade is nice. Perhaps the Red Curry Marinated Duck?

Dundee’s on the Waterfront, along from the pier at Harbour Lights, is also excellent. They seem to have no trouble meeting their mission statement – “to maintain a relaxed, positive dining experience with products and professional service that consistently exceed customer expectations.”

Fire and Ice Rydges EsplanadeWe also highly recommend Ochre Restaurant – it’s not on the Esplanade (43 Shields St) but it has fantastic contemporary Australian cuisine, and has been an iconic restaurant in Cairns for many years. The owner's sideboard groans with awards and the order of the day is exciting Australian cuisine that includes fresh seafood, native game and bush foods. Ochre picked up a 2013 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor.

Our final recommendation is sort of in-house – we love the Fire & Ice buffet dinner at Rydges Esplanade’s CHB Restaurant – head out of Rydges Tradewinds to Abbott Street and it is a short walk to the right.  The buffet happens seven nights a week and is an innovative concept of mixing a la carte dining with traditional all you can eat buffet.  After grazing the cold seafood options there is a choice of meats, poultry, fish and seafood that are then cooked on the flame grill, right in front of you. It’s a favourite with the locals who often get more than the meal value just from the fresh oysters!

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