When it comes to waterfront dining, Wharf One Cafe, in its prime position overlooking the sparkling waters of Cairns Harbour, is hard to beat. On any day of the week the open-air cafe is bustling with cyclists, joggers, fitness fanatics and families enjoying the fresh food and vibrant atmosphere.
The architecture of Wharf One's spacious seating area, constructed from steel and upcycled timber from the old wharf buildings, lends a nautical air. The high ceilings and expansive bay windows that channel the cooling ocean breeze make it ideal for a spot of breakfast or lunch while visiting the Cairns Harbour precinct.
“In summer, when the breeze comes through, this is one of the coolest places in Cairns. We have the best natural air-conditioning,” says owner Peter Crotty, who bought the cafe in 2020.
Peter brings a wealth of hospitality experience to his new venture (including 13 years as GM of the acclaimed Waterbar & Grill) but says the fantastic location was what drew him to the venue most strongly.
“I bought this venue because it's right on the water, it's licensed and it's an awesome place to do events,” says Peter.
While the cafe is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, evenings are reserved for private functions – where up to 150 guests can enjoy a stand-up cocktail event with a sophisticated ambience while they nibble on an array of delicate finger foods.
But for many Cairns locals, Wharf One is probably best known as a fabulous, kid-and-dog-friendly breakfast spot, that's also perfect for a business lunch or client meeting. This is understandable, given its close proximity to Cairns' downtown office precinct, the various walking and cycling paths that surround it and the unique tree-top playground next door that kids love to explore.
Given its wide variety of clientele, Wharf One's menu has something for everyone: from fresh fruit smoothies, granola bowls and healthy wraps to hearty breakfast plates and juicy beef burgers.
Other signature dishes, with an FNQ-style twist, include “The One”: a crispy potato rosti served with sugarcane-cured salmon, organic Mungalli Creek quark (German-style cream cheese), avocado, crispy capers and one perfectly poached ‘Happy Egg’ sourced from Yamagishi Eggs in Innisfail. This crowd-pleasing dish highlights Wharf One's commitment to showcasing locally-sourced produce, much of which is organic.
Coffee aficionados will also appreciate the 100% organic house blend of Colombian and Ethiopian beans – roasted locally by the Ransom team to create an aromatic brew with a smooth taste that shines through without the need for sugar.
Being fully-licensed, you can also indulge in a boozy (but behaved) Sunday brunch, perhaps with a few mimosas or a signature “Smokey J's Bloody Mary” with vodka, smokey spice mix and tomato juice garnished with smoked ham, lime, pickles and paprika salt – the breakfast of champions.
For a truly waterfront alfresco dining experience in Cairns, follow the throngs of locals heading to Wharf One Cafe... and you'll be sure to return.
Trinity Wharf, Cairns