A writer and editor with interests in travel, adventure, permaculture, music, arts and lifestyle.
Published June 25th 2015
Get your frog legs on and hop into Lillipad's
This booming little cafe in the middle of Grafton Street is always brimming with satisfied customers - locals and tourists alike. You would be hard-pressed to find a quiet hour of the day to read a newspaper and sup on a coffee at the Lillipad. Perhaps at 7am when they first open doors for the day, you may find a moment. This is not always a desirable quality when you are desperate for a table and your tummy is rumbling. But the truth is, the reason Lillipad's is so busy, is because they are so damn good.
The Lillipad Cafe is situated directly across the road from the ever-popular Rusty's Markets, and the lively Gilligan's Backpackers Hotel & Resort. The interior decor is very hippy-slash-backpackers, with vibrant deep-red walls, tables and chairs crammed in to the narrow room, a few eclectic armchairs, and a credenza at the back offering free filtered water, newspapers and street-presses. However, the clientale ranges dramatically, with people from all walks of life venturing in to get their fill. Lillipad's is] a very friendly cafe, where it is not unusual to strike up a conversation with your neighbouring diners.
The menu is far from concise and the list is almost overwhelming. Vegetarian choices feature heavily, which is rare and delightful for those of us that usually suffer with only one or maybe two options. There are also gluten free and vegan dishes. The menu offers breakfast and lunch all day from 7am-3pm.
Refried beans, with chilli chutney & baked cheese, tortilla chips, scrambled eggs, sauteed potatoes and chorizo
Favourites on the menu are the choc berry crepes and the breakfast burrito. I haven't tried either, but this is the word on the street. Prices are incredibly cheap, and for a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast you will pay an affable $6.90 for a full belly. There is a selection of hot beverages, like chai tea and espresso coffee. Lillipad's uses Mungalli Creek for their eggs, milk and yoghurt, proving that quality can exist in harmony with quantity. They also make a decent cappuccino, or so says my partner who is quite the coffee snob.
For $17.90 the Tofu and Mushroom eggs benedict comes in a whopping-huge serving, with Turkish bread, marinated tofu, a truck-full of mushrooms, two poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and sauteed potatos. You can order sides of bacon, hashbrowns, tomatoes and beans for only $3.00 extra. And again, they don't scrimp on the servings.
Once you have snagged a table either inside or al fresco, you must order up at the counter. There is a tempting display cabinet offering baked cakes and goodies, that I am yet to try simply because I never have any room left over for sweets after a breakfast or lunch at The Lillipad Cafe.
Fresh juice, the Pink Lady ($7.00) at the Lillipad Cafe
The freshly made juices are thirst quenching and delicious. My go-to juice is always the Pink Lady - a combination of watermelon, pineapple and mint. It always has me doing that annoying "ahhhhh" thing after each sip. They also have a range of lighter, healthier options like fruit salad with yoghurt, and bircher muesli.
Pumpkin burger, fully loaded at The Lillipad Cafe in Cairns.
Some of my trusted favourites on the menu are the mediteranean crepes, the pumpkin burger and the Mexican burrito. The crepes are a massive portion, with two of them served on the plate, rolled up and filled with an assortment of zucchini, mushrooms, capsicum and cheese, and topped with a creamy dill sauce - all for just $16.90. It is definitely enough to feed two people.
I highly recommend sharing plates at Lillipad's, as there is so much value for money and choice. The chef's will happily cut the vegetarian pumpkin burger in half to make two ample-sized bugers stacked with a delicious patty, freshly grated beetroot and carrot, a whole avacado, tomato, salad leaves, and sourcream and sweet chilli sauce. It is really an extraordinary veggie burger, very filling and at a reasonable $12.90. If I don't have someone to share with, I always take the other half home for dinner. The staff are happy to accommodate with a doggy bag.
Pumpkin and Ricotta Sausage Roll ($4) with Greek Salad, and Mexican Vegetarian Burrito at Lillipad's
The Lillipad Cafe is the ultimate for a very hungry breakfast or lunch dining option. It is without a doubt my favourite cafe in Cairns. You cannot leave without being extremely satisfied, and you always get more than what you paid for. How many places can you say that about?