Vivo Bar and Grill (Palm Cove, QLD)

49 Williams Esplanade
Palm Cove QLD 4879
+61 7 4059 0944

On our FNQ trip, Marty and I had planned to explore some well-regarded eateries north of Cairns city. With the exception of very few dining gems in Cairns, the city is NOT really known for its fantastic dining scene if places such as Barnacle Bills and The Raw Prawn reign supreme when it comes to luring diners on the Esplanade. Hence, I made it a priority to make day trips out to the Northern Beaches and Port Douglas to sample the area’s finest seafood. As luck would have had it, though, ALL the places I wanted to visit just so happened to be closed for the summer (Nu Nu, Palm Cove and Nautilus, Port Douglas to name two). Thus, our choices were extremely limited *sad face* Thankfully, Vivo Bar and Grill in Palm Cove, only 25 minutes from Cairns city was open. We were heading up to the Daintree Rainforest that day so we decided to make a stop at Palm Cove for some fuel of the breakfast kind.

Cairns does not have an actual beach (no, the lagoon does NOT count) so those wanting to go to the beach will drive to the Northern Beaches. At 8am on a Thursday morning, Palm Cove was surprisingly very quiet. I’m not sure whether it was because all its residents had nicked off for the summer or whether it was way too early for people to be up (I’m guessing the former because I’ve known Queenlanders, in general, to be early risers). After a short stroll down the quiet beach, we walked into Vivo.

The Colonial-style building that houses the award-winning bar and restaurant looks more house-y than restaurant-y with its cool timber interiors and intimate courtyard. As much as we would not have minded sitting inside, the warm morning breeze, the view of the beach and a cute little dog beckoned us to a table outside.

While Marty ordered an affogato ($6 – what is it with Queensland and expensive affogato?!), I ordered a latte ($3.80). I was delighted to find that my coffee tasted amazing – as in, not just amazing by Queensland standards but amazing amazing. The coffee had more body than Elle, thanks to the full cream organic milk that they used and the beans so sweet that no organic raw sugar was needed. Yep, the default sugar used here was raw AND organic. Nice.

Marty also couldn’t resist ordering a smoothie. While I liked the sound of the sunrise smoothie, their ‘secret mix of seasonal tropical fruits blended with a dash of coconut milk’ ($7), Marty decided to ignore my suggest and go for the banana smoothie instead (also $7). Prick. Why didn’t I just get my own smoothie? Quite simply, I thought it would be just too much. Anyway, the smoothie was made out of local bananas blended with milk, local organic yoghurt and tropical bush honey. It was the perfect drink (or meal, for those who like breakie on the go) for such a warm morning.

Rarely do I come across a menu where literally every single thing sounded amazing but this was the case as Vivo. I liked the sound of the local tropical fruit salad, which was topped with roasted pistachio, toasted coconut and organic yoghurt, as well as the buttermilk hotcakes, which came with bananas, mascarpone and maple syrup. In the end, my savoury (as opposed to sweet) tooth prevailed and I chose the mushroom breakfast ($16).

Two slices of toasted ciabatta hosted some spinach leaves, slow-roasted tomatoes and thyme-roasted field mushrooms. Everything was then held together by a lovely pesto dressing and melted taleggio cheese. It was deliciously earthy, creamy, crunchy, tart, chewy and oh-so wonderful. I could not have asked for a better breakfast.

Meanwhile, Marty chose his default breakfast: the eggs benedict ($19). Instead of ciabatta, his dish came with two thick slices of vienna and on them, free-range organic poached eggs drizzled with a lemon hollandaise and matched with spinach and smoked salmon. He declared it delicious. I also loved the addition of the lemon in the hollandaise as it broke down the creaminess of the sauce.

It was a wonderful breakfast that filled our tummies up so that we could face a long day of exploring, hiking, swimming – but not to the point where we were even the slightest bit bloated. Hooray for fresh, local and predominantly ORGANIC produce. The view, the friendly service and the fact that we were near water (despite no sea breeze) also contributed to the awesomeness of this meal. As we were getting ready to pay the bill, I decided that I couldn’t leave without trying the sunrise smoothie. I asked the waitress, who had been sweet and lovely to us the entire time we were there, if I was able to grab it ‘to go’ and was glad when she said that I could. Although the menu said that the contents of the smoothie was a ‘secret’, Vivo’s website says that it contains banana and pineapple (hey, this IS Queensland after all) but I could also taste watermelon and a little bit of passionfruit. Blended together with a little bit of palm sugar and a dash of coconut milk, I sipped it blissfully in the car on the way to Mossman.

Vivo was undoubtedly the best place we visited during our trip to FNQ and we’ll definitely be back for more when we return. We don’t know when, but we know now NOT to book trips while half of FNQ’s restaurants have shut down for the summer! Then again should this be the case the next time we go, I will happily have every single meal at Vivo. No biggie.

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    1. I think they did open in December, and then closed once the Christmas period began – and remained closed until at least March which is silly because you’re right, it would have been peak tourist season. However, I think the area does get a lot of visitors from the Southern states during the winter months 🙂

  1. That is such a shame about Nu Nu because it has to be the best restaurant in FNQ. We were up there last July (it poured with rain EVERY day even though it was the dry season) and to cheer ourselves up we dined often at Vivo. We found the food to be excellent and great for us as a family. Didn’t get there for breakfast so great to see what you had there xx

    1. Yeah, a friend of mine recommended Nu Nu so I was hoping to take Marty there for his birthday and was so sad when I found out they were closed 🙁 Oh well, next time!

  2. Men can be so selfish 😛 hahaha Mr Bao’s always ordering everything I don’t want hahaha looks like you’ve found a great place to have coffee and food 😀 I’d love to try the smoothies too! I love it when places have their own secrets because it makes them extra special hehe and using predominately organic products are always a bonus YAY!

  3. Omg $6 for an Affogato and $19 for an Egg’s Benedict? But still, you’re absolutely right it does sound AMAZING. Hey, I totally know what you mean. We were looking high and low for a beach to chill at after our 4 day diving trip and was shocked when they told us it was quite a drive away from Cairns centre. Oh wells…. You make me want to go back to that wonderful town!

    1. The price of the eggs benedict, I didn’t mind so much (it was awesome!) but $6 for an affogato ANYWHERE in Australia is ridiculous! Palm Cove is only 25 minutes from Cairns City and definitely worth sussing out, if only just for the food and vibe! 😀

  4. Wow, I never knew Cairns doesn’t have a beach! That photo of the beach above looks nice though.

    It’s always great when you find a wonderful restaurant/cafe whilst on holidays… until you realise you can’t go back unless you go on holiday again!

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