Places to Eat in Tawau

With a diverse range of restaurants and spots to eat that are designed to cater for everyone from foreign and domestic business travellers, to international tourists and locals, there is plenty of choice in Tawau.

Indeed, there are enough eateries in Tawau to keep you busy for several days, even if there isn’t too much else to do in the immediate area! Food is generally high quality, tasty and offers good value for money – especially if you’re happy to eat at local restaurants and enjoy local dishes.

Seafood & Local Food

By far the best cuisine to enjoy here is the local Malay seafood and there are plenty of restaurants to try out, all located conveniently near to the centre of town. The Sabino Centre is a first stop, a series of Chinese food stalls that feature tanks outside brimming with the catch of the day. Don’t expect luxury service – most of these joints are the equivalent of roadside dining, but for fresh seafood they really are a fantastic option. Staff are very friendly and will let you know the prices of the different dishes as you choose what you prefer – you can also pick how you’d like your seafood cooked.

Some of the local dishes to make sure that you try when sampling the street food in Tawau include buffalo soup, fried bananas, tapioca, glutinous rice, pandan cake and peanut pancakes, amongst others.

The best thing to do is to be as adventurous as possible – although the staff working at these spots will be more than happy to help make a recommendation. The nasi kuning is also worth trying - a yellow rice dish usually served with fish and chilli sauce, and starting from as little as MYR 0.30 – making it one of the best bargain meals you’ll find.

Curry Houses

Another popular spot to try are the curry houses – including the Asian Cuisine and Curry House and Yassin Curry Houses. These are popular local dining spots and as such can get quite busy.

There are tons of options of curries, including Malaysian, Indonesian and Indian options, as well as Western and other international choices on the menu. Prices are budget friendly, especially given the quality of the food. These curry houses are also a good choice if you’re looking for vegetarian food.

Western Food

The only other real option for Western food is Olive Bistro, which as you might have guessed offers a mainly Italian menu, but is located a short taxi ride outside of the centre of town. If you can, then sticking with the local options is usually a better choice.


For a more upmarket treat, consider trying the buffet at the Marco Polo Hotel, which whilst not exactly cheap, definitely offers plenty of good food to try out. Again, the buffet consists of mainly local food options, but does have a decent variety of vegetables and salads which may be a welcome treat if you’ve been travelling in the area for a while.


There’s also a breakfast buffet as well as a nice coffee shop in Marco Polo Hotel, so even if you’re not staying here it may be worth dropping in.

Another very popular choice for breakfast is the aptly named Breakfast 101. This is only a market stall, and is only open in the mornings, but offers a deceptively good breakfast. Dishes that receive good reviews include the poached eggs on toast which also come with mushrooms and spinach. Prices are low and it’s a good spot although not the most picturesque of breakfast options.


Finally, be sure to sample some of the local fruits on offer, many of which you may not have seen before. There are many stalls selling exotic fruits and again, it’s a place to be adventurous with your choices!