Want to chow down in Hawaii the local way? Make sure you visit this awesome plate lunch place that’s popular with locals ever since it opened in the 60s!
Rainbow Drive-In. “Rainbows” for short. This Oahu Must Eat is the one place where I have taken every single one of my friends to when they are visiting the islands. It’s the pit stop for locals before they hit Waikiki beach and after their Diamond Head hike for years. My Dad has memories of standing in line here to order his favorite Chili Plate for $1.60 in ’77 and ’78 after his classes at the University of Hawaii. Even my Mom (the health nut!) loves to eat her Mixed Plate from Rainbows.
Since 1961 Rainbows has served Hawaii their iconic plate lunches of 2 scoops rice, 1 scoop mac salad, and a hearty main dish on top of sliced cabbage. Way back then, the plate lunches had to be served fast due to the limited lunch time for workers. Even today the food still comes out quick, hot and ready to eat! Open daily from 7 AM to 9 PM, it’s one of the best places to go whenever hunger strikes you.
Breakfast is also a big deal in the world of plate lunches so if you have a chance, definitely check out their menu in the morning. We locals especially love our spam, Portuguese sausage and fried rice for breakfast, so try these out if you’re not sure which breakfast to go for. And unless your splurging on extra food, you shouldn’t spend more than $8 for breakfast!
Rainbows has a great menu that will give you plenty of choices to choose from. But if you’re really stuck on what to eat, I highly suggest the Mixed Plate (a favorite from my visiting friends). It comes with teriyaki beef, fish and breaded chicken so you get a little bit of everything. It doesn’t normally come with gravy like the above photo, so make sure to ask for it if you want an extra kick of flavor. And while most people will get a soda, I love the Strawberry Slush Float! It’s lovely to sip down on a hot day in Hawaii and I order one every time I come here.
Local tips: Rainbows has a tiny parking lot especially during hungry hours! Bring at least another person so that they can order while you wait for a spot. Waiting for parking goes by pretty quickly since the food comes out really fast and most people are there to grab and go. Seating can be a hit and miss depending on how busy it gets.
3308 Kanaina Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
7 AM – 9 PM
Gem from Hawaii Mom Blog recently revisited Rainbow Drive-In (you can’t stop going – it’s that ono) and got all her fixings for dinner all set. She took a bunch of photos of all the food she picked up so check the post out if you’re interested in getting a plate lunch from this iconic restaurant.
Lanai Tabura is the guy for local Hawaii cuisine (trust me, he’s won a ton of local food awards). You’ll learn how to “grind” – that means eat! – on his Aloha Plate Food Tour where he’ll show you what foods locals love to munch on. The best part about this tour is that you’ll even try things that you won’t be finding in any Hawaii guide books!
The Honolulu Food Tour is a great choice for larger parties (up to 12) where you’ll get to visit places that most tourists don’t even know exist! Local hotspots, Hawaiian fusion samples and culinary traditions await you in this fun tour.