Local Style Favorites at Rainbow Drive-In

Rainbow Drive-In Sign

Rainbow Drive-In: Great Food at Good Prices

While planning our vacation to Oahu I happened to have a episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the DVR that had happened to take place in Hawaii. One of the segments I saw was on the Rainbow Drive-In restaurant in Oahu that was pretty close to where we would be staying. So, on our third day in Waikiki, we decided to head over there for some lunch and try one of their famous plate lunches.

Opened in 1961, the Rainbow Drive-In is north east of the major hotel and tourist zone of Waikiki in the small local community of Kapahulu. We took a city bus to Kapahulu Ave. and hiked the rest of the way which was a nice 20 minute walk. The Rainbow Drive-In is a cool oldschool food joint that has some tables on the left hand side and an order window on the right with a small parking lot surrounding it all.

The Rainbow Drive-In

The colorful exterior and neon sign of the Rainbow Drive-In. | Photo Courtesy of Matthew Dillon

We were lucky enough to grab a table when we got there, but if you are not as lucky, there is a nice little park about 2 blocks south of the restaurant. We got there a bit before noon, so the line wasn’t too too bad, plus half of the patrons were grabbing their lunches and driving off. The lines do move fairly quickly and it doesn’t take long to get your food. The staff is very friendly and helpful even though they are trying to keep the line going, so feel free to ask a couple of questions.

Rainbow Drive-In’s Plate Lunches

The plate lunches is what put the Rainbow Drive-In on the map and is what drives the droves of locals and tourists here every day. The plate lunches consist of an entree, 2 scoops of rice and 1 scoop macaroni salad or coleslaw. They also have plate lunch specials which they serve certain entrees on specific days of the week. Since our family wanted to try a little of everything, we ordered a couple of plate lunches with some variety to share with each other.

I had to try their famous mix plate which comes with bbq teri beef, mahi mahi and chicken. I had heard all of the hoopla about the gravy, so I asked to have a dousing of it over my rice. The bbq was seasoned, cooked perfectly with a bit of char and had little fat, the chicken was lightly breaded and crispy and the mahi mahi was delicious with a side of tartar sauce. All of this with the mounds of rice, gravy and tasty macaroni salad made one large and delicious meal. I would say that this plate is the must order on your first visit.

Rainbow Drive-In Loco Moco Lunch Plate

The Loco Moco lunch plate with eggs, beef patties, rice and gravy. | Photo Courtesy of ExFlexitarian

We also ordered the Loco Moco plate lunch which is 2 eggs, 2 beef patties, a mound of rice, brown gravy and a scoop of macaroni salad. This is a very hearty meal and the combo of all of these ingredients work very well together with the tasty gravy covering it all. The one minor thing I didn’t like that much is that macaroni salad scoop was also enveloped by the gravy and took away the flavor I liked so much from the mix plate scoop we had. To round off our feast we had a small chili bowl with rice which was very flavorful and had more meat than beans.

Why We Recommend It For Families

  • Tasty Food
  • Great Prices
  • Menu Variety
  • Generous Portions
  • Casual Atmosphere
  • Friendly Staff

Joe at the Rainbow Drive-In

Hungry and excited to be finally dining at the Rainbow Drive-In. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

Dining at Rainbow Drive-in

Happy and no longer hungry after eating most of our plate lunches. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

Rainbow Drive-In Links & Information

About Joe Filipowicz

I have a passion for finding fun things to do, good restaurants and places to stay while traveling with my family and friends. Since it takes a lot of research and exploration to find these family friendly places, I wanted to share my findings with others to make it easier for them to plan their next getaway.

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