Best Plate Lunch on Oahu: Unbelievable Flavors You Must Try!

Welcome, fellow Hawaiian plate lunch enthusiasts!

I’ve spent the last month on a culinary adventure across to find the best plate lunch on Oahu. Armed with determination (and my trusty travel partner – shout out to my boyfriend for tagging along!), I navigated the bustling streets and serene beaches of this beautiful island.

You see, I adore Hawaiian plate lunches; they remind me of lazy beach days and family gatherings in my childhood. And being a foodie at heart, it’s only natural that I embarked on this tasty quest to discover which eateries have mastered these mouthwatering meals. Believe me when I say that we left no stone unturned or palate unsatisfied.

From hole-in-the-wall joints tucked away in quiet neighborhoods to busy restaurants overlooking picturesque landscapes, our search took us through every corner of Oahu. You might call it thorough – or even borderline obsessive – but hey, anything less just wouldn’t cut it!

I’ve compiled a list of the finest establishments serving up the most delicious and satisfying plate lunches you can imagine. Trust me; after tasting what these places have to offer, your taste buds will thank you endlessly.

Warning: Get ready for your friends to bombard you with invitations to go “lunch-hopping” once word gets around that you’re now an authority on all things related to scrumptious Hawaiian plates!

So let’s dive into this flavorful world together and prepare ourselves for memories filled with warm sunlight, unmistakable island vibes, and irresistible bites bursting with luscious goodness.

Rainbow Drive-In – A Local Favorite for the Best Plate Lunches in Oahu

Rainbow Drive-In - A Local Favorite for the Best Plate Lunches in Oahu

Opened nearly 50 years ago, Rainbow Drive-In is a legendary eatery in Oahu that you shouldn’t miss. Beginning as a small family-owned business during Hawaii’s economic changes in 1961, it entered the dining scene offering chili, beef BBQ, and rice plates before ultimately evolving into the famous plate lunches we know today.

Honored with awards such as Star Advertiser’s Best Diner and Honolulu Magazine’s Best of the Best, this iconic locale clearly has something special to offer. With even the locals raving about its plate lunches, my boyfriend and I knew we had to give it a try – and we’re so glad we did! The food was outstanding, and the service was delightful.

After trekking up Diamond Head with our appetites fired up, my boyfriend ordered BBQ beef and Mahi Mahi with a side of fries smothered in gravy. Meanwhile, I savored corned beef alongside Mac salad sprinkled with bacon bits. When our meals arrived at our table, they not only smelled mouth-watering but also boasted generous portions. We relished every bite while marveling at how Rainbow Drive-In offered unbeatable flavors compared to other eateries on Kapahulu Avenue.

Here are some things I loved about Rainbow Drive-In:

  • Expansive menu with plenty of options
  • Affordable prices
  • Massive servings

P.S. They serve breakfast too! Just be forewarned: their renowned fried rice often sells out long before morning ends.

Bob’s BBQ – A Hidden Gem for Delectable Plate Lunches in Oahu

Bob's BBQ - A Hidden Gem for Delectable Plate Lunches in Oahu

While famous places like Rainbow Drive-In attract both tourists and locals, Bob’s BBQ is a fantastic but lesser-known eatery. Among those who’ve discovered it, this hole-in-the-wall ranks highly for quality.

We stumbled upon Bob’s BBQ by chance and noticed long lines during our drives. Intrigued, we decided to give it a try, and it didn’t disappoint! We ordered their mixed plate with ribs, beef, chicken, rice, and macaroni salad – all deliciously filling with portions ample enough for two!

Their signature dish is the Hibachi Chicken covered in red sauce accompanied by greens and mac salad. This tempting option is on my to-try list for next time. As my boyfriend said: “Enjoy every opportunity you get to splurge; you never know when you’ll have that chance again.”

What I loved about dining at Bob’s BBQ:

  • Tasty yet affordable food
  • Friendly staff
  • Ideal quick-stop eatery
  • Ample seating and parking spaces

St. Louis Drive-In – The Go-To Spot for Seafood Plate Lunch in Oahu [close to Pearl City]

St. Louis Drive-In - The Go-To Spot for Seafood-Based Plate Lunches in Oahu

Operating for around 40 years now, St. Louis Drive-In sets itself apart from competitors with its unique mix of Japanese-Hawaiian flavors featuring seafood in their plate lunches.

We ordered their Japanese plate lunch specialty: Ahi sashimi combined with teriyaki beef and mochiko chicken served alongside a Japanese salad and rice. While tender Mochiko chicken was irresistible paired with fresh sashimi slices topped off with wasabi would have made this dish an absolute winner.

Overall though, St. Louis Drive-In remains one of the best spots offering fusion-styled mixed plates in Oahu.

Highlights from our visit include:

  • Freshly prepared, scrumptious food
  • An array of daily specials
  • Wallet-friendly pricing

TIP: With limited seating available, it’s best to order your meal to-go.

Adela’s Country Eatery – Deliciously Fresh Plate Lunches in Oahu

Adela's Country Eatery - Deliciously Fresh Plate Lunches in Oahu

Renowned for its freshly crafted noodles and Filipino-inspired cuisine, Adela’s Country Eatery offers an unparalleled take on plate lunches. With a variety of distinctive noodle options like Ube, Kalo, Ulu, and Angel Hair accompanied by numerous sauces and toppings, you can easily create your dream dish.

Though primarily a take-out joint with unassuming aesthetics reminiscent of a small hole-in-the-wall at your local mall, don’t be deceived – the food is exceptional! The star attraction lies in their ramen-style noodles made from locally sourced ingredients.

As first-time diners unsure which dish to choose from their extensive menu, we sought guidance from the owner. She kindly recommended some popular combinations often ordered by customers. Ultimately settling on Lechon with Ube noodles for myself while my boyfriend opted for Lechon with garlic Kalo noodles, our plates arrived packed with generous servings.

Both dishes featured mouthwatering Lechon boasting perfectly cooked crispy skin; however, my boyfriend’s garlic sauce truly stood out without overpowering the meal. It was evident why his selection remains a fan favorite.

Here’s what made our experience unforgettable:

  • Dedicated attention to food quality
  • Ample portion sizes
  • Authentic homemade touch added by fresh pasta

TIP: When dining as part of a small group here, consider splitting orders since serving sizes are quite substantial!

Papa Ole’s Kitchen – Authentic Mom-and-Pop Style Plate Lunch Place

Papa Ole's Kitchen - Authentic Mom-and-Pop Style Hawaiian Food

For those craving an authentic and cozy dining experience, one needs to look no further than Papa Ole’s Kitchen. Serving the finest homemade Hawaiian cuisine, every dish at this unpretentious eatery is freshly prepared and full of flavor.

Highly recommended by locals, we ventured out to discover this hidden gem for ourselves. Currently offering only takeout or phone-ahead orders with no dine-in option available (just a heads-up: the lines can be long, but it’s worth the wait!), we eagerly placed our order.

I opted for Teriyaki Chicken accompanied by Kalbi ribs, mac salad, and rice – all satisfyingly filling and delicious. Given that short ribs are one of their specialties, my boyfriend couldn’t resist ordering them as well.

Another local favorite on Papa Ole’s menu is their peanut butter rolls; however, you’ll need to call in advance to reserve as they sell out quickly!

Among the things I loved about Papa Ole’s Kitchen were:

  • The meticulously prepared food
  • Hot and flavorful dishes that made planning ahead truly worthwhile
  • A welcoming atmosphere where guests could relish their delicious meals


Plate lunch, a genuine Hawaiian treat, tops the list for comfort food. The range of tasty options on each island is vast, but the real jackpot is Oahu, hosting both a broad array and some of the tastiest pork plate lunch.

If you’re on a hunt for the best plate lunch on Oahu, my top picks should point you in the right direction. If time’s on your side, hit these five hotspots for the Hawaiian plate lunch in Honolulu, HI – each one’s got its unique twist.

Korean fried chicken or the plate lunch fix at the Diamond Head Market Grill are must-haves. Don’t skip the mini plate lunches, they’re an experience in themselves. For a different taste, try other plate lunches at the Rainbow Drive Inn or enjoy a turf plate.

For the lovers of deep fried dishes, there’s more. You’ll find all the flavors you can dream of at the Pioneer Saloon on King St. Their Portuguese sausage and guava smoked items are unmissable.

Enjoy the best plate lunch on Oahu at the Pearl City location of the Highway Inn. This is the go-to spot for Hawaiian food enthusiasts. The Oahu foodie scene is incomplete without a taste of their loco moco, Hawaiian barbecue, kalua pig, poi, laulau, and poke bowls. There’s no better place to immerse yourself in Hawaii cuisine.

All these Oahu restaurants provide a modern spin on traditional Hawaiian food. So, get ready to indulge!

Top Oahu Plate Lunch Recommendations

EateryDescriptionSpecialties & NotesTips & Extras
Rainbow Drive-InA legendary eatery in Oahu, opened 50 years ago as a family-owned business offering iconic plate lunches.– Expansive menu
– Affordable prices
– Massive servings
– Serves breakfast (Famous fried rice often sells out quickly).
Bob’s BBQA lesser-known but fantastic hole-in-the-wall eatery.– Tasty and affordable food
– Signature dish: Hibachi Chicken in red sauce with greens and mac salad.
– Ample seating & parking.
St. Louis Drive-InOperating for 40 years, offering a unique Japanese-Hawaiian fusion with seafood.– Freshly prepared food
– Daily specials
– Wallet-friendly pricing
– Limited seating (Best to order to-go).
Adela’s Country EateryRenowned for Filipino-inspired cuisine & fresh noodles.– Authentic homemade touch
– Fresh ramen-style noodles from local ingredients
– Popular dishes: Lechon with Ube or Kalo noodles.
– Ample servings (Consider splitting orders for small groups).
Papa Ole’s KitchenAuthentic mom-and-pop style eatery serving homemade Hawaiian cuisine.– Meticulously prepared food
– Popular dishes: Teriyaki Chicken, Kalbi ribs, peanut butter rolls (reserve in advance as they sell out).
– Only takeout or phone-ahead orders. Long lines, but worth the wait.

TOP 10 PLATE LUNCHES on Oahu, Hawaii – Our Top Picks!


What is a popular plate lunch option in Waikiki featuring chicken katsu?

In Waikiki, a popular plate lunch option includes chicken katsu, which can be found at various local restaurants like Pioneer Saloon and Diamond Head Market Grill. These establishments are known for serving tasty comfort food with delicious sides like white rice or brown rice and green salad.

Can you find an ono Hawaiian food truck serving shrimp dishes in Kakaʻako?

Yes, you can find ono Hawaiian food trucks in Kakaʻako that serve shrimp dishes alongside other local plate lunches. Some of these trucks offer garlic shrimp, mixed plates with fish options, and even turf plates combining meat choices like pork, hamburger patties or tonkatsu.

Where to try the best loco moco dish on North Shore (Oahu)?

To experience the best loco moco dish on North Shore (Oahu), head over to Haleiwa, Hawaii where numerous eateries specialize in this classic Hawaiian plate lunch item. Many places also offer alternatives such as roast pork accompanied by roasted garlic balsamic jus.

Are there any bakeries near Kamehameha Hwy offering pies and cakes?

Yes, along the Kamehameha Hwy there are bakeries where you can find sweet treats like pies and cakes as well as Malasada-like pastries. These bakery stops make perfect destinations if you crave something different after indulging in savory mixed plate lunches from nearby spots.

Which dinner options showcase traditional grace’s blue lunch wagon menu items including beef stew or fried chicken?

Grace’s Plate Lunches often include items such as beef stew or fried chicken paired with white rice and macaroni salad. For similar dinner experiences reflecting this beloved style of cooking around Oahu area eateries, consider visiting places like Ono Hawaiian Food or Diamond Head Market for a local plate lunch.

Do some eateries in the Oahu area also serve metric and imperial units of menu items such as sandwiches?

While most eateries in Oahu focus on offering standard measurements for their dishes, it’s not uncommon to find establishments that offer portion sizes using both metric and imperial units. Such options might include sandwich or burger variations on traditional plate lunch menus to cater to different appetites.

Last Updated on August 13, 2023 by Brigitte