Rainbow Drive-In

Sample Hawaiian History in a Plate at the Original Rainbow Drive In in Kapahulu
The Bottom Line:

Visit Rainbow Drive-In for affordable, simple, hearty food. Make this local favorite a stop to sample classic dishes that have kept locals in Kapahulu going since 1961.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Since 1961, Hawaiians flocked to the small Rainbow Drive-In diner in Kapahulu with tasty, filling plate lunches at reasonable prices. Today, you can still go to the original location on Kanaina Avenue in Kapahulu. This site remains owned and operated by the founder’s family. Three other locations dot the south end of Oahu. All locations of Rainbow Drive-In continue to offer affordable, tasty lunch plates and more.

Originally, the Rainbow Drive-In catered to local workers who had hearty appetites and short lunch breaks. The lunch plates at the opening included two scoops of rice and one of macaroni to keep workers fueled for the rest of the day. Fast service ensured that they had time to enjoy their lunch. These same goals of providing simple, hearty fare quickly remain the hallmark of Rainbow Drive-In.

When you visit Rainbow Drive-In in Kapahulu, you’ll find a family-run business that still serves food that locals and visitors crave. With breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, you can visit at any time you feel a desire for tasty food at a great price.

Leave your diet at home when you visit Rainbow Drive-In. You will find hearty comfort food such as burgers, meat and gravy plates, loco moco, saimin, and chili.  

Classic, can’t-miss plate lunches and other dishes from the menu at Rainbow Drive-In include:

Chili Plate
Rainbow Drive-In serves its famous chili on a lunch plate that comes with rice and macaroni salad. The kitchen makes the chili fresh daily with kidney beans, garlic, spices, and ground beef and simmers it to blend the flavors.

While the chili plate is one popular way to enjoy this entree, you can also order it by the bowl or as a topping for hot dogs, potato tots, or french fries. Whichever form you choose to order the chili, make sure to have it at least once. You may find yourself ordering a bag of chili spices to recreate the dish at home.

Slush Float
Combat the heat with a sweet ice cream slush float from Rainbow Drive-In. This dessert starts with a strawberry-flavored slushy drink. A scoop of ice cream floats in the slush to add creaminess. This drink is a great way to finish off a hearty meal.

Shoyu Chicken Plate
One of the daily specials to try is the shoyu chicken plate, which the restaurant serves Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. This meal includes the standard two scoops of rice and one scoop of macaroni salad. The chicken remains the star, though. Rich chicken thighs simmer in a flavorful mixture of garlic, ginger, sugar, and shoyu sauce. The long cooking renders the chicken tender and juicy.

Breakfast Special
If you find yourself in the area during breakfast time, order the breakfast special at Rainbow Drive-In. This hearty plate gives you meat, two scoops of rice or toast, and two eggs. Meat choices include Portuguese sausage, Spam, bacon, wieners, chili, hamburger patty, boneless chicken, pork cutlet, beef cutlet, barbecue beef, barbecue pork, arabiki sausage, corned beef hash with gravy, or mahi mahi. For a more authentically Hawaiian dish, opt for either Spam or Portuguese sausage for your breakfast special.

If you prefer sweet to savory breakfast foods, order the pancakes. You get a stack of three enormous pancakes that comes with butter and syrup. These fluffy pancakes may easily fill you up before you get through the stack, but they are so tasty that some visitors note starting almost every day of their stay with them. Like the chili, you can buy buttermilk pancake mix to prepare your own Rainbow Drive-In pancakes when you return home.

Save money while sating your appetite with classic Hawaiian comfort food. Visit the original location of Rainbow Drive-In for a taste of the past that continues to appeal to locals and visitors today.

Insider Tips:
-Order online to reduce your time waiting for your food when you arrive at the restaurant.
-The free parking lot has only a few spots, but the quick service in Rainbow Drive-In means you won’t have to wait long for a spot to open.