When it comes to dining in Honolulu, don't eat on the overpriced, underwhelming Waikiki strip. Instead, take a short drive (or a lengthy stroll) to Kapahulu Avenue, a nearby street dotted with some of Oahu's most memorable institutions, like Leonard's Bakery and Rainbow Drive-In.

The latter recalls a different time: an era when cars, chocolate ice cream floats, and chitchat happily convened in the same parking lot. Today, the takeout joint — open since 1961 and the last of its kind, now that drive-ins have passed their heyday — remains a favorite for locals and tourists alike. See why when you continue reading.

Walk up to the window, scan the old-school menu board, and order one of Hawaii's best-known plate lunches. Some favorites: BBQ beef steak (beef teriyaki) with a heaping side of white rice and ridiculously dressed mac salad, and the trademark mix plate (a combination of teri beef, fried mahi-mahi with tartar sauce, and boneless chicken, breaded up katsu-style) alongside coleslaw and fries. You can't beat the cheap eats: here, a plain hamburger will set you back a mere $2.


Plate specials — like the roast pork with gravy, served only on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays — keep things exciting for regulars. On a hot day, nothing beats Rainbow's Slush Float. It's a tall cylinder of strawberry slush, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Let it melt a little, and the result is part ice cream float, part strawberry creamsicle.

For a taste of the past, take a nostalgic trip down memory lane (and Kapahulu Avenue) with a stop-off at Rainbow. You won't be able to overlook its awesome history, or its reasonably priced plate lunches.

Have you made the trek to Rainbow Drive-In? If so, what's your must-have order?

Storefront Photo Source: Flickr User coconut wireless