You know what's better than a mix plate with gravy all ova? Not having to drive across town to get it!
A Kapahulu stalwart and ode to how things in Hawaii used to be, Rainbow Drive-in opened up shop on the corner of School and Houghtailing streets on May 1 and crowds of plate lunch lovers have been growing ever since.
From private school students and faculty to National Guardsmen and aunties from the neighborhood, you'll see everyone lining up for their favorite Rainbows dishes. Mine?
At Kapahulu, I normally go for a classic cheeseburger Royale (Rainbow's moniker for sandwiches with lettuce, tomato and onion) but since they offer it with a double patty as the Rainbow Royale, I had to upgrade. It's nothing spectacular, but the simplicity of the slightly charred burger with the crisp lettuce, juicy tomato and pungent raw onions takes me back to my dad's impromptu weekend backyard barbecues. Homemade burgers are the best kind of burgers, especially if someone else makes them for you.
The signature brown-on-brown plate in a cardboard box has to be the boneless chicken cutlet with brown gravy. For a moment while I was in line, they announced they were out of mac salad and I swear time stopped. By the time I put my order in, the truck from Kapahulu had come to deliver tubs of the stuff along with other products they needed for the lunch rush.
Besides the boneless chicken, for $1.20 more you can opt for the mix plate, which adds teri beef and the fried fish filet and for 60 cents more you can have your plate with gravy all ova. Reports say that it's pretty much the same as Kapahulu, but be prepared to wait. My table's order of two mix plates, two boneless chickens, a chili fries and Rainbow Royale took roughly 10 minutes.
As for general pricing, it looks to be the same as the Kapahulu location, but the menu is quite limited to the favorites. I didn't see tater tots or I would've grabbed them, nor did I see any daily specials. For now, this location is only serving breakfast and lunch, opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 3 p.m. As the team works out early kinks, please be patient and sympathetic and go in knowing that they just opened two days ago.
If you're looking for parking, the surrounding streets and the overflow parking lot with about 18 large spaces out back are your best bet. Since the dining room is small, most cars are in and out of there quickly.
Rainbow Drive-in Kalihi
1339 N. School Street
Daily 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. (soft opening hours)