Hawaii is melting pot of people, cultures and flavors. One of the first examples of cultures coming together in Hawaii is the plate lunch.
In the mid 1800s plantations for sugar and pineapples came to Hawaii. Work was long and hard on the plantation and meals needed to be hardy. Food in Hawaii was traditionally made of fish, poi (made from taro plant) and locally grown produce. Workers found that fish would spoil, so they switched to foods like pork (readily available), hamburger patties, and Spam. The plate lunch has not changed much since the 1800s. You will find meat, one (or two) scoops of rice, and mac (macaroni) salad.
You can get a plate lunch just about anywhere but there are several places that are known for being the best. We have chosen each location to reflect the different kinds of plate lunch.
Serving authentic Hawaiian food since 1947, Highway Inn is a unique place to get an amazing plate lunch. A lot has changed in Hawaii since Highway Inn has opened but one thing that has never changed is the ownership, it has been in the same family for three generations. The restaurant is located in Kakaako right on the New Red Line at the SALT stop. That’s not the only location on the New Red Line there is also a second restaurant located inside the Bishop Museum.
Make sure you try the Lau Lau; it will make you say wow-wow. Lau lau is butterfish and pork wrapped in a taro leaf and steamed for hours. It’s Highway Inn’s biggest seller. The Poi, mashed up taro root, is also amazing here. Our best advice is skip the burger and try the Pipikaula, it is dried beef strips that are seasoned and grilled.
Old Americana decor with Japan meets Hawaii food, Pioneer Saloon is a unique restaurant. Located on the Green Line at the Monserrat Stop. Pioneer Saloon is a saloon in name only. Here you can eat a wide array of fresh plate lunches, from beef, pork, chicken, veggie, and seafood. There’s something for even picky eaters. Every plate lunch comes with a giant scoop of rice and your choice of mac salad, tossed (tossed salad), or rotini salad.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Diamond Head Grill is a great place to get a plate lunch. With a wide selection of plate lunches the menu can be a little daunting. We suggest when you order outside to try the Grilled Ahi Steak Plate or the Mixed Plate (hamburger, portobello mushroom, caramelized onions, balsamic garlic jus). Their plates come with a scoop of white or brown rice and tossed or mac salad.
Inside Diamond Head Grill is a bakery where you can get fresh baked pastries, including scones (seriously, they are the best in the world). They also serve a number of cold items inside that are quick and easy to take to the beach. Diamond Head Grill is right on the Green Line at the Monserrat Stop. The line stops at this location every 35 minutes so you can hop on hop off Trolley in Oahu, Hawaii.
Vote for your favorite!
After trying all the locations let us know which Plate Lunch restaurant is your favorite. Did you try the Hawaiian food at Highway Inn and love it? Were you enchanted by Pioneer Saloon? Is Diamond Head Grill’s plate lunch steal the show? We want to know!