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A Concierge’s Guide to Hawaii Plate Lunch Spots

Posted on June 29, 2015

Many Hawaii residents and visitors insist that time spent in the Islands isn’t complete without sampling that quintessential of local meals: the plate lunch. Appetite sating, near always affordable and ever delicious, the basic plate lunch formula calls for two scoops of sticky white rice and a scoop of macaroni salad (or mixed greens, if you’re feeling more health inclined), paired with a protein-of-your-choice. Favorites include chicken katsu (boneless chicken, coated in panko flakes and deep fried), hamburger steak (essentially a hamburger patty topped with thick brown gravy), grilled teriyaki beef and dozens of other choices.

So Much More Hawaii recently asked Hawaii hotel concierge professionals — residents we figured would definitely know a thing or two about great places to eat— to share their favorite plate lunch spot. Here are the top recommendations from each:

Both hearty and delicious, the plate lunch is a local staple; Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Daeja Faris

Ryan Tucker, chef concierge at The Modern Honolulu 

Diamond Head Market and Grill
3158 Monsarrat Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815; 808-732-0077

“This is a fantastic little spot, nestled in a lovely collection of small shops and restaurants at the foot of Diamond Head crater. If I’m there on weekends, I order the Suki Special, for its kalbi ribs and Korean barbecue chicken, served with white or brown rice, and salad. On weekdays, I order the Surf & Turf for its sheer variety of food on the plate. I rarely leave the market without a piece of their lemon crunch cake, banana bread or famous blueberry cream cheese scones.”

Kristy Kinimaka, concierge at Sheraton Kauai

Mark’s Place
In Puhi Industrial Park, 1610 Haleukana St, Lihue, HI 96766; 808-245-2522

“Mark’s is my favorite place lunch place. And my favorite lunch plate there is the loco moco. A popular dish in the Islands, it’s a tasty hamburger patty, served over rice and topped with brown gravy and eggs. (I like mine sunny side up.) Loco moco is a definite “must try” food item when visiting Kauai!”

April Storey, director of guest experience at Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui

Da Kitchen
In Rainbow Mall, 2439 S Kihei Road, #107A, Kihei, HI 96753; 808-875-7782

“One of my personal favorite plate lunch spots is Da Kitchen. The teriyaki beef and chicken katsu plates are onolicious. Served with two scoops of steamed rice and choice of potato-macaroni salad or green salad, the plate lunches here leave you very satisfied. For visitors staying at or near our resort looking to try this local favorite, I’d definitely recommend the Paddler’s Plate Lunch at the Fairmont Kea Lani’s poolside restaurant, Ama Bar & Grill (4100 Wailea Alanui Dr, Wailea, HI 96753; (808) 875-4100), with protein options including teriyaki beef sirloin, grilled shrimp and more. The plate comes with a choice of white or brown rice and choice of macaroni or Kula green salad.”

Paddler’s Plate Lunch at Ama Bar & Grill; Photo Credit: Pacific Dream Photography

Emily Hammond, concierge at Hilton Waikoloa Village

Hawaiian Style Café
65-1290 Kawaihae Road, Waimea HI 96743; 808-885-4295

“Hawaiian Style Café is famous for its big portions. The food is also really ono—meaning “delicious.” Having the pancakes for breakfast is my favorite!”

Ippy’s Hawaiian BBQ
In the Queens’ MarketPlace, 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738; 808-886-8600

“You may recognize Philip ‘Ippy’ Aiona from the Food Network, where he was a finalist on ‘Food Network Star.’ The Waimea chef has brought his unique ‘local kine’ cooking to Waikoloa, creating the best spot for Hawaiian-style barbecue and burgers. I love the soy-braised pork belly sandwich. It’s something you can’t find anywhere else!”

-Compiled by Lei-Ann Field


  1. Sam Sato in Maui! Great home style food!

    Comment by Nelson Torres — July 31, 2015 @ 5:02 pm

  2. The pictured item may be lunch, and it may be on a plate, but it’s not a plate lunch. Sorry, brah!

    Comment by Douglas Cole — August 1, 2015 @ 4:16 am

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