Honolulu has plenty of amazing plate lunch dining options.
But there’s one gem of a hole-in-the-wall that truly stands out, for their impressively high quality food and good prices: St. Louis Drive In.
The menu is pretty standard, offering all the local Hawaii favorite bentos and plate lunches, plus some specials of the day which often include meat loaf and beef stew to name a few.
Overall, most of the dishes are Japanese, but local Hawaiian plate lunch style.
They also have student specials, which are all very affordable if you happen to be a student.
Though there are plenty of things on the menu (though I haven’t tried them all yet, but they all look to be pretty good), I really recommend one of the seafood options.
It’s just a little takeout restaurant, but they somehow have an incredible seafood supplier – the seafood is fresh and cooked right.
The restaurant is mainly just a takeaway spot; You walk up to the counter next to the parking lot, and after putting in your order and paying, you wait around until your name is called from the window to pick up.
You can then either choose to takeaway your meal, or there are a couple of open air tables to the right hand side of the kitchen.
Instead of using the styrofoam box packaging, at St. Louis Drive In you get your plate lunch on a paper plate, which is then placed inside a cardboard cake box.
I like this packaging so the food doesn’t get squished under the lid, like it would with the common styrofoam.
Fresh seafood plate
Ok, let’s begin with the “fresh seafood plate” as it’s called on the menu.
As soon as you lift the lid on your cake box, the golden shrimp will peek up at you, and your eyes will probably open wide.
The fresh seafood platter includes two scoops of rice, deep fried mahi mahi, shrimp tempura, and sashimi. There’s no mac salad, but that’s alright with me as I prefer rice anyways.
Price – $9.50
I have to admit, when it comes to Hawaiian plate lunches, St. Louis Drive In has an edge when it comes to presentation – just look how beautiful that tower of seafood is!
Hidden beneath the slabs of fried mahi mahi are a few different sauces like wasabi for the sashimi, the shrimp tempura dipping sauce, and tartar sauce for the mahi.
The duo of shrimp tempura were the first items begging to be eaten.
They were golden and coated in a rather thick batter. They’re the type of tempura that wouldn’t be too good if cold (because all that batter would get stale), but luckily if you eat them quickly, they are served hot and fresh, and crispy.
The five slices of ahi sashimi were superb, great quality, and just melt-in-your mouth tender, like slices of butter.
Just pure marvelous slices of thin sashimi.
You couldn’t seriously chew with your lips and be fine.
I could eat this sashimi all day long.
Fresh ahi (tuna) belly plate
This is another absolute winning plate lunch on the menu.
The plate came with two scoops of rice, a small cabbage salad, and about 3.5 good slabs of grilled ahi belly.
Now normally I’m not really a fan of cooked ahi, mainly because it gets all dry when cooked (I like it raw), but when it’s the belly, and when it’s cooked just right and not overdone, it can be incredible – and they made no mistakes here.
The ahi belly was grilled so it was just cooked through, but still incredibly moist and succulent, full of the fatty tuna oils that are so wonderful.
It was seasoned very lightly, I think with just a hint of salt and pepper, but just cooked perfectly.
A squeeze of lemon juice over that ahi belly, and it was incredibly satisfying.
St. Louis Drive In is an absolute gem of a takeout local restaurant – it’s almost amazing the quality of food that this tiny little restaurant can dish out.
I haven’t tried too many of the dishes on the menu, so I can’t personally verify the deliciousness of the other dishes, but you for sure have my recommendation on the ahi belly and the fresh seafood plate.
St. Louis Drive In, Honolulu, Hawaii
Address: 3145 Waialae Ave Honolulu, HI 96816
Open hours: 5 am – 11 pm daily
Prices: Very reasonable prices, most meals cost $ 7 – $10, and they have some special deals including student deals.
How to get there:
The restaurant is located right on the southeast corner of Waialae Ave and 3rd Ave in Honolulu, Hawaii.