John’s City Diner, Birmingham, Alabama
A long-time Birmingham favorite, John’s City Diner offers a taste of good ole Southern cooking mixed with eloquent cuisine. The original Not Your Mama’s Macaroni and Cheese has used the same recipe since the restaurant opened, consisting of smoked Gouda, sharp Cheddar, imported Parmesan, and crispy prosciutto. More recently, though, two other variations have been added to the menu: Three Little Pigs, with Fudge Family Farms bacon, pulled pork, and crispy fried onions, and Treehugger, a vegetarian version with organic baby spinach, roasted red peppers, and feta cheese.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Seattle, Washington
Located in Pike Place Market, Beecher’s is an artisan cheesemaker that has been selling famous cheeses for more than 10 years. With a variety of handmade cheeses, it only made sense that they would serve mac and cheese as well. Dubbed “World’s Best” Mac and Cheese by the customers, the dish uses Beecher’s Flagship cheese, which is smooth and creamy and retains its nutty, robust flavor when cooked. Combined with a béchamel, their Just Jack cheese, and a hint of garlic and chili powder, this penne noodle mac and cheese truly is one of the best in the world.
Side Street Cafe, Bar Harbor, Maine
Side Street Cafe is a family-owned restaurant located in the beautiful seaside town of Bar Harbor, Maine. Owners Jeff and Jena Young had a desire to create a place where everyone felt welcome and could enjoy both delicious food and live music. The option to create your own macaroni and cheese is a popular item on the menu, with add-ins that range from roasted pork to fresh spinach to black bean salsa. But it wouldn’t be Maine without lobster, and the award-winning Lobster Mac and Cheese features a blend of Monterey Jack cheese with peppers and Cheddar cheese and is piled high with a heaping portion of sautéed fresh Maine lobster.
Homeroom, Oakland, California
When best friends Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade took a leap of faith and left their full-time jobs to follow their dream of owning a restaurant, they looked to their favorite food for inspiration. Macaroni and cheese became the focus of Homeroom, and now the restaurant offers 12 different macs every day. Every dish is cooked to order using only the freshest ingredients and a tried-and-true cream sauce recipe. Their best seller is the Gilroy Mac, made with creamy Gouda, sharp pecorino, and roasted garlic, but you’ll also find macs such as Dungeness Crab Mac, Smoky Bacon Mac, and Mexican Mac.
Photos courtesy of Michael Seto, Red Fly Studio/Christina Bearden, Shane Thompson, Shannon Gober, Mike Perlman, and Dan Jung
This content was originally published in the November 2014 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen magazine. © 2014 Hoffman Media
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