Mac and cheese is one of those dishes that everyone loves. It’s creamy, cheesy, and comes in all different forms and flavors. Here, we’ve compiled a list of our 10 favorite places to indulge in this comfort food.
S’MAC, New York, New York
In the heart of the East Village, you’ll find S’MAC, a restaurant dedicated entirely to macaroni and cheese. The brainchild of Caesar and Sarita Ekya, the eatery serves 12 varieties of mac and cheese that are made from scratch every day with fresh ingredients. Favorites such as 4 Cheese, All-American, and Napoletana are topped with bread crumbs and grated cheese and broiled to form a golden crust over the cheesy goodness. Each dish, whether you order it in Nosh, Major Munch, or Mongo size, is served to you piping hot in an iron skillet.
West 5, Seattle, Washington
West 5 opened 11 years ago in the quirky neighborhood of West Seattle and continues to charm locals and visitors with its inviting retro-chic vibe. Continually winning accolades for their happy hour and mac and cheese, the restaurant combines old school and new to create fresh and tasty dishes. The Astral Mac n’ Cheese is a blend of five cheeses, including local Tillamook Cheddar, and uses radiatore pasta to hold the sauce better. Each order is topped with a bread crumb crust and baked to order. And here’s an insider tip: you can customize your mac with a variety of different ingredients, including bacon, sausage, broccoli, and tomatoes. Just ask your server about it.
Mac the Cheese, Atlanta, Georgia
This hard-to-miss plaid food truck hit the streets of Atlanta in 2012 dishing out mac and cheese bowls. Heavily influenced by their grandmothers’ cooking, husband and wife Beau and Tiffany Hodson knew comfort food was their cuisine of choice. Their mac and cheese uses high quality cheese and a béchamel base, which makes it both creamy and delicious. Toppings such as pulled pork and buffalo chicken will have you coming back to this truck day after day, no matter where they’re located. Follow Mac the Cheese on Facebook and Twitter for their daily location.
Mad Donna’s, Nashville, Tennessee
Locals in Nashville can often be found enjoying a great mix of comfort and American-style food at Mad Donna’s. This family-friendly restaurant and lounge on the east side of Nashville is housed in the historic two-story Radio Café building. Soon after opening, the owners realized a mac and cheese dish seemed like a necessary addition to the menu. They started out with the Radio Mac, a four-cheese macaroni, and then featured The Original Donna with bacon and sun-dried tomatoes (now a staple on the menu) as a special one night. This led to other suggestions by the staff, and now they have six flavors of mac and cheese, including White Truffle, Habañero, and Chicken Pesto.
Frog Hollow Tavern, Augusta, Georgia
Right in downtown Augusta is Frog Hollow Tavern, where owner and executive chef Sean Wight prepares and serves exquisite farm-to-table entrées. Wight aims to bring affordable and exquisite together in his cuisine, which leads to innovative and beautiful presentations of his food. For his Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese, he layers lasagna noodles with smoked Gouda, cream cheese, Cheddar, Vidalia onions, and garden herbs for an eight-layer dish that aims to impress. 1282 Broad Street.
Amberjax, Dallas, Texas
Fresh fish is the specialty at this Dallas market and grill, but the Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese at Amberjax is more than worth a try. The dish is a delectable blend of a creamy five-cheese sauce over bow tie noodles and topped with sweet Maine lobster. This family-owned and operated restaurant offers lunch and dinner menus featuring fresh catch items that change daily, but luckily you can get the Lobster Mac any day of the week.
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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