Where to Get Great Mac and Cheese from Coast to Coast
A Mac and Cheese Quest
These 11 restaurants across the country are taking a comfort classic to the next level with cheese-plate-worthy cheese blends, chunks of lobster, spicy chorizo and more. These are macs you won't want to miss — one's even served atop a burger.
Photo by Dan Jung
Atlanta: South City Kitchen
A humble dish of mac and cheese is a Southern staple, but for some, the timeless standard demands a touch of luxury. And what better way to amp things up than chunks of buttery lobster? At South City Kitchen, executive chef Chip Ulbrich offers up two versions of mac and cheese. There's a four-cheese variety — cream cheese being the wild-card ingredient here. Then, there's the lobster-enriched offering, in which flavorful lobster meat is folded into the pasta-and-cheese mixture. Dare to indulge in it along with the restaurant's signature buttermilk fried chicken.
Photo courtesy of Fifth Group Restaurants
More About: South City Kitchen
Boston: Boston Burger Company
Can't live without your mac and cheese, but you're dying for a burger, too? The solution: Marry the burger to the mac and cheese in the form of Boston Burger's next-level flavor combo, the Mac Attack. In this eatery with three locations in the Boston area, a burger is topped with mac and cheese composed of elbow pasta; American, cheddar, Romano and Jack cheeses; more cheese sauce and bacon. A dash of hot sauce adds some punch to this cheesy, beefy mouthful.
Photo by Dave White
More About: Boston Burger Company
Chicago: Kuma's Corner
Heavy metal booms from the speakers at this popular Chicago pub, where the burgers draw raves. But there's also the spot's popular build-your-own mac and cheese, a rich blend of three cheeses and cream, topped with a Parmesan panko crust. Then pile on as many as you’d like of about 14 different ingredients, the first two of which are included in the $13 price for the dish. There's andouille, sun-dried tomatoes, jalapenos and garlic, to name a few. Chase this all down with one of the craft brews and spirits from a rotating selection.
Photo courtesy of Kuma's Corner
More About: Kuma's Corner
Los Angeles: Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
There's often a crushing line at this Santa Monica Italian deli with locals lining up for its epic cold-cut sandwich, the Godmother. But fans of the deli's baked mac and cheese, consisting of elbow macaroni, eight different cheeses and a topping of crushed garlic croutons, say this decadent dish is also worth the wait. Be careful when ordering, though. Don't confuse "the real deal mac and cheese" with the deli's other, simpler side dish of pasta with cheese sauce. Pro tip: Skip the lines and order online for fast pickup at the counter.
Photo by Hector R. Padilla
More About: Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
Miami: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
At this Southern-themed Miami Beach spot, guests are so devoted to its mac and cheese that some order two in one sitting. The components of this extravagant creation are torchio pasta and five different cheeses — white cheddar, yellow cheddar, Swiss, Gruyère and Parmesan. The dish is then topped with herb-crusted breadcrumbs. As if that weren't enough gooey goodness, it's all then smothered in mornay sauce. Chase down all this creaminess with one of the eatery’s more than 60 bourbon offerings.
More About: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
New York City: The Queens Kickshaw
This coffee shop-cum-bar in the trendy Queens neighborhood of Astoria has earned kudos for its killer grilled cheese. But equally swoonworthy is the spot's mac and cheese. This crispy-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside version is composed of Setaro pasta and a three-cheese combo of cheddar, Gruyère and Maplebrook Farm smoked mozzarella. Studded with green beans, the dish is baked in a loaf pan, then cut into slices and finished with a tomato reduction. Pair it with Counter Culture coffee or one of the eatery's large selections of craft beers.
Photo by Angela DeCenzo ©
New Orleans: Cochon Butcher
Porky goodness is a hallmark of this famed NOLA establishment known for its out-of-this-world muffuletta and other tantalizing sandwiches, cured meats and cheeses. But there's also the spot's rich and creamy macaroni and cheese, enriched with sharp white cheddar, milk, cream, onion, garlic and hot sauce. It's all mixed together with elbow macaroni and topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano and herbed breadcrumbs.
Photo courtesy of Cochon Restaurant
More About: Cochon Butcher
Philadelphia: Valley Shepherd Creamery
Who says mac and cheese has to be made in a casserole? At the Valley Shepherd Creamery stand in Philadelphia's famed Reading Terminal, the cheese makers' over-the-top Valley Thunder grilled mac and cheese sandwich with housemade Bubbe's brisket always draws long lines. The brisket comes from Chef Rebecca Foxman's grandmother's recipe and the 12-month-aged cheddar from the creamery's New Jersey farmstead. There's no seating at this food stand, but tables and chairs are scattered throughout the market.
Photo courtesy of Valley Shepherd Creamery
Phoenix: The Duce
At The Duce, the mac and cheese muffins vie for attention with the restaurant's theme park atmosphere. Housed in the 1920 warehouse are a boxing ring, an old-time soda fountain and foosball, among other entertainments. The muffins — in which flour binds together elbow macaroni, Gruyère and cheddar into cheesy bites that are then baked in muffin tins — go well with a Pabst or a Bud from the bar's selection of old-time brews.
Photo courtesy of The Duce
More About: The Duce
San Francisco: Homeroom
When a restaurant says it's dedicated to "the best food on earth: macaroni and cheese," it had better deliver the goods. At Oakland's schoolroom-themed Homeroom, there are more than 10 made-to-order varieties, ranging from a classic cheddar-rich version to the popular Mexican Mac. In that creamy, smoky dish, large ridged elbows are bathed in a sauce of housemade bechamel and Jack cheese, then spiked with Niman Ranch chorizo and chipotle peppers. But why stop there? Customize your mac and cheese with add-ins like caramelized onions or a fried egg. Can't eat gluten? Most varieties are available gluten-free.
Photo by Dan Jung
Washington, D.C.: Cheesetique
At Cheesetique, a cheese shop and eatery with two locations in D.C.'s close-in Northern Virginia suburbs, "Cheese Lady" and owner Jill Erber believes that simple is better, aiming to let the taste of the cheese shine through in her macaroni and cheese preparation. The shop's creation deploys goat Gouda, Asiago and Cacio di Roma to create a complex flavor that is at once tangy, buttery and sweet. Pair this piping-hot dish with a bowl of tomato or French onion soup.
Photo by Shot in the Dark Photography