Mac and cheese – the ultimate ooey gooey goodness – is undergoing a renaissance of sorts.
The popular childhood staple has a cult-like following, popping up on restaurant menus across North America in recent years. From humble stove-top prepared offerings at diners, drive-ins and dives to magical baked casserole macaroni and cheese creations at Michelin star restaurants, the cheesy comfort food dish of elbow macaroni and melted cheese is no longer just synonymous with blue boxes of Kraft Dinner.
Grab a fork and dig in to our list of some of the best mac and cheese in North America (and, at the same time, be amused at the cheesy names of restaurants that pay homage to housemade macaroni cheese).
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Miami, Florida
Since day one, folks have packed Yardbird Southern Table & Bar for a taste of southern comfort with a side of southern hospitality. The comfort food menu wouldn’t be complete without mac and cheese. Here, the Macaroni & Cheese features Torchio pasta and five artisanal cheeses topped with a crispy herb crust.
CHEESEWERKS, Toronto, Canada
CHEESEWERKS is Canada’s only restaurant solely dedicated to cheese. The menu of cheesy comfort classics at CHEESEWERKS are inspired by cities the staff love and places they have eaten. Each of the 10 signature mac and cheese dishes are made with Canadian Cheese and local ingredients. Try the award-winning BROOKLYN Mac + Cheese, a combination of Cavatappi pasta, spicy Italian sausage and roasted tomatoes with local fresh Ricotta and Bocconcini.
“This is a creamy twist on hearty Brooklyn-style Italian flavours that delivers spicy, satisfying comfort food, with garlic, sausage, fresh herbs, butter, Ricotta and Bocconcini,” said Kevin Durkee, Chef/Owner of CHEESEWERKS. “We were so inspired by the dynamic Italian Nonnas and their amazing rustic flavours and traditional combinations. Don’t mess with history.”
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Seattle, Washington and New York City, New York
Kurt Beecher Dammeier’s love of artisan cheese led to the opening of the first Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 2003. The cheesy dishes here have a cult-like following. The bubbly and hot Beecher’s “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese features penne pasta baked with Flagship and Just Jack cheeses with a hint of spice.
Cut the Cheese, Toronto, Canada
The cheeky restaurant name hints at the cleverly conceived and executed mac and cheese dishes served at Cut The Cheese, which serves gourmet grilled cheese and mac and cheese. The Mac’n’Cheese dishes are not typical. The options here include versions with chorizo sausage, roasted butternut squash and mushrooms. The signature Southern Comfort, inspired by southern U.S. comfort food, is comprised of fried buttermilk popcorn chicken, roasted bell peppers, sautéed corn, banana peppers and Emmental cheese.
Cheesetique, Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia
There is nothing uppity about the mac and cheese at Cheesetique, a cheese shop and cheese and wine bar run by “Cheese Lady” Jill Erber. The award-winning Mac ‘n Cheesetique is a rich and unctuous treat of macaroni bathed in a trio of cheeses: goat Gouda, Asiago, and Cacio di Roma and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs and a touch of truffle oil. The combination of goat milk, cow milk and sheep milk creates a flavor that is at once tangy, buttery, and sweet with a texture that is super-velvety.
Diner Deluxe, Calgary, Canada
The family-friendly Diner Deluxe serves up hearty heaping portions of classic comfort food with a local twist. There is typically a line outside both outposts, particularly at brunch. The restaurant supports local producers and incorporates sustainable and seasonal ingredients into its dishes like the Mac & Cheese, which consists of a savory mix of baked elbow macaroni, Québec cheese curds, aged white cheddar, natural cream reduction, roast tomatoes, spinach, green onion, basil bread crumbs, and garlic bread. Diners can add barbecue pulled pork, double smoked bacon and truffled mushrooms for an extra cost.
Blue Plate, San Francisco, California
When Blue Plate opened in 1999, its owners were inspired to take classic American dishes and transform them into something great. The signature mac and cheese side dish, Macaroni and Drunken Spanish Goat Cheese features three cheeses: Murcia al Vino (drunken Spanish goat cheese), a semi-soft, pasteurized cheese that is made from goat milk in the Murcia region of southeastern Spain; sharp Vermont cheddar; and Grana Padano, a semi-fat hard cow’s milk cheese from Italy that is sprinkled, along with breadcrumbs, over the baked dish, resulting in a slightly crispy top layer. Pair the mac and cheese with a can of Olympia beer for $1 or with a glass of Spanish wine, like a frizzy Txakolina from the Basque region or a big red Bobal or Monastrell from the Jumilla Denominación de Origen in the Murcia region.
Le Cheese Truck, Montreal, Canada
For mac and cheese on the go, hail Le Cheese Truck, a food truck that serves exceptional mac and cheese by the pound. The signature mac and cheese has three kinds of cheeses, homemade Béchamel sauce, macaroni, roasted cauliflower and sweet green peas and is grilled on a flat top grill.
S’MAC, New York City, New York
S’MAC, short for Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese, is an East Village mac and cheese hotspot that has been serving a variety of macs served in cast iron skillets since it opened in 2006. There are 12 macaroni dishes to choose from at the all-mac and cheese restaurant. Each dish comes in four sizes: Nosh, Major Munch, Mongo and Partay! From the simple All-American SMAC with cheddar and American cheeses to the Napoletana with mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic and fresh basil to the Masala, with infused Indian spices, each is a delicious twist on the classic American comfort food staple.
The Flying Pig, Vancouver
The nouveau Canadian bistro serves a simple, seasonally inspired menu that includes a memorable side of mac and cheese so hearty the side dish can serve as a meal too. The Flying Pig’s Jumbo Shortrib Macaroni is prepared in a Cabernet cream sauce. Genius.
Crave Kitchen and Cocktails, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina
Chef Landen Ganstrom’s Mac & Cheese, inspired by his daughter, is made with 10-year cave-aged, sharp cheddar with cavatappi pasta and a few secret ingredients. This dish at Crave Kitchen and Cocktails has helped Chef Landen win the Charleston Mac Off each of the five years the event has taken place. Crave’s Mac & Cheese continues to garner a national buzz, staking its grounds as the most award-winning Mac & Cheese in America. Diners can choose from the Pure & Simple version or add lobster, scallops, pulled pork, applewood smoked bacon, broccoli, grilled chicken, sautéed shrimp, or short ribs for an additional cost.
Griffintown Cafe, Montreal
The cozy Griffintown Cafe serves a comforting mac and cheese dish. The hearty Mac n Cheese is made with macaroni, old cheddar from IIe-aux Grues, an island in the St. Lawrence River, Swiss Gruyère, local Bierbrier Ale sauce, cheese curds, arugula and bacon (on weekend brunches, the chef adds a poached egg) and presented in a terracotta plate on a wooden board.
(Main Image: Blue Plate)