Today is National Mac & Cheese Day, which is obviously cause for a celebration involving a whole lot of pasta and even more cheese. If you think this is the perfect time to pull that box of glow-in-the-dark Kraft stuff from the back of your pantry, just stop. Stop. Get out your car keys, do a Yelp search, and find a premium bowl of mac & cheese — the likes of which your taste buds have never experienced before.
(That said, if you happen to be a kid stranded at home, feel free to whip up the boxed stuff. But at least look to these dishes for inspiration to snazz it up, Kevin!)
For The Person Who Wants To Relive The Simple Days Of Childhood
If you’re a fan of the much softer take on mac & cheese that is shells and peas (wow, that even rhymes!), check out Gracie’s for Executive Chef Matthew Varga’s take on the classic. English peas, wild mushrooms, and carrots meet creamy cheese sauce and handmade cavatelli pasta. Or, as you called it when you were six, mini shells.
For The Person Who Will Try Anything With The Word “Artisanal” In It
First introduced at Yardbird, the immensely popular Macaroni & Cheese dish (no fancy names here) is now available at its two sister restaurants. This isn’t any normal mac & cheese, though. First of all, it’s made with torchio pasta, which is sort of…torch-shaped. As for the cheese — yeah, it’s artisanal. All five varieties of it. To top off the whole dish? A crispy herb crust.
For The Eurosnob Who Can’t Decide Whether To Travel To Paris Or Amsterdam This Year
Creamy Brie Mac N’ Cheese, Street’s Fine Chicken (Dallas, TX)
Why bother choosing between the Netherlands and France, when you can have the finest of both countries in one tasty dish? Street’s Fine Chicken’s mac & cheese is made with smoked Gouda and creamy Brie and it comes baked to perfection. We’re betting it costs less than a plane ticket anyway.
For The Die-Hard Herb Devotee
Mac & Cheese, Hibiscus (Dallas, TX)
If you’re the person who’s always got a travel-case of indispensable spices at hand, Hibiscus’ take on mac & cheese is for you. Yeah, it’s flavored with white cheddar and Gruyere, but the real finishing touch (as you’ll certainly know) is the thyme. Creamy? Yes. Luxurious? Oh yeah.
For The Person Whose Taste Buds Have Been Burned To Oblivion By Their Heat Habits
Spicy Mac N Cheese, Oola Restaurant & Bar (San Francisco, CA)
Cheese and pasta too one-note for you? Kick it up a notch with Oola’s mac & cheese dish, made with jalapeño and honey sriracha. Oh, and bacon, because you can’t go wrong with bacon. Every fool knows that.
For The Person Who Insists On Pointing Out That Macaroni & Cheese Originated In Italy
Mac & Cheese, Paul Martin’s American Grill (multiple locations in CA, AZ and TX)
You would be sort of right about its origin story. Wikipedia says recipes for pasta and cheese casseroles have been around in Italy since the 14th century. This mac & cheese, of course, is a far cry from the parmesan and pasta dish of old, and includes Tillamook two-year aged white cheddar and La Quercia Prosciutto. Proscuitto! So it’s still sort of Italian…sort of…
For The Person Who’s Still In Denial About The Link Between Bacon And Cancer
Bacon Mac and Cheese, Vince Young Steakhouse (Austin, TX)
Life is short, so live large, right? Bacon all day every day, including in this mac & cheese, one of the steakhouse’s bestselling sides. Made with a “secret cheese blend” (ooh, we’re intrigued), the dish includes plenty of house-cured bacon. We like.
For The True Comfort-Seeking Foodie
Pork Belly Mac + Cheese, Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar (Austin, TX)
Let’s break this down, shall we? First of all, smoked pork belly. You can’t get more on-trend than that. Next, shishito peppers. Double trend. The white cheddar sauce at the base of this mac & cheese is fairly standard, but even the plus sign in the name screams “COME TO ME, ALL YE MUSTACHIOED HIPSTERS!” Which is definitely not a criticism.
Oh, and do we have to add that Oasthouse is in Austin? Point proven.
For Brunchies With The Munchies
Signature Macaroni & Cheese Pops, PINSTACK (Plano, TX)
We’re hitting Texas hard in this roundup. Put on your palazzo pants and ring up the squad for brunch, because PINSTACK’s mac & cheese pops are totes delish. (Sorry.) Balls of fried mac & cheese are served with tomato basil sauce, shaved parmesan (er, parm, you might say), and fresh parsley. We can’t even.
For Banishing Your Hangover After A Long Night At The Blackjack Table
Mac & Cheese Waffle, Andiron Steak & Sea (Las Vegas, NV)
Mac & cheese turned into a waffle? That’s just plain genius. Unlike last night, which involved one too many rum & coke refills and a possible trip to the pawn shop. You’ll probably remember where you sold your wedding ring, just as soon as you get a few of these in your stomach (plus a handful of Advil, of course). These bad boys are made with a blend of five cheeses and served with a creamy, Velveeta-touched white béchamel sauce. Feels like a win.
For The Person Having Trouble Picking The Perfect Pasta
Macaroni & Cheese Carbonara, Buddy V’s Ristorante (Las Vegas, NV)
Who says you have to choose between carbonara and mac & cheese? Why not have the best of both? Buddy V’s has come up with the perfect fusion, made smoked mozzarella, fontina, egg, pancetta and sweet peas. The right carbonara flavor with the right macaroni pasta. (Unless you wanted the spaghetti with the tang of cheddar cheese…oops.)
For The Fancy-Pants Gourmand
Mac & Cheese With Truffle Oil, DW Bistro (Las Vegas, NV)
Vegas on the mac & cheese game too! Truffle oil! Need we say more? Oh, right. You can add bacon or mushrooms for added flair. And maybe down it with a glass of champagne, because go big or go home, right?
If You’re Always Looking For The Veggie Options
Blue Box Style Mac and Cheese , Victor Tangos (Dallas, TX)
No worries — this mac & cheese includes a healthy serving of broccolini, stirred right into the aged cheddar sauce. Soprasetta too, since you really want to complete your meal with a bit of protein.
For The Secret-Menu Seafood Junkie
Crab Macaroni and Cheese, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse (Dallas, TX)
We won’t say much more, but can you really go wrong ordering something off the secret menu? Just do it. You won’t be disappointed.