I’m a health nut. I swim, I run, I teach yoga. I’ve been a strict vegetarian for over nine years. 80% of the food I purchase is fruits and veggies (the other 20% is pasta and wine-no judgment). I have a pretty dang good diet. I’ve dabbled with veganism. Even tried doing the whole “fully raw” thing for a summer. But the one thing that I could probably eat for days on end and be the happiest camper in the world? A good ol’ bowl of mac and cheese.
Now, I take my mac and cheese very seriously. It is the ultimate comfort food. Hands down. I am on the constant search for the perfect noodle+cheese+spice ratio that oozes love and warmth and personality. I dabble often in my own kitchen making up recipes from scratch. Kraft mac and cheese will always have a soft spot in my heart (no matter how suspicious that neon orange powder is). But on days I really want to indulge (and not be the culprit putting a whole stick of butter into the pan), I venture out into the world. I’ve searched long and hard and tried many a mac and cheese and I would definitely say the places below are the definition of #treatyoself and the perfect venue to get yo mac on.
Max’s Wine Dive, 214 Fairview St.
The ultimate definition of luscious comfort food has never been better embodied than in the MAX ‘n Cheese at Max’s Wine Dive. Not only is the sauce fabulous– it’s a trio of cheeses (provolone, Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano) with truffle cream–but if you’re a sucker for fun shaped pasta then the curly cavatappi is a must have. The breadcrumbs and the sauce’s little kick makes this dish, honestly, the best mac and cheese I’ve ever consumed. Paired with a glass of crisp champagne in true wine-divey fashion, you won’t ever go wrong with this interpretation on mac and cheese.
Liberty Kitchen, 1050 Studewood St.
People rave over the Liberty Kitchen mac and cheese. Probably because the restaurant is known to put crazy things like lobster and oyster in it. But if you’re not in the mood to break the bank for the Seafood Mac ($24), the Classic American and Cheddar ($10) is made of macaroni, topped with breadcrumbs and green onions, served skillet style and large enough to give you a decent amount of leftovers. Protip: On weekends, the wait for Liberty Kitchen is usually 60+ min, but if you call ahead you can get your name on the wait list and skip a large part of the thumb twinddling.
Jus Mac, 106 Westheimer Rd.
Obviously connoisseurs in the mac and cheese world. Just Mac boasts a menu with 24+ options for your favorite comfort food. And they totally nail the art of curing your mistakes from last night in one easy step: The Hangover. It’s radical, cheesy goodness is the breakfast you probably slept through. It’s part noodle-part hashbrown. It comes in a skillet and is topped with a fried egg, pico de gallo, habanero sauce, and a healthy amount of jalapeños to wake you up. It may or may not work miracles–aka have you rallied in no time.
Beavers, 2310 Decatur St.
Oooh baby, baby. Beaver’s knows what’s up in the world of mac and cheese. Their Classic Mac is simple perfection. It’s what you imagine when you think of mac and cheese–actual macaroni in a creamy three cheese sauce. But if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, there are some seriously snazzy options. The Mac Margherita rocks the sundried tomatos, the Mac Etoufee if you have a crawfish fix you need to satisfy, and the BBQ Mac and Frito Pie Mac which are basically just what they sound like.
BRC Gastropub, Sad day. This one closed at the end of 2016. Tear.
A cousin to the Liberty Kitchen franchise, I can’t decide if its cheating to put BRC Gastropub’s Classic American & Cheddar mac and cheese on the list–because I’m pretty sure its the same thing. However, I will say that if you’re in the mood to yolo the Mac and Cheese of the Day is good place to start. We’re talking adventurous ingredients like fried eggs and bacon, jalapeno, sour cream and tortilla chips, and so on. Great place to go for brunch.