The Best Mac and Cheese in the U.S.

Beecher's Handmade Cheese, Seattle & New York

© Rina Jordan

Every chef has a version of ultra-comforting macaroni and cheese, with nuances ranging from how many gooey cheeses can fit into a single batch to which noodles are best to crunchy toppings like sourdough breadcrumbs. Here's where to taste some of the best macaroni and cheese in the world at restaurants and cheese shops in major U.S. cities.

01 of 10

Yardbird (Miami)

Yardbird, Miami

© David Cabrera

The Southern fried chicken joint opened by Top Chef alum Jeff McInnis offers a celebrated macaroni with five cheeses: medium-sharp cheddar, Swiss, Grayson, Red Leicester, and Parmesan. In place of the familiar elbows, McInnis opts for torchio, a spiral-like torch-shaped pasta “perfect for catching the cheesy sauce,” he says. Inspired by his grandmother’s crispy-crusted macaroni casserole, McInnis tops the cheesy side with breadcrumbs and fresh herbs and presents it in overflowing individual cast-iron baking dishes.

02 of 10

Parkside (Austin)

Parkside, Austin

© Carrie Ryan of Sweet Louise Photography

Chef-owner Shawn Cirkiel finishes his made-to-order elbow macaroni and cheese with a sprinkle of Parmesan and breadcrumbs to create a super-thin, crisp crust. “The hardest part is not taking a bite right when it comes out because it will burn the top of your mouth, like good pizza,” Cirkiel says.

03 of 10

Murray's Cheese Bar (New York)

Murray's Cheese Bar, New York

© Mallory Dash | Total Noms

Of course New York City’s most famous cheese shop serves killer mac and cheese at its restaurant in Long Island City. The elbow macaroni’s arsenal includes Tickler cheddar from England for ultimate meltiness, Murray’s cave-aged Gruyère for nutty flavor, and mozzarella di bufala for creaminess. Finally, the mini cast-iron pan of pasta is finished with more shredded Gruyère and fried onions for a fantastic crust.

04 of 10

Beecher's Handmade Cheese (Seattle)

Beecher's Handmade Cheese, Seattle & New York

© Rina Jordan

The Seattle-based founder of this Pike Place Market staple, Kurt Dammeier, is a rule breaker when it comes to mac and cheese. “A lot of purists think it has to be made with elbows. But penne is better,” he says. His choice is chewier, with ridges that cling to the cheese. However, he credits the overwhelming success of the dish (he sells 40,000 pounds of it a year) to a signature cross between Gruyère and cheddar called Flagship, the “umami bomb that is our cheese.” He mixes a bit of Jack cheese into the dish for extra gooeyness.

05 of 10

Cheesetique (Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia)

Cheesetique, Arlington & Alexandria, Virginia

© Shot in the Dark Photography

A mix of rich Gouda, sharp Asiago, and tangy Cacio di Roma in the Mac ’n Cheesetique showcases just a few of the cheeses on sale at this D.C.-area cheese shop and wine bar. “The resulting combination is savory and slightly sweet,” says owner Jill Erber. Made with elbow macaroni for a “down-home feel,” the dish is finished with crispy breadcrumbs tossed with a touch of truffle oil.

06 of 10

Publick House (Boston)

Publick House, Boston

© Bing Chen

The beer-geek bar offers customizable macaroni and cheese to help counter the effects of pints of classic Belgian beers like crisp, unfiltered La Chouffe, or terrific domestic craft beers such as Victory Brewing’s deliciously hoppy Prima Pils. The basic, cheese-only option is made with little ear-shaped orecchiette pasta, which act as mini scoops for the five pungent cheeses: cheddar, provolone, Fontina, blue, and Asiago. From there, guests can add a wide range of toppings and mix-ins from shrimp to sausage to fried eggs.

07 of 10

The Blue Plate (San Francisco)

The Blue Plate, San Francisco

Courtesy of The Blue Plate

Chef and co-owner Cory Obenour created his much-lauded mac made with Drunken Goat cheese more than two decades ago. Today it has a cult following. “It’s one of the most talked about things on the menu,” Obenour says. “It’s a little different, but not bastardized.” The semi-firm goat cheese he uses comes from Murcia, Spain; it’s cured in red wine for two months, which accounts for the import’s funny name and slightly fruity, tart flavor. He rounds out the recipe’s unique taste with a little sharp white cheddar, Tabasco, fresh nutmeg, dry mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Sourdough breadcrumbs from the local Boudin Bakery finish each order.

08 of 10

Slows Bar BQ (Detroit)

Slows Bar BQ, Detroit

© Sylvia Rector/Detroit Free Press

Brian Perrone’s super-rich mac and cheese is so intense that it has been called “a truly life-changing experience” by Man v. Food host Adam Richman. The signature side dish includes medium pasta shells, creamy bechamel sauce, and mild cheddar cheese. For a final cheesy touch, Perrone grates more cheddar on top and broils it. “It is really quite luxurious,” Perrone says.

09 of 10

OK Café (Atlanta)

OK Café, Atlanta

© Renee Brock

The key ingredient in OK Café’s Triple Cheese Macaroni is ranch seasoning, which gives the side dish a terrific tang and makes it uniquely Southern. Owner Susan DeRose credits her grandmother's cook, Gertrude, with the recipe. Sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Parmesan are mixed with squiggly cavatappi pasta.

10 of 10

Cochon Butcher (New Orleans)

Cochon Butcher, New Orleans


James Beard Award-winning chef Donald Link’s Cochon Butcher is most known for its sandwiches, housemade terrines, cured meats, and sausages, but the wine bar/sandwich shop’s unusual side of mac and cheese also garners praise. The recipe calls for elbow macaroni, cream cheese, sharp white cheddar, and tomato paste for depth and tang. Since the shop does specialize in meats, they add in some house-cured pancetta as well. A sprinkling of Parmesan and breadcrumbs finishes each dish.

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