The simple mac n’ cheese dish we remember from our childhood can still be ordered in many Orange County restaurants, but it has since been elevated to a more gourmet mac n’ cheese in many fine restaurants where the recipe includes various seasonings, different types of noodles, a combination of different cheeses and even bits of lobster, bacon or chicken. Cheesy classics are taking off with new innovations all over the county. Read on for some of the best cheesy delights in OC.
The Slidebar Rock-n-Roll Kitchen
122 E. Commonwealth Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832
The Slidebar, which is independently owned and operated, offers not only the best drinks and entertainment but also some of the best food in Orange County. High on the list of popularity is its mac n’ cheese made with a mixture of crispy Panko bread crumbs, fontina, cheddar, jack and parmesan cheeses, which are topped off with a little truffle oil and priced at $13 for dinner and $8 as an appetizer. The dinner version can be enhanced by adding sausage, chopped liver, chicken breast or hot dogs at an additional $3. Every Wednesday, kids receive a free meal with every adult meal ordered and it can include the signature mac n’ cheese dish.
The Grilled Cheese Spot
318 5th St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
This Santa Ana restaurant, which makes only grilled cheese sandwiches, is affiliated with The Crosby. Here customers can make their own sandwich from their choice of breads, cheeses, vegetables and proteins at a cost of only $6. Or you can order one of the latest sandwiches added to the menu – Chicken Sandy is made with blackened chicken, applewood smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, avocado, tomato and spinach on wheat bread. And The Melt has albacore tuna, sharp cheddar, red onions and tomato on rye bread. Both are popular options.
6507 Quail Hill Parkway
Irvine, CA 92603
Lucca in Irvine can be described as having a one-of-a-kind menu. Similar to a Euro bistro, it has a wine bar that complements the wide selection of cheese and charcuterie plates. These are served with a variety of three or more cheeses, different meat selections, fresh fruit, dried fruits, nuts, chutney, homemade pickles, mustards, sweet breads and crostinis. For lunch, diners can also choose from a selection of sandwiches, salads and pasta, and at dinnertime small plates are added to the menu.
Related: Orange County’s Best Nachos
Zinc Cafe & Market
350 Ocean Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Zinc Cafe provides counter service with a European display of freshly baked scones, muffins, cakes and tarts at its Corona del Mar, Solano Beach and Laguna Beach locations. Cheese lovers can choose from the grilled cheese sandwich made with gruyere cheese, pickles, marinated onions and tomatoes on a sourdough bun and served with whole-grain mustard and arugula or the buffalo mozzarella, which is served hot or cold on a French baguette with basil, tomato and olive oil, accompanied with a balsamic vinegar dressing.
22322 El Paseo
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688
Mi Casa first opened in Costa Mesa and has since expanded to the location in Rancho Santa Margarita. It is known for its generous portions, free chips and salsa and tasty, authentic cheese. Stop by and try the Mi Casa grande burrito which allows diners to choose from shredded beef, chicken, chile verde, carne asada or pollo asada, to which beans, rice and lettuce are added before being covered with cheese and salsa. Add the carne asada seasoned fries covered with cheese, sour cream and chives if you are really hungry.
Mona Graham is a freelance writer, writing for Examiner.com. Mona has lived in Orange County since 1958 and has a great familiarity with the area. Her hobbies are travelling, writing and photography. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.