Macaroni and cheese is a dish synonymous with American food, specifically American Southern food. Interestingly enough, the history of cheesey pasta dates back to the medieval days. It became an American specialty thanks to President Thomas Jefferson. It is said that in the late 1790s, he requested an Italian macaroni machine, which turned out to be a bust. Following his memories of cheese-covered pasta in France and Italy, Jefferson began serving a simple version of the treasured dish at dinner parties.
These days, macaroni and cheese has become a must-have on menus for many restaurants. Some uphold traditional standards, while many others veer in the latter direction to wow diners with tastebud-bending recipes. Elbow noodles versus shells, breadcrumbs or extra cheese, spicy instead of mild, eight cheese rather than two. It is a never-ending list of possibilities that allows anyone to throw their name in the hat for the best dish in town. Here are a few restaurants that serve a mac and cheese that you must try.
Roscoe’s House of Chicken N Waffles
730 East Broadway
Long Beach, CA 90802
Roscoe’s is a Los Angeles institution. If you have not ordered a side of the restaurant’s mac and cheese, you are missing out. It is made in true Southern style, clumped together in a way that lets you know it was baked through and through. Alongside the well-known fried chicken, collard greens and candied sweet potatoes, this mac and cheese is a classic choice. It’s a mystery why the serving is priced at $4.90, but you definitely get a perfect individual portion for that cost. Soon, there will be a new location in Anaheim, which will make a total of seven different Roscoe’s for you to get your fix.
811 South Long Beach Boulevard
Compton, CA 90221
Similar to Roscoe’s, Bludso’s BBQ serves a macaroni and cheese side dish that harkens back to Southern traditions. The clump of this mac and cheese hints towards a buttery roux with egg tossed into the mix to form a binder. The generous seasoning of black pepper adds just enough spice for flavor to pair with the sweet and tangy pulled pork sandwich or smokey ribs. The best part about this mac and cheese is the price. Order a small cup for $1.50, a medium serving for $3.50 or a monster large for just $5.50.
1114 North Crescent Heights Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90046
The macaroni and cheese at The Hudson packs a big punch with a four cheese mix of American, smoked cheddar, cream cheese, Parmesan, smoked jalapenos, roasted garlic and shallots and a topping of crunchy bread crumbs for $9. Make it a full meal with the addition of wild mushrooms, smoked bacon or short ribs for a few extra bucks. Be smart, and pay a visit to The Hudson any day of the week between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Score the mac and cheese for only $6!
11628 Santa Monica Boulevard #9
Los Angeles, CA 90025
It is a known fact that a number of culinary gems are nestled between small shops in strip malls. Nook falls into that category. With an all-American menu, it is not surprising that mac and cheese resides under the side dish listing. Return diners rave about the cheesy mac with Parmesan, cheddar and Gruyère. The restaurant used to be open for lunch, serving this dish as a full meal with a Caesar salad. With new hours during dinner time only, you can snag the famous mac and cheese as an $8 side dish.
West 4th and Jane
1432 4th Street #A
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Executive Chef Ryan Turner takes a German twist on an American classic. Instead of traditional pasta noodles, the bubbling pot is full of spaetzle and Gruyère with crunchy, fried shallots sprinkled on top. It is reminiscent of the Austrian dish Käsespätzle, which makes it stand out for more reasons than just the name itself. All of the ingredients are made in-house as well. Pair the dish with one of the restaurant’s craft beers, and it’s a meal made in beer and cheese heaven.
Franklin & Co. Tavern
5923 Franklin Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90068
Franklin & Co. Tavern is the sibling restaurant to The Belmont Cafe. The latter has received many mentions for its $14 sizzling hot skillet, brimming with shells, smoked mozzarella, gouda cheese, Swiss cheese, provolone, tomatoes, scallions, slivers of Blue crab and shards of bacon. Now Franklin & Co. is here to prove that it also has a $12 pumped up mac affair that will challenge its predecessor. The base sauce features smoked provolone and aged Gruyere, chopped tomatoes, freshly shelled peas, impressive chunks of white truffle oil-sauteed Maine lobster and buttery brioche crumbs on top. It’s a New England twist on a Southern classic!
400 South Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Pete’s Cafe has received many nods for its burgers and fries, but the restaurant also deserves credit for its mac and cheese. Executive Chef Michelle Lainez starts with a base of rich, heavy cream and four varieties of cheese–Mozzarella, Vermont sharp white cheddar, Asiago and goat cheese. Many say that the final touch of tarragon is what makes it truly stand out as a winner. Go for a side salad of mixed baby greens to balance the decadence of this dish. A small order of mac and cheese at Pete’s is $8, and the large serving is $14.
Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
1517 Lincoln Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
The carb police may show up at Bay Cities and arrest Chef Victorio for his special garlic crouton-covered mac and cheese. The idea of eight cheese varieties, including American, mild cheddar, provolone, mozzarella, Parmesano romano, and ricotta, will make just another anyone’s mouth water. This mac and cheese is not on the menu though, so be sure to specifically request Chef Victorio’s creation for the real deal. At $7 per pound, you could easily take home a serving for one or a batch for the family.
6333 West 3rd Street #150
Los Angeles, CA 90036
What better way to eat mac and cheese than with a French flair. Located inside The Original Farmers Market, Monsieur Marcel serves its own version, aptly named Coquillettes Au Fromage, in a hot cast iron skillet with a bubbling Swiss cheese blend and a dusting of green onion. For just $7, the individual-sized portion is more than enough to share with two people, and it is best paired with the restaurant’s Salade Niçoise or perhaps a side of brussels sprouts with lardons and raisins.