Macaroni and cheese, or comfort food as it is sometimes called, was a favorite for most during childhood. Not only was it easy and quick to prepare, but it was tasty and satisfying. Mac n’ cheese is making a rebound in restaurants around the country, but this new twist on an old favorite differs in many ways from the comfort food of childhood. Chefs have added more ingredients and developed unique ways to present this classic. See where this cheesy dish is making strides at these restaurants.
Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen
The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen is independently owned and operated by Sean Francis and Jeremy Popoff. These guys wanted to celebrate the history of Orange County music while serving great food and drinks. However, what would be a complete menu without the inclusion of mac n’ cheese? The Slidebar Kitchen serves some pretty ideal mac n’ cheese, donning the name ‘The’ Mac n’ Cheese. Your plate will come out steaming hot with a blend of cheddar, fontina, parmesan, jack and Velveeta cheeses engulfing macaroni noodles. If just noodles and cheese won’t cut it, add your choice of sausage, chopped chicken breast or hot dogs to the mix for an additional $3.
The Ramos House Cafe
The Ramos House Cafe serves a more mature version of the old mac n’ cheese favorite. Whether coming in for dinner or the cafe’s Sunday brunch, enjoy a warming plate of mac n’ cheese with wild mushrooms and black truffle. Being deemed a “big plate” on the a la carte menu, make sure to come hungry. This rich plate can satisfy one large appetite or equip the hunger of two more moderately-famished diners. At a price tag of $19, you can expect quality from this pasta delight.
Elbows Mac n Cheese
Located in the Cerritos Promenade, Elbows is operated by owners who pride themselves on the quality of ingredients and high standard of service. The menu features American home cooking, adding a twist to an old comfort of mac n’ cheese. Diners can choose from the 12 melty mac n’ cheese selections or build their own. Start with the size (regular or large), then select macaroni pasta or steak fries, choose your cheese (10 options), add some mix-ins like basil, broccoli or cilantro and top it all off with your meat preference (seven choices). If building your own is too daunting of a task, enjoy Elbows’ specialties like fajita mac, pizza mac or cajun mac.
Ecco Pizzeria and Bar
Entering Ecco, one is reminded of a Naples pizzeria or a local tavern; a casual place to enjoy drinks with friends or have a meal. While the emphasis is pizza, Ecco does include variations of the old-time comfort food. Diners can order mac n’ cheese from the sides section of the menu if looking for a smaller serving of noodles and fontina, gorgonzola and pancetta cheeses. However, if coming in for a late-night snack (between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), then fried mac is in store. This dish, offered on the bites section of the parlor menu, includes the three previously-mentioned cheeses and macaroni noodles fried inside a ball of dough. What could be better than some fried pasta and a beer?
Eat Chow restaurant, located in the back of a clothing store called the Closet, is very basic. It has an extensive breakfast, but if craving some delicious mac n’ cheese, look no further than the all day menu. There are two choices from which diners can choose. Both claiming to be made with “Lots of Love,” the five-cheese mac n’ cheese and truffle mac n’ cheese will bring a large smile to your face. Although the menu doesn’t reveal what makes up the five-cheese option, rest assured that the combination comes out perfectly. With herb croutons added to the top, this dish provides the ideal mix of creamy and crunchy. As for the truffle option, expect a base of cheesy pasta with oyster mushrooms, bacon and truffle oil.
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.