7490 Edinger Avenue
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Those that love to customize their meals will enjoy the mac & cheese offerings at Stacked. Deemed the Stacked Mac, large elbow macaroni is mixed with three cheeses: cheddar, pepper jack and American. This is all topped with Parmesan breadcrumbs, but the key is in the other ingredients. Mix and match proteins and vegetables, choosing from options like Applewood smoked bacon, avocado, Italian sausage, onion strings, roasted red peppers, Cajun shrimp, fried egg, sautéed mushrooms, meatballs, pulled pork, green onion and more. You can also select a pre-made mixture, including lobster and seafood, chipotle or sundried tomato and Andouille sausage Stacked Macs.
The Recess Room
18380 Brookhurst Street
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
A New American restaurant known for its small plates, The Recess Room has a rather unique mac & cheese offering that combines the classic entrée with one very trendy item: bone marrow. Made up of mostly fat, the bone marrow was recently changed in size, but offers the same filling flavor as before. Crafted with spiraled trottole pasta, as well as both mozzarella and fontina cheeses, the dish also comes a white béchamel sauce, candied jalapenos and oxtail marmalade atop the bone.
109 South Glassell Street
Orange, CA 92866
Situated in the historic Orange Circle, Haven is a special spot with an eclectic menu. You can get dishes like beef poutine, French onion soup, deviled eggs and roasted spaghetti squash. But they, too, have a delicious mac & cheese dish that will have your mouth watering at the taste. Available on the late-night menu as well as for lunch and dinner, the pasta dish combines three different cheeses, including Gruyere, fontina and Parmesan. Black truffles are also included in the vegetarian dish, though meat lovers have the option of adding lardons, or pieces of bacon, to enhance it further.
313 North Bush Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Offering up American dishes like beer-battered onion rings, turkey chili, a club sandwich and herb-roasted chicken, it’s no surprise that mac & cheese is also on the menu at Eat Chow. Known for its large portions of wholesome food, diners will enjoy this cheese rendition. A hardened Parmesan panko crust tops the Truffle Mac ‘N’ Cheese, a dish crafted with large pieces of penne pasta. There are six different cheeses melted into the entrée, and they’re all combined with Applewood smoked bacon, oyster mushrooms and truffle oil.
Elbows Mac n Cheese
215 West Birch Street
Brea, CA 92821
With a name like Elbows Mac n Cheese, it’s clear what this eatery specializes in. In addition to special options like the Mini Bows for kids, the multigrain macaroni and the gluten-free macaroni, guests can select from nearly 20 signature mac & cheese dishes. Options include The Hangover, a breakfast macaroni with eggs, peppers, onions and potatoes, or the Holy Cow, which features an angus burger, bacon and mushrooms. Wingin’ It incorporates hot wing sauce while the Elote Mac includes Mexican corn and grilled onions. Diners can also choose the trio, which comes with your choice of three different mac & cheese dishes to sample.
1289 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
While mac & cheese isn’t the most luxurious dish around, one ingredient has the chance to take it to the next level. And that ingredient is lobster. There is just something high class about lobster mac & cheese, which has been popping up on menus along the coastline. Grab a bite to eat at the Rooftop Lounge, housed in the historic La Casa Del Camino hotel. Located on the fourth floor of the building, you’ll enjoy an open-air dining experience with stunning views of the coastline, the rolling waves and the vibrant California sunsets. In addition to the pasta, cheese and lobster, the lounge’s Lobster Mac N Cheese contains smoked bacon and a truffle crust.
209½ Palm Street
Newport Beach, CA 92661
While it also offers sandwiches, flatbreads and healthy salads, Patty Mac’s is another restaurant that is known for its mac & cheese. Located on the peninsula near the Balboa Pier, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a hearty meal after a day of surfing or swimming at the beach. There are 10 different options on the menu, from the standard Cheesy Mac to favorites like the Lobster or Truffle options. But they have some unique offerings as well, like the Jerk Chicken Mac, which contains—surprise, surprise—spicy Jamaican jerk chicken. There is also a Greek Mac, filled with kalamata olives, spinach, sundried tomatoes, mozzarella and feta cheese. Other unique mac & cheese dishes include the Cheeseburger Mac, the Rasta Mac and the Carbonara Mac.
6362 East Santa Ana Canyon Road
Anaheim, CA 92807
The eatery’s version of mac & cheese is exceptionally unique. Called the Loaded Baked Potato Mac N’ Cheese, you can tell from the start that it’s going to be unlike anything you’ve had before. It features many of the same ingredients as a baked potato: bacon, green onion and sour cream. But there are mashed potatoes within their mac as well. The whole thing is topped with a panko Parmesan crust.
The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen
122 East Commonwealth Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832
Enjoy a large helping of mac & cheese with The Slidebar’s traditional dinner dish. It combines pasta with three different cheeses—fontina, velveeta and white cheddar—then finishes with a Parmesan panko breadcrumb crust. It is also served with garlic bread. But if you’re looking for something a little different, the restaurant also serves a delightful treat called the Mac N Cheese Balls From Hell. Bacon and diced jalapenos are added in with the regular mac & cheese, then it’s all rolled into the breadcrumbs and deep fried. These little balls are served with a habanero aioli so they’re sure to spice things up as you wait for the live music to start.
27742 Antonio Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92694
The mac & cheese appetizer on the BLK Burgrz menu leaves enough room to order some other treasures from the menu. Baked in the oven, this dish contains bacons, smoked gouda and jalapenos for a little bit of a kick. The burger restaurant, however, also has a custom burger option called the Stuffed Mac N Cheese, which features a beef patty stuffed with the house mac & cheese. The meal is served with smoked gouda and jalapenos as well, but it also contains tomato, crispy bacon and a chili garlic aioli, all on a pretzel bun.
Ashley Ryan is an Orange County native that loves traveling, live music and photography. She works as an editor at Firebrand Media, blogs at Pure Wander and writes for a variety of publications.