Food & Drink

5 Different Ways to Love Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Whether your ideal plate is showered with buttery bread crumbs or strewn with bits of bacon, behold

By Lorna Yee December 14, 2010

© Hayley Young Photography

We love the “World’s Best” mac and cheese at Beecher’s, but it’s time other cheesy pastas shared the spotlight. Whether your ideal plate is showered with buttery bread crumbs, strewn with bits of bacon, robust with a hearty kick of blue cheese, copiously creamy or vegan pleasing, behold our picks for other bests.

1. Meaty
Served in a white ramekin, the pancetta three-cheese mac and cheese ($9.50) at Ravish in Eastlake seems like a petite portion. But dig a little deeper. As they say, looks can be deceiving. Rosemary cheddar, blue cheese, Parmesan and pancetta combine in a luscious sauce that cradles each bite of white-truffle-oiled pasta.

2. Home Style
Did you grow up with gooey Velveeta mac? The Astral mac and cheese at the West 5 Lounge & Restaurant in West Seattle ($8.95/small, $10.95/large) is the grownup take on the childhood classic. What lies beneath the crisp, broiled-brown top is a mild cheese sauce that squishes and oozes between all the macaroni crevices. Order up a bowl of the tomato basil soup to complete the ultimate comfort-food meal.

3. Vegan
The inclusion of a vegan-cheese-based mac ($5.50/full; $3/side) may cause purists to clutch their wedges of Roquefort protectively, but Shawn’s vegan mac ’n’ cheese ($3/side; $5.50/full) at Belltown’s Bang Bang Cafe—a recipe more than 10 years in the making—has won over its share of veg heads and carnivores alike. The sauce gets extra body from puréed tofu, a little kick from smoked paprika and Tabasco, and a savory umami quality from a not-so-secret secret ingredient—soy sauce. On the side: a slice of toasty Essential Baking Co. bread. This is one tasty indulgence that’ll make you a believer.

4. Sharp and Creamy
Ordering a side of macaroni and cheese ($5) with the signature overstuffed burgers at Lunchbox Laboratory in Ballard South Lake Union is always a surprise. Sometimes prepared with blue cheese, sometimes with smoky cheddar, sometimes chili mac or tomato mac, this dish changes every day but is always the perfect accomplice to your heart attack meal. Lipitor chaser not included.

5. Bread Crumby (Pictured at top)
Admittedly, the idea of saffron cheddar cheese sauce had us curious, but the elusive, slightly smoky flavor of the Mars mac and cheese ($10.50) at Cafe Venus and the MarsBar in South Lake Union lent a je ne sais quoi aspect to this light-tasting version. The best part? The plate comes with a thick scattering of toasted, buttery bread crumbs, fresh chopped parsley and Romano cheese.

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