Best mac and cheese photo
(Levi's Port Cafe by Juana Arias)

Best mac and cheese

Becky Krystal and Going Out Guide staff  |  Updated 01/16/2013

Our picks of the classic to contemporary takes on the familiar dish in and around Washington.

 

Cheesetique

Alexandria, VA

At this Del Ray homage to fromage, goat, gouda, asiago and pecorino come together for an ethereal experience. Rather than meld into a stringy mess, the cheeses bake into an almost souffle-like texture. Truffle-infused bread crumbs make for a delightfully crunchy crown. We won't blame you for scraping down the sides to get every last bite. $8.

 

CapMac food truck

Washington, DC

You can't miss the bright orange food truck -- or the line forming in front of it. Chef Brian Arnoff looked to pimento for inspiration for his sauce, which includes cheddar, smoked paprika and Dijon mustard. It coats a generous portion of elbow pasta; Cheez-It cracker crumbles add an appealingly sharp kick. $6.

 

The Passenger

Washington, DC

The gooey pasta at the Passenger arrives sizzling in a cast-iron skillet, the perfect warmer for a cold winter day. But the highlight? This incarnation of mac and cheese is laced with truffle oil, giving it an utterly addictive kick.

 

Birch & Barley and ChurchKey

Washington, DC

To perfect their physics-defying mac and cheese sticks, chef Kyle Bailey and pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac (also husband and wife) developed a bechamel sauce capable of holding together small shells mixed with Vermont Grafton cheddar. Following an overnight cooling, the mac and cheese is cut info 3-1/4-inch-by-1-inch bricks, coated with garlic-infused panko bread crumbs, fired and served with a sweet tomato relish. $8.50.

 

Co Co. Sala

Washington, DC

Choose between surf or turf mac and cheese at this chocolate-themed hot spot, where garlicky shrimp mingles with mini penne or crumbed bacon flecks orecchiette. The latter comes with a single chocolate-covered piece of bacon across the top; when it's melted into the cheese, enjoy the interplay between salty and sweet. Shrimp $9, bacon $7.

 

Levi's Port Cafe

Washington, DC

Here's what we can tell you about macaroni and cheese at this Southeast soul food establishment: It's creamy. The elbow pasta boasts a pleasantly chewy consistency just this side of mushy. And you'll probably wish you portion had come with more of the brunt brown crust than any one customer is entitled to. other than that, this dish remains a mystery; the recipe is closely guarded, and the staff good-naturedly deflects questions about its provenance. $2.75.

 

Urban Bar-B-Que Company

+ Multiple Locations

An admirably restrained amount of Golden Velvet and cheddar-jack-cheeses coats slightly al dente elbow pasta at the regional barbecue joint. Expect an extra shot of shredded cheese to grace the dish before it is served. The more daring can try the Chili Mac-Daddy, complete with a layer of the house-made chili ($6.89). Prices start at $2.49.

 

Woodlands Vegan Bistro

Washington, DC

Few customers at this Georgia Avenue vegan restaurant leave without a hearty portion of the macaroni and "cheese," a pasta so garlicky and addictive it could satisfy any vegan's jones for the real thing (tofu helps give it its creaminess). Pair it with the restaurant's sweet vinaigrette kale salad and fried "chick'n" sandwich for a true soul food-inspired meal. A small side portion, $3.30; entree size, $4.95.

 

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