The 10 Best Macaroni and Cheeses in NYC
Unless you're a lactose-intolerant celiac, odds are you've got a soft spot for macaroni and cheese. Among the numerous dishes that make up the comfort food lexicon, the spruced up noodles hit that perfect balance of crisp crust and gooey interior, and the top renditions can be downright mesmerizing in their decadence. Few dishes are so easily associated with home, no matter where that may be, and New York City doesn't disappoint when it comes to superlative dairy-laced carbs. As we've seen with so many other foods put through our cultural wringer, this melting pot has a knack for cultivating crossover-foods, and macaroni and cheese is no different. Dig around and you'll find varieties with influences from Mexico, Jamaica, Germany, and beyond. Here are our 10 best.
Elbow Room S'Mac
10. S'Mac, 345 East 12th Street; 212-358-7917
Sarita and Caesar Ekya are pioneers of the single-item restaurant genre, which has gone on to spawn successes and failures based around everything from taquitos and bagel balls to poutine, but S'Mac still soldiers on. Their flagship East Village shop has doled out globally inspired mac and cheese in cast iron pans since 2006, including a Spanish version with manchego and fennel and a masala-fueled recipe channeling the flavors of India. But the soft elbows find their nirvana in the Buffalo chicken mac and cheese, a sultry mix of chicken, cheddar, and American cheese turned Halloween-orange thanks to a helping of tangy hot sauce.
9. Westville, 210 West 10th Street (with locations in Chelsea, East Village and SoHo); 212-741-7971
This local mini-chain run by the bespectacled Jay Strauss churns out a steady stream of solid American classics, and the mac and cheese is no exception. Springy spirale pasta is the perfect vehicle for the restaurant's signature smoked Gouda béchamel, which envelops each tubular, twisted noodle like a rich, creamy hug. The oval baking dish arrives steaming, the top layer of noodles burnished and browned. It's already plenty smoky thanks to the Gouda, but the option to add crumbly slips of bacon should be all but mandatory.
8. Mac Shack, 901 Fulton Street, Brooklyn; 718-230-0727
Featuring creative offerings with a bevy of Brooklyn tie-ins, Mac Shack embraces and honors its neighbors through the noble medium of noodles and melted cheese. Both the north (mozzarella, smoked gouda) and south (queso blanco, emmental) domains of King's County get their due, while several types of curry and jerk spice versions pay tribute to the surrounding community. Jerked and smoked duck confit may not seem like a natural companion to the dish, but when it comes to mac and cheese, if you're going to add mix-ins, they need to be flavorful enough to stand up to the barrage of dairy--especially when the dairy in question is pungent, mildly funky Fontina. The cheese's earthiness combined with the chunks of spiced, smoky duck leg meat is irresistible.