- Colleen McNally For the AJC
There's something about fall that makes us crave comfort foods, and a bowl of steaming macaroni and cheese is the culinary equivalent of wrapping yourself in a blanket by a fire. Maybe it's seeing backpacks and yellow school buses roll by again, but this time of year brings out our inner kid. If Mama can't make it for you now, think outside of the Kraft box and treat yourself to a perfect rendition of this simple pleasure. Our taste buds as well as those of trusted foodies around town helped gather this list of six gourmet, can't-miss mac and cheeses – each worth writing home about.
Steps from the Decatur Square, Twain's Brewpub & Billiards has earned a reputation for its farm-to-table, locally sourced menu. Formerly helmed by chef Savannah Haseler, it's impressive what she did for inexpensive ($10 or less for entrees!) bar food. Exhibit A: her smoked pork trotter mac & cheese fritters with a seasonal butter or jelly which is still on the menu. Haseler said what makes her Mornay sauce so special is a great cheddar and also Gruyere – all topped off with toasted panko crumb and Parmesan. Washing it down with one of their freshly brewed draft beers doesn't sound like a bad combo, either.
Ladybird Grove and Mess Hall
Dubbed a base camp for the urban explorer, this place's camp-like vibes definitely cater to our case of nostalgia. We've sung praises about this Beltline hot spot before, but didn't yet rave about the skillet serving of macaroni made with smoked Gouda, chili flakes and bread crumbs. Lovers of all things cheesy, we recommend pairing with the double stack cheeseburger (American cheese, aioli, house pickles, toasted bun) for true melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
Community QNot too far from Twain's, Community Q BBQ's mac and cheese is a winner! Specifically it's a 2016 Best in Atlanta winner. "It's clear that Atlantans are passionate about this three-cheese dish" was the verdict from our mac and cheese roundup, including lots of runners-up. This mac and cheese is so good it won in another Best in Atlanta category.
This Little Five Points staple is famous for its extensive beer list, so it’s no surprise that they infuse the brew in their delicious mac and cheese. The homemade pasta shells are paired with a beer-and-cheddar cheese sauce, adding full-bodied flavor to the classic meal.
You say mac and cheese is a wonderful "vegetable" as we southerners call it, but how different is one restaurant offering from another? Pretty darn different when you add a little "kimchi kick." If you have to stand on the patio to eat, so what? You can always get it to go from this Cobb County favorite.
Located at 12th and Juniper in Atlanta's midtown neighborhood, Einstein's has been perpetually popular with the brunch crowd for years. Hiding under the radar, we'd like to bring your attention to one of their deluxe sides – smoked pimento mac & cheese. More flavorful than your standard bowl, it may be another "side" but it's stealing most of our attention.