Reporting Sara Pelissero
My policy for good mac and cheese is quite simple — it’s gotta stick out in your mind and stick to your hips. Let’s be honest, healthy mac and cheese cannot be good mac and cheese. You need the butter, it’s gotta have lots of ooey, gooey cheese and cream is essential. It’s comfort food to the max. Take cheese, blend with more cheese, maybe sprinkle in some breadcrumbs and if you’re lucky, top with some crispy bacon or pancetta. By the time you’re done with your meal, if you’re not in a deep food coma, you’ve done something wrong.
Luckily the Twin Cities is bursting with plenty of perfect plates of mac and cheese — from mom’s classic homemade to the highbrow twist. Chalk it up to our fabulous dairy farms or the fact that we’re experts when it comes to melting a good cheddar — whatever the reason, the Twin Cities have more than enough options for satisfying a good ol mac and cheese craving. Here’s just a few that make my list.
119 Washington Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55401
When it comes to mac and cheese with a touch of sophistication, look no further than HauteDish. Made with king crab, thick rigatoni-like noodles and topped with truffle oil, this mac and cheese will knock your socks off. The texture leans more towards rich and creamy than ooey-gooey but the velvety result still has that same comforting effect. Order up a dish, but don’t be surprised if you don’t have room for desert.
4000 Minnetonka Blvd
Minneapolis, MN 55416
The name really says it all. If you’re looking for that classic plate of cheesy pasta, Yum will deliver every time. Choose from the small offering (for those youngsters) or the large, for bigger appetites and don’t be fooled by the seemingly simple dish. This bowl is packed with flavor. Looking for a little kick? Try the buffalo chicken mac and cheese.
Kings Wine Bar
4555 Grand Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55419
You want to know the dirty little secret about mac and cheese? Many of the best don’t even use macaroni, because so many other noodle shapes hold that sauce even better. Take the delectable “mac” and cheese to be had at King’s Wine Bar in south Minneapolis, which at current writing uses those bowtie-shaped farfalle noodles but rotates a number of other options on what we’ll call a seasonal basis. My fingers are crossed they’ll reintroduce shells. Nothing I’ve ever had held those rich reservoirs of cheddar and gruyere-laced gooey béchamel like they did.
Eli’s Food & Cocktails
1225 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Eli’s mac and cheese is a scrumptious mix of parmesan, mozzarella, Asiago and American cheese, topped with Panko bread crumbs and baked until nice and golden and bubbly. But the best part, perhaps? You can order it until 1 a.m. daily. Personally, my mac and cheese cravings have been known to pop up at all hours of the night. And that’s when Eli’s says, “C’mon over.”
McCoy’s Public House Restaurant
3801 Grand Way
Minneapolis, MN 55416
If you’re looking for the old classic that mom used to make, McCoy’s has you covered — it’s even called, “Mom’s Mac & Cheese.” This Minneapolis public house credits their mac and cheese abilities as a key reason for their success. They take shell pasta, four different cheeses, toss in some Tuscan breadcrumbs and bake it until perfection. Diners can also add chicken or broccolini for an extra charge.
2260 Como Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55108
Just add bacon and you’ve got my attention. Muffuletta’s mac and cheese combines penne pasta, a signature four cheese sauce and tops it all off with smoky bacon. The result? A rich and filling combo that goes far beyond what your mother used to make. It’s enough to split but with the incredible flavor and oh-my-goodness smells wafting from this pasta plate, you won’t want to.
800 S Cleveland Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55116
(And two locations in Minneapolis — check the website)
Chatterbox puts the decision-making of its baked mac and cheese up to you to perfect. Take their classic base of creamy cheddar cheese tossed with spiral macaroni, then add up to three of your favorite toppings — broccoli, bacon, lemon pepper basil chicken, ham, garlic-infused mushrooms, Italian sausage, spinach and artichoke dip, chili, black olives or grilled peppers and onions. Mix and match as you please and create different concoctions with every visit.
St. Paul Grill
350 Market Street
St. Paul, MN 55102
Offered only as a side, the baked Mac and Cheese at the St. Paul Grill is made with elbow macaroni, Tillamook cheddar and bacon and offers a perfect pairing to almost any entrée. The cheese sauce has a rich, sharp, full flavor and the bacon offers the perfect amount of salty goodness.