Macaroni and cheese has come a long way from the stovetop blue box. Gourmet varieties have elevated the comfort classic to new heights with the help of additions like pancetta, exotic cheeses, and crispy veggies. From French bistros to soul food and barbecue joints, here are 12 of our favorite mac and cheese dishes in metro Phoenix.
Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe
808 East Jefferson Street
A soul food institution in Phoenix, this downtown, bare-bones eatery with the wall-written menu makes sure no one leaves hungry. And what better way to pair platefuls of pork chops or fried chicken than with a side of Mrs. White’s gooey and ultra-smooth four-cheese mac and cheese? A heads up: Portions here are generous.
The Main Ingredient
2337 North Seventh Street
Who knew macaroni baked in a sheet pan could be so good? Sergio’s Mac & Cheese at The Main Ingredient comes sliced and steaming with a side of toasted bread. The addition of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and a drizzling of pesto makes it look as good as it tastes. And the generous layer of baked cheddar on top makes Sergio’s offering a go-to menu item.
Southern Rail’s dressed-up macaroni and cheese is savory and scrumptious.
300 West Camelback Road
Southern Rail’s menu is what would happen if comfort food dressed up, so, naturally, the restaurant’s mac and cheese is a buttoned-up version of our favorite childhood meal. The creamy cheese is well seasoned, and Southern Rail’s “pigtail pasta” is perfectly al dente and sturdy. The additional spices and whole grain mustard round out the order into a well-balanced, flavorful dish.
5223 North Central Avenue
We might not have imagined a simple side of mac and cheese to be a menu standout, but Windsor in Uptown manages to blow your expectations. The $4.50 serving comes packed with a surprising amount of flavor. Salty, cheesy, and crunchy from a coating of crispy breadcrumbs — this makes a great snack in its own right.
Le Mac with crispy onion at Farish House.
The Farish House
816 North Third Street
Farish House is a self-proclaimed neighborhood bistro, and that does track. It’s housed — literally — in a historic 1899 brick home on Third and Garfield streets. The Le Mac here is some of the best in town. Though it’s easy to plate mac and cheese, you almost don’t want to disturb the floppy, shell-like pasta glopped with sharp cheddar and gouda cream sauce. It’s topped with crispy onions, which do add good texture, as would the option to mix in crispy bacon.
Tuck Shop Kitchen & Bar
2245 North 12th Street
Coronado’s longstanding neighborhood eatery, Tuck Shop, offers an upscale mac and cheese dish called the Truffle Mac n’ Cheese. We’re talking three-cheese Mornay sauce and black truffle cream, plus crispy pancetta and muddica breadcrumbs for a little protein and texture.
The TV-famous mac and cheese muffins from The Duce.
Melissa Jill Photography
525 South Central Avenue
There are mac and cheese muffins from The Duce — that should be incentive enough to visit. Rolled into bite-sized balls, lightly fried, and dusted with Parmesan cheese, the mac and cheese treats come in a little basket that makes their comparison to muffins readily apparent. And these little guys were spotlighted on “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” besides.
Lon’s at the Hermosa
5532 North Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley
Mac from Lon’s at the Hermosa is as refined as macaroni and cheese might ever get. This dish is made with
cavatelli (pasta shells) mixed with aged cheddar, gruyere cheese, and Parmesan. Though $13 may seem steep for macaroni and cheese, the atmosphere here makes it a decadent treat.
The mac and cheese at Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles
You can go to Lo-Lo’s for the chicken and waffles and end up staying for the mac and cheese. Like a home-cooked classic served in a cozy eatery, Lo-Lo’s mac and cheese is creamy, rich, and comes with an optional heap of grilled shrimp, bacon, and onions. It’s extremely hearty, and good enough as a meal in its own right.
15411 West Waddell Road, Surprise
Vogue Bistro brings contemporary American bistro cuisine with French influences to this small but stylish eatery in the northwest Valley. Chef and owner Aurore de Beauduy offers her own take on mac and cheese. Made with truffles and hunks of pancetta, it’s a classic dish with a touch of French chic.
Little Miss BBQ’s mac and cheese (bottom middle, obviously).
Little Miss BBQ
8901 North Seventh Street
This popular Phoenix barbecue joint understands that mac and cheese doesn’t need to go gourmet to be delicious. The ultra-cheesy, creamy, and rich mac dish at the Sunnyslope location of Little Miss BBQ calls to you from the ordering counter. It’s a perfect complement to a slab of brisket.
15034 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
At this upscale bistro of Parisian fare in Scottsdale, mac and cheese gets French-i-fied. With noodles in a béchamel sauce along with Parmesan, tangy Mimolette cheese, and pieces of smoked ham, the Macaroni Au Gratin at Zinc Bistro is truly an oo-la-la moment of creamy, cheesy goodness.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on January 11, 2016. It was updated on September 19, 2020. Cal Faber contributed to this article. See what Valley restaurants are offering takeout, delivery, and dine-in services with our Phoenix Restaurant Directory.