With the temperatures dropping well below Miami’s 85-degree norm, cravings for comfort-food favorites are on the rise. Pizza, mashed potatoes, tomato soup, and grilled cheese might top your list, but mac 'n' cheese is arguably the mother of all comfort foods.
As simple as this dish is — so simple the ingredients are listed in its name — there's still plenty of room for interpretation. The following restaurants go beyond the standard mac 'n' cheese casserole and switch up everything from the pasta to the cheese to even some unconventional toppings in order to create refined versions of the boxed variety you loved as a child.
So here are the ten best ooey, gooey mac 'n' cheese dishes — either as show-stopping sides or signature entrées — that sate kids and grownups alike.
10. Wynwood Diner
Be extra-cautious when this bubbling pot of mac 'n' cheese ($8) arrives at your table. It’s piping-hot, but once it has cooled a bit, go ahead and stick your fork into this masterpiece. Find a combination of sharp and creamy tastes from the bountiful cheese application. Like all of Wynwood Diner’s dishes, this one doesn’t disappoint in catering to nostalgic adults yearning for comforting flavors of their youth.
9. Ms. Cheezious
Childhood dreams come true as two beloved cheese-infused foods collide. Try Ms. Cheezious’ take on creamy Gouda mac 'n' cheese, which comes with crisp house-cured bacon sandwiched between two slices of toasted sourdough bread. Or forgo the monstrous Mackin Melt ($8.50) and try the delicious creamy Gouda mac 'n' cheese ($6) on its own.
8. Sweet Dogs
Who says you can’t enjoy mac 'n' cheese via frankfurter? Lo and behold: the glorious mac dog ($5.50). Sweet Dogs offers the best of both worlds in a fully carb-loaded creation featuring mac 'n' cheese topped with Parmesan and garlic croutons atop a hot dog. It effortlessly combines chewy, creamy, and garlicky into one messy, mind-blowing bite. Guests to this Flagami hot-dog shop can also order the house-made five-cheese mac 'n' cheese dish as a side.
7. Finka Table & Tap
Mac 'n' cheese at a Cuban-Asian restaurant? Surprise, surprise. It exists! Dubbed the mac 'n' 3 cheese ($9), it’s made with — you guessed it — three cheeses: sharp cheddar, Parmesan, and asiago. But it truly shines with Finka’s addition of carne asada, crisp bacon, and scallions for a savory Latin twist to your favorite curdy treat.
6. Lulu in the Grove
One word makes this dish among Miami’s best macs: truffle. The eclectic Coconut Grove mainstay elevates its baked mac 'n' cheese ($13) to a whole new level of rich and creamy decadence by simply adding black-truffle béchamel sauce, manchego, and fontina to the recipe. The result is an intensely earthy yet incredibly gratifying flavor that will instantly awaken your taste buds.
5. Batch Gastropub
Another innovative spin on traditional mac 'n' cheese can be found at Batch Gastropub, where you can also get your drink on. Expect gnocchi macaroni covered in aged Gruyère and Dorito "dust." Plus, for an additional cost, you can add in one filling your heart — and stomach — desires. Options include everything from fried chicken to shrimp to caramelized onions. Once you’ve devoured the Mac Attack ($12), you’ve ingenuously prepared yourself for drinking all night long.
4. Huahua's Taqueria
Yes, you typically head to Huahua’s for inventive Mexican tacos, but don’t sleep on its mac 'n' cheese ($3.99). It’s packed with a plethora of cheeses, including queso blanco, jack, Oaxaca, and cotija. Unlike most comfy mac 'n' cheese recipes, there's no breadcrumb topping. Instead, Huahua’s sprinkles on its homemade version of Doritos for a fiesta in your mouth.
3. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
This South Beach hot spot doesn't mess around. Offering the best fried chicken in Miami, Yardbird also has a mac 'n' cheese dish that’s won countless praises for its Southern-inspired multitextured recipe served in an individual crock ($10). Break into the first layer, a crispy-crunchy herb crust, that protects the decadent contents: trottole pasta smothered in five artisanal cheeses, so it delivers less of a casserole feel and more of the other kind of feels.
2. Prime One Twelve
Perhaps the top steakhouse in Miami, Prime One Twelve not only does steaks right, but it also offers a sumptuous lobster mac 'n' cheese ($25) for a main dish as well as an equally tasty side sans lobster. For $13, the latter boasts an aromatic blend of five gourmet cheeses drizzled with truffle oil and topped with breadcrumbs — the perfect complement to a mouthwatering cut of flavorful meat.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
1. Blue Collar
Cold and hungry? Blue Collar’s menu will warm you with its satisfying blend of comfort-food faves. This MiMo District restaurant makes its mac ($14) using corkscrew-shaped cavatappi with three cheeses — fontina, cheddar, and Parmesan — because if one cheese is delish, imagine three. Throw some bacon on it for $3, or go wild with rock shrimp for $8.
Follow Maureen on Twitter.