Cheese is one of the better things in life, and when melted on pasta it can provide you with an experience that is, at best, transcendent, and at worst, still pretty delicious. As with many other classic foods, mac and cheese has gone through a number of transformations in the American culinary vernacular, and in a food center like Manhattan there are plenty of places to enjoy it. Here are 3 must-visit places for mac and cheese lovers in the city. Each one accommodates a slightly different palate; all have the potential to leave you in the best kind of food coma.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
If great mac and cheese is what you’re looking for, an entire store dedicated to cheese products is probably a reasonable place to start. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese is overall a great place to visit for its hand-crafted cheeses, warm atmosphere, and visible cheese-making kitchen. It also happens to sell some seriously delicious mac and cheese. Made with penne pasta, Beecher’s Flagship cheese, and their ‘Just Jack‘ variety, this creamy treat is sold in small and large individual portions. Be advised that Beecher’s specializes in macaroni and cheese of the saucy variety rather than thicker, clumpier versions at other places. If you love saucy mac and cheese, however, this Flatiron favorite is definitely a must-visit.
For some people, basic mac and cheese just doesn’t cut it. Those with an adventurous palate and a sizable appetite will love S’MAC (Sarita’s Macaroni and Cheese), which has a location in both the East Village and Murray Hill. S’MAC does serve classic mac and cheese, but the bolder flavors are really what make this place special. Some of the more daring options include the Cajun, featuring andoullie sausage, peppers, Cajun seasoning, and cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, and the Masala, which blends cheesy deliciousness with Indian spices. When you’re feeling extra creative you can even create your own mac and cheese. Sizes range from the reasonable “Nosh”, to the wonderfully unreasonable “Partay”, which presumably feeds an entire party, or just you when you’ve had an exceptionally bad week.
When it comes to mac and cheese, artisanal shops can get as fancy as they like, but nothing can beat the soul food treatment of this classic dish. Amy Ruth’s exemplifies classic soul food in any number of ways, the baked macaroni and cheese being one of the standouts. Baking mac and cheese makes a significant difference in the consistency, and when crafted with the proper cheese-to-pasta-to-butter ratio it can be downright irresistible. Located on Lenox Ave. and 116th street, this neighborhood spot is also a great way to dip your toe (or fork, as it were) into Harlem’s ever-growing culinary scene. A side of Amy Ruth’s mac and cheese is $4.50, so get two and refuse to share.