Just like most other great things in NYC, it’s tough to narrow down the best of the best, but when it comes to mac and cheese, the clear winners sit a cut above the rest. So for those who can handle both dairy and gluten, go forth! There are classic comfort food dishes at soul food restaurants along with a few elevated twists and funky variations along the way. And for the vegan and vegetarian restaurant lovers out there, we’ve sprinkled in a few allergen-friendly picks for good measure.
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Best mac and cheese in NYC
Since its opening in 1837, Delmonico’s Downtown location has maintained its status as a New York icon with a menu that does its standard of excellence justice. The Alaskan crab mac and cheese is no exception: It’s made with torchio pasta, Parmesan cream, Crucolo cheese and, of course, a generous amount of Alaskan crab. The dish is also available at Delmonico’s Kitchen in Midtown.
The aptly named Primal Cut takes steakhouses to the next level. From the “Indulgent Sides” menu, the lobster truffle five-cheese macaroni is worth the trip uptown all on its own—Vermont cheddar, American cheese, Monterey Jack, Parmesan and Swiss cheese cloak a truffle-infused ménage of half a lobster tail and panko-Parmesan encrusted pasta.
As promised, we’re coming through with a full-on vegan masterpiece from health-forward favorite by CHLOE. Now serving up its famed mac and cheese (with sweet potato and cashew magically subbing in for the latter) at five NYC locations and counting, it makes the vegan lifestyle both accessible and enjoyable, not to mention photogenic.
A collision of beloved worlds: The best breakfast and mac and cheese unite in Avra Madison’s fried egg–topped brunch menu highlight featuring elbow macaroni and ultrarich cheddar sauce. It also makes the perfect pairing with the best spanakopita in the city.
Speaking of perfect pairings, the decadent lobster mac and cheese at Harding’s comes with a view of a stately black walnut bar sourced from Bucks County, Pennsylvania—homage to the American spirit of the cozy Flatiron watering hole. Béchamel and gruyère over orecchiette pasta together serve as a creamy bed for an entire lobster tail, so needless to say, it’s not for the faint of heart.
Beecher’s knows mac and cheese like no other, especially considering the cheese itself is its specialty. The “World’s Best” iteration lives up to its name and is known and loved across the city and beyond for its simplicity with a kick. It combines the house Flagship and Just Jack cheeses with butter, flour, milk, salt, chipotle chili powder and garlic powder over penne pasta, all baked to perfection.
The winner of our 2016 Mac n Cheese Smackdown in NYC, Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room’s recipe is no joke. Inspired by the restaurant’s earnest love of food, the house mac and cheese features sweet potato, white cheddar, bacon and mushrooms—a killer combination worthy of its noble honor.
Just when you thought we’d forgotten a good gluten-free option, here are the epic mac and cheese offerings from S’MAC. The Alpine in particular is a standout with gruyère and slab bacon, but gluten-free pasta is an option for every menu item, as is a variety of vegan alternatives.
Among the city’s best-kept secrets is the clandestine four-cheese recipe from Murray’s Cheese Bar, so the most we can say about it is that it’s excellent. And if you’re in the mood for dessert afterward, go for a good old fashioned raclette.
Want to check out more comfort food dishes?
Onieals Grand Street
A former brothel, speakeasy and gambling parlor, Onieals had quite the heydey during the Prohibition era. Though imbibing is legal once again, some of the vestiges of the bar’s nefarious origins still survive; the tunnel that bootleggers used to use to smuggle in booze now serves as the wine cellar. With an extensive menu of beer, wine, spirits and inventive cocktails, the bar has something for anyone looking to take the edge off. These days, Onieals also serves an upscale menu of classic American dishes with hints of influence from other cuisines. At brunch, try the shrimp and grits ($15) or the omelette with goat cheese, shiitake mushrooms and asparagus ($14). For dinner, start with the filet mignon carpaccio with parmesan and horseradish creme ($19) or grilled oysters on the half shell ($15), then move on to sesame-crusted tuna with tempura green beans ($26) or hammered chicken in a shallot wine sauce ($23).
Venue says: “Come ready to drink and dish with Miranda at Onieals Grand Street on Monday, June 11th in honor of the show's 20th anniversary!”