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You’ve Gouda Be Kidding Me With These Plates

When it comes to comfort food, few foods are as commonly mentioned as cheese and pasta. It only makes sense, then, that a dish made of combining these two sources of comfort would be quite popular, especially during the bleaker winter months.

Macaroni and cheese is a true American staple dish. The dish has historic roots going back centuries in both Italy and the United Kingdom, with other countries, like France, also putting their spin on this dish. You can find it in just about any cookbook, and it is served in restaurants ranging from greasy spoons to gastropubs. It is served as a side with soul food or standing as a main dish on its own at New American eateries.

This casserole, at its most basic, involves freshly cooked macaroni noodles, which are curved tubes, served with a sauce made of butter, cheese and milk. An assortment of cheeses can be used in this dish, although cheddar and American cheeses remain some of the more popular options.

The best variations on mac ‘n cheese often involve playful combinations of cheeses, including more pungent or strongly flavored cheese in place of the somewhat mild flavor of cheddar. Sometimes, however, what makes a mac ‘n cheese casserole stand out from the standard stuff you make at home is the inclusion of premium ingredients, such as truffles, specialty bacon or fresh produce.

If you’re craving mac ‘n cheese, stop into any of the four restaurants on this list for a serving of something classically inspired but creative that’s sure to warm you up this December.

The Cheese to My Macaroni

Urban Solace
Location: 3823 30th Street
Hours: Monday and Tuesday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: $$

With a convenient location in North Park and reputation for serving incredible New American food, including fresh takes on classic comfort foods, Urban Solace is an ideal place to while away a cold winter afternoon. As the name implies, you will find something hearty and comforting to enjoy here.

Urban Solace serves brunch and dinner, as well as cocktails and drinks to patrons needing to get away for a bit. They offer fresh soup daily, as well as a host of creative entrees. Consider their meatloaf, called “Not Your Momma’s Meatloaf,” which is made with lamb and pork and includes figs, almonds sweet potatoes and red wine sauce. Other options on the menu include cocoa crusted pork belly, peppered hanger steak, wild sockeye salmon and cider-molasses glazed jidori chicken.

The macaroni and cheese here is also made up with a special twist. Called Duckaroni, their mac ‘n cheese features duck confit, bleu cheese, garlic and bacon bread crumbs. This dish has become locally notorious for being decadent and rich. Of course, for those who are vegetarian or who just prefer a more traditional take on this classic comfort food, the Old School Mac ‘N Cheese will probably hit the spot. It’s served with bacon, caramelized onion, cherry tomatoes and bread crumbs.

You Must Brie-lieve

Bayside Landing
Location: 3780 Ingraham Street
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday: 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturday: 9 a.m. to midnight, Sunday: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Price: $$

While Pacific Beach may not be the first neighborhood you think of when you think mac ‘n cheese, Bayside Landing has a reputation for serving some of the best cheesy pasta in the county, and for good reason.

They bill their standard macaroni & cheese as an appetizer, with a small or large order available, depending on the size of your group. This version of the cheesy noodle casserole includes a Gruyere bechamel sauce over a bed of pasta, which also gets topped with bits of smoked applewood bacon and bread crumbs. On its own, it has inspired a fanatical following, with people raving in reviews about the flavor and consistency of the dish.

Of course, they also one-up their own menu by adding it to a pizza. Their 12-inch grilled Mac & Cheese Pizza is a carb lovers dream come true. They top their pizza crust with cavatappi pasta (the corkscrew noodles), bechamel sauce, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, and toasty herbed breadcrumbs. You can also add bacon to it for only $2 more. Big enough to share with another or a source of incredible leftovers, this pizza will certainly hit the spot when you need carbs and cheese in the near future!

Better than Nacho Cheese

The Smok’d Hog
Location: 3749 Park Blvd.
Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Closed Tuesday.
Price: $$

If you’re looking for a fun take on unique ways to serve up macaroni and cheese, you need to check out the menu at The Smoked Hog. This foodie destination serves smoked meats and pulled pork by the pound, as well as plenty of great meals and side dishes.

They offer all kinds of pork-based dishes, such as pulled pork, roast beef, smoked turkey and Philly cheese steak sandwiches. On Fridays, they serve fried chicken, made to order. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can enjoy St. Louis style cut ribs, served by the full or half rack.

They offer mac & cheese as a side dish here, served with a house-made cheese sauce and freshly made to order. You can also enjoy it as a main dish, served in one of their bowls. Their Maniac Mac Bowl includes pulled pork, mac and cheese, and sweet heat sauce, all served in a bread bowl. They also offer a Buffalo chicken mac bowl which is a bread bowl filled with mac and cheese, smoked chicken and house buffalo sauce.

You can order all kinds of side dishes as well, including rib tip baked beans, coleslaw, cornbread and pimento cheese. You won’t leave The Smok’d Hog hungry!

You Feta Try This Sandwiches!

Cheesy Express
Location: 3219 Mission Blvd.
Hours: Seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: $

When you think of mac ‘n cheese, you probably don’t picture it as a topping, but that’s exactly how Cheesy Express treats this popular comfort food. If you’re craving mac ‘n cheese but don’t want to just sit down to a bowl of saucy pasta, the creative and overstuffed sandwiches at Cheesy Express may be the answer to your prayers.

Spicy Turkey Melt. #cheesyexpress #missionbeach #grilledcheese #belmontpark

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First of all, the prices here are quite affordable. They even have a kids menu, which includes a grilled cheese meal, a pizza meal and a mac and cheese meal. You can also order mac and cheese as a side dish to go with any of their sandwiches. They have cheesy bacon mac if you feel like upgrading a bit.

The main attraction is, no doubt, their impressive grilled cheese creations, which feature premium cheeses and modern proteins like Korean BBQ beef served on sourdough, rye, wheat or French bread. They have eleven signature melts on their menu, which you can order on their own or in a combo.

Their BBQ and Mac Melt is the reason they made this list, however. It features French bread topped with BBQ pulled pork, mac and cheese, caramelized onions, American and sharp Cheddar cheeses.

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