There aren’t many dishes quite as comforting as macaroni and cheese. But, let’s get a few things straight about the legacy of this classic dish. First, we should pay homage to the person—or should we say genius—who came up with the idea to combine perfectly tender noodles with rich, creamy cheese sauce. Second, can we all agree that Kraft Mac and Cheese still tastes, well, delicious—even though it’s from a box? And third, it’s pretty remarkable that whether you’re five or 50 years old, mac and cheese is still just as good as it was the last time you tasted it.
So, mac and cheese, we pay tribute to you today—in all of your variations of cheesy goodness. Here are some of our favorites from the Southwest metro area.
MAC & CHEESE PIZZA
When you think pizza, you think of things like pepperonis, black olives, maybe even anchovies. But we’ll bet that you don’t think mac and cheese when visualizing a slice of your favorite pizza pie. Before you cringe in foodie horror, just give it a try. Really, how could you go wrong combining two crowd-pleasers like these? The mac and cheese pizza at Unhinged Pizza is a winner with kids and adults alike, boasting a delicious, flakey crust topped with garlic butter sauce, creamy mac and cheese—and well, more cheese ($3.99–15.99). Unhinged Pizza offers its pies in a variety of sizes, and be sure to check the website for daily specials. 224 W 1st St., Waconia; 952.442.2030.
MAKE-YOUR-OWN MAC & CHEESE
Locally-owned by Mitch and Kris Thayer, pasta Zola gives you the chance to create unique pasta creations exactly to your liking. Located in the Eden Prairie Center food court, this make-your-own pasta shop boasts fresh sauces and pastas, along with a variety of meats and veggies.
First, choose your pasta from selections like corkscrews, whole wheat penne, or gluten-free fusilli. Second, slather on that mac and cheese sauce—a smooth, creamy five-cheese signature blend (it’s both vegetarian and gluten-free). Third, choose from meats and veggies like Zola’s meatballs or smoky bacon. Get your mac and cheese creation by itself ($4.59–5.59) or as part of a value meal that includes a breadstick and fountain drink ($6.49–7.49). 8251 Flying Cloud Drive, Eden Prairie; 952.583.8074.
CHICKEN GORGONZOLA PASTA
Now, we never said mac and cheese was only for the little tykes. But, for those with more cultivated palates, we recommend Woody’s chicken gorgonzola pasta—a sort of adult version of this childhood classic ($13.99). This mouth-watering dish features grilled chicken breast with fresh broccoli florets and scallions, which is tossed with perfectly-cooked penne pasta in a rich gorgonzola cream sauce. Topped with Romano cheese, this rendition of mac and cheese will not disappoint. And let’s be honest, the great thing about having an adult palate is that you can pair it with a glass of wine. Cheers! 6399 City West Parkway, Eden Prairie; 952.944.8799.
LOBSTER MAC & CHEESE
Mac and cheese is one of those things that is oh-so-delicious all on its own. But, thanks to the chefs at Green Mill, we would venture to say that the one ingredient that increases the wow factor of this fan favorite is lobster. But, be advised that once you try Green Mill’s lobster mac and cheese, you may never go back. This rich-flavored dish combines trottole pasta with sautéed langostino lobster, and sweet, creamy MontAmore cheese ($15.99). Add toasted bread crumbs and a creamy cheese sauce for a heavenly experience. One word—yum. 8266 Commonwealth Drive, Eden Prairie; 952.944.3000.
BAKED MAC & CHEESE
School of the Wise
Nothing quite beats mom’s homemade mac and cheese—an overflowing casserole dish smothered in seemingly magical cheese sauce, bubbling in the oven. However, the baked mac and cheese at School of the Wise in Victoria comes close. This little bundle of goodness is baked to perfection, then topped with breadcrumbs and smoked ham or bacon for some extra flavor ($10). You can also order a mini version of this customer favorite off the appetizer menu ($6). 1750 Tower Blvd., Victoria; 952.361.9463.
DAVE’S CHEESY MAC & CHEESE
Famous Dave’s may be known for its award-winning ribs, but we beg to differ that sometimes diners get equally as excited about the delectable side dishes—and Dave’s cheesy mac and cheese is no exception. It’s the perfect complement to the sweet barbecue sauce slathered all over your rack of ribs. Dave’s homemade version is a blend of four different cheeses, along with kernels of corn and jalapeno slivers to give it that good ‘ol southern kick. If it doesn’t come with your meal, you can order a single portion for $1.99, up to a side quart portion for $8.99. 590 Prairie Center Drive, Eden Prairie; 952.941.5849.
BAKED GNOCCHI & CHEESE
Tavern 4 & 5
Straying from the classic elbow noodles usually found in mac and cheese dishes, Tavern 4 & 5 in Eden Prairie is taking a different approach. Featuring golden, pillow-shaped gnocchi at the center of the dish, the texture is undoubtedly satisfying. The little Italian dumplings are smothered in cheese and baked to the perfect shade of golden brown ($14). For a little extra oomph, you can add extra crisped slabs of bacon and tomato, too. This customer favorite is also available during happy hour for $4 daily from 3–6 p.m., or during late night happy hour 9–11 p.m., Sunday–Thursday. And there’s even a smaller size available on the kids menu for the little ones ($5). 16396 Wagner Way, Eden Prairie; 952.934.4545.