Mac and cheese often gets overlooked in Austin, where brisket and tacos reign supreme. But what’s better than creamy, cheesy carbs? Nothing.
With so many remarkable restaurants in town, you have plenty of gourmet options to tantalize your need for cheese. Next time you go out, just say no to BBQ and Tex-Mex, and give cheese a chance.
Check out my favorite options in town!
#1 Wink: Black Truffle “Crack n’ Cheese”
Served in a dainty ceramic ramekin, this petite dish packs a flavorful punch! The black truffle flavor is subtle, but absolutely delicious. The bubbly baked goodness is topped with buttered breadcrumbs and the cellentani (corkscrew-shaped) pasta is typically just the way I like it, al dente.
The best time to check out the Wink Wine Bar is during happy hour, which is 5-7 PM, Monday through Saturday. Regular price for this addicting dish is $14.
1014 N Lamar – Website
#2 Roaring Fork: Green Chile Mac and Cheese
Often replicated, but never duplicated, the green chile mac and cheese at Roaring Fork deserves respect. It’s advertised as a side dish, but could easily stand on its own. The dish is spicy and very green, but don’t be put off by the color. The chile flavor is intense and the cheese is so creamy (not stringy). I love the consistency; it’s almost like queso poured over roasted peppers and baked with macaroni. Whatever it is, I want more of this skillet-served green goodness.
The mac and cheese is on both the lunch and dinner menus as a side at $7.
701 Congress – Website
#3 Banger’s: Bacon Jalapeno Mac and Cheese
The name says it all: bacon + jalapenos + mac + cheese. Pair this with a cold beverage and slab of meat and call me happy!
The bacon isn’t overwhelming, probably because the fine folks at Banger’s on Rainey want you to save room for sausage. Rumor has it, you haven’t lived until you have the Banger’s mac and cheese topped with chili.
This little pot of manchego perfection will set you back just $5.
79 Rainey St – Website
#4 Clark’s Oyster Bar: Lump Crab Shells and Cheese
Every once in a while, my husband and I do progressive dinners in Clarksville. This usually consists of an appetizer and drink at Josephine House, then maybe another round at Jeffrey’s. But we always end up at Clark’s Oyster Bar for two things: the lump crab shells and cheese and dessert. Perla’s has a similar side dish on their menu, but with lobster instead of crab. Both are baked and topped with crumbly, buttery bread crumbs. And oh my, so good! The better deal is at Clark’s ($14 vs. $22).
1200 W 6th – Website
#5 Z’Tejas: 5-Cheese Macaroni and Achiote Chicken
On their Southwestern Classics section of the menu for $15.50, Z’Tejas’ mac and cheese dish was my No. 1 favorite meal when I first moved to Austin. It’s still great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s definitely not consistent.
When it’s good, it’s ridiculously cheesy (you’ll need at least three napkins). At it’s worst, it’s bland. Sometimes, I think the chefs forget one (or a few) of the five cheeses. But can you blame them? Who can remember jack, cheddar, parmesan, romano and blue cheese?
1110 W 6th – Website
#6 Hyde Park Bar and Grill: Vegetarian Cast Iron Mac and Cheese
There’s no other place in town that does comfort food like Hyde Park Bar and Grill. Their mac and cheese side dish (only $2.99) is just what you’d expect: gooey and satisfying.
And if you want something more than the traditional dish, try the pork and mac. It consists of tender, slow roasted pork on top of mac and cheese with peppers and a soft boiled egg. It’s a full meal at $12.99.
4206 Duval and 4521 West Gate – Website
#7 Lucy’s Fried Chicken: Classic Mac and Cheese
The chicken makes this dish, but it’s not on the menu at Lucy’s Fried Chicken. If you ask politely, your server will convince the chef to shred bits of Lucy’s tender, juicy fried chicken and place it ever so lovingly on top of your cheddar-based mac and cheese.
Alone, the mac and cheese is okay. I doused mine with Louisiana Crystal hot sauce the first time, if that tells you anything. But when it comes to cheese, I believe in second chances.
Without the chicken, the mac and cheese is just $5. With the chicken, $13.
2218 College Ave – Website
@ATX_Adrienne wants to know:
What’s your favorite place in Austin for mac and cheese?