Mac and cheese has exploded all over London (not literally, or we'd be out licking the streets right now). From street food trucks to glamorous restaurant side dishes, this creamy crowd pleaser makes an appearance everywhere. Here's where to find the best in London.
Anna Mae's has been serving mac and cheese from their street food truck since 2010. It proved so popular, they even published a book of recipes. The owners loved Southern American food and the decision to focus on mac was born out of necessity — a broken down truck meant they had to pick their favourite dish to sell, as it was all they could carry. The rest is cheesy history. They even cooked at the London Olympics in 2012.
The secret to the success of their mac and cheese is, perhaps unsurprisingly, "loads of cheese — if you're not sure it's enough, add more". It's hard to argue with that. Their elbow macaroni comes in a three cheese sauce as standard, with variations including crispy bacon and basil oil (the Don Macaroni) and mac with beef hotdog, BBQ sauce and crispy onions (the Kanye Western).
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Goodman are serious steak houses, with some considering them better than the original London steak pedlars, Hawskmoor (also on this list). Everything here is high quality, and you'll pay accordingly. Giant, dry aged steaks are presented at the table prior to cooking, then taken away, grilled, sliced and returned, along with your choice of sides. Guess what you should be including in your order? Yep, it's the macaroni cheese.
This being Goodman, it's not just any macaroni cheese — it comes with the addition of truffle. Because why the heck not? Twisty macaroni is coated in a rich truffle sauce, topped with crunchy parmesan.
Goodman Restaurant has restaurants in Mayfair, the City and Canary Wharf.
The Hawksmoor branches are well-known for their superior steaks, but their gargantuan list of sides is pretty damn hard to resist. One of the greats is the mac and cheese. The cast iron pot arrives at your table still gently rising and lowering from the heat, cheesy bubbles popping at the sides. We recommend spending at least five minutes on your steak before you even think about digging in.
A myriad of cheeses combine to give this old favourite a sharp tang, elevating the dish from pretty good to pupil-dilatingly good. A fine accompaniment to steak too. As ever Hawksmoor, bravo.
Hawksmoor has restaurants across London, including Piccadilly Circus, Borough, Guildhall and Spitalfields and more.
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Dirty by name and dirty by nature, it's not unusual to leave this New York-inspired glut-fest with a deep desire to cleanse yourself from the inside out. This is junk food in all its deep-fried, cheese-topped, syrup-smothered glory says Londonist writer Ruth Hargreaves. Napkins at the ready.
And when it comes to macaroni cheese, Dirty Bones is changing things up. There's the traditional side, so savoury it makes your eyes water, but also deep fried macaroni cheese balls that come with their own sweet chilli dipping sauce. And finally, The Mac Daddy burger. Wrap your chops around a steak and brioche bun, oozing with that macaroni cheese topping. They have a vegan version too. Pure filth.
Dirty Bones has restaurants in Kensington, Carnaby, Shoreditch and Soho.
The HotBox mac and cheese is famous because it's a rare thing — a BBQ restaurant mac that isn't just a limp afterthought. The silky cheese sauce doesn't overwhelm and make you feel stuffed within minutes like many do, plus it has a gentle smoke flavour, making it stand out from the rest of the pack.
We highly recommend ordering one or two portions with brunch, washing them down with copious Bloody Marys, then heading straight back to bed for a snooze.
HotBox, 46-48 Commercial Street, E1 6LT.
Claw specialise in crab, so you've probably worked out what makes their macaroni cheese so special. We've long loved their crab fries, which come topped with beautiful fresh white crab meat, spring onions, parsley and lemon. But the macaroni cheese recently took over as our number one dish.
You know you've made the right decision the second this bubbly masterpiece wafts its way towards you, spellbinding with crabby scent. We think the secret is the brown Salcombe crab meat, enriching the mixture and bringing intense crab flavour to the fore. It's sealed with a golden crust of cheddar. Yes please. Swing by on a 'Mac Monday' and you can eat as much of it as you like for £15. Challenge accepted.
Claw, 21 Kingly Street, W1B 5QA.
Mac and Wild
With a mission to serve up the best Scottish game around to carnivorous Londoners, it should come as no surprise that Mac and Wild gives their mac and cheese a rather meaty makeover. Yep, it's haggis. Layers of rich, béchamel sauce are a perfect carrier for those deeply savoury haggis nuggets hidden within, says Londonist's Ruth Hargreaves.
If the thought of a full-blown sheep organ pudding makes you blanch, coating those meaty morsels in lashings of cheesy sauce is certainly the way to get you back on board. It would be bad news for veggies, were it not for the fact that Mac and Wild also serve up a truffled mushroom macaroni cheese. A fine compromise, we think you'll agree.
Mac and Wild, 65 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PS and 9A Devonshire Square, EC2M 4YN.