In January, we dove into plates and plates of mac and chessey goodness but after we finished off that Five Faves we knew we were going to have to revisit this topic and give some of our user suggestions a try.
With macaroni and cheese getting away from being just a children’s side item and now being a desired entrée, many restaurants are stepping it up. Poole’s Downtown Diner, Beasley’s Chicken and Honey, Carolina Smokehouse Grill, Tobacco Road and Porter’s City Tavern stole our hearts last time around with unique twists and delicious cheesy flavor, but with so much good mac and cheese, a few newcomers have also earned the honor of being named our Five Faves.
Here are the latest places to earn the title:
Vin Rouge (Durham) – I knew I had to travel to Durham to give this mac and cheese a try when I saw it on the Food Network. Alex Guarnaschelli gave a shout out to Vin Rouge’s mac and cheese when she was on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and she was not lying about how great it is. It’s hard to even call this dish mac and cheese. Even the name Gratin de Macaroni, lets you know you are in for a mac and cheese experience like no other. With bacon and gruyere cheese, this creamy mac melted my heart but also put a dent in my bank account. At about $15, it is definitely more than your average mac and cheese but after one taste you will see why.
Oro (Raleigh) - What sets this mac and cheese apart from the rest is the truffle oil and the panko bread crumbs that give it a delicious smoky flavor. Our server offered pepper flakes for those who enjoy a little kick. I was skeptical at first as I didn't think this could get much better. But the flakes were a great addition to the already flavorful dish, a perfect kick and made this mac and cheese unique. I went in with the intention of getting this mac to go but after one quick bite at the restaurant I sat down and ate the whole thing!
Relish Café (Raleigh) - Relish is a nice, quiet gem that is tucked away on the corner of Creedmore and West Milbrook. There are six variations of macaroni here so you can't go wrong. I tried the Cajun mac and cheese, which was served with Andouille sausage and roasted red bell peppers. It came with a diced vegetable salad on the side that reminded me of a cucumber salad. Every sense was overwhelmed with amazing flavors from this dish. I am looking forward to going back to enjoy some of the other variations.
Weathervane (Chapel Hill) - Out & About’s Kathy Hanrahan is definitely someone I would call a mac and cheese connoisseur so when she suggested Weathervane to me I knew I couldn’t go wrong. This macaroni and cheese entrée is made with a combination of cave-aged gruyere, hoop and parmigiano- reggiano cheeses. I mean one cheese on macaroni is good but three just puts it over the top.
Cameron Bar and Grill (Raleigh) - Going back to a more simpler time when mac and cheese was a side and not an entrée is what Cameron Bar and Grill had in mind. With creamy flavor and an old school taste you feel like you are eating your mom’s mac and cheese or even better but don’t worry we won’t tell.
I would like to give an honorable mention to Top of the Hill, Tyler’s Taproom and Flying Biscuit for stepping outside the box with their mac and cheese. If you are in a daring mood try Top of the Hill's pulled pork bbq mac, Tyler’s fried mac and cheese triangles or Flying Biscuit Café’s grilled mac and cheese.
So, did we miss one of your favorites? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
Note: Top of the Hill is an advertising partner of WRAL.com, but did not provide any compensation for this editorial content. The reviews and opinions are strictly those of the author and other WRAL Out & About contributors. It is not an advertisement for the business featured.