This delectable side is most often accompanied by other heavy foods like chicken fried steak and barbecue. It certainly comes that way in Austin, but there are plenty of restaurants that put their own spin on this definitively southern treat.
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As with any food-related rankings, take the order here with a grain of salt. The most important thing a list like this does is get you into these and other restaurants to inform your personal rankings you share with your friends, family, and out-of-towners. So grab a ladle and your sweatpants because just reading this list might make you five pounds heavier.
Eating a full meal in the darkness of a movie theater is something that takes you a show or two to acclimate to, but once you’re down with it, Alamo Drafthouse brings some good eats. Green chile macaroni is something you definitely need to try, and follow it up with a rich and thick Mexican vanilla shake.
One of the most famous aspects of the Texas State Fair is the array of deep fried foods available for purchase. Oreos, twinkies, bacon, butter, you name it.
Deep fried oddities aren’t exclusive to Texas-OU weekend. Plucker’s Wing Bar serves up what they call Holy Macaroni, deep fried mac and cheese, year-round. Order it before downing wings coated in your favorite sauce.
In 1985, Campbell’s began using the slogan “The soup that eats like a meal” to promote their chunky soup. At Jack Allen’s Kitchen, the 5-cheese macaroni and chicken is the mac and cheese that eats like a meal. Get ready for a jumbo helping. The creaminess of the cheese complements the slight kick of the spices on the chicken.
People outside Austin know the Texas Chili Parlor for its Mad Dog Margaritas as immortalized in Guy Clark’s song “Dublin Blues.” What non-Austinites might not know about is the wide array of delicious chilies this iconoclastic establishment has to offer. One of their offbeat options is a combination of mac and cheese with chili all in the same bowl. It isn’t for everyone — which may explain why it’s not on the menu — but those who like it swear by it. Order a bowl of chili (pictured), add mac, extra cheese, and sour cream. It’s a savory delight.
Four words: lobster mac and cheese. What!? Of course, you’ll enjoy the steaks, but don’t sleep on the sides.
The restaurant has several private dining rooms with picturesque views of Lake Travis and the Hill Country. Whether you’re stopping in for a steak dinner with your significant other or staying all night for a party with 120 of your friends, this authentically Texas steakhouse will satisfy your hunger.
Parkside was opened in 2008 by renowned restaurateur and chef Shawn Cirkiel as Austin’s first gastropub. For the non-foodie reader, a gastropub is a pub that focuses on serving high-quality food. And the mac and cheese lives up to the gastropub standard with a blend of gruyere and cheddar cheeses.
Hillside Farmacy is a quaint little East Austin eatery and specialty grocery store steps away from the Texas State Cemetery. You can have lunch and then go see the final resting places of famous Texans like Stephen F. Austin, Bob Bullock, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, and Jake Pickle.
The mac and cheese is made with taleggio and australian aged white cheddar and topped with bread crumbs. You can add pancetta, a poached egg, or broccoli to round the dish out, or just leave it with cheese as the star.
Roaring Fork offers American cuisine using simple cooking methods in wood fire rotisseries, open flame grills, and wood ovens. The rugged flavors and ambiance create a unique dining experience. Be sure to order their green chili mac and cheese alongside whichever mouthwatering entree you choose.
Galaxy Cafe’s food is fresh, and there are plenty of healthy options that will leave you satisfied. Their mac and cheese will please you, but health nuts beware. It is so rich and creamy you have to eat it with a soup spoon … and you’ll be licking that spoon intently after your last bite!
Definitely get the mac and cheese on your first venture to Galaxy. You’ll be coming back, so over your next few visits try the chimichurri steak wrap, smoked turkey sandwich, chicken tortilla soup, and just about everything on their brunch menu.
Anyone who has been to Moonshine loves it. This place knows what it does well and does it over and over. Case in point: their macaroni and cheese made with pimento cheese and topped with a bacon gratin. Try it alongside the apple glazed pork chop, blackened catfish or chicken fried steak, or you can get their green chili macaroni as an entree.
The restaurant is popular with conventioneers, so if the Austin Convention Center is full of people, this place will be, too. But if you can brave the lunchtime wait, you’ll be glad you did. Their weekend brunches are well-known in Austin, and dinner at Moonshine is a great setting for a date night with your special someone. You’ll want to fill up on the mac and cheese, but save room to split one of their huge desserts.
Feature photo: Green chili macaroni at Moonshine. Flickr user Jeremy Keith, creative commons licensed.