Cheesy Does It
The ultimate comfort food? There’s no denying it’s mac and cheese. When your next Mac Attack hits, think outside the blue box and get the real deal. Here’s the scoop on our favorite local spots to get irresistible cheesy, gooey goodness.
If we could get away with eating only one mac and cheese 24-7, it would be this one. Their version is elbow macaroni tossed in a béchamel sauce and a blend of white cheddar, American and parmesan. They add in peas for sweetness, then top it off with seasoned breadcrumbs and more parmesan for a delicious crunch. 2500 Kuhio Ave., Waikiki, 808.921.5664. Photo courtesy of MAC 24-7.
“Aunty Bee’s Mac and Cheese” (named after a character on The Andy Griffith Show) is straight-up and uncomplicated. The elbow mac pasta is smothered in parmesan and American cheeses, then topped with a little cayenne pepper for zip. Chef John Memering says the secret to his traditional Americana dish is overcooking the pasta a bit, so the extra starch is removed and won’t absorb all the sauce. The results: creamy perfection. 750 Kailua Rd., Kailua, 808.262.3354.
12th Avenue Grill
Just like all the other high-class home-style dishes on 12th Avenue Grill’s menu, the baked macaroni and cheese sounds and looks basic, but it’s anything but. The house-smoked parmesan cheese gives it a deep, rich flavor, and if you add in the optional sautéed Ali‘i mushrooms or Black Forest ham, the side dish can become an entire meal. 1145C 12th Ave., Honolulu, 808.732.9469.
The Ultimate Mac and Cheese here matches its posh atmosphere. First, chef Robert McGee takes perfectly cooked fusili (spiral) pasta, adds in either Dungeness or Snow crab (whichever is fresh and seasonal) and his own homemade, Spanish-influenced chorizo sausage. It’s all stirred in with a two-year aged Grafton white cheddar from Vermont, and broiled for three minutes till its brown and bubbly on top. 1750 Kalakaua Ave., Third floor, Honolulu, 808.955.9300.
This one’s not on the menu, but your server might suggest the “Quintessential” mac and cheese. The penne pasta is mixed with cheddar, butter, and heavy whipping cream, plus sautéed garlic and anchovies for extra flavor. It’s topped with their Pomodoro tomato sauce and finished with cayenne pepper. Regulars in the know order it with seared scallops, or you can add chicken or shrimp. Ala Moana Center, 808.947.9899.
Hank’s Haute Dogs
The home of the best hot dogs in town also makes the best Truffle Mac and Cheese. The thick penne tubes are covered in a cream sauce of white and sharp yellow cheddars, infused with white truffles, and topped with crunchy panko crumbs. It’s wonderful as is, but some Hank’s regulars like to add sport peppers (from their Chicago Dogs) for some extra kick. 324 Coral St., Honolulu, 808.532.4265, and 2330 Kalakaua Ave., Waikiki, 808.924.9933.