Food & Drink

Portland's 8 Best Mac and Cheese Spots

Published On 03/19/2014 Published On 03/19/2014

Mac and cheese is the world's ultimate comfort food, but it can't do its job and briefly distract you from all the bad decisions you've made recently if you don't know where to get a decent bowl. To that end, we scoured Stumptown for the sweetest macaroni-based dishes, tried them all, then took a nap, and finally assembled this list of Portland's most delightful dairy-smothered dishes.

Drew Tyson/Thrillist

Podnah's Pit BBQ

It's no surprise that one of the country’s best barbecue joints throws together a mean mac and cheese: this rich, Bechamel-based beauty is laced with green chiles, which give it some Southwest-y smoke, and is the perfect thing to eat with their brisket.

Happy Hour Honeys

Davis Street Tavern

The Pearl
Flying under the radar, Davis Street does mac and cheese right. No fancy talk, just a thick, three-cheese sauce clinging to pasta that's like macaroni squared -- the oversized pieces have deep ridges that catch and hold onto the perfectly textured cheese blend.

Drew Tyson/Thrillist

Dig a Pony

Southeast Industrial
DaP has a lot going for it: huge windows overlooking a rapidly developing part of the city, killer craft cocktails from some of the best bartenders in town, and a young-ish crowd that looks/acts like they all just got a philosophy degree from Reed, so why even bother with food? Just throw some frozen chicken strips in the fryer and call it good. Nope, this jalapeno- & caramelized onion-topped pile of cheesy goodness is just one of the winners on their menu, and at $5 during happy hour, even philosophy majors can afford it.

The Cheese Plate PDX

The Cheese Plate PDX

Of course there’s a mac and cheese cart that sells... ugh, a vegetarian and vegan version of this normally-not-at-all-vegan classic, but their take on mac (it's basically a salad minus all the greens, plus creamy pasta) is surprisingly glorious, so it made our list anyway.

Drew Tyson

Swift Lounge

Northeast Portland
You already know this NE bar has some of the best food in town, so it's no surprise that their mac and cheese w/ house kimchi is also pretty epic, especially since you can get fried chicken served on top, which, if you hadn’t just eaten four other bowls of mac, would be a sweet idea.

Mac! Mac and Cheesery

Mac! Mac & Cheesery

With over 17 varieties of every kid’s favorite dish, including, but not limited to, macaroni and cheese burritos and fried balls of mac and cheese, this is the kind of place where you come for the food and stay because you passed out after half-a-dozen servings. 

Smokehouse 21

Smokehouse 21

Nob Hill
This badass NW BBQ joint puts serious care into their side, as evidenced by a perfectly sprinkled bread crumble on top that soaks up just enough of the cheese to retain some crunch, but leaves a soupy mess on the bottom you can soak up with another of their awesome accompaniments: cornbread.

Screen Door

East Burnside
The only real, classic mac and cheese on the list, this sucker comes with a thick, crispy crust that threatens to encapsulate the entire bowl, meaning you can take the time to finish your fried chicken, and still have a steaming, hot bowl of cheesy goodness waiting when you're done. Pro-Tip: ordering a porch pounder lemonade to wash it all down would be an uncharacteristically good decision.

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1. Davis Street Tavern 500 NW Davis St, Portland, OR 97209 (Pearl District)

Serving up classic American with inventive twists, (dungeness crab bisque with sautéed squash!), Davis Street brings inovative comfort food to the Pearl.

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2. Podnah's Pit BBQ 1625 NE Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97211 (Ne Portland)

Podnah's Pit's a smoked meat temple in Portland with BBQ styles emulating Carolina and Texas. According to locals, there is no finer barbecue fare in Portland than the dishes served up a Podnah's, and we can't help but agree. Their ribs and brisket are as close to perfect as barbecue can be.

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3. Dig A Pony 720 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR 97202

Pony was conceived after the owner's band stopped performing and a pal suggested opening a bar, which just opened at Morrison and Grand with a windowed wedge concealing a surprisingly huge riverboat saloon interior with a massive 60ft-long horseshoe bar, original 1917 mosaic tiling, and a "minimal if non-Beatles feel"...wait, so this is a Beatles bar or something?

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4. Swift Lounge 1932 NE Broadway, Portland, OR 97232 (Lloyd District)

Swift Lounge has got a weekly line up of shows, a "Hangover Brunch" on Saturdays and Sundays, plus cocktails like the Diesel, which's made with bourbon, root beer liqueur, and walnut bitters. Stop by for a sissy or fatty cocktail (small or large), served in one of Swift's widely-appreciate mason jars.

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5. Mac! 3936 N Mississippi, Portland, OR 97211 (Mississippi Ave)

Cooked up after the better half of a comfort food-loving duo was laid off from her gig as an HR consultant, Mac! is a bright temple of elbow noodles and melty cheese, clever variations on which're served in cheery confines where yellow walls sport an astonishing rotating collection of vintage lunchboxes featuring a '60s Superman, a gun-toting John Rambo, and a 'Hoffed Knight Rider, which presumably formerly had many, many cheeseburgers in it.

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6. Smokehouse 21 413 NW 21st, Portland, OR 97209 (Nob Hillalphabet Dist)

Famous for its succulent smoked meats of all kinds ranging from cow to lamb, served with your choice of sauce and sides like mac and cheese or pickled veggies. We think that Smokehouse 21 serves up some of the best barbecue dishes in Portland, and we highly recommend that you stop by and check them out.

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7. Screen Door 2337 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214 (Kerns)

Screen Door knows Southern cookin', modeling their menu off of such spots as South Carolina Lowcountry and Cajun flavors from New Orleans. What's more, their meals are made with local organic produce and meats to ensure you appreciate the food as much as they do.