Mac 'n cheese: it manages to be delicious even when prepared from a blue cardboard box by someone with no other discernible culinary abilities whatsoever. So you can only imagine what happens when serious culinary professionals tackle the classic and start playing around with additions like lobster, duck, and (gasp) non-powdered cheese. San Diego has plenty of fine examples, but these are the best...
Mr. A’s Mac and Cheese
Bertrand at Mister A’s, Banker's Hill
As it turns out, dining at one of the city’s fanciest restaurants doesn’t mean you have to order something you can’t pronounce. Black truffles and pancetta give it a touch of class, but at its cheese-packed heart, Mr. A’s rendition is still all about comfort. Of course, that doesn't mean it wouldn't go nicely with the rack of lamb.
Southern Mac N Cheese
Cali Comfort BBQ, Spring Valley
The Southern Mac N Cheese at Cali Comfort is more of a quest (a heart-stoppingly tasty, cheesy quest) than a dining experience. And if the cheesy macaroni, blackened chicken, and bacon topped with sour cream don’t land you in the hospital, you can tempt fate and follow it up with another Southern staple: homemade peach cobbler.
Lobster Mac & Cheese
Leucadia Pizzeria, Multiple Locations
Macaroni 'n cheese: great. Macaroni 'n cheese with booze in it: even better. Between the brandy sauce, lobster, and three different cheeses, we’re willing to overlook the use of penne in lieu of elbow pasta. It's still pasta and cheese. It counts.
Urban Solace, North Park
Urban Solace is all in on the comfort-food-with-a-twist thing: The Lobster Pot Pie, Not Your Momma’s Meatloaf... but you'd be remiss to head here and not order up a skillet of the Duckaroni, with a creamy, breadcrumb-topped richness that will take you right back to childhood, that is if your childhood consisted of your mom fancying up your mac 'n cheese with finely prepared game birds.
Spicy Mac and Cheese
Toronado, North Park
Just a few blocks from Urban Solace, the folks at Toronado are perfecting their own duck-less version, and while there's a tasty and traditional version available, do yourself a favor and try the Spicy Mac and Cheese. Passilla peppers, chipotle, and habañero should help you sweat out some of the calories. Bonus: there are 50-plus beers on tap to pair with it.
Mac n' Cheese
Sublime Tavern and Sublime Ale House, Del Mar and San Marcos
Choose from one of any nine different Mac n’ Cheese recipes or build your own at the appropriately named Sublime. Serendipity, Infatuation, Ecstasy, Jubilation -- there’s one for virtually every mood. Our vote, though, goes to Rapture -- a fusion of classic mac ‘n cheese mixed with pulled pork and carmelized onions. Now that the hard part is over with, all that’s left to do is choose a size -- Dig It, Love It, or Crazy for It.
Shrimp and Bacon Mac & Cheese
Spike Africa’s, Gaslamp
It's not too surprising that a place named after an infamous sea captain would impart a little ocean into its mac 'n cheese. Shrimp, smoked bacon, Gruyere, aged cheddar, and baby spinach collide for this highbrow version of your grandmother’s staple. There's a lot going on, but it all works together in salty, creamy, shrimpy harmony.
Check out Cali Comfort BBQ's Low-and-Slow Cali BBQ Menu for some quality plates (and even Grandpa's Soups!) -- they've got 20 beers on tap to back it all up. There are plenty of great places to get BBQ in San Diego, but Cali Comfort has to be one of the best.
Located on the 12th floor, over looking downtown and the ocean, there's a wrap-around balcony where you can enjoy the view along with your chicken liver pate and escargots de Bourgogne. SD being the land of flippy-floppies, you can get away with wearing pretty much anything anywhere you go, however this place has a dress code. Because it's classy like that.
You can always rely on filling, farm-fresh food at this North Park eatery. Instead of brunch, Urban Solace serves "blunch" (on weekdays and Saturdays) where egg-centric breakfast dishes, hot & cold sandwiches, and soups & salads will leave anyone with functioning tastebuds happy. The Sunday Bluegrass Brunch draws crowds for standouts like the cinnamon roll with butter pecan sauce, braised pork belly Benedicts, and the grilled four-cheese sandwich served with fries and creamy tomato-fennel soup.
This San Diego offshoot of the famed San Francisco beer bar boasts over 50 taps, rivaled only by its extensive, delectable food offerings. Pair Russian River’s Pliny the Elder or a Belgian Blaugies D’Arbyste with snacks like jalapeno corn cakes, maple-glazed beet skewers, and sausage sandwiches (there’s an entire menu section devoted to frank varieties like smoked beer and jalapeno Cheddar). Toronado has dive bar deco down to a tee, with sticker- and button-plastered walls illuminated by neon lights and ventilated by antiquated ceiling fans.
Sublime Tavern, in the Sublime family of restaurants, is a comfort food haven overlooking Del Mar Polo Fields.
Proving they're more than just a band from the '90s that got teenage chicks to say they like ska, Sublime Ale House is now gracing San Marcos' Restaurant Row with their heady presence, ready to dish out an extensive menu of "gourmet comfort fare" from a wide-open rustic joint with a covered patio and a square, centrally located bar surrounding a pillar sprouting four massive flatscreens, and 48 taps, or as it's known in Morse code "somebody being a d**k"