No offense meatloaf (and Blue Plate’s meatloaf is actually FANTASTIC), but you're gonna want to skip it in favor of this comfort food classic's Mac & C. I like to call this place's version the croque monsieur of mac & cheese, with a creamy béchamel crowned by a crisp bronze top. Eyes open on the first bite (thank you, Tabasco) and open even more when you taste a Spanish goat cheese called Murcia al vino. Note: this is a Heavy (note the capital H) dish, but worth every extra belt loop it's gonna require.
WTF? That’s really all you can say when presented with this version from Citizen's Band. It’s a trip and really two dishes in one -- a baked macaroni and cheddar gratin for the base, topped with an orderly pile of onion rings (so good and nicely crisped you'll wish you got more than just three of them). It takes mega effort for the poutine with pork belly to not be the most over-the-top dish on this menu, but, yes, it has been done. Make sure to add the ham to your mac & cheese & rings, because pork.
The Fillmore/Western Addition
Also known as the de-facto waiting room for State Bird, Fat Angel is that quaint “gastropub” that really sums up the word: a smartly curated lineup of brews and wines and food that is thoughtful (and all $13!). The flatbreads and salads are worth an order, but it’s the cast iron full of mac & cheese that's always the man of the hour. Gruyère. Cheddar. Parmesan. Cayenne and breadcrumbs for the finish.
Adding the best sausage company in the city’s bacon-studded hot dog to fried macaroni? Geen. Yus. Honestly though, you could make chocolate cake with 4505’s sausages and there’d be lines. Despite its description, the Frankaroni isn't a sensory overload. 4505 found that perfect balance of hot dog bites and cheese with pockets of pillowy ‘roni and crisp ‘roni that make for good hide-and-seek.
The menu description says it all: “Yes.” In case you want more though, the mac features a mad-crazy cheddar-bleu-Parmesan cheese ale sauce punctuated with a splash of Rustic Horizon Red Ale by Twisted Manzanita Brewing. As owner Jess Voss told us, the real secret ingredient is “unicorns who live in the shell-shaped pasta.” Yes.
Klyde’s macaroni & cheese is a spruced up gratin-style joint with béchamel and ham. Use it for fortification before re-entering the Macy’s and cable car-filled wilds.
Luna Park closed in December. Wait, what? Have no fear SF, Luna Park is still here and that means one of our city’s best mac & cheese creations hasn’t packed up. Make sure you add the broccoli, which we know goes against everything we've ever told you, but just do it.
Grilled cheese and mac & cheese, together at last. The Melt brings it with the "Mac Daddy" -- macaroni and aged sharp cheddar between two slices of white bread with some bacon thrown in for good measure. Over the top? Eh, yes. Carb on carb beauty? Also yes. Oh, and don't sleep on the "T-Mac" either: truffle mac & cheese, but without bread.
Lobster. And dense, creamy mac & cheese. There is no need for further conversation.
Truffle oil can either make your dish taste like your boss’s cologne, or lift it into the umami stratosphere. SK&B? Totally does the latter with its mac & cheese.
On the other side of town in the Dogpatch, Dennis Lee’s side dish version at Magnolia Brewery’s Smokestack has the exact right sharpness/cheese-to-macaroni ratio. It just might be the lightest of our troupe today, which is great because more room for beer and sausages.
When you find a restaurant with a URL like “chickenandwafflesandwich.com,” you're doing something right. And when it's got a mac & cheese that you can add into the sandwiches, you're doing something EXTRA right. Slide it into the Chicken Fried Soul, which already shoves bacon-wrapped fried chicken between between maple waffles. The kicker for this mac & cheese is the house-made pimento cheese used. You just can’t not love pimento cheese.
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Trevor Felch is a restaurants writer for SF Weekly and contributing editor for Vino 24/7. He is an avid collector of the 50 states quarters and proudly has one of each quarter from the Philadelphia and Denver mints because... that’s cool, right? Follow him on Twitter @TrevorFelch.
1. The Blue Plate3218 Mission St, San Francisco
2. Citizen's Band1198 Folsom St, San Francisco
3. Fat Angel1740 O'Farrell St, San Francisco
4. 4505 Burgers & BBQ705 Divisadero, San Francisco
5. Jamber Wine Pub858 Folsom St, San Francisco
6. Klyde Cafe & Wine Bar386 Geary St, San Francisco
7. Rickybobby400 Haight St, San Francisco
8. Social Kitchen & Brewery1326 9th Ave, San Francisco
9. Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing2505 3rd St, San Francisco
10. Soul Groove422 Larkin St, San Francisco
This Bernal Heights resto serves up American eats (which are mostly organic and locally sourced) in the form of large plates, small plates, and sides in a comfy setting featuring both indoor and outdoor seating.
Merging the look of an old school diner with entrees of a more sophisticated sort, Citizen’s Band offers an upscale reprieve from gritty SoMa. Popular orders include a baked mac and cheese dish stacked with giant fried onion rings and smothered with cheddar fonduta, and poutine with coffee bacon gravy. And if none of the savory options tantalize you, don't worry: dessert items, including ultra rich cobblers, sundaes, and cakes, come courtesy of Pinkie’s Bakery.
Fat Angel, based in the Fillmore neighborhood of San Francisco, serves comfort food with a sophisticated edge. You're also bound to find a good beer or wine to wash it all down.
An offshoot of the original 4505 Meats, this burger and 'cue shack is one for the Divis books. This butcher-owned and operated spot takes meat and barbecue seriously, with loaded platters of pulled pork, smoked ribs, and hot sausage, and quarter-pound grass-fed burgers. No matter if your main is in the form of a sandwich or platter, don't overlook the fixin's -- the fried mac & cheese with a hot dog inside is an insanely delicious creation.
Jamber isn't a typical wine bar, it's a wine pub. All of the wines are from California, and they're all on tap. There are also over 10 beers on tap, also from California. To top it off, the SOMA spot has a really, really good food menu with things like mac & cheese pizza, poutine, and bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Oh, and one more thing: Jamber opens at 11:30am during the week and has outlets for your computer, so it's kind of the perfect place to wine and work.
A pleasant oasis from the tourist-driven madness of Union Square, Klyde's will welcome you with open arms and $5 glasses of wine at their 3-7pm weekday happy hour. If you can brave the Forever 21 bag-toting hordes on weekends, the crab and fried green tomato benedict on the brunch menu will make you glad you did.
You know it's a sweet place when it has two first names for its only name. And if you like cheap and hearty eats, soft lighting and crazy crap on the walls, you'll love Rickybobby.
A go-to for beer geeks right off of Golden Gate Park, this 18-tap hops haven leans heavily on its own award-winning brews but leaves a solid number of lines open for excellent guest taps as well. Bartenders are equally welcoming and knowledgeable, the truffle mac & cheese is some of SF's best, and there's a full bar available in case some of your companions are avoiding gluten.
The folks behind Magnolia Brewing Company expanded their beloved operation with this hip warehouse-style brewpub in Dogpatch (exposed pipe and reclaimed wood abound), which not only boasts a huge, on-site brewing system that can produce up to 30 barrels, but also -- across the room -- smoked-in-house BBQ offerings including sausage, brisket, and Wagyu beef ribs. There's even a full-of-surprises cocktail program that slings exceptional whiskey concoctions like the Dutchman's Flat with rye, ginger, honey, lemon, toasted Nori, and beef bouillon (didn't see that one coming, did you?).
There may be other places in San Francisco to buy top-notch illegal substances, but we're willing to bet that there aren't many near a late-night chicken & waffles joint. Of course, this spot is in the Tenderloin, and is armed with a menu that features bacon wrapped fried chicken sandwiches, buttermilk waffles, pulled pork, and more.