Mac 'n cheese is probably the ultimate comfort food, but it can only do its job and make you briefly forget about how much everything sucks if you know where to get a decent bowl -- that’s why we nobly put on our stretchy pants, did the delicious research, and tracked down DC’s finest curdy treats.
DC’s 9 best mac 'n cheese dishes
The Pinch -- Mac 'n' Quack
Two words make this dish DC’s best mac: duck bacon. The CoHi watering hole won’t tell you how it’s made (cool or scary?) but they do make it in-house. Also, important note: this Gouda-laced heart stopper is only available Mondays (as are free JELL-O shots!).
Oohh’s and Aahh’s -- Macaroni & Cheese
This classic soul food spot serves classic soul food mac 'n cheese -- the recipe's been in the family for three generations, it combines six different cheeses, weighs in at a just $3.95, and is totally delicious.
Cheesetique -- Bacon ‘N Blue
So, this may well be THE best Alexander Hammy you can spend in the state of Virginia. Cambozola cheese (Gorg’s somehow stinkier cousin) commingles with crumbled bacon, roasted toms, and fusilli pasta. Also? The spot’s a wine bar and cheese shop to boot, so you can get a little of the goodness to take home with you.
Range -- Old Bay Lobster Mac
Old Bay seasoning plus Parmesan and cheddar cheese combine with oversized "macaroni" (seriously, they're GIANT) before being topped with generous hunks of Maine lobster. Sure, it's a little exorbitant at $18, but it's completely worth it, and it's definitely no side dish.
Co-Co Sala -- Bacon Mac & Cheese
Can a chocolate emporium produce award-winning mac 'n cheese?? Apparently so, and they can even brazenly include chocolate in it too. This sucker comes with a thick slab of chocolate-covered bacon to be stirred into the four cheese-covered orecchiette, and it works like a freaking dream.
The Pig -- Truffle Crust Mac & Cheese
The Pig easily scoops the crown for best value, because as fancy as "truffle crust" sounds, and as delicious as these Gruyere, white cheddar, and goat cheese-filled mini-crocks are, they’re actually crazy reasonable. In fact, when was the last time you got truffle ANYTHING for $7.50?
Founding Farmers -- Macaroni and Cheese
For those feeling a little nostalgic, there’s Founding Farmers' mac 'n cheese, which is loaded with childhood staples -- we’re talking ham, peas, and apples -- and of course there’s Gouda and Gruyere in there too (otherwise it would just be "Macaroni and").
Stoney’s on L -- Buffalo Mac-N-Cheese
If you took a buffalo wing and used it as a whisk in a super creamy mac 'n cheese until it completely disintegrated but magically left no bones behind, you’d get Stoney’s famed Mac-N-Cheese. It’s all in there: buffalo sauce, grilled chicken, diced celery, and crumbled bleu cheese sauce. Sure, you can get this game-day classic on P Street, but L Street is just so new and shiny (read: better bathrooms).
The rumors are true -- CapMac, which closed its window in 2013, will be imminently resurrected under fan-turned-owner Josh Warner, and bringing back its frankly incredible Classic CapMac’n Cheese, which throws together cheddar, pimento, and a Cheez-It crumble.
Laura Hayes is a contributing writer at Thrillist and the founder of Best Thing on the Menu. She counteracts her passion for food and killer cocktails with CrossFit and corgi walks. Follow her adventures @BTMenu.
1. Oohh's & Aahh's1005 U St NW, Washington
2. The Pig1320 14th St NW , Washington
3. The Pinch3548 14th St NW, Washington
4. CheesetiqueCampbell Ave, Arlington
5. RANGE5335 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington
6. Co Co. Sala929 F st. NW, Washington
7. Founding Farmers1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington
8. Stoney's On L2101 L St NW, Ste. 103, Washington
Conveniently located on U Street and open until 4a on weekends for your late-night soul food satiation, Oohh's and Aahh's (cash-only) delivers on delicious fried chicken, wings, and mac n' cheese.
From the folks behind Logan Tavern and The Heights, The Pig's got a pork-focused sharing menu and a rustic, general store feel: Frederick-sourced barn wood walls, and an entire bar made from a huge butcher's block, so -- chop chop! -- get to drinking on it.
Kept as low-lit as you'll be well-lit, Pinch has got a cement-topped bar serving up a quality beer list starting at $5 and a kitchen whose eats are kept under $10, meaning your fatness will be rivaled only by that of your wallet as you feast in a dive painted bright red and outfitted with reclaimed barstools from Ruff & Ready.
Cheese, cheese, and more cheese. The best of which might be their various mac and cheese varieties or their grilled cheese sammies, but we'll let you be the judge of that.
Bryan Voltaggio's sleek restaurant inside the Chevy Chase Pavilion is an ambitious dining concept, with 300 tables inside the 14,000sqft space. The vaguely American, vaguely Italian menu has a truly impressive range (sorry not sorry). It has salads, wood-oven pizzas, a raw bar, terrines & pates, superb pastas, roasted meats, and a selection of fresh-baked breads. Open for dinner and weekend brunch, Range is where you go when you want to look and feel like a power player.
Co Co. Sala's upscale eatery in Penn Quarter is all about chocolate, whether it's in the form of hand-made candies, cocktails, or other desserts (they even expanded the restaurant to include a full-service chocolate boutique). They even mange to work it into some of their Italian-American fare like mac & cheese with chocolate-covered bacon and crispy buffalo chicken sliders with chocolate nib buns. Where its penchant for decadence really shows, however, is in its stone and gold interior.
This spot was doing farm-to-table before it was even cool; enjoy your tasty, sustainable, family-farmed eats in a LEED-certified setting that's as green as the food.
This place has been feeding DC some of the city's best burgers, brews, grilled cheese, and mac and cheese since '68. They've got this pleasing people with awesome food thing down pat.