I love mac and cheese. Love, love, love. If mac and cheese is on the menu, I will hands down order it every time. We even served it passed in little cups with tiny spoons as appetizers at our wedding. Obsessed, I tell you. So since I have chewed my way through a lot of mac and cheese, I’d like to pass along some hot spots where you can go to hunt down the best in the bay.
Solstice on California Street in San Francisco is one of my ultimate favorites. Their gorgonzola mac and cheese is rich, creamy, amazing and just to make it a little different it’s topped with toasted walnut dust and diced granny smith apples. My mouth is literally watering while I am typing this, and I am also a little bit obsessed with their french fries to be completely truthful. I know, french fries and mac and cheese. SUPER healthy combo.
Nova, just up the street from Pac Bell Park has a baked mac and cheese that will knock your socks off. Yellow and white vermont cheddar and a breadcrumb crust are a match made in heaven. And just to make yourself feel a little healthier about your dinner choice, you have the option to add in broccoli which is absolutely delicious. You can also add in black forest ham, which I don’t usually do because I am so busy kidding myself with the broccoli, but I have tried it with the ham, and it’s killer.
Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe in Emeryville has weekday specials, and Thursday is the night to hit it up, as it is Combat Mac and Cheese night. Combat Mac and Cheese features a six cheese blend, topped with bread crumbs, MORE cheese and chives. You also have the option of adding in chicken or tuna, but I personally haven’t wanted to mess with perfection and try that out.
The mac and cheese at The Tipsy Pig in the Marina rocks four different cheeses, and say it with me people, BACON. A lot of bacon. Don’t walk, run, this stuff is amazing. And just in case you aren’t lucky enough to live close to The Tipsy Pig, here is the recipe for this amazing dish…
Tipsy Pig Mac ‘n’ Cheese
From Sam Josi, head chef at The Tipsy Pig. The sauce base can be made a day or two ahead, and refrigerated until ready to use. This recipe uses 4 cups of the sauce base; freeze the extra 2 cups for a later date. When ready to use the frozen sauce, thaw it, cook another couple strips bacon and a half pound of pasta, and finish the dish as directed.
- 1 pound dry ditalini pasta (about 9 cups cooked)
- — Olive oil
- 3 strips thick-cut bacon, unsmoked or lightly smoked (about 3 ounces)
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter (2 ounces)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 quart whipping cream at room temperature + 1/4 cup more, or as needed to finish the dish
- 3 cups grated white cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons crumbled Shropshire or other blue cheese (about 1 ounce)
- 2 cups grated Gouda cheese (about 6 ounces)
- — Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, or to taste, for garnish
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, for garnish
Instructions: Cook pasta in boiling salted water until a little past al dente, about 10 to 11 minutes. Drain, plunge into cold water, drain again and toss with a little olive oil to prevent clumping; set aside.
Finely chop the bacon and cook over low heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon, drain on paper towels and reserve. Strain the bacon fat and reserve it to finish the pasta.