Boiled noodles and melted cheese. Who knew such an unsuspecting combo would turn into a beloved and classically comforting dish for kids and adults alike? When it comes to serving up the culinary mainstay at your next meal, why not think outside the box (and ditch the bright orange powdered cheese), and head to one of these local L.A. eateries to sink your teeth into these creative and delectable twists on the classic macaroni and cheese.
Joan’s on Third
How about some enlightenment over lunch? Teach tots about the shape of things by ordering up a block of macaroni and cheese at famed gourmet deli Joan’s on Third. Served in cube form, this dish is anything but square. Kids will love digging into their very own ration of macaroni and cheese fashioned from a secret homemade recipe from Joan’s very own mother — and Joan’s grandchildren, ages 2 and 5 are huge fans of her delicious mac and cheese. The perfect combo of three cheeses, which often rotate to switch things up a bit, and elbow macaroni will satisfy and delight kids of all ages. $4.75/square serving.
8350 West Third Street
Los Angeles, Ca 90048
Mac and Cheese as finger food? Yes! Check out this literal spin on the traditional dish: Fred 62’s Mac Daddy and Cheese Balls. The chef at this favorite coffee shop, crafts these spherical sensations by rolling the late night diner’s classic mac and cheese dish into balls, coating them with spicy cheese bread crumbs and deep frying them to a crisp, golden brown. They’re served 24/7.
1850 No. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, Ca 90027
The Grilled Cheese Truck
We previously highlighted The Grilled Cheese Truck in our feature:Where to find the best grilled cheese in Los Angeles, and lo and behold, the meals on wheels have made our list for best mac and cheese too. We bet you never imagined the gooey concoction served up in sandwich form, but indeed it is. The Cheesy Mac and Rib sandwich may either be served with macaroni and cheese or sharp cheddar ‘stuck in the middle’ for $6 or with BBQ pork and caramelized onions for $7.75. If your kiddo prefers his mac sans bread, the truck also offers their mac and cheese in a cup for $3.25.
The Grilled Cheese Truck travels to various locations throughout the Los Angeles area, with a different itinerary daily. Check the site to see where the truck stops near you.
Gluten or dairy free? No problem! Your kids can still belly up to a delicious helping of mac and cheese at Veggie Grill. Everything on the menu is vegan, and their mac and cheese is made with quinoa pasta, which is rich in protein, iron and fiber. Gluten-free as well! Their “cheese” mixture is a blend of tapioca and arrowroot, and although the dish sounds decidedly alternative, it is a surefire hit with kids. Either order the Mac-n-Cheese as a starter/side for $3.50 or select the dish as a Kid’s Entree for $6.25. It will come with either sweet potato fries (one serving of these delicious fries contains over a day’s worth of Vitamin A), mandarin oranges or carrot sticks. Chocolate pudding or a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. All menu items are free of cholesterol, trans fat and high-fructose corn syrup, and their desserts are free of dairy, cholesterol and refined sugar. Note: when you order the Mac-n-Cheese as a side, it comes with toasted garlic bread crumbs on top which are not gluten-free… but the bread crumbs don’t come on the Mac-n-Cheese that is served with the kid’s meal. Check the site for a list of multiple locations around La.
110 S. Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, Ca 90036
Many locations! Check the site for the one nearest you!
Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
Who could say no to a heaping helping of macaroni and cheese that is dubbed, “The Real Deal?” Uber popular deli Bay Cities makes their legendary side dish from scratch every day. They won’t give away their secret recipe, but they told us their mac and cheese contains 8 different cheeses. In addition to its great flavor, the mouth-watering meal has toasted breadcrumbs (more akin to croutons) on top with soft cheesy, gooey noodles underneath. Bay Cities is a crazy busy catering to the lunch crowd between 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, but you can head straight to the deli case and ask for The Real Deal, without taking a number and waiting in line. $7.98 per pound. Closed Mondays.
1517 Lincoln Boulevard
Santa Monica, Ca 90401
The kids menu at MILK is what childhood mealtime dreams are made of! Their mac and cheese is made from a good, old-fashioned recipe. They make their American cheddar cheese sauce to order. They then combine the cheese with the elbow macaroni noodles and bake until there’s a crispy crust on top and plenty of melted goodness in the center. The folks at MILK had to add an adult-sized Mac and Cheese entree to their menu because grown-ups kept ordering the delish dish off the kid’s menu. The children’s menu also offers little ones Shirley Temples, Roy Rogers Floats and chocolate, strawberry or caramel milk. MILK is most famous for their decadent and unique variety of offerings in their ice cream parlor. If your kiddo eats all her mac, treat her to a giant ice cream sandwich or a warm ooey gooey chocolate sundae!
7290 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, Ca 90036
This serving of kids mac and cheese is so good that the owners of Wood Ranch put their daughter’s name on it, declaring it “Lauren’s favorite” on the kids menu. The creamy mac and cheese is a basic noodles and cheese combo, but it resonates high on the yummy factor scale with tykes. The kid-sized entree comes with a drink and an array of side dishes ranging from steamed broccoli to skillet baked beans, original peanut coleslaw or fries.
189 The Grove Drive Y-80
Los Angeles, Ca 90036
Thanks to the Red Tricycle readers who chimed in on our Facebook page with the following other restaurants in the LA area serving up their favorite helping of macaroni and cheese:
California Pizza Kitchen, Panera, Reddi Chick in Brentwood Country Mart, Mimi’s Cafe, Whole Foods deli, Cheesecake Factory.
What are your favorite mac and cheese restaurants?