Zena Marchant isn’t afraid of being a little cheesy.
Although this could describe a personality that’s prone to overly silly (or pun-ny) jokes, she means this quite literally. Most nights, mac and cheese is on the menu.
But this goes beyond the side dishes that frequent kid’s menus. Zena Marchant regularly scours the city searching for elevated, chef-worthy creations. As a facility manager, she is also pursuing LEED and project management certifications from NYU. Yet finding the best mac and cheese may be a full-time job in itself. No one said adulting was easy.
Luckily, Zena Marchant has already done the tough work for you. If you too crave spoonfuls of creamy comfort, dig into her list below. Zena Marchant serves up five of her favorite mac and cheese spots in NYC.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
The on-site cheesemaking facility produces more than 25 different cheeses and can be viewed from the street. But that barely scratches the surface. The 8,000-square foot monolith spans three floors, housing a shop, restaurant, and cafe. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese values quality over quantity. The Seattle import does offer some additional topping options, like pork belly and crab. However, this dish is best enjoyed as is.
Earl’s Beer and Cheese
Although “beer” gets top billing, cheese is equally important at this Upper East Side institution. For its mac and cheese, the restaurant ditches the traditional blend of cheddar or jack. Instead, Earl’s delivers a goat cheese and rosemary entree that is creamy and herbaceous. But Zena Marchant isn’t alone in her admiration for this cheese lover’s paradise. Earl’s Beer and Cheese has received rave reviews from major publications, like the New York Times, Zagat, and Bon Appétit Magazine.
S’MAC is short for Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese. But this restaurant hasn’t abbreviated its menu. It’s nearly impossible to choose just one item. Opt for a classic four-cheese dish. Or feed your wild side by trying an outside-the-box fusion, like the Mediterranean. This contains sauteed spinach, roasted garlic, and kalamata olives, all combined together with goat cheese. And, each entree can be ordered as regular, multi-grain, or gluten-free. Zena Marchant encourages you to bring a friend so you can sample as many varieties as possible.
Root & Bone
Root & Bone scoffs at the idea of mac and cheese being reduced to being merely a “side dish.” In fact, their offerings are big enough to share family-style. In addition to classics like fried chicken and shrimp and grits, the mac and cheese deviates from the norm. It puts a spin on the Southern-inspired fare, featuring Gruyere cheese, diced onion, paprika, and Creole mustard. In a unique twist, it’s topped off with buttery, crumbled biscuits.
This popular joint, located on the Upper West Side, plates up generous, shareable portions. Known for its brunch selection, Jacob’s Pickles adds a final flourish that sets it apart from its competitors. When you order the meal-sized version, the chefs will brûlée the top, creating a crust that is especially satisfying. Although their original is divine, Zena Marchant recommends the Midnight Mac & Cheese. It comes with jalapenos, sausage, and is finished with a sunny-side-up egg.