The 12 Best Mac & Cheese Dishes In S.F. — YUM!

[UPDATE: This story was originally published on November 13.]
With Thanksgiving around the corner, we are officially in the thick of comfort-food season. And, really, there's no dish that better personifies that genre than good 'ol mac and cheese. Luckily, chefs across our fine city are as big of fans of the ooey-gooey pasta as we are, and are whipping up inventive versions of the classic that will make you say, "Kraft, who?"
Of course, we would never endorse consuming carbs that aren't worth it, so we made it our duty to taste test the best mac-and-cheese offerings in town. From Southern-style versions served in a skillet to menu options that allow you to customize your own bowl (we went with lobster, truffle oil, and arugula), here are 12 tasty treats to order now. Dig in!
Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Green Chile Mac & Cheese at West of Pecos, $8
If you like your mac and cheese with a little kick, this Southwestern dish, which is littered with loads of green chiles, is for you. Served in a skillet, the elbow-macaroni creation is blended together with mild Sage Derby cheddar and roasted chiles straight from New Mexico. We suggest sharing it with a couple friends, along with drinks from the extensive booze menu, and dirt-cheap tacos during happy hour.

West of Pecos, 550 Valencia Street (between 16th and 17th streets); 415-252-7000.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Crispy Mac and Cheese with Herb Tomato Vinaigrette at Andalu, $7.50
The only thing more decadent than macaroni and cheese? Perhaps a deep-fried version of the dish, which is exactly what this Mission joint offers. Served in diagonally cut, bite-sized pieces, these crispy critters are accompanied by a tangy tomato vinaigrette for dipping. Bonus: If you try these delights on "Mac & Cheese Mondays," the 6-piece plate will be a mere $2.

Andalu, 3198 16th Street (at Guerrero Street); 415-621-2211.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Baked Macaroni & Cheese at Wayfare Tavern, $9
One of our tip-top faves on this list, we're pretty much obsessed with the creamy texture and luxe flavor combo of this Tyler Florence classic. With Vella dry jack cheese, Cubeb pepper (imported all the way from Java), rich, smoked olive oil, and topped with crunchy bread crumbs, this is exactly what $9 mac and cheese is supposed to taste like. Plus, you can't beat the sexy setting you'll enjoy it in.

Wayfare Tavern, 558 Sacramento Street (between Montgomery and Sansome streets); 415-772-9060.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Baked Mac & Cheese at The Front Porch, $6
In the same way Wayfare nails the upscale version of the classic dish, we think The Front Porch gets it just right when it comes to a true home-style option. The dirty South venue offers a supremely cheesy skillet with just the right blend of mild and sharp queso. And to break up the super-comforting flavor, guests are served a duo of hot sauces that are fit for the pairin'.

The Front Porch, 65a 29th Street (between Guerrero and Mission streets); 415-695-7800.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Buffalo Mac 'n Cheese at Greenburger's, $6
Think Lower Haight's Greenburger's is just about patties? Well, don't let the name fool you. This spot also serves up a mean mac, along with other carb-y classics. Meat-lovers will go wild for the Buffalo Mac 'n Cheese, which contains a medley of cheese, chunks of chicken, and a spicy sauce. Vegetarians can opt to indulge in the dish, minus the pollo, and there's also a classic mac 'n cheese on the menu for those who don't like to mess with a good thing.

Greenburger's, 518 Haight Street (at Fillmore Street); 415-829-2491.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Mac n Cheese Grilled Cheese at The American Grilled Cheese, $8
If two of the most storied comfort-food staples had a love child, it might just be called the Mac n Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich, served up at the single-focus panini palace that is The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. Just don't forget to order a side of smokey tomato soup for dunking. We think it's totally necessary to cut through the heavy Tillamook cheese.

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, 1 South Park Avenue, #103A (between Brannan and Bryant streets); 415-243-0107.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Mac-n-Cheese at Paragaon, $7
Sure, this wonder appears on the menu of a sports bar ... but it's surprisingly refined. Presented in a pretty little ramekin, the gooey dish has a strong rosemary undertone, rich twangs of white cheddar, and a yummy parmesan topping that you'll have to break through to get to the noodles.

Paragaon, 701 2nd Street (at Townsend Street); 415-537-9020.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Pretty Much Everything at Homeroom 510, $7.95 to $14.50
Think a restaurant completely devoted to mac and cheese was something you just dreamt about? Au contraire! The Oakland outpost Homeroom 510 is all about the precious pasta, made with local artisanal cheese, and has more versions that we can list here. Some highlights: Mac the Goat, with fresh chevre and sliced scallions, and the Trailer Mac, layered with Niman Ranch hot-dog slices and topped with crushed potato chips.

Homeroom 510, 400 40th Street (at Shafter Avenue), Oakland; 510-597-0400.

Photo: Courtesy of Homeroom/Dan Jung
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Wild Mushroom Mac & Cheese at La Boulange, $9
Need to get your mac fix in a pinch? Head to any of La Boulange's plethora of locations around town and order the Wild Mushroom Mac & Cheese. The flavorful dish is chock-full of 'shrooms and fancy truffle oil (and it comes with toast for scooping) for an all-together rich bite that is consistent, no matter which colorful cafe you pop into.

La Boulange, various locations.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Macaroni & Cheese with Herbed Breadcrumbs at Presidio Social Club, $10
For all of you Marina dwellers, this clubby venue on the edge of the Presidio seems like an appropriately indulgent spot to, well, indulge in this fresh-out-the-oven meal. One bite and you can tell the smooth cheeses are top-notch and the herbed breadcrumbs add just the right amount of crunch.

Presidio Social Club, 563 Ruger Street (off of Lombard Street); 415-885-1888.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Customize Mac & Cheese Bar at Grub, $10 and up
Want to create your own mac-attack fantasy? Look no further than Valencia Street's Grub cafe, which offers a custom mac & cheese "bar," allowing folks to create their own bowls, with toppings such as Maine lobster, sun-dried tomatoes, shaved fennel, and fifteen other options. Whatever your heart desires will be mixed into a batch of fusilli pasta, blended with white and sharp cheddar and grana padana, and topped with parmesan breadcrumbs. A gluten-free version is available upon request.

Grub, 758 Valencia Street (between 18th and 19th street); 415-431-4782.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Gorgonzola Mac-n-Cheese at Solstice, $8 to $14
Feeling fruity? Try this unique mac mix, which reminds us of a traditional blue-cheese salad (minus all the leafy stuff). The gratin-like dish isn't for the light of heart (er, palate), with super-rich cheese throughout, and topped with toasted walnut "dust," and an overflowing pile of crisp Granny Smith apples.

Solstice, 2801 California Street (at Divisadero Street); 415-359-1222.

Photographed by Maria del Rio