Does anyone else remember that little blue Kraft box when they think of macaroni and cheese?
Although this favorite childhood staple is easy to make, there’s more to it than American cheese and macaroni pasta.
Below are 21 spots in Tucson that go above and beyond the average mac 'n' cheese.
Imagine good ol’ macaroni and cheese. Then lay it on a bed of crispy fries and crunchy Frito corn chips, topped with your choice of brisket or pork belly, barbecue sauce, and cheese. This is the macaroni and cheese barbecue lovers dream of.
For more information visit brushfirebbq.com.
Catalina Barbeque's Baked Mac 'n' Cheese is well worth the westward drive. The rich blend of Pepper Jack and smoked cheddar can be topped with any meat or vegetable. Adding their 14-hour smoked pulled pork is a must.
For more information visit marriott.com.
Cayton’s Black Diamond Mac & Cheese is the ideal baked mac & cheese. The blend of cheeses is perfectly gooey, savory, sharp, and nutty.
For more information visit ritzcarlton.com.
Charro Steak's Chile Verde Mac & Cheese side features four cheeses, green chile, and a crunchy tortilla crumble. Add on pork belly and wash it down with a glass of something sweet.
For more information, visit charrosteak.com.
Choice Greens is not only a stop for salads, sandwiches, and paninis; they offer customizable homestyle macaroni and cheese, too. Large, elbow pasta is mixed with cheddar and parmesan cheese, toppings of your choice (nine to choose from), and baked to golden brown perfection.
For more information visit choicegreens.com.
House-made macaroni, five cheese bechamel, chorizo, crispy shallots, and chile bread crumbs come together in a comforting, gourmet bowl of Commoner & Co. Chorizo Mac & Cheese.
For more information, visit commonertucson.com.
CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar sits more on the fine dining end of the spectrum and is one of five restaurants on the Ritz-Carlton property.
The Brie & Camembert Mac N Cheese with Prosciutto Crumble is served hot from the oven in a cast iron, golden brown and bubbly.
While you’re there, enjoy a glass of wine from their fully stocked cellar (over 1,000 selections to choose from).
For more information visit ritzcarlton.com.
Ec·lec·tic - deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources. It’s the perfect name to embody this café's offerings.
Their macaroni and cheese is no longer just macaroni and cheese. The McGina And Cheese features a blend of jalapeño cream sauce, spinach, and bacon topped with tortilla strips and paprika.
For more information visit eclecticcafetucson.com.
Ermanos features a traditional baked macaroni and cheese topped with fresh herbs and bread crumbs. Pro tip: ask them to mix in the house-made kimchi and bacon.
For more information visit ermanosbrew.com.
The Fix serves the dish in 39 different ways.
Whether you’re in the mood for bacon, lobster, Hawaiian barbecue or jalapeño popper, something on the menu will satisfy your cravings. You can even enjoy your macaroni and cheese in a sandwich — go hard or go home carb-intake philosophy, right?
For more information visit thefixaz.com.
Fleming’s offers two sides of macaroni and cheese. The Chipotle Cheddar features cavatappi, smoked cheddar, and Chipotle Panko breadcrumbs, while the North Atlantic Lobster Macaroni & Cheese adds tender lobster to the mix to step it up. Pair your dish with a smoky Cabernet or a pale ale.
For more information visit flemingssteakhouse.com.
This creamy, thick classic coated in breadcrumbs can be eaten as is or topped with your choice of bacon, chicken, or lobster. Be daring, go for the lobster.
For more information visit hubdowntown.com.
Pastiche’s baked macaroni and cheese is mixed with spinach and mesquite-smoked bacon. Pairing it with Borderland’s La Morena Brown Ale will highlight the smoked Gouda flavor.
For more information visit pasticheme.com.
If you have a late-night craving for this gooey comfort food, head to Jonathan's Cork and ask for their late-night menu at the bar. After 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, the golden-baked parmesan macaroni and cheese will be the ultimate satisfaction (followed by a decadent dessert, if you can squeeze it in).
For more information visit jonathanscork.com.
Grandpa Robert's Mac n' Cheese tastes like something you'd find at your grandpa's potluck if you lived in the south. Order it with Fried Okra and St. Louis Ribs for a southern feast.
For more information, visit kenshardwoodbbq.com.
Sauce uses more than the average number of cheeses to reach creamy perfection in the dish. A blend of Fontina, mozzarella, Havarti, Monterey Jack, Velveeta, and parmesan are used and it's made fresh to order. Gluten-free pasta is also available.
For more information, visit saucepizzaandwine.com.
Not one but four mac 'n' cheese options of sizable portions.
If you're straight up Classic Mac 'n' Cheese, theirs uses cavatappi with white cheddar sauce and breadcrumbs. Mix-ins include smoked chicken, bacon, mushrooms, house-made chorizo, ham, caramelized onions, and andouille sausage. A simple gargantuan-sized dish.
Don't want to build your own? Pick from the Spicy Mac (smoked gouda and Sriracha), Cajun Mac (andouille sausage, red bell pepper, and Cajun spices) or house-smoked BBQ Pulled Pork Mac.
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Of course you can order a side of mac with your meal, but what you really want is a pick from the Loaded Mac and Cheese list. With five creamy options to choose from, come with an appetite.
From spicy mac or an Italian version to simple mac with classic ingredients, there's something for everyone. If that doesn't satisfy, order a towering mac monster with a bed of tortilla chips and your choice of shredded chicken, pork or brisket topped with guac and sour cream. (It's off the menu, so you'll have to ask for it).
If you're on the lookout for a good deal, get the Mac and Cheese Special (any style mac) on Thursdays – it's $9.99 after 6 p.m.
For more information, visit sentinelpeakbrewing.com.
The Eastern seaboard gastropub has soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and two dozen beers on tap. The American, Colby Jack and cheddar macaroni and cheese can be topped with bacon and green chiles. Do it.
For more information visit tridentgrill.com.
The laid-back American gastropub’s menu ranges from fish and chips and pot pie to chicken and waffles and ramen. With such variety, the addition of leek creme to their mac comes as no surprise.
Union's macaroni and cheese appetizer features baked cavatappi, leek crème, and white cheddar with a cracked pepper crust. Add-ons include roasted chicken, bacon confit, house jam, short rib, and jalapeños. It might be an appetizer but it sure is filling.
For more information visit uniontucson.com.
Available after 11 a.m., Welcome Diner's mac and cheese is a delectable work of art. Add Andouille sausage for a touch of indulgence.
For more information, visit welcomediner.net.
[This article was originally written on February 11, 2016 and most recently updated on February 2, 2019. Kate Severino contributed to this author.]