Editor’s Note: When we hunger for clever twists on the classics we grew up with, we take to these savvy restaurants, where everything old is newfangled again. Say hello to the Best New Comfort Foods.
We’ve come a long way from the Kraft packet’s bright-orange pixie dust. But whether a restaurant returns to the old casserole days or creates an entirely new macaroni food group loaded with every salty, spicy, bacony add-in imaginable, this carb-laden dream is certainly enjoying a moment in Indy.
The Mac-n-Chz at Carmel’s shared-plate restaurant was the creation of Divvy executive chef–owner Richelle Rider, who tops her rendition with buttered and herbed panko breadcrumbs and an extra layer of Romano, and then broils it in its own serving dish.
71 W. City Center Dr., Carmel, 317-706-0000, divvycarmel.com
Fire By The Monon
Loaded with plenty of Monterey Jack and sharp white cheddar, the Dirty Mac breaks with tradition by adding smoked pulled pork and a cheese base set ablaze with hot sauce.
6523 Ferguson St., 317-252-5920, firebythemonontrail.com
Co-owner John Robertson based his recipe on a version that his mother used to make. It contains three simple ingredients—macaroni, longhorn Colby cheese, and milk—baked until the top gets crunchy.
5614 E. Washington St., 317-536-2028, thelegendcafe.com
Rockstone Pizzeria Pub
The meat-packed Mac Daddy contains bacon, capocollo, and Smoking Goose City Ham baked in asiago sauce. The children’s menu lists a meatless version called Baby Daddy.
11501 Allisonville Rd., Fishers, 317-288-9761, rockstonepizzapub.com
Chef-owner Brad Gates uses French styling in his al dente, cooked-to-order macaroni and cheese. He begins with a thick bechamel sauce seasoned with the likes of Tabasco. To this base, he introduces any number of aged cheeses from his City Market case, perhaps a three-year-aged cheddar or a buzzy coffee-cheddar.
City Market, 222 E. Market St., 317-445-0105, bradgatescatering.com
Bru Burger Bar
Who goes to a burger joint for macaroni and cheese? We do now. Bru’s Roasted Jalapeño Mac and Cheese overflows with andouille sausage and shrimp. But watch out: This one has some kick.
410 Massachusetts Ave., 317-635-4278, bruburgerbar.com
Photos by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the January 2014 issue.