Mac and cheese is sure to please even the toughest critics of the household (and we all know that they usually guide the dinner decisions….)
We’ve all experienced the difficulty of a toddler, child (or adult friend….ahem) who has a difficult time making up their mind when it comes to deciding where to eat. We can’t make up your mind for you and promise that everyone in your household will be happy, but we can guide you in the direction of some of the Champaign-Urbana area’s best restaurant mac and cheese.
In writing up the Champaign-Urbana food trails, we’ve never had such a big response of people wishing to be on this “taste test panel.” If the opportunity were given, one reader commented, they would “100 percent sign up.” Pass the cheese, please……
If there is one thing that we know about this cheesy dish is that it isn’t just for kids. Some days call for a good hearty dish of this favorite comfort food.
We received head nods to Longhorn Steakhouse for its creamy Steakhouse Mac & Cheese with the crunchy bits on top, as well as Panera Bread’s white cheddar macaroni. Noodles & Co. also received more than a few mentions as one reader mentioned animal-shaped noodles that excite her kids.
As with all of our food trail posts, however, we focus on locally owned restaurants around Champaign-Urbana and beyond. (This list is in alphabetical order.)
Black Dog, 320 N. Chestnut St., Champaign: “I love black dog mac & cheese with extra cheese sauce.”
Bobo’s BBQ, 1511 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign: available in individual, pint, or quart sizes, Bobo’s macaroni and cheese was a fan favorite for sure.
C&C Kitchen (food truck) offers Southern inspired American cuisine. “They have a truffle oil mac and cheese that is awesome!” Note that menus at food trucks can change often, but we hear this is a staple.
Caribbean Grill, 2135 S. Neil St., Champaign: Readers couldn’t get enough of Caribbean Grill’s cheesy goodness; most say it’s a taste for adults, but if your kiddos like a little kick in their food – have them try it, too. “My favorite is at Caribbean Grill. It has jalapeño in it so my kids don’t like it but it is so good!” “Caribbean Grill. Easy.” ” Caribbean Grill, hands down!” “Caribbean Grill has THE BEST mac and cheese in this town and maybe anywhere ever! If anyone says differently, they are wrong.”
Everyday Kitchen, 1807 S. Neil St., Champaign: Featuring its 5-cheese mac and cheese, adults and children alike swoon over this dish. “My favorite is to add the shishito peppers to it.” “It’s the roasted poblano peppers that set it apart!” Easily adapted to kids as well, they feature a variation without all the bells and whistles.
Farren’s Pub & Eatery, 117 N. Walnut St., Champaign: Farren’s received several nods of approval for their mac and cheese. We sought out to find more information about this special menu item because….mac and cheese, Farren’s….what a combination! They do have a special gouda mac and cheese that finds its’ way onto the menu on special occasions and from what we’ve heard…..it’s delicious!
Hamilton Walker’s, 201 N. Neil St., Champaign: Featuring macaroni and cheese topped with delectable breadcrumbs (or without the breadcrumbs for kids,) readers were quite enthusiastic about their dish. One reader stated her favorite mac and cheese comes from Hamilton Walker’s “hands down.”
Harvest Market, 2029 S. Neil St., Champaign: Available for carryout, as an accompaniment to your next home cooked meal, or for dine-in, Harvest Market was touted as having good mac and cheese.
Hickory River Smokehouse, 1706 N. Cunningham Ave., Urbana: “Our out-of-town guests always ask to go to Hickory River for their mac and cheese. The kids as well as the adults always order a dish (or two).” “Hickory River has a pretty awesome mac and cheese!”
JT Walker’s Restaurant and Brewery, 401 E. Main St., Mahomet: “Try their grown up mac and cheese with bacon, mushroom, green onion, garlic, truffle oil, three-cheese blend, and macaroni.” They also feature a kids plain mac and cheese, so an easy compromise can be made on this dinner destination.
Mamma D’s Smokehouse Restaurant & Catering, 430 Maple St., Weldon: Readers remembered Mamma D’s cheesy delight from Taste of Champaign and claim that they “have the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had in my life!”
Project 47 Smokehouse, 101 N. Lombard St., Mahomet: Offered as a premium side, atop a hot dog, or as a build-your-own creation, Project 47 Smokehouse offers customization for the mac and cheese lover in your family. Choose from elbow macaroni, a three cheese blend, and your choice of bacon, chicken, pulled pork, turkey, ham or polish sausage. They also feature a kid’s mac and cheese without the extras. “Their macaroni has just a little kick to it!” “Project 47 in Mahomet has fire mac and cheese.” “We love the build-your-own mac and cheese deliciousness!”
Silvercreek, 402 N. Race St., Urbana: Offering a full or half portion of their famous lobster mac and cheese, readers enthusiastically recommended Silvercreek “because how can you go wrong with lobster, cheese, and pasta?” The dish is served with gruyere cheese, lobster, scallions, bacon, mushrooms, and bread crumbs. A gourmet mac and cheese is available on the lunch menu without the lobster addition.
Watson’s Shack & Rail, 211 N. Neil St., Champaign: Featuring a green chili and white cheddar mac and cheese, Watson’s side dish could easily become your entire meal.
Wood ‘N Hog, 500 Walnut St., Champaign or 101 W. University Ave., Urbana: Offering its signature baked mac and cheese for catering or as an addition to your meal, readers stated that Wood ‘N Hog “tastes like homemade – because it is.” “It tastes like mamma made it.”
Know of an addition to this list? Let us know what you love about it and email us. We could all use a little more comfort food in 2020.
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