If you love macaroni and cheese, like with the kind of rabid passion that might get you in fights with groups of hungry kindergartners, you might be happy, maybe even overjoyed, to learn that the dish comes in more than just its conventional form these days. Weird options, odd combinations -- stuff that the think tank at Frito-Lay might dream about. We found three dishes on menus around town in which mac 'n' cheese is the star ingredient -- but in ways you might not expect. Turn the page for a consideration of them all, ranked in order from the least to the most unexpected combination.
3. Southern fried mac 'n' cheese at Cafe 50's
There are two Cafe 50's locations in L.A. proper, with the same nostalgic decor and the same Americana menu, leaning heavily on burgers, shakes and fries. The Southern fried mac 'n' cheese has been dialed up for attitude. Flat triangular, almost nugget-like, patties of mac 'n' cheese are formed, battered, then fried to a dark gold color. A large side of ranch dressing is served with each order -- which you'll hardly need, since the macaroni inside has already been heavily inundated with cheddar. 850 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 906-1955.
2. Mac 'n' cheese pizza at Pizzanista
We may have grown blasé about pizza toppings -- duck and barbecue chicken -- but even so Pizzanista's mac 'n' cheese pizza comes as something of a shock. A special available only on Sundays, the pizza is nearly blanketed by the pasta, at times two layers deep. The first few bites are spent in contemplation of textures; the macaroni might be a tad too dry and under-seasoned to think in any other terms. But that misses the point entirely -- of a large wedge of mac 'n' cheese with edges crisped from the oven. 2019 E. 7th St., Los Angeles; (213) 627-1430.
1. Mac'n'cheese pancake at Blue Plate
Mixing savory and sweet isn't new: Think maple bacon doughnuts. At Blue Plate, a shell mac 'n' cheese meets buttermilk pancake batter to create a pretty eccentric co-existence of flavors. When you order it, you'll be asked if you've ever tried it. If you haven't, you'll be walked through the experience. You get one flapjack with a side recommendation of butter, hot sauce and maple syrup. And you will -- you've already come this far, haven't you. With each bite, you'll say to yourself, it's a pancake; alternately followed by, no, it's griddled mac 'n' cheese. By the time you think you've got a handle of the situation, you'll have finished two-thirds and arrive no closer to an answer. 1415 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 260-8877.
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