For traditionalists, it doesn't get better than Joan's casserole-style mac with three cheeses. No breadcrumbs, no herbs, no bacon, just a rectangular block of cheese and noodles with a strong resemblance to a rock-climbing wall, or porous hieroglyphics. 8350 W. Third St., Los Angeles. (323) 655-2285.8. Edendale
Edendale Grill was taken over by one of its bartenders in 2010 and renamed Edendale. The other changes weren't hugely significant either, but enough to warrant a revisit, if only to taste the baked mac & cheese, which is a house specialty. Two kinds of cheddar and mozzarella combine in a lightly grainy cream, reminiscent of a matured Stouffer's. (Don't kid yourself, Stouffer's makes a serious cheese sauce.) Topped with a generous ration of melted mozzarella and baked into a browned and melty coverlet, it's alternately soft and crusty, with a handful of chile-garlic breadcrumbs. It doesn't need bacon or jalapeño, but for an extra dollar, why not? 2838 Rowena Ave., Silver Lake. (323) 666-2000.7. Fred 62
Fred's Mac Daddy Balls, a deep-fried version of its Mac Daddy and Cheese, registers a combination of nuclear engineering and stoner imagination. Jack cheese, mozzarella, cotija and crème fraiche with mild green pasilla chiles. Oh, and macaroni. Which is to say there was macaroni, before Fred's deep-fryer set to work breaking down molecular structures of each ingredient like a cheesy Chernobyl, melting them into a hot ball of fat and starch. At first crispy, then stringy with a tickle of spice, their semblance to mozzarella sticks may tempt you to dip them in ranch dressing. No one here will judge. 1850 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz. (323) 667-0062.
Turn the page for #6, etc...