The unstoppable rise of brunch across the capital has created a revolution in pre-noon foods. Mac and cheese is now a perfectly acceptable option to have alongside huevos rancheros, and few places do it better than HotBox in Spitalfields. Achieving a truly great smoked mac and cheese is a difficult feat that few restaurants manage, but HotBox have accomplished it. Break through the crispy top layer and plunge a fork into the gooey depths, twirling away any rogue strands of cheese. With the right balance of creaminess and smokiness, it’s a sophisticated side. Just don’t make the mistake of offering to share it.
46-48 Commercial St, London, UK, +44 207 247 1817
If mac and cheese alone isn’t indulgent enough for you, the Riding House Cafe have taken the dish one step further by deep frying it. Their macaroni cheese fritter is a must eat for any aspiring connoisseur of the dish. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, the fritter is accompanied by a garlicky romesco sauce. Pea salad and crisp shaved fennel add freshness to the meal, redeeming it from being stodgy. The Riding House have created a surprising twist on a classic while steering clear of gimmicks. A must try.
43-51 Great Titchfield St, London, UK, +44 207 927 0840
Grab mac on the move thanks to the prolific Anna Mae’s. To be found at all the most illustrious London locations, Anna Mae’s is a perennial delight. To start with, the names: help yourself to a Kanye Western, a Spicy Juan, or a Don Macaroni. Then there’s the ginormous pan, where the macaroni is cooked before your very eyes. Sauces are light and never too rich, and the toppings range from jalapeños and sour cream to basil and mozzarella, so there’s something to suit all tastes. Kerb and Streetfeast are regular pit-stops, but Twitter has the most up to date information for tracking the truck down. Locate Anna Mae’s on a chilly day at an outdoor event and their food will warm both your hands and your heart.
Various locations around London, trackable on Twitter @Anna_Maes
It would be criminal to put together a feature without mentioning the joy of a decent truffled mac and cheese. While this particular variation is now a stalwart of many restaurant menus, a well-executed version is rare. A mere touch of greasy truffle oil alone never quite makes the grade, which is why Tom’s Kitchen is a worthy inclusion. Underscored by a layer of black truffle as well as the prerequisite drizzle of white truffle oil, Tom’s Kitchen have created an earth pleasure. That isn’t to say the original version isn’t worthy, a combination of cheddar, parmesan and Gruyère make for a classic mac.
27 Cale St, London, UK, +44 207 349 0202
The aptly named Crack & Cheeze is a stellar addition to London’s mac and cheese landscape. While chicken is rightfully the star at Ma’Plucker, mac and cheese fans should make a pilgrimage to Soho for this side alone. This delicious bomb of deep-fried macaroni manages to retain both creaminess and crispiness, transporting you to pasta heaven. Forming part of a playful and inventive menu, this is the side that will have dinner companions gasping in envy. Accompany with ice tea and follow with cherry pie for the full Ma’Plucker experience. A brief warning: Crack & Cheeze is dangerously addictive, and caution should be exercised when trying it.
75 Beak St, London, UK, +44 207 096 2046
Sometimes, simply deep-frying mac and cheese is not enough. When all possible adaptations have been exhausted, then it’s time to head to Melt Room in Soho. This is the holy trinity of comfort food, mac and cheese in a toastie, fried. Melt Room’s take on mac and cheese is everything you want in a sandwich, and more. Decadent doesn’t even begin to cover it, so go prepared. This is the toasted cheese sandwich that dreams are made of, and a welcome addition for lovers of any combination of cheese, pasta, and toasties. They don’t come much better than this.
26 Noel St, London, UK, +44 207 096 2002