Craft beer, sustainable seafood, trompo tacos, artistic cocktails and slices of grandma: Dallas dining is either emerging from or headed into a culinary construction zone.
But many Dallas restaurants refuse to reject the notion of comfort food and its vital role in a city where not an eyelash bats at a $2,000 sushi tab but also appreciates the hell out of perfectly smoked brisket. And sitting at the very top of the comfort food pyramid (and Maslow's hierarchy of needs) is macaroni and cheese. Or mac-n-cheese. Or mac 'n' cheese. Whatever your preferred format, shit is important. And in many cases around Dallas, forget-to-breathe-between-bites delicious. You have your favorites, and that's fine. Here are our five favorites:
Pecan Lodge (pictured above) Ever been to a barbecue in someone's backyard? Sure you have, you proper Texan. Ever been to a barbecue in someone's backyard and they didn't serve nor did anyone bring macaroni and cheese in a floppy foil pan? Even at six years old, you knew something about that was just wrong.
Pecan Lodge is here to right that wrong. In addition to Dallas' most celebrated inventory of smoked meats, Pecan Lodge also boasts a bacon-blessed, thrice-cheesed version of the childhood staple so immorally delicious, it has caused several of City of Ate's own writers to become inexplicably aroused.
Chicken Scratch Things that $2 can buy: large bag of cheetos, QT taquito, bottle of water, an infuriatingly small quantity of unleaded gasoline, a can of beans, several hundred Natty Lights in Denton on a Thursday night.
Things that $2 can buy that are as awesome as a small side of the green chile and hominy mac n cheese at Chicken Scratch: not a damn thing. The green chiles and globs of glorious cheese are fleetingly reminiscent of Mom's enchiladas, but then tender elbows and hominy come along and remind you that this is mac and cheese time, not enchilada time. So finish your cup and order another one. And if you could bottle up and aerosolize the smell of the dining room and all the air surrounding the rows of tables outside and sell it to me, that would be great, too.
Hattie's A toasted shell of cheese and Panko breadcrumbs the color of a postcard sunset tops this low-country bistro's best side dish, leaving much of what's underneath left up to speculation. But only for a painful second. An impossibly smooth blend of elbows and four cheeses, with the tiniest of bites from pepper jack, wait below, making this dish a grown-up version of mac and cheese so good you'll end up tearing through it like a 5-year-old anyway.
Local I'm pretty sure you could add mascarpone to just about anything and it would make the dish come alive, singing and dancing across the counter like the tiny alien at the end of Spaceballs. Which would be weird, but still oddly delightful. Tracy Miller's take on the classic dish blends Parmesan and Gruyére with a generous sprinkle of Panko breadcrumbs, that dirty mistress mascarpone, and comes to the table piping hot and requiring some patience to avoid a soft palate blister. It's almost cruel, but then oh so kind.
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Oddfellows Oddfellows' signature take on the classic dish had the majority of the dining room in its grips during my most recent visit, bright orange peaks of chicken dotting every other table in view. Get a Ginny from their cocktail menu and bask in their glorious air conditioning. Being an adult is mostly awesome.