We have an “Eat This” category at the Observer, and I’m so glad we do because it gives us a chance to share with the world something we’ve eaten that we just can’t stop thinking about. We tell our friends, we throw it on social media, we think about it the next day, maybe dream about it a week later.
A recent bite like that happened for me at a good standby — you know, one of those restaurants everyone already knows that stays packed because it consistently delivers what people want: Jonathon’s Oak Cliff.
It’s been around since 2011, dishing out arguably the best chicken and waffles in town, complete with superb gravy. That's what it’s known for, but people need to think of it for other foods, too. One of those is definitely the macaroni and cheese.
Yeah, yeah. Kid food. A side that’s usually not as great as you want it to be. A food that comes out of a box.
Here, you get a heavy, creamy cheese sauce, good enough to stand on its own as decadent soup, but instead it wraps around pasta, creating a bite that comforts you the moment you taste it. Before you get to that point, you see the little bowl with its heaping serving and know this is something special.
“It’s more of an execution thing; we just stay true to what macaroni and cheese is,” says co-owner Jonathon Erdeljac, “heavy cream, butter, American cheese, cheddar, and salt and pepper.”
But each of these calorie-rich cups is made to order, which means you might have a longer wait time — the only real consistent complaint this North Oak Cliff spot gets.
“We’re real proud of it,” Erdeljac says. “I like it with any of the sandwiches.”
That’s fair. Though when I went in for the patty melt and got this as a side, I mostly ate the side of cheese, or pasta, however you can manage to look at it. Its richness can fill you up.
Erdeljac laughs about it but is admittedly confused about how many people request the dish at breakfast. (It’s not offered on the brunch menu because they’re still packed on the weekends and need to get food out the kitchen door as quickly as possible.) While I don’t know about a macaroni and cheese I can claim as better, I can’t imagine wanting it next to some perfectly fried eggs. Maybe it’s some secret combo that works that no one thinks to ever try.
A pro tip he does offer: Go in and order a side of fried chicken and a side of macaroni and cheese for a quick, less heavy meal of filling foods.
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The cheese sauce is expertly done because sauces are part of Erdeljac’s background. He points to Kessler Park Eating House, which was serving house-made sauces such as Alfredo. (That spot is now Jonathon's Diner, serving the same fare as Jonathon's Oak Cliff.)
“I’ve always been really passionate about sauces and simple things,” he says.
And I guess I am, too, because this “simple” macaroni and cheese has me wanting to make trips to North Oak Cliff more often.
Jonathon's Oak Cliff, 1111 N. Beckley Ave. (North Oak Cliff). Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday.