Eat This

NHS Tavern's Cheeto-Crusted Mac & Cheese Is Evil. Creamy, Delicious Evil.

I wish I had never ordered the mac and cheese at Neighborhood Services Tavern. But there it was, beckoning me with its siren song from the bottom of the menu, listed under "$5 Sides": Cheeto-crusted mac and cheese.

Cheetos have, in recent years, made their way onto my "Do Not Eat" list, but in my younger days they were my favorite junky snack. I can remember on at least one occasion waking up with neon orange dust all over my pillow after a Cheeto-fest just prior to passing out intoxicated. (Good times.)

So I expected NHST's mac to be pretty delicious, but I wasn't at all prepared for what was to come. It arrived at the table innocently enough, I suppose -- an oval ramekin of oversized elbows amidst gooey molten cheese, shamelessly topped off with a handful of the crunchy snacks so beloved by one Mr. Chester Cheetah.

I grabbed a fork and dug in. The first bite was almost unbelievably good; the cheese sauce was gooey and creamy and stringy all at the same time, and perfectly smooth on my tongue. It was intensely cheesy and exploding with flavor. (NHST seasons their food pretty aggressively, which I happen to enjoy. Do not fear the salt.)

The next bite I made sure to capture a Cheeto on my fork and it was pure ecstatic bliss in my mouth. Crunchy, creamy, gooey, cheesy, salty, ohmygodpleasecancelmyentreeandbringmore.

I actually got more mac & cheese to go -- Cheetos on the side so they don't get soggy -- and ate it later that night from the comfort and privacy of my couch. (We needed to be alone together.)

I fear I will need to revisit this at least bi-weekly to satiate my cheese demons. That's okay, I didn't really want to wear a bikini this summer anyway.

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Whitney Filloon