Science can’t agree on much, but there’s no doubt the ultimate pasta-cheese-combo is still macaroni. They’re bendy pleasure tubes of al dente potential, no two ever quite alike. And if mac n’ cheese is your poison in Melbourne, there’s no shortage of places to get it. Mac n’ cheese balls, rac n’ mac, mac burger patties, fluoro orange Cheezel dust—if it’s bad new for arteries, it’s good news for us.
Here are the best places to get mac n’ cheese in Melbourne.
Halloumi Mac n’ Cheese Balls | Zeus Street Greek
Moonee Ponds you’ve done it again. Zeus Street Greek popped up in 2018, making a name for itself with wicked souvas and loaded fries. But they’ve just launched a winter menu that features something new: halloumi mac n’ cheese balls. Panko crumbed spheres of grilled halloumi, perfect cooked mac and cheese sauce, with a spicy harissa dip. Now all we need is saganaki mac n’ cheese and everything will be falling into place.
Rac n’ Mac | Smithward
Exactly what it sounds like: creamy mac n' cheese, topped with molten Raclette, grilled to order and scraped right off the loaf (‘loaf’ might not be the technical term for a hunk of raclette, but it’s good enough). You can get this bad boy at Smithward on Smith St: a cosy little wine bar, run by Georgina Russell and Graham Hill. There’s no kitchen here, but that hasn’t slowed things down. Not with raclette mac n’ cheese on the menu.
Southern Style Mac n’ Cheese | Belles Hot Chicken
Morgan McGlone perfected his mac n’ cheese recipe while working for Sean Brock at Husk Charleston in the States. It’s got three types of cheese in there: smoked, sharp and processed (aka plastic). And that processed American cheddar is important—it gives this mac a sticky, tongue-coating audacity. Throw in a homemade béchamel, smoked cheddar and fresh gouda (plus a pinch of white pepper) and you’ve got one hell of a side. Don’t even bother with the salads at Belles Hot Chicken—anyone ordering mac n’ cheese will give you serious food envy.
Lobster Mac n’ Cheese | Meatmaiden
Because mac n’ cheese wasn’t rich enough, right? The geniuses behind the pass at Meatmaiden have added chunks of delicate poached lobster and a creamy bisque. Whack on multiple cheeses and grill it to perfection. There’s a few good sides on the menu at Meatmaiden, but this is still our favourite (by a lobster mile). Nothing goes better with a 20-hour smoked Rangers Valley black market brisket. FYI: there is a regular mac n’ cheese on the menu too, but you’d be a fool to pass up the lobster.
Speck Mac n’ Cheese | Rockpool
Rockpool. The grandaddy of Southbank fine dining. This is the place you come for 62-day aged 750g Rib Eye steaks on the bone (for a cool $125). If you’re dining here you’re either Roger Federer or it’s a special occasion, and nothing says special occasion like a side of Neil Perry’s signature mac n’ cheese with smoky speck (think fatty A-Grade bacon, cut thick and brined in juniper berries). The meatiness of the speck works wonders with the mac, but you’ll probably want a green salad in there somewhere to keep your pants from exploding.
Breakfast Mac n’ Cheese | Sookie La La
Who says mac n’ cheese should only exist after dark? Sookie La La have been running there’s at breakfast for ages. It’s a bowl of perfectly cooked macaroni elbows, stirred through with crispy bacon, cream, thyme and cheese, then grilled to all hell. The sort of breakfast that makes it difficult to get out of the chair afterwards. We won’t say this one had us bouncing off to work with a spring in our step, but damn it was delicious.
Mac n’ Cheese Three Ways | Easeys
Where do we start? Collingwood burger bar Easeys has turned mac n’ cheese into an art form (just FYI, you can also get their menu at Two Wrongs in South Yarra and the new Littlejax in the CBD). If you haven’t been before, start with the classic mac n’ cheese—ultra cheesy pasta topped with more cheese and Cheezel dust. If you want to mix things up, try the Mac n’ Cheese Tots (basically the classic, but add potato gems) or the Mac n’ Cheese Bites (deep-fried mac balls with spicy aioli for dipping). Feeling super extra? You can even add a dollop of mac n’ cheese to your favourite Easeys burger. One for the pros only.
Fancy Mac n’ Cheese | Milk The Cow
It says a lot about Milk The Cow that they run mac n’ cheese on the menu. This is a full-blown professional fromagerie, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. And their mac n’ cheese, it has to be said, is no run-of-the-mill pasta dish. We’re talking Gruyere Vieux and Marcel Petit Comte cheeses, mixed with al dente pasta, Perigold truffle oil and a hefty slug of Courvoisier VS cognac. Tastes like power and intrigue...and cheese. Definitely lots and lots of cheese. Prep your wallet though—it’ll set you back $19 a bowl.
Mac n’ Cheese Croquettes | Grand Trailer Park
We couldn’t leave these famed mac & cheese croquettes off the list. Order them on their lonesome, or go large with the Francis Underwood burger, featuring a beef patty, American cheddar cheese, tomato, butter lettuce, special burger sauce, mustard and of course, a mac & cheese croquette. Oh yeah, try and save room for the Brownie Tiramisu. That thing is lethal.
Mac n’ Cheese Jaffles | Oscar Cooper
The famed mac n’ cheese jaffles from Oscar Cooper in Prahran. Often imitated, never equalled. In fact, these guys have a rotating jaffle specials menu (just ask the waiter what’s good today—previous beasts include banh mi jaffles, rocky road jaffles and apple pie jaffles). Their mac n’ cheese jaffle is a thing of beauty, and they’ll never take it off the menu: perfectly cooked mac and cheese, stringy, gooey and delicious, given a kick with hot sauce, then sandwiched between two slices of golden-grilled white bread. Bring it on.
Lobster Mac n’ Cheese Bombs | Belleville
Belleville’s menu has undergone some changes, but fingers cross they’ll never take these things off. The famous lobster mac n’ cheese bombs. Crispy fried croquettes, stuffed with buttery lobster meat, multiple cheese and dolloped with a housemade bacon jam. If you’re throwing diets to the wine (and considering you’re ordering something called a ‘bomb’, that seems like a safe guess) follow them up with a serve of the poutine with hot sauce. Still our favourite snack in the CBD.
Beef Mac n’ Cheese | Bertie’s Butcher
We’ve got a confession to make. We work near Bertie’s and we’re here like every second day. And when we’re here every second day, we order this thing. The beef mac n’ cheese wrap. It’s just so effing food. A crisp $10 note gets you a foot-long wrap, stuffed with creamy mac n’ cheese, tender beef brisket and spinach (gotta have your greens). It’d be very good if they left it there, but the Bertie’s guys also have a range of free hot sauces up at the bar for customer use. We recommend the Jamaican scotch bonnet sauce for this particular wrap.
Bacon Crumb Mac n’ Cheese | The Gem
We’re dribbling on our MacBook just thinking about the last time we had the mac n’ cheese Collingwood’s beer-and-barbeque venue, The Gem Bar and Dining Room. The clue’s in the title with this one. Is there ANYTHING better than a rich, creamy cheese and carb based dish topped with bacon crumbs? They also do a vegan alternative (no bacon, cruelty-free cheese) for all your plant-huggers out there. Just stop us ordering seconds and thirds of this stuff. Hands down one of the best mac n’ cheese bowls in the city.
Image credit: Griffin Simm