We all know that life as a grown-up can be tough. There are bills to be paid, HIIT classes to attend and emails that just won’t go away no matter how long you ignore them. When the stresses of London life get too much, there are few greater reprieves than a big bowl of pasta. Specifically, a hearty portion of mac ‘n’ cheese in one of the capital’s many restaurants.
Although it’s difficult to find a menu in London without mac ‘n’ cheese on it these days, there was once a time when it was confined to children’s menus and microwave dinners. Around 10 years ago though, street food vendors started to sell mac ‘n’ cheese in little pots from their trucks, with some adding fun new twists to the comfort food classic. Next up, mac ‘n’ cheese began making its way on to the capital’s menus, even popping up at some of London’s most premier haunts. This was no ordinary mac ‘n’ cheese though, as the American carb-fest had been given a luxury makeover, now paired with upmarket ingredients such as chunks of fresh lobster and black truffle shavings.
Following this, mac ‘n’ cheese was popularised to the point where it was barely possible to eat out without finding yourself ordering it on the side of your main. The foodstuff is so popular that there’s even a national day dedicated to it (14 July if you’re interested), although we don’t think you need an excuse to indulge in this particular treat.
If you are on the hunt for the best mac and cheese London has to offer, we’re happy to tell you that you have come to the right place. In the name of serious journalism, we have rounded up our favourite mac ‘n’ cheese dishes that you can find around town, ranging from street food stalls to ones rustled up by Michelin-starred chefs. Check out our top picks below, and apologies in advance for the food coma.
London's best restaurants for mac 'n' cheese
Mac 'n' cheese may conjure up images of sad ready meals, but in recent years the dish has become a must-order at several of London's best restaurants. Next time you're out for dinner at one of these spots, give the mac 'n' cheese a try – you won't regret it.
What: While Hawksmoor is the natural choice for any Londoner on the hunt for a top-quality steak, we’d argue that the restaurant group’s mac ‘n’ cheese is just as alluring. At the Borough branch, the comfort food classic combines three rich cheeses – Cheddar, Stilton and Ogleshield – which add an intensely smoky flavour profile. If that’s not luxurious enough for you, there’s the option to add lobster to your dish.
Where: 16 Winchester Walk, SE1 9AQ
Mac & Wild, City and Fitzrovia
What: This pair of Scottish restaurants (you’ll find one in the City and one in Fitzrovia) can’t resist adding some Celtic charm to proceedings. That means you’ll find the likes of venison Scotch eggs and deep-fried Mars Bar ice cream sundaes on the menu, while the restaurant’s mac ‘n’ cheese is flecked with shredded haggis. There’s no need to worry if you’re vegetarian though, as there is also a truffle mac ‘n’ cheese on the menu too.
Where: 9A Devonshire Square, EC2M 4YN; 65 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PS
Bob Bob Ricard, City and Soho
What: Bob Bob Ricard’s famous blue and gold interiors could perhaps do with a freshening up, but there’s no denying that this restaurant still serves up glamour by the bucket load. Alongside the plush royal blue booths and famous ‘press for Champagne’ buttons, you’ll find a fabulously decadent four cheese mac ‘n’ cheese. Want your surroundings to be as Insta-friendly as the food? Head to the City branch, which is newer and even more blingy.
Where: 122 Leadenhall Street, EC3V 4AB; 1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF
Berners Tavern, Fitzrovia
What: Mac ‘n’ cheese is already a decadent and rich treat in its most simple form, but Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton takes this to new heights at his perennially popular Berners Tavern. Here, the mac ‘n’ cheese is stirred in alongside red wine braised beef blade and bone marrow crumble: it’s the ultimate in over-the-top fun. Worried it will be too rich to finish? Berners mac ‘n’ cheese is also available as a smaller side dish.
Where: 10 Berners Street, W1T 3NP
What: Having started out life as a pop up, Hotbox is now one of the capital’s best loved barbecue restaurants. Having been on the menu since day one, Hotbox’s smoked mac ‘n’ cheese is a real crowd-pleaser, boasting a perfect crisp topping and just the right amount of richness. The casual set up means there are no airs and graces here either, so no need to worry if you spill a little béchamel on your t-shirt.
Where: 46 Commercial Street, E1 6LT
Moncks of Dover Street, Mayfair
What: When Moncks of Dover Street first opened its doors, Instagram was flooded with images of its jaw-dropping truffle mac ‘n’ cheese. While most restaurants simply sprinkle a few truffle shavings on top of the dish, Moncks goes the extra mile by filling each tube of pasta with thick truffle-flecked cheese sauce and then adding a few more truffle shavings on top for good measure. It is without doubt the best of its kind in the capital.
Where: 33 Dover Street, Mayfair, W1S 4NF
Dirty Bones, various locations
What: With a handful of sites around the capital, including Kensington and Shoreditch, Dirty Bones is known for its over-the-top US-style comfort food. There are a whole host of gut-busting burgers on the menu, but arguably the most intriguing is The Mac Daddy: a double brisket and dry aged steak burger which arrives topped with pulled beef short rib, mac ‘n’ cheese and espresso-spiked BBQ sauce, all sandwiched together in a seeded brioche bun.
Where: Various London locations
What: While long-standing 34 may hark back to the Mayfair of old (think top-hatted doormen and art-deco interiors), it’s not afraid to keep its menu up to date with contemporary tastes. Witness the restaurant’s mac ‘n’ cheese, which is served as a main course and pimped up with chunks of lobster and a liberal sprinkling of black truffle shavings. The £36 price tag might be hard to swallow, but this mac ‘n’ cheese is certainly one to remember.
Where: 34 Grosvenor Square, W1K 2HD
Balthazar, Covent Garden
What: Covent Garden’s Balthazar is the London outpost of the NYC original, which serves a French-accented brasserie menu – try to keep up. While mac ‘n’ cheese for breakfast might sound like a good idea, Balthazar wisely only serves it from lunchtime onwards. Expect a traditional mac ‘n’ cheese that doesn’t need luxury add-ons or gimmicks. If you do want to spice things up a little though, there is the option to add bacon.
Where: 4-6 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ
Pizza East, Shoreditch and Portobello
What: We’d argue that Pizza East should change their tagline to ‘come for the pizzas…stay for the mac ‘n’ cheese’, but we’re not marketing experts or anything (probably for the best). At either of the group’s two London sites (Portobello and Shoreditch), you can order a hefty serving of mac ‘n’ cheese that comes straight from the wood-fired oven. Break through the gratinated topping to unlock all of the cheesy goodness.
Where: 56 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ; 310 Portobello Road, W10 5TA
Black Roe, Mayfair
What: The brains behind this sleek Mayfair operation is Kurt Zdesar, founder of the Ping Pong dim sum chain and Soho’s Chotto Matte. Black Roe’s specialty is poke, but the focus on seafood stretches to include a very Mayfair appropriate (and Insta-friendly) whole lobster mac ‘n’ cheese. Yes, that’s mac ‘n’ cheese studded with lobster chunks and served inside the crustacean’s shell. Be warned though, it will set you back £42 (gulp).
Where: 4 Mill Street, W1S 2AX
London's best street food mac 'n' cheese
The origin of the capital's obsession with mac 'n' cheese lies with London's street food traders. Responsible for helping us all discover our inner child again, these guys serve up mac 'n' cheese crowned with all manner of toppings. Hunt them down around the capital to get your fix: trust us when we say it's worth the effort.
The Mac Factory, Camden
What: Despite the name, we’re happy to report that the mac ‘n’ cheese at this Camden street food spot is not made on an assembly line, but instead with lots of love and care. The result is a signature mac ‘n’ cheese that blends mature cheddar and mozzarella, and is topped with a parmesan and thyme crumble. If you fancy trying something different though, other available toppings include chilli con carne or sautéed mushrooms and white truffle oil.
Where: KERB Camden Market West Yard, NW1 8AF
Mac to the Future, various London locations
What: While these street foodsters haven’t quite mastered time travel yet (at least that we know of), they do a pretty good job of travelling around the capital. You’ll find Mac to the Future at various festivals and markets, while they’re also available to hire for parties. You can choose to keep it simple with the signature mac, or go the whole hog with the New Yorker, topped with hot dogs, ketchup chutney, breadcrumbs, crispy onions, and mustard.
Where: Various London locations
Anna Mae’s, various London locations
What: Serving up mac ‘n’ cheese from its truck since 2011, Anna Mae’s is one of the original vendors that started the capital’s love affair with mac ‘n’ cheese. Served from a giant cast iron skillet, all the mac ‘n’ cheese options here are made from scratch and served with a variety of toppings, such as crispy bacon and beef hot dog. You’ll find Anna Mae’s at various food markets and festivals, and be rewarded with the ultimate comfort food dish for your efforts.
Where: Various London locations
If you don’t discriminate when it comes to pasta, check out our pick of the best pasta in London.