America’s passion for mac n’ cheese was born in Philadelphia. The dish has reigned in the City of Brotherly Love since the days of Thomas Jefferson, who was captivated by the macaroni noodle during his travels in Europe. Such was his love for the little elbow-shaped pasta that President Jefferson commissioned a machine be made to supply his kitchen. The dish made its official debut shortly thereafter, appearing on the menu of one of Jefferson’s state dinners. And from the presidential table to these local eateries, Philly residents, too, love their mac-n-cheese.
The Dandelion Pub
124 S. 18th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
This Rittenhouse gastropub has a pleasing vibe of Old World charm coupled with a unique blend of cozy and hip. It’s the place to be if you crave fish ‘n chips or other British classics like shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash. Dandelion Pub puts an English spin on America’s favorite cheese and pasta dish – English cheddar with braised ham hock broiled in a crock to a creamy blend of melted, creamy comfort topped with a crunchy shell. For the prim and proper – or anyone who loves tea, The Dandelion Pub does it to a tee, with a special afternoon tea menu featuring cocktails, pitchers, specialty sodas, lovely desserts and, of course, tea.
1312 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
When you yearn for a dish that takes you back to simpler times, you turn to comfort food. Ms. Tootsie’s on South Street specializes in comfort and soul-food favorites, serving up chicken, catfish and shrimp dishes that start with words like “fried,” “smothered” and “Southern.” Ms. Tootsie’s takes the beloved macaroni and cheese to a new level with its Cheesy Cheese Macaroni and Cheese, a dish oozing melty goodness. And for foodies with a passion for all things cheesy and an affinity for crab cakes, this South Street Café serves up mac’ n’ cheese balls – perfect for the semi-adventurous diner who doesn’t want to stray too far from the tried and true.
Percy Street Barbecue
900 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Situated on South Street between 9th and 10th, Percy Street Barbecue does it Texas style, offering up big servings and big flavors. The BBQ-themed eatery is a favorite in the Philly area and was even featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” You’ll find a generous selection of beer and a menu with more than just great meaty dishes, though. The macaroni and cheese at Percy Street boasts extra sharp cheddar and is a must-have. Top off your meal with a slice of heavenly pie or chocolate-banana creme bread pudding.
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Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse
7500 State Road
Philadelphia, PA 19136
Satisfy that hankering for Southern-style food at Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse on State Road. From moist sweet cornbread and collard greens to pulled pork, falling-off-the bone ribs and barbecued chicken, this sweet smokehouse hits the spot. A must-have on any barbecue menu is the down-home macaroni and cheese. Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse does this dish justice with its casserole-style baked mac n’ cheese topped with crispy fried onions. A great place to gather with some friends or with the family, Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse dishes up fun and tasty food for all.
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Trolley Car Diner
7619 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19119
Once a 1950s-era diner, this Philly favorite was painstakingly restored and is now a must-see attraction for diner fans. Named for the Germantown Avenue Route 23 trolley, enthusiasts will love exploring the Trolley Car, which includes an actual 1948 trolley car snuggled up next to the silver diner. Keep your day on the right track with breakfast served all day here, along with an assortment of diner-favorite lunch and dinner menu items. A staple on the kids menu is macaroni and cheese. But how about for the adults, you ask? No worries, Trolley Car Diner has you covered, with a version of the cheesy pasta tailor-made for adults. This dish, appropriately named “Grown-UP mac ‘n ‘cheese,” consists of penne tossed with sweetened shrimp in a cheese sauce.
Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.