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Why do so few BBQ joints have mac & cheese?

It's by far my favorite BBQ side.

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  1. It's my favorite too. Nothing beats a homestyle plate of mac and cheese. I don't frequent many bbq joints but the one I do has it. Maybe a lot of places don't have it because it's so heavy next to a big plate of bbq? I don't know?

    1. Mac & cheese is not traditional BBQ fare, at least, not in NC or in the Southwest. That said, you might find it on some menus although more likely to find it at places serving chicken or southern food.

      1. because us guys know it goes right to your hips

        1. Probably because there is little or no demand for it ~~~ It's not a very common side for BBQ in my area........

          2 Replies
          1. re: Uncle Bob

            Chicken and egg isn't it? Who can turn down a good bowl of mac & cheese?

            1. re: aynrandgirl

              As a side to BBQ it seems a lot of people can....Look for a restaurant that does "down home" cooking and also dabbles in BBQ..Maybe you can order it there..HTH

              Good Luck!!

          2. Seems like every BBQ joint, soul food lunch counter, diner and even the high-end restaurants in NYC have a version of mac & cheese on the menu. We even have dedicated mac & cheese places, serving little else. Consider moving here.

            29 Replies
            1. re: bushwickgirl

              There ya' go! Mac and cheese is a Yankee thing! ;) That said, I'm pretty sure Rudy's (a respectable Texas cue chain) offers M&C as a side. Never tried it though because the beans and tater salad are so good.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                I always thought mac & cheese was more a Southern thing. I think it's just considered to be a comfort food in NY.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  In the Southeast, it is southern comfort food, some of us eat it as a main course and it's a staple with meat dishes BUT not with BBQ...it just don't go together...dang, all this talk of mac & cheese has me wanting to make some (lol!)

                  1. re: Cherylptw

                    That's what I always thought about it, southern comfort food.
                    No shortage of mac & cheese here, even the Spanish takeout places in NY have it on the menu. My local one sports two cheeses and plenty of gooey, crusty goodness, a big plate for $3.

                    1. re: Cherylptw

                      Yes, definitely southern comfort food. It just doesn't seem to go with BBQ and few que places we frequent serve it.

                  2. re: Perilagu Khan

                    Don't laugh, that could be true! Here in Boston it's a pretty standard side at most BBQ joints, even those few that begin to approach real quality. Sometimes even deep fried mac n' cheese.

                    1. re: BobB

                      Oh yeah, we even have deep fried mac & cheese at the better Brit style fish and chip places here. I'm telling ya, it's everywhere.
                      It's probably on the top 10 "things you can get everywhere in NYC" list.

                  3. re: bushwickgirl

                    In Texas the lack of mac and cheese goes back to the German immigrants where the first Texas bbq came from. When do you see mac and cheese at a German restaurant? Several high end restaurants in Houston have it, including recent James Beard nominee Brian Caswell's Reef restaurant. Why move to NYC? The lack of good Tex Mex and bbq would do me in.

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      While the lack of good Tex Mex and even Mexican is legendary in NYC, BBQ efforts here have ramped up significantly in even the last five years. So hope is on the horizon.
                      Besides, I think the OP's from Florida. How's the BBQ scene there?

                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        I thought there were some sort of enviro regs in Gotham that prevented serious pit smoking.

                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                          II don't know about enviro regs, just the occasional issue from a tenant living directly next to or in front of someone' stack. It's more the smell than the enviro issue.
                          Restaurant exhaust fan noise next to your bedroom is a problem as well, as you can imagine.
                          Salt intake, sugary drink taxes, cigarette smoking bans, clean air buse use, these are the things that make the news these days, not pit smoking.

                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                            but....but.....the aroma of hickory smoke is arguably the most sensuous aspect
                            of BBQ. :)
                            AS far as mac & cheese, I don't ever remember it on the menu at any KC Q places in my youth. Corn Pudding IS a popular side in KC.
                            BBQ places and Soulfood /country cookin' places are 2 distinct categories
                            in BBQ locales, I believe.
                            In non Q locales, the two tend to get merged into one all purpose category.

                            1. re: bbqboy

                              "but....but.....the aroma of hickory smoke is arguably the most sensuous aspect
                              of BBQ. :)"
                              No issue there, wish we had more of it here than some of the other aromas available.

                          2. re: Perilagu Khan

                            There are restrictions i.e. smoke chimney's have to vent at a certain height but there are very serious smoking going on in NYC. R.U.B., Daisy May's, Blue Smoke, Hill Country, Dinosaur to name a few.

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              Do they have Executive Chefs or pit bosses? ;)

                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                What's in a name? That we call a smoke ring, by any other name would be as pink.

                          3. re: bushwickgirl

                            Thanks for the invite to NYC, but it's way too cold for me. A dedicated mac & cheese joint sounds great though. Name? I'll put it on the list after Katz's Deli and Brennan & Carr.

                            The BBQ in Florida is lousy, thank you. It tries so hard to be Carolina style Q (pulled pork, vinegar sauces) yet fails miserably in quality. Florida had no Mexican or Tex-Mex either. The horror!

                            Fortunately I've moved to Houston where the BBQ is much better. The sides, though, tend to be lousy. Obvious supermarket ****, especially the potato salad. I've heard air quality regs prevent the proliferation of good BBQ joints here. Not sure if it's true.

                            I always thought BBQ was Southern comfort food, a distinct kind from soul food.

                            1. re: aynrandgirl

                              Ok, thanks for the info. I'm with you on the NYC chill. I'am thinking about retiring to the Florida Panhandle sometime in the future, if for nothing more than warmth. I don't think of Florida when I think of BBQ.

                              For dedicated, S'MAC, Supermac. which is relocating or expanding, MacBar in Soho, not really dedicated, only take out. http://www.smacnyc.com/home.html

                              Of course, call first, because restaurants come and go in NY. Maybe other NYC posters can weigh in with their favorites. Better BBQ joints like Blue Smoke and Dinosaur have mac & cheese on the menu, Daisey May's has a choice of three sizes, Hill Country, highly recommended, R.U.B (Rightgeous Urban Barbeque) does not, and tends to be purist with coleslaw, potato salad and beans as featured sides. Charles Fried Chicken, way uptown in Harlem, while more Soul and not BBQ, will be worth the trip.

                              So there's the current rundown in a nutshell. NYC seems to be the mac & cheese capital, at least in the availability arena. Now if only our Tex-Mex and Mexican would play catch up.

                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                NYC is most definitely not the mac and cheese capital of the world. There are parts of this country where it is much more common. Especially regions where the meat and three restaurant is predominate.

                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                  I said seems to be, and I wasn't thinking world anyway, just the Northeast. I know nothing about other regions where meat and three are predominate, so I'm not qualified to comment on a side by side comparison, but mac and cheese is currently very popular in NY and let's leave it at that.

                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                    There certainly is a lot of mac-n-cheese in NYC, though I think it is merely an aspect of the wider comfort food trend that has taken hold of the city. A lot of these places seem to have their origins catering to downtown revellers, Macbar being an extension of the ur-gimmick, Delicatessen.

                                    That said, mac-n-cheese has always been around here, even if it fell under the radar until recently. Certainly it's always been available at any soul food restaurant as an acceptable side to barbecue in NYC as across much of the North.

                                    1. re: JungMann

                                      Agree with all points, especially the comfort food angle.

                                    2. re: bushwickgirl

                                      We should rename New York The Big MACintosh.

                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                        Good one, you've been in rare form the past few days. Caught the "wangs" thing on the What's for Dinner thread, very amusing.
                                        The executive chef/pit boss retort (What's in a name? That we call a smoke ring, by any other name would be as pink.) must have gotcha, but you sort of deserved it.;-))

                                        Don't tell anyone, but I like mac & cheese on the side of a good hotdog.

                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                          It works for mediocre ones, too - one of my mom's standard lunches was blue-box Kraft mac'n'cheese with boiled hot dogs, sometimes with them cut up in it. I have been known to do that in the comfort and privacy of my own kitchen...

                                          There seem to be lots of people who are repelled by the notion of this food pairing we're talking about, but some, including me, find it not only natural but compelling. It does require a spicy-sweet sauce though, I think.

                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            Yes yes yes! That was the Saturday night "date night" staple dinner when I was growing up... mom would make Kraft m&c and hot dogs, cut up the hot dogs into the m&c, and serve it to us while dad picked up the babysitter. Just thinking of that meal makes me nostalgic... but I disagree with the need for a sauce, not even ketchup (which is my standard hot dog bathing sauce).

                                  2. re: bushwickgirl

                                    Just wanted to add Pinch & Smac (UWS) even if just because of the great name! :)

                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                      The Panhandle? They get regular freezes up there. If it's freezing in the Northeast, there's a good chance it will be freezing a few days later in the Panhandle. The beaches are pretty though, and it doesn't try to make itself NYC South like Miami does. North Florida is much more Southern than South Florida.

                                      Back to food, given all the transplants you'd think Florida would try to pull from Carolina and Georgia BBQ traditions, but instead they're stuck with restaurants like Sonny's, a mediocre BBQ chain that's all over Florida.

                                      Hill Country looks great, when it comes to BBQ I'm much more of a sausage fan.

                                      1. re: aynrandgirl

                                        Freezing I can handle, it's the NE ice and snow that's the problem. Actually, if I lived in a climate that was always warm or hot, I'd go out of my mind, and I do like a good beach.

                                        I can't comment much on sausages for bbq but NY has it's share of sausage smoking going on. I'm not sure how many bbq places have sausage on the menu aside from Hill Country, but they certainly all seem to have a little bit of everything, beef, pork, Carolina, Memphis, KC, Texas style, even oysters ;-)).

                                        Anyway, if you make a trip up here, at least you now know of some good-to-great bbq places to check out.