There's no contest: Macaroni and cheese is the king of all comfort foods. There's just something about that rich, cheesy taste on the tongue that delivers warm and fuzzy feelings. An integral part of any proper Southern supper, the casserole is often listed among the vegetables on the menus of meat-and-three establishments across South Carolina.
Because we've so completely adopted this dish as our own, it might come as a surprise to learn it actually hails from Europe, with the first known recipe appearing in a 1770 cookbook. From there, it made its way to the US by way of Thomas Jefferson, who was impressed by the macaroni and cheese he was served while visiting Paris. Not only did he bring the recipe back to Monticello, he ordered a machine to make the macaroni. That's some serious mac-and-cheese love!
South Carolina keeps the tradition of our forefather alive by serving some of the best macaroni and cheese you'll ever taste. Here is a list of restaurants that pay homage to the dish with interpretations that hold true to the much-loved classic.
Big Mike's Soul Food, Myrtle Beach
This melt-in-your-mouth mac and cheese hits all the right spots. If you're looking for a version just like grandma used to make, this is it.
Cherrywood BBQ and Ale, Kiawah Island
Recipient of the People's Choice Award in the 2014 Charleston Mac Off, this creamy casserole is made with cavatappi and a four-cheese blend spiced up with a bit of fresh basil and crushed red pepper.
Crave, Mount Pleasant
Named the most "life-changing" mac and cheese in the nation by Esquire Magazine, this version distinguishes itself with cavatappi pasta, cave-aged sharp cheddar and a blend of secret ingredients.
The Dixie Pig, Rock Hill
The mac and cheese at this barbecue restaurant arrives on your plate with a savory crust of real cheese and plenty more mixed in with the macaroni.
Favor Home Cooking, Anderson
This soul food eatery serves up macaroni and cheese in all its simple glory, delivering the creamy, cheesy dish you gobbled up at grandma's house.
Julia Belle's, Florence
Cheese and lots of it - that's why so many diners point to this version as the embodiment of perfect mac and cheese. Chicken broth and a hint of garlic and mustard kick up the flavor profile for a dish that can stand on its own at any meal.
Midwood Smokehouse, Columbia
That irresistible crusty top and full-bodied cheesiness throughout makes this mac and cheese one of the capital city's best.
One Hot Mama's, Hilton Head Island
One bite and you'll rename this dish "macaroni and cheesy," thanks to a variety of cheeses that add extra tang and creaminess.
Smoky Dreams BBQ, Greenville
At this barbecue house, mac and cheese is the side of choice for lots of fans, who repeatedly deem it "to die for."
Swig and Swine, Charleston
Who could resist pasta shells cradled in a creamy sauce and baked until bubbly? The peppery notes are a tasty touch, too.