Madeover mac and cheese
Three souped-up twists on the comfort food that kids will love.
Deep-fried mac and cheese squares at Hearty Restaurant
(3819 N Broadway, 773-868-9866; $8)
First, they marry wagon-wheel pasta with the ooey-gooey gloriousness of blue, cheddar and Havarti cheeses. Then they roll the noodles in cracker crumbs. Finally, they cut the melty, but still mild, three-cheese mixture into squares and deep-fry the goodness. And then—and only then—do your kids devour every cheesy bite, dipping the neat, Hot Pocket–like squares into the accompanying mug of tomato soup.
Buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese at Rockit Bar and Grill
(22 W Hubbard St, 312-645-6000; $14)
It’s like your kids’ favorite Buffalo-chicken fingers got together with a hot mess of buttermilk blue cheese (with a taste more like the creamy dressing and less like the sharp crumbles) and noodles (we request it minus chives for picky types “allergic” to anything green). Weird combo? Absolutely. That’s what kids will dig about it.
Smoked Gouda mac and cheese at The Southern Mac
(Follow the food truck at twitter.com/thesouthernmac; most dishes $8)
The mac daddy of the casserole (get it?), this tasty meal truck rotates more than 20 different types of mac and cheese through the week. Choices include kid fave diced, grilled Vienna beef hot dogs with cheddar, and turkey and Swiss cheese fondue. Always available: the signature smoked Gouda mac, also available at the truck’s namesake Bucktown eatery (1840 W North Ave, 773-342-1840). Its ever-so-slight smokiness is a winner with younger clientele.