by Tyron Hoisten
Mac and cheese is just one of those foods that brings people joy. One bite of that cheesy goodness can put your soul at ease and make you glad to be alive. When I found out that Cheese & Chong’s, a new gourmet mac and cheese restaurant, was opening, I couldn’t wait to place my order.
The restaurant takes its cues from 70s trends to create a quaint and funky atmosphere. That vibrancy perfectly fits Highland Square, taking over the spot Mr. Zub’s Deli once filled before it moved into new digs across the street. (Both restaurants are owned by Mario Nemr.)
The loaded menu will make your mouth water with wild, intriguing offerings that range from spinach and artichoke to tuna. The abundance of options made it frustratingly difficult to make a decision, but I eventually went with the spicy buffalo mac, the Cajun mac and the original mac, with a side of waffle fries.
Waiting for my order to arrive, I got lost checking out the thoughtfully assembled psychedelic memorabilia. Everyone else around me seemed wide-eyed and excited about the quirky combinations. It’s clear to me this place invokes smiles and conversation. I appreciate that.
When the waitress brought my food to the table, it all smelled so good and looked so delicious, I couldn’t decide which to try first. So I went with the classic. Their original mac and cheese features Swiss and Colby mixed with the restaurant’s homemade bechamel. I was a little disappointed after the first bite. The cheesiness was there so was the smoothness, but I expected a bolder flavor, something with enough personality to match the surrounding decor.
On the other hand, the spicy buffalo mac was sensational. Its blend of cheddar and Swiss was topped with a swirl of sriracha and chicken fingers dipped in buffalo sauce. Those crispy, spicy additions dressed the mac up nicely. Everything works well here to make a spicy—but not too spicy—dish that bites you back.
In the Cajun mac, we have a generous helping of sautéed andouille sausage, red peppers, onions and celery, blended with cheddar, Gouda and Muenster. This was certainly the most flavorful of the three dishes. Its flavors came together to create a savory, satisfying taste that was reminiscent of a home-cooked meal. It certainly had the spiciness and the richness, which are known staples of Cajun cuisine—but the added cheesiness made it something different.
Cheese & Chong’s is definitely a foodie destination. They’ve made some bold moves with an old favorite in a location perfect for you and a few friends to go get yours while the cheese is still gooey.
Cheese & Chong’s
812 W Market St
Tyron Hoisten is a writer, a speaker, a minister, a humorist—in short, he is many things, but most notably, he’s bald.