Mac and Cheese Madness: Smoke + Cedar in Tacoma

By Ron Swarner on May 9, 2014

While many people who head to the newly opened Smoke + Cedar are looking for the slow-roasted prime rib, the half-pound chuck burger, Team Dino's cocktails and the awesome happy hour, I drive up the hill for the mac and cheese. An order brings the perfect amount of orecchiette pasta (means "little ears") mixed in with owner Gordon Naccarato's version of the Augusta National pimento cheese recipe, then spackled with panko and crumbled  "Ritzy" fire cracker crumbs. The mac and cheese is served in hot skillet, which keeps it hot and prevents the concoction from sticking to the pan - good idea, since you don't want to let a single bite escape. it's freakin' delicious.

The skillet mac + cheese rings in at $8, but sells for an astonishingly $5 during happy hour, which is 2-6 p.m., 9 p.m. to close in the bar. Smoke + Cedar's happy hour food will be the talk of the town, especially during warm weather when its covered deck hops.

Every chef, every cook, every kid and every home-kitchen tongs-twirler has his or her own version of macaroni and cheese, but Smoke + Cedar's orchestration, paired with a cocktail, is so satisfying - so wonderfully immoral - that it makes my heart race just thinking about it.

SMOKE + CEDAR, breakfast 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., until 10 a.m. weekends; boozy brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday; dinner 5 p.m. to close daily, 2013 S. Cedar St., Tacoma, 253.343.6090

LINK: Mac and Cheese Madness posts every Friday as a precursor to the Tournament of Mac and Cheese in March 2015.