- I tried the mac and cheese from Popeyes, Boston Market, Panera Bread, KFC,Subway, and Chick-fil-A, and found that Chick-fil-A’s mac was by far the best.
- Although mac and cheese is rarely the star of the meal, it doesn’t deserve to be neglected and thrown together like it was at many of the chains I ate at.
- Chick-fil-A was the only chain whose mac tasted like real cheese. It was tangy, rich, and had a great baked texture.
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In the past, Chick-fil-A hasn’t fared too well in my taste tests.
I’ve taste-tested its waffle fries, its Icedream frozen dessert, its Oreo milkshake, its classic chicken sandwich, and its chicken nuggets. None of these particularly impressed me, especially when the competition always had something better to offer.
Not this time around.
When it comes to mac and cheese, the competition is sparse. Few people go to fast-food chains with the express purpose of ordering mac and cheese, so it’s a side that’s often thrown together and kept hot for so long it turns into a pile of mush.
This is because mac and cheese is often found at chicken or sandwich chains, which understandably put more focus on their main courses. But even if it isn’t the star of the show, no dish deserves to be neglected. Mac and cheese has an important role to play in a meal.
I recently went on a tour of the town via mac and cheese, but I found disappointment at every corner. Popeyes, which has previously impressed me, had a bland and soupy mac. Boston Market’s neon rotini wasn’t much better. Neither were Panera’s mysteriously expensive oversalted milky shells.
KFC offered a more flavorful, albeit artificial, cup of mac. Subway had hot, creamy pasta that was ultimately forgettable.
That’s why Chick-fil-A’s mac and cheese was such a showstopper.
Sure, if you made mac and cheese from scratch at home, you could probably whip up something better. But Chick-fil-A is reliably OK at everything it does. And because every other chain was phoning it in when it came to mac and cheese, the simple fact that Chick-fil-A put in so much effort made it stand out.
Most of its competitors had mushy, watery mac. Chick-fil-A was the only chain whose mac tasted of real cheese. It had the tangy richness of cheese that hadn’t been dried, smashed into powder, and reconstituted with hot liquid.
Chick-fil-A’s mac is also baked, which means that the texture has variety. Yes, there’s the gooey softness of the inner mac, but there’s also the intriguing and challenging chewiness of the baked cheese bits.
I’m generally a Chick-fil-A sceptic, but I was genuinely impressed by the chain’s mac and cheese. I still think the crown for best chicken goes to Popeyes, and I don’t think Chick-fil-A’s fries are anything to get up for in the morning. But out of all the fast-food mac and cheeses that I tried, CFA’s mac was the only one that had me excited to be eating mac and cheese.
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