100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes: Macaroni and Cheese at Work & Class

No. 56: Macaroni and Cheese at Work & Class
Upon first bite, there was something about chef Dana Rodriguez's addictive macaroni and cheese that just tasted different, in a good way. Turns out it's more than one thing that makes this lauded chef's pale yellow-orange version stand out, and six-year-aged Wisconsin cheddar is just the start. With the addition of this cheese, the dish gets a deep, sharp flavor that lingers on your palate, lightly tingling the senses and daring you to take another bite. Trust us, you will want to — until the whole adorable cast iron pan is empty.

On that note, it's not hard to finish an order of the Work & Class's macaroni and cheese. For one, it's a side dish, so you aren't served a heaping bowl of the stuff (though you'll wish that would have happened). Two: Rodriguez forgoes the usual dense béchamel base and has created a lighter version with butter, onion, fresh thyme, cream and Parmesan. This savory sauce helps give the macaroni and cheese a deep flavor, but without the heaviness often associated with the beloved comfort food.

Because the sauce is pale and the cheese more white than orange, the chef says, "It's very light in color, but the flavor is amazing." That means you won't see a traditional bright-orange macaroni and cheese here, which in this case is most definitely a boon. Each item comes made-to-order and broiled under the salamander, a trick to give the added breadcrumbs an extra crunch. As a bonus, Rodriguez also spruces up this classic with roasted poblanos, chipotle peppers or smoked tomato, as the whim hits her. Consider pairing your macaroni and cheese with the hearty yet refreshing Massive Attack salad, coriander-roasted Colorado lamb, and/or some tasty meatballs. Either way, this item proves an A-list side on a menu already ripe with winners.

Hungry for more? All of the dishes in our 2016 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Masala Beef at Biju's Little Curry Shop
No. 99: Bacon Shrimp and Grits at Bacon Social House
No. 98: Porchetta and Kimchi Sandwich at Brider
No. 97: Squab-and-Sunchoke Tortellini at Abejas
No. 96: Housemade Burrata at Viand
No. 95: Schweinshaxe at Rhein Haus
No. 94 Kimchi Jeon at Seoul BBQ
No. 93: Zuppa Pomodoro at Parisi Italian Market & Deli
No. 92: The Ocean Salad at Sushi-Rama
No. 91: The Signature Bowl from Churn & Burn
No. 90: Green Chorizo at Los Compadres
No. 89: The Diavola Calzone at Pino's Neighborhood Pizzeria
No. 88: Biscuits and Green Chile at the Noshery
No. 87: Chirashi at Izu Sushi
No. 86: Brisket and Ribs at GQue Championship BBQ
No. 85: The Tornado at the Chowder Room
No. 84: Korean Fried Chicken Wings at Yong Gung
No. 83: A Meatball Hero at Lil' Ricci's New York Pizzeria
No. 82: Shakshuka at Stowaway Coffee + Kitchen
No. 81: Late-Night Ramen at Brazen
No. 80: Potato Tacos at El Tejado
No. 79: Corned Beef Heart at theWay Back
No. 78: The Fried Bologna Sandwich at Snarfburger
No. 77: Sweet Corn Mezzaluna at Bar Dough
No. 76: Duck Confit at Table 6
No. 75: Croque Monsieur at Fire
No. 74: Tahini Cookies at the Preservery
No. 73: The Alferd Packer Salad at MAD Greens
No. 72: The Tuna Poke Bowl at Ohana Island Kitchen
No. 71: Mini Chile Rellenos at La Loma
No. 70: The Combination Banh Mi at Vinh Xuong Bakery
No. 69: The Falafel Waffle at Moxie Eatery
No. 68: Korean Fried Duck Wings at Chow Urban Grill
No. 67:  Spaghetti Alla Carbonara at Spatola
No. 66: The Classic Burger from Skirted Heifer
No 65: The Chicken Salad Stuffed Avocado at Poppies
No. 64: Super Pass Key Special at Pass Key
No. 63: How the West Was Won at Dozens Restaurant
No. 62: Manzo With Polenta at Spuntino
No. 61: P & S Snack Mix at the Pig & the Sprout
No. 59-60: Sloppers at Gray's Coors Tavern and Diego's
No. 58: Potstickers at Zoe Ma Ma
No. 57: Griddle Cooked Bullfrog at Yum Yum Spice