When it comes to macaroni and cheese, there are some who believe you can’t beat the blue box. Clearly they’ve never been to S’MAC.
Short for Sarita’s Mac & Cheese, the restaurant in New York City’s East Village specializes in just one thing–but this is not your mother’s macaroni. From the Cheeseburger (ground beef and macaroni smothered in cheddar and American cheese) to the Parisienne Mac (brie, figs, mushrooms, and a certain je ne sais quoi), Sarita and her husband, Caesar (both pictured, below), take this favorite to new heights. The fact that your order comes to you in your own personal skillet (I defy anyone who tells me I can’t eat straight out of the pan) makes it that much more fun. As a lifelong mac and cheese lover, I can’t get enough of the place–so here’s hoping S’MAC makes it to my hometown on the West Coast sometime soon!
Since opening its doors on June 24, 2006, S’MAC has expanded to include a take-out only location and is now collaborating with Pizza By The Inch at PINCH & S’MAC, resulting in one-stop shopping for all your pizza and macaroni needs. On July 13, the original S’MAC began serving beer and wine… so now you’re really out of excuses not to go.
I recently checked in with Sarita herself to get an insider’s take on how things are going.
Okay, I have to ask: of all the comfort foods out there, why mac & cheese?
It wasn’t a question of what type of restaurant my husband and I would open — as neither of us had any “true” restaurant experience! Actually it was during a casual conversation that we mentioned how great it would be if there was a mac & cheese restaurant in NYC. We just really believed in the idea and then learned what it took to open up a restaurant and dove in.
What’s your favorite dish?
Well, in all honesty, I do love them all. These days, I am addicted to the Mediterranean.
Any plans to expand the menu?
We have a long list of macs waiting to hit the menu, it’s just that we are limited with the space in our kitchen.
I noticed you have the recipe for Napoletana Macaroni and Cheese (My favorite! Thanks!) up on your website. Are you worried about revealing your secrets?
We realize that what we offer is a basic dish, served with a twist. It’s not rocket science by any means. So making a recipe accessible to customers just makes sense to us. People don’t come to eat at S’MAC because they can’t make it at home, they come to eat here because it’s easy, fun, and cost effective (and tasty, of course)!
You celebrated an anniversary last month. How are things going at S’MAC, three years in?
We feel that a lot of great things have happened to S’MAC over the past three years. We added some successful new items, such as our sampler platter. We were also able to offer all of our macs gluten-free as of over a year ago which has been tremendous.
Any franchises in the works? Other plans for expansion?
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Plans for expansion are most definitely in the works.
How do you think S’MAC fits into the East Village? Is it a good fit?
We opened S’MAC up in the East Village as not only do my husband and I live here, but it’s a great food and drink destination.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I think one of the most fascinating things about owning S’MAC has been the amount of people who come from afar to eat at our establishment! We are continually humbled by that. And it’s really nice to be able to draw tourists into the East Village since the neighborhood is full of history, parks, and like I mentioned before, great eating and drinking haunts. I love that S’MAC may actually be helping people learn that Manhattan isn’t just about Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, shopping on 5th Ave. Shopping on 9th Street can be just as great an experience if not better.
S’MAC: 345 East 12th Street, NY, NY; Between 1st and 2nd Avenues. +1 212 358 7912.
Photos courtesy of Sarita’s Mac & Cheese