Best: Fixture’s mac and cheese

It may be the ultimate comfort food, that cafeteria classic we learn to love as kids. And most adults—secretly or not—still crave macaroni and cheese. Now the dish has leaped out of the yellow and blue box and onto menus in all forms. You can get anything from plain old elbow macaroni with Cheddar to fancy grooved pasta laced with imported cheeses, prosciutto, or scallops. And, when it comes to these seven terrific restaurant options, you needn’t feel guilty about it.

The Bluebird Bistro & Wine Bar
1749 N. Damen Ave.; 773-486-2473
A side dish of macaroni au gratin with bacon Carr Valley goat’s-milk Cheddar None, but cheese browned around the edges provides texture. Standard elbow macaroni Tangy, smoky, and delicious
4343 N. Lincoln Ave.;
An ample appetizer Thick and creamy melted smoked Gouda None Cavatappi No crust; needs texture. So rich and smoky, it’s hard to finish.
BEST: Fixture
2706 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-248-3331
A small-plate serving with applewood-smoked bacon and scallops Grana padano and aged Cheddar, melted to a luscious, souplike consistency None, but the dish is garnished with greens, cheese shavings, and basil oil. Shells cooked to a melt-in-your-mouth softness Mac and cheese successfully reinvented for the gourmet palate
Fox & Obel
401 E. Illinois St.; 312-410-7301
In ready-to-heat-and-eat hunks; priced by the pound Sharp yellow Cheddar, white Cheddar, mozzarella, and Asiago A thin layer of herbed bread crumbs Cavatappi A nice consistency and chewiness with undoctored cheese. Wish it had crispier bread crumbs.
The Goddess and Grocer
1646 N. Damen Ave., 773-342-3200; 25 E. Delaware Pl., 312-896-2600
Dense squares in the prepared foods case Mozzarella in the center; Cheddar and Parmesan on top A smooth cap of solid melted Cheddar with Parmesan sprinkles Penne Needs salt, but Parmesan provided bite while mozzarella made for a creamy interior, and Cheddar bound the whole thing together.
Kuma’s Corner
2900 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-604-8769
A heaping entrée called “Make Your Own Mac and Cheese.” A sharp white Monterey Jack that stretches with each bite Heavily peppered bread crumbs Large elbow macaroni A traditional version with an upscale twist. Thick, flavorful cheese—but an uneven crust was a major drawback.
Priscilla’s Ultimate Soulfood
4330 W. Roosevelt Rd., Hillside; 708-544-6230
An ideal side with Priscilla’s fried chicken Priscilla won’t divulge her secret blend, but it definitely includes Cheddar. No bread crumbs, but clumps of melted cheese form a satisfyingly chewy topping. Macaroni cooked so soft it’s almost as creamy as the cheese Velvety and full of cheese—just like a Southern grandma would make it

Photograph: Tyllie Barbosa