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Ruthie's grilled cheese sandwich food truck, photo courtesy of Ruthie's Fueled by Good

Where to Find Gooey, Gourmet Grilled Cheese and Mac and Cheese

Satisfy the kids and yourself with this ultimate comfort food made gourmet at DFW-area restaurants and food trucks.

My family has a love-hate relationship with mac and cheese. It’s by far the most requested food by our picky eaters, who would willingly eat it morning, noon and night if we didn’t care about nutritional value. But as any parent can attest, the more you pressure your kid to expand their food palate, the more they dig in their heels. 

Lately I’ve been testing out (with some success) a new approach to encouraging food exploration: presenting foods that are similar to their go-to grub but with different textures or flavors. Enter gourmet mac and cheese and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.

These DFW-area eateries not only have cheesy options on the menu—they are the menu. Here kids have more options to experiment with all types of combinations, and adults can rediscover their comfort food all grown up. Give these specialty offerings a try for your own “holy macaroni!” moment. 

RELATED: Restaurants with Kids Eat Free (and Cheap!) Meal Deals

Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. 

For the full, dine-in experience with sides, desserts and adult beverages, check out this gourmet sandwich shop. Two brick-and-mortar locations—the newly remodeled Bishop Arts spot and the second location at Mockingbird Station—are both open daily and offer all the fixings on 16 sandwiches (with gluten-free bread options), including the Four-Cheese Bacon Mac & Cheese and the Grilled Mac ’N Cheese Sandwich.

Even the cobb salad is topped with mini grilled cheese croutons. Kids will also go for the Grilled PB&J, available in adult and child sizes. The food truck you’ll see out sparingly at select events with an abbreviated menu.

Restaurant locations: 5319 East Mockingbird Lane, Dallas (its original Bishop Arts location closed in late September 2022)
Hours: 11am–10pm daily
Order online or call: dallasgrilledcheese.co; Mockingbird Station: 469/620-2121
Facebook at @dallasgrilledcheesecompany and Instagram at @dallasgrilledcheeseco

I Heart Mac & Cheese 

The new kid on the cheese block opened April 2022 at Highland Village Town Center. Even if you don’t live nearby, the drive out is well worth it for the sheer variety of options for the health conscious or food sensitive. They’ve got vegan cheese, gluten-free pasta and Beyond Meat plant-based proteins. Or replace the pasta altogether with a base of broccoli, cauliflower, quinoa or even tater tots. 

Get the kid-sized sandwich or mac bowl, build your own macaroni and cheese bowl and grilled cheese sandwich, or choose from the specialty menu: everything from classic to fancy mac with lobster and white truffle. Or throw caution to the wind and try the most outrageous item on the menu: the Tacoroni, a nacho-flavored taco shell stuffed with mac.

Restaurant location: 2250 Justin Road, Suite 112, Highland Village (stay tuned for more franchise locations expanding to Denton, Frisco and Little Elm)
Hours: Open Sunday–Thursday 11am–9pm and Friday–Saturday 11am–10pm
Order online or call: iheartmacandcheese.com; 469/451-5029
Follow: Facebook @iheartmacandcheesehighlandvillagetx and Instagram @iheartmacandcheese

Ruthie’s Fueled by Good

If grilled cheese is your jam, make a beeline for Ruthie’s. The Dallas favorite going on 11 years has now expanded to a small fleet of four food trucks. Try their best-selling barbecue brisket on sourdough called The Boss, go simple with the Plain Jane or Extra Cheesy Classic, or for a real adventure, order the OMG sandwich, made with bacon and gouda mac and cheese. They’ve got it all, even gluten-free bread and dairy-free cheese (cheddar-style slices by Daiya) available upon request. 

Follow them online to see their full menu and where to find Ruthie’s next. This August and September, that includes special events at Dallas Arboretum and the Perot Museum. Last year they announced plans to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, so stay tuned for updates. 

It’s not only the food that sets Ruthie’s apart but its philanthropic mission. Owner and founder Ashlee Hunt Kleinert, who named the business in honor of her grandmother, partners with Café Momentum to employ at-risk youth, and through the Ruthie’s Snacks of Kindness program, they’ve handed out more than 13,280 sandwiches to the community members, schools, hospitals and first-responders.

Have a worthy recipient you want to nominate to receive free sandwiches? Let them know by emailing info@ruthiesrollingcafe.com. You can also make a donation to Feed a Frontline Hero.

Food truck locations: In and around Dallas. Find their truck schedule at ruthiesfoodtrucks.com/events
Follow: @ruthiesforgood on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
Contact: 972/380-4233

Smackin Mac

When we first interviewed Frances Juru, of Aledo, back in June 2019, she had just started her business while her then-infant son, Ben, was still breastfeeding. She went from serving her gourmet mac and cheese at family gatherings to winning the top prize her first year North Texas Fair & Rodeo. And taking a look at her full menu, you can see why.

She makes her original Smackin Mac with a blend of cheddar, jack, sharp and mozzarella cheeses and her own secret seasoning. The smoked brisket and barbecue sauce mac, bacon gouda mac, and hot dog topped with mac are all worth a try. Juru says the Mac & Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich has become the most popular new item. For a visit with your kids, feel free to start small with the mini-sized Baby Mac, or go wild with Hot Cheetos mac.

Now, the mompreneur of three children has expanded Smackin Mac to include a regular spot at TWU (see below) and a food truck you can find at local festivals and available for special events. Be sure to follow her online to find out where they’ll be popping up next.

Locations: Texas Woman’s University Student Union at Hubbard Hall, 301 Administration Drive, in Denton for the 2022 fall semester, starting August 29.
Find her food truck this fall at:
North Texas Fair and Rodeo Denton, August 19–27
Benbrook Heritage Fest October 1
And Southlake Oktoberfest October 14–16
Follow: Facebook @smackinmac and Instagram @smackinmac_dfw
Contact: smackinmacfw@gmail.com 

Texas Mac and Cheese 

Owners John and Gayle, who operate this unique food truck in Fort Worth, have a knack for the mac. Their house recipe, called Just the Mac, is a secret blend of four cheeses, topped with grated white cheddar and housemade bread crumbs. Their brisket mac and cheese, and fried chicken bites on top of mac and cheese, are among the top-requested menu items, with more savory options like pulled pork or smoked sausage, even loaded tater tots and a mac and cheese dog.

Mac and cheese food trucks, photo courtesy of Texas Mac and Cheese

But what they’re best known for is their mac and cheese balls—made with double the cheese, then rolled, battered and fried. When the cooler months finally hit, ask about their cinnamon balls with icing. Look for Texas Mac and Cheese at frequent pop-up festivals and local breweries, most of which are family-friendly during daytime hours. 

Food truck locations: In and around Fort Worth. Find their truck schedule on their social media.
Follow: @gettexasmac on Facebook and Instagram
Contact: 817/637-9675

RELATED: Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth

Have you found amazing mac and cheese or grilled cheeses at another DFW-area restaurant? Let us know at editorial@dfwchild.com.

Photos courtesy of Ruthie’s Fueled by Good; Smackin Mac; and Texas Mac and Cheese