It seems like every restaurant serves macaroni and cheese in one form or another. Let’s face it, Americans would revolt if they didn’t find their favorite comfort food on a menu these days.
But what about a restaurant that solely focuses on macaroni and cheese? Sounds like a solid business model.
That’s exactly what Mad Mac owners Jeff and Rhi Hoisington had in mind when they opened their macaroni and cheese-centric eatery late last year at the Boise Spectrum in the former Pollo Rey spot across from Edwards 21 Cinemas.
The Hoisington’s are well-versed on the topic of macaroni and cheese. They quickly made a name for themselves around here after moving from Utah back in 2016, bringing with them two food trucks. Soon Boise diners started seeing the decorative Mad Mac and Bowld Over trucks dishing up grub at popular lunch spots and special events around town.
Eventually the friendly couple decided to go in a brick-and-mortar direction like other mobile-food vendors have in the Boise area — Calle 75 Street Tacos and Saint Lawrence Gridiron come to mind. The Boise Spectrum, with its constant flow of people in entertainment mode, seemed like a logical place for their quick-service concept.
The menu is exactly the same as the Mad Mac food truck, only now people can get comfy in a warm restaurant instead of having to brave the elements. The Hoisingtons still operate the Mad Mac truck, yet they have sold the Bowld Over truck — a rolling concept that put out rice and mashed potato bowls — so they can primarily focus on Mad Mac.
Macaroni and cheese has a storied history in the United States, dating back to the early 1800s when recipes for the dish started popping up in cookbooks. But Mad Mac speaks for the 21st century with a lineup of hybrid macaroni and cheese preparations that glean inspiration from various locales around the country.
It all starts with elbow macaroni (the restaurant’s noodle of choice) coated in thick five-cheese sauce. The creamy sauce — made with mild cheddar, extra sharp cheddar, white cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan — serves as a base for the signature macaroni and cheese dishes, topped with scratch-made offerings.
True macaroni and cheese purists can simply order the plain Mad Mac ($6.50), made with the aforementioned cheese sauce and nothing else.
Carnivores can sate their meaty cravings with the Bacon Cheeseburger Mac ($9.50). As the name suggests, a mound of macaroni and cheese comes smothered with a generous portion of seasoned ground beef and large bits of crunchy smoked bacon. It’s really not that salty, as one would imagine with these kinds of toppings.
Skully’s Sweet Pork ($8.50) pays homage to the world of American barbecue. With this one, five-cheese macaroni gets loaded up with pulled pork and finely chopped red onion, which gives the dish more spice and a good crunch. The slow-cooked, shredded pork was surprisingly dry, though, even bathed in a liberal dose of sweet and spicy barbecue sauce.
The Tex-Mex-influenced Calavera Mac ($8.50) is made with the same cheese sauce, only it gets kicked up a notch with pieces of pickled jalapeno. It’s then finished off with small chunks of pan-roasted chicken thigh (seasoned with fajita spices) and cilantro-flecked pico de gallo.
Besides macaroni and cheese, Mad Mac serves inventive, hand-mixed soda drinks and a few house-made desserts.
“Dishin’ it” is an occasional visit to a local restaurant in which we focus on one dish.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Patrick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: 7709 W. Overland Road, Boise
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Menu price range: $6-$9.50
Opened: December 2017