Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Second Round baby!

By Ron Swarner on March 27, 2015


It's a simple equation: elbow macaroni plus cheese equals mac and cheese. But hidden within this simple formula is a universe of variety. Stovetop or baked? Macaroni or penne? Bacon or crab? Everyone who makes this classic American staple, from national fast-food joints to local mom and pops, has choices to make. And in those choices lie the path to greatness.

The field of 64 South Sound mac and cheese dishes has been voted down to 32 in the mother of all mac and cheese brackets. You've seen the carnage: chain restaurants fell, powerhouses butted heads and lobster mac and cheese dishes are making a run at the prize. Welcome to the Second Round. ...

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Eleven Eleven (1111 S. 11th St., Tacoma) vs. Farrelli's Pizza (4870 Yelm Hwy., Lacey)

It's good to be bearded brothers Justin and Rob Peterson. Their co-venture Galley food truck in front of 7 Seas Brewery was victorious in the First Round. Their Valley restaurant and bar down the street from the Tacoma Dome also won. And their first venture, the Eleven Eleven, beat Farrelli's Pizza in Lacey yesterday, capturing 86 percent of the votes. It's safe to assume the beards stay, in more ways than one.

Game 2: Smoke + Cedar (2013 S. Cedar St., Tacoma) vs. Johnny's Seafood Market & Bistro (1199 Dock St., Tacoma)

In the closest battle of the day, although it wasn't that close, Smoke + Cedar grabbed 72 percent of the vote for the win. Surprisingly, Johnny's Seafood's patio on a glorious sunny day wasn't a factor. Once Smoke + Cedar's skillet full of owner Gordon Naccarato's version of the Augusta National pimento cheese recipe got hot, it was over. Smoke + Cedar moves into the Second Round and a March 30 date with Eleven Eleven.

Game 3: Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge (454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) vs. Homestead Restaurant & Bakery (7837 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma)

Maxwell's took second place in last year's Tournament of Burgers. Their experience came to the forefront during yesterday's game against the barn-dwelling Homestead. Ignoring the late-afternoon penalty the Homestead received for counting their chickens before they hatched, Maxwell's 81 percent of the vote victory came from the one-two punch of sharp white cheddar and crispy bacon. Maxwell's moves into the Second Round.

Game 4: Ramblin Jacks (520 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia) vs. H.G. Bistro (1618 E. Main Ave., Puyallup)

Ramblin Jacks must have been rambling too much. The downtown Olympia Southern-influenced American barbecue and pizza joint was all over the place during their game with H.G. Bistro, the popular downtown Puyallup restaurant with a killer happy hour. H.G. Bistro included Facebook posts as part of their game plan, a plan that also included cooking tasty mac and cheese. H.G. Bistro grabbed 76 percent of the vote and moves into the Second Round and a March 30 date with Maxwell's.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

Elven Eleven

Smoke + Cedar

Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge

H.G. Bistro

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's Second Round mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.

Tomorrow's Second Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Harmon Brewery & Eatery (1938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. Over The Moon Café (709 Opera Alley, Tacoma)

Game 2: The Forum Tacoma (815 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. BITE at Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway, Tacoma)

Game 3: Marrow Kitchen + Bar (2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Southern Kitchen (1716 Sixth Ave., Tacoma)

Game 4: Westside Tavern (1815 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia) vs. El Gaucho (2119 Pacific Ave., Tacoma)

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.