Flights of Fancy

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Trio of Macs

Typically when you think of mac and cheese, you think of two ingredients: macaroni and cheese. But when Iron Horse Tavern’s executive chef Christian Palmos was crafting the R Street restaurant’s menu in 2015, he decided to get creative with the nostalgic comfort food.

“You add stuff to burgers, right? So I was like, ‘Why don’t I do a mac and cheese bar and come up with a sampler?’ ” remembers Palmos, who also oversees the kitchens at other establishments owned by Mason, Curtis and Alan Wong like Cafeteria 15L and Mas Taco Bar.

Thus the Trio of Macs was born. The chef uses campanelle noodles and a four-cheese sauce (a blend of Parmesan, sharp white cheddar, fontina and Gruyère) as the base for eight different variations, from which you choose three—our faves include the mildly spicy jalapeño, the decadent lobster with succulent segments of shellfish, and the breakfasty bacon and egg (“It reminds me of a carbonara,” says Palmos, recommending that diners break the sunny-side-up egg yolk and mix it into the pasta). While the flight—served in adorably tiny cast-iron pans atop a rustic wooden paddle—may look kid-sized, one bite (or three) and you’ll know that this is not your childhood mac and cheese. $11.50. 1800 15th St. 916-448-4488. —Jessica Rine