Guilty Pleasures

The Mmmac & Cheeseburger at Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers is Two Comfort Foods in One

The Guilty Pleasure: Mmmac & Cheeseburger
Where to Get It: Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers
Price: $13
What it Really Costs: Your daily recommended allowance of fat and sodium, and then some. 

Many people will argue that splicing bacon into every other dish on the planet is the fastest route to salty-savory flavor ecstasy. 

But for some of us, mac 'n' cheese is the essential American comfort food dish, the thing to eat to cushion the blows of everyday life with soft pasta drenched in rivulets of buttery cheese. 

Mac 'n' cheese is the kind of dish that doesn't pretend to be anything but comfort food. It offers an unadulterated rush of butter, salt, and cheese, and comes wrapped in a package of tender noodles. Everything about the dish is soft, yielding, and lush. Adding broccoli florets, or crispy nubs of bacon, or anything else, does not change the central fact that you are eating mac 'n' cheese. 

And for a small contingent of us, mac 'n' cheese is our bacon: Adding it to other foods will tend to improve them. If mac 'n' cheese is your gastronomical kryptonite - the thing standing between you and losing those last 10 pounds - then you will probably appreciate the Mmmac & Cheeseburger made at Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers, the mega-popular regional chain with six locations around the Valley. 

The popular chain with the very straightforward name offers an unpretentious menu that includes appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, and a sprawling beer list. The kitchen pumps out all manner of specialty burgers, but there's something unabashedly indulgent about its Mmmac & Cheeseburger.

It starts with a beefy half-pound patty - you can upgrade to a full pound for $5 more - which is capped with a juicy grilled tomato slice. The burger itself is a small exercise in comfort-food achievement: thick, juicy, and well-seasoned.

But it's also packed with an extravagant amount of cheesy, buttery oversize mac 'n' cheese noodles, which seem to erupt from the side of the burger, as if the meaty package simply cannot contain so much richness. 

The mac 'n' cheese itself is very good: salty and rich, and it adds to the general delicious effect of eating this loosely packed, squishy, drippy burger. Altogether, it's a marvelous one-two punch of cheese and meat flavor, and if you can't take comfort in that, well there's always the salad option on the menu. 

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Patricia Escárcega was Phoenix New Times' food critic.