Wednesday was a fun day for food in Philly, as the Center City mac-and-cheese mavens at Mac Mart decided to come up with a gimmicky lunch treat called the Mac’n Cheesesteak. It was, simply, a cheesesteak filled with mac’n cheese, because when you have a cheesesteak and you have mac’n cheese, why do you need to overcomplicate things?
Only, Mac Mart kind of did overcomplicate things. But we’ll get to that in a second.
First, the story of how four of us came to eat this sort-of delicious carb-heavy concoction. Twitter was all, uh, atwitter about this sandwich Wednesday morning, and while we were talking about it a little in the Billy Penn home office, we hadn’t see a representative photo until our food and culture editor Danya Henninger dropped Philly.com gastroscribe Michael Klein’s tweet into our #phl-random Slack channel. (That’s where random things about PHL go. Obvs.) As you can see, we had differing reactions.
Yes, the file name of that screen cap is ‘Slackncheese.jpg’ and yes, I just made you look to see if I was serious. You’re welcome.
As you can see, I was a bigger fan of the sandwich than reporter/curator and mac’n cheese enthusiast Anna Orso, while Billy Penn Editor Chris Krewson was stuck between us, marveling at the sheer density of the snack.
So we got one. Well, we got two. Managing Editor Shannon Wink took the quick trip to Mac Mart — there was no line at noon, so all the social buzz wasn’t filling the place, that’s for sure — and got us two sandwiches to try. On Facebook Live. For journalism.
This was similar to a previous “for journalism” food video we tried, as we blindfolded our staff to see which Philly soft pretzel was the best. There was no blindfold needed this time. Just an adventurous spirit and an open mind (and mouth).
You can watch the 10-minute taste test, which gets into great detail about the sandwich. Cliff’s Notes version: It’s ok. As novelty sandwiches go, it’s a great idea, but if you’re looking to get a cheesesteak or mac’n cheese, this may not make either option better.
It’s a great idea if you want both, and the mac’n cheese was tasty, but given the size, for $8 there are probably better lunch options. That said, it’s a good $11 for a cheesesteak in Center City these days, so this might not be as bad a deal as we first thought. Anna still disagrees.
The sandwich was dense, but there were varying amounts of mac in each and the roll didn’t hold up well to the heft of the innards. Plus, Mac Mart threw on onions, which were tasty, but too much. And too many. It’s a lot of starch, for sure, and the whole thing could use a little salt, which wasn’t something I expected to say looking at it. But it was worth the trip, the taste test, and the journalism.
Mac Mart said yesterday it was doing this sandwich for one day only, but for a company trying to sling mac’n cheese in a cheesesteak town, it’s hard to believe you won’t be able to get one of these again at some point soon. If so, and you’re in the mood, tell Mac Mart we sent you. And to put the onions on the side.