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Best Crack and Cheese Orange County 2011 - The Alley

The Alley

The Alley

4501 W. Coast Highway

Newport Beach, CA 92663

949-646-9126

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The baked mac and cheese at the Alley—the Newport Beach Rat Pack hangout at the Pacific Coast Highway-Superior Avenue entrance to the Peninsula—is one of those appetizers you think about weeks, months and years after you've consumed it. Perfectly prepared noodles swim in a shallow bowl with gooey Gruyère cheese, firm bacon bits and flavor-packed crimini mushrooms. The portion is deceptively small—and even-more-deceptively rich. Order it to share before the entrées arrive, and you'll still have some left over for lunch the next day. It's also not bad as a sponge for what might ail you after overindulging at the 25-year-old late-night spot famous for the "Best Pour By the Shore." $$$

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