Macaroni And Cheese, Tomato Soup And Wine At Cheesetique In Del Ray, Alexandria

Cheesetique's back restaurant lives up to its name

Cheesetique is Del Ray's primary destination for local and hard-to-find cheeses, so naturally, the under-the-radar restaurant hidden behind the shop excels at dairy-laced dishes.

The restaurant assembles a homespun menu of sandwiches, soups and small plates, but the best items get an upgrade from the cheese case.

The signature Mac 'n' Cheesetique ($8) is a single-serving baked dish of pasta that makes the cheeses the star. The kitchen mixes nutty Asiago, smoky goat's-milk Gouda and a dense, flaky, 90-day aged Pecorino for a blend that tastes like an artisan cheese plate baked into a ramekin.

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese ($8.50) uses the Seattle-based Beecher's Flagship Cheddar to create a nuttier version of the childhood favorite, which is particularly good alongside some Cheddar-topped tomato soup ($5).

Across the menu, cheese turns everyday dishes like a Parrano-topped portobello melt (pictured; $9) and a quiche Lorraine ($10) into memorable meals.

The most fitting way to end a visit is with a cheese board, which comes with your choice of one ($5), three ($14) or five ($21) cheeses, and add-ons ($2 each) like glazed Greek figs. If you like what you try, they'll package it up from the front case for you to take home.

Cheesetique, 2411 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-706-5300 or