Mac Daddy

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 cheesetique.com