When I get lost in the back neighborhoods of Arlington, trying desperately to find a grocery store, I forget to take in what a pretty place it is. Arlington and Alexandria’s neighborhoods are full of perfectly manicured dollhouses, with porches, pickets fences and chimneys, butting up to little avenues with tiny, independent restaurants and shops. In particular, there is a little pocket of Alexandria called Del Ray, and it’s a hidden gem.
Walking up Mount Vernon Avenue, you feel like you’ve stepped into Pleasantville. There’s a music school, a butcher shop, a florist, a wine boutique, and a slew of tiny little restaurants with outdoor seating. There’s even The Dairy Godmother, an ice cream shop that still has the seat that Obama sat in when he visited it last year (and yes, it’s painted with “Obama sat here”).
On Saturday I went strolling through Del Ray with another Arlington local, and we decided to stop for dinner at Cheestique. It’s a wine and cheese paradise started by Del Ray local Jill Erber. Step inside, and you’ll be amazing at the hand-picked selection of cheeses (over 200 kinds!), including some hard-to-find artisan and small-farm-produced ones from around the world. I was drooling over the case: how can you even begin to decide?! If I lived around the corner from this shop I would surely try a different cheese every week.
Anyway, moving on from my cheese obsession. It was the perfect evening for a crisp white wine (the vinho verde had a slight spritz—lovely) and light spinach salads, topped with bacon and mozzarella. Then, onto the cheese board (drooling again!). We enlisted the help of our knowledgeable server to suggest a variety of spectacular cheeses and charcuterie: blue cheese, goat’s cheese, sheep cheese, cow cheese … oh the wonders.
The menu’s entrees looked great, but why would you get anything other than the cheeses?! So gourmet. I wanted to buy out the store, and stock up on cheese, wine, oils, and fresh bread. If I lived in Del Ray, I could solely survive on Cheesetique. Bravo, Ms. Erber.
2411 Mount Vernon Ave.
Alexandria, VA 22301