Best Cheese Plate

2411 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria; (703) 706-5300
The best cheese program in the city is actually in the ’burbs, at Del Ray’s Cheesetique. Owner Jill Erber, a recovering software developer, all but put a lock on this category when she moved into larger digs in 2008 and opened her accompanying cheese-and-wine bar. To reach the bar, you must perform a superhuman feat: You must walk past the shop’s long cheese counter without stopping. If you stop, you’ll be lost for good in a world of bries and blues and goat cheeses. Should you make it, though, nab one of the small tables or a cushy seat at the bar itself and select from 10 perfectly ripened and stored cheeses. You can choose a single cheese for $5, three for $14, or five for $21. The menu offers a number of accompaniments for $2 each, but the boards come with enough bread, grapes, membrillo, and cornichons to make them superfluous. Best of all? You can walk back out, stop at the cheese counter, and pick up a wedge of mind-blowing Fougerus Rouzaire to eat at home.

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