1730 Pennsylvania Ave. NW | Cuisine: American | $
A haven for vegetarians and cheese lovers on a budget, GCDC Grilled Cheese Bar offers a vast array of twists on the classic grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.
Tucked away in a nook just a block from the White House, this family-owned establishment provides a healthy balance between hearty and affordable meals, offering traditional menu picks as well as a “Build Your Own” sandwich option. It offers lunch and dinner options, as well as a weekend menu combining the most popular weekday lunch and dinner offerings. Like any establishment with a large millennial clientele, GCDC offers gluten-free bread options for all its sandwiches.
A small, lively locale, GCDC was established in April 2014 by a D.C. lawyer, Bruce Klores, after waiting 10 years to make his lifelong dream a reality. Limited by the time he dedicated to his law practice, Klores was unable to deliver comfort food the way he wanted until his son, Steven, an aspiring musician at the time, paused his career to help his father open up a grilled cheese bar.
gThis spot is bustling with activity from a younger crowd of local professionals and college students. Patrons can usually find a seat at the bar toward the front of the establishment when the traditional seating area in the back of the restaurant is full. It also offers outdoor seating with heaters, though these tend to remain closed during the winter season.
Lunch options include international options such as the “Kim-Cheese-Steak,” a mix of cheddar cheese, kimchi, spicy sauce and roast beef on white bread, and the “District Cemita,” a zesty combination of pepper jack cheese, chorizo, avocado and spicy salsa also on white bread. Guests can also add a small side of small macaroni and cheese or tater tots in addition to their sandwiches.
For tater tot lovers, GCDC offers variations of the classic dish, including the “Loaded Tots,” classic tater tots showered in a generous mixture of cheddar sauce, bacon, jalapenos, pico de gallo and GCDC sauce, as well as the “Chili Tots,” potatoes blanketed in homemade veggie chili, cheddar cheese, sour cream and jalapenos.
After dark, GCDC’s menu expands to include heartier platters, shareable dishes, craft beers and cocktails. Each sandwich comes with a small side of the guest’s choice, generally under $15 per sandwich. Patrons can choose among zesty tomato soup, a house salad, tater tots, coleslaw or macaroni and cheese to pair with one of 10 sandwich options.
Among these dinner sandwich platters are the “Mushroom Melt,” the “Fig and Prosciutto,” and the “Carolina BBQ.” The first is a vegetarian option, while the latter are standard homestyle dishes. Both come with a choice of a side dish.
The “Mushroom Melt” ($13) is a compact grilled cheese sandwich, stuffed with sauteed wild mushrooms, caramelized onions and truffle oil, sandwiched between two slices of buttered wheat bread. Here, the caramelized onions ooze a sweet juice into the toasted slices of bread without creating a soggy loaf. The mushrooms’ flavor blends with the sharp cheddar to tickle the taste buds without overwatering the mouth.
The “Fig and Prosciutto” ($14) combines two types of cheese, goat and mozzarella, with chopped dates and fig jam, layered with prosciutto and served on wheat bread. This sandwich benefits from a sweet and salty base.
The “Carolina BBQ” ($14) is a heavier option, with grilled cheddar cheese mixed along with macaroni and cheese. Barbecue pulled pork, bacon and jalapeños are layered on top of the cheese blend and pulled together by two slices of buttered white bread.
The flagship shareable dish is surely the “Lobster Mac & Cheese” ($14), a take on the original macaroni and cheese spruced up by layers of parmesan-cream-covered lobster meat and a blend of four cheddar cheeses. Garlic-parmesan bread crumbs top this dense dish for presentation.
Pair any of these meals with the coleslaw side for a refreshingly cool break between cheesy bites. Though these dishes tend to dry out the palate because of the sheer amount of cheese served between toasty bread, servers will check in repeatedly and offer water refills out of pitchers resembling wine bottles.
For a cheesy delight, visit this joint at 1730 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a break between 3 and 4 p.m., and weekends, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m..