While taking a class, I met a fellow foodie. He highly recommended a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant in downtown DC, just one block past the White House on Pennsylvania avenue. Skeptical, I tried it out. My friend was right, GCDC Grilled Cheese Bar is fantastic!
As you would expect from a grilled cheese restaurant, the featured item on the menu is grilled cheese sandwiches. GCDC has almost a dozen types, with inspirations from across America starting with Buffalo Blue and Carolina BBQ all the way to California Dreamn. (Buffalo Blue is a chicken wing inspired with chicken, hot sauce, and blue cheese; Carolina BBQ is pork with barbecue sauce; and I guess Dreamn‘s inclusion of Avocado makes in Californian). Other specialty sandwiches include Reuben, Pizza Melt, and Chicken Parmesan. The bread used in the sandwiches is mainly white or sour dough, but a few use rye bread.
I have had two of the grilled cheeses: the Sweet Heat Mac & Cheese and the Veggie Melt. Sweet Heat is no longer on the menu, but it consisted of jalapeno peppers, cheese covered macaroni, caramelized onions, some sort of white cheese, and perhaps bacon bits. The Veggie Melt consists of spinach,tomatoes, onions, and cheddar cheese inside rye bread. Made with thick and hearty bread, brimming with ingredients, and smothered with cheese, the sandwiches are excellent. Heavily buttered, they are also very greasy. They are heavy but make for a delicious meal.
In addition to grilled cheese sandwiches, GCDC has Mac & Cheese entrees. There are seven options; noteworthy among them are: Buffalo Chicken, Green Goddess (spinach, basil, jalapenos), Bacon Jalapeno Popper, and Cordon Bleu. I have had one: the Steak House Melt, It consists of shell noodles, blue cheese, chopped steak, and caramelized onions. I enjoyed it. Rich and creamy, it has plenty of cheese and plenty of shells. There is a decent amount of steak, but I feel that the cheese dominated.
The last type of entree that I have tried is the cheeseburgers. There are five types: GCDC, BBQ, NY, B&B (Black & Blue?), and Steak House. All are made with Texas Brioche Toast. The cheese and the toppings vary. There is also a “build your own” option, but I stuck with the stock choices and ordered the BBQ burger. It has cheddar cheese, bacon, jalapeños, and Mac & Cheese as toppings along with a BBQ sauce. As with all of GCDC’s sandwiches, the ingredients are excellent. What I was disappointed with was the burger. It has a lot of filler and tasted more like a meatloaf than a burger. If you like meatloaf I would recommend it; just do not expect a burger.
GCDC also has quesadillas. I have not tried them.
GCDC menu has some side dishes; they are ordered a la cart. I have tried two. The first is that classic grilled cheese accompaniment tomato soup. I greatly enjoy their soup. Thick and rich with flavor, it is every bit as good at the sandwiches. The other dish I have had is their side salad. The salad looks premade but tastes fresh. There are a good mix of greens: spinach, red leaf lettuce, and shredded cabbage. But there is not much other vegetables mixed in, except for a few grape tomatoes. The dressing is a vinaigrette; it is decent. Other sides include chips, mac & cheese, and coleslaw.
I was not expecting desserts at GCDC, but they have cheesecake, Panna Cotta, Banana pudding, and S’mores. I was enticed to try the S’mores because of a video highlighting it on a display screen above the bar. GCDC’s version is a chocolate mouse dessert with graham crackers and marshmallows mixed in. The mouse is excellent; very fresh, rich, and chocolatey. And there are plenty of marshmallows. But I would have preferred more graham crackers, to give it a more S’more like texture. Nevertheless, it is a very good dessert.
As their name states, GCDC is a bar. As such, they have a number of beers and ciders on tap. I have tried several of them: two of the ciders and one of the sour ales. One cider was pineapple based from a place I did not make note of and the other was a mango from Ace Ciders. I enjoyed both, as they are clean and crisp tasting. The latter also has a strong mango flavor. The sour ale was Volcano Sauce from Aslin Beer Company. I liked it, but did not take note of the details.
Even though it is a bar, GCDC feels more like a fast casual restaurant. Ordering is done through your phone and orders tend to come out pretty quick. The one exception I have had was with the Mac & Cheese, which took 20 minutes. The staff has been, without exception, courteous and helpful. There is a fair amount of seating, both indoors and outdoors. GCDC also does a lot of take out business. During my first couple of times there, I had trouble finding seating. But that was during COVID, and I had that problem once since, but that was during the Cherry Blossom festival. It should not be an issue, unless you have a large group.
GCDC has high quality of food and their service is excellent as is the service. It is great comfort food. The meals are heavy, so this is not a restaurant I can eat at too often. But for a special treat GCDC is one of my go to places.