The periodic resurgence of the cheese course is always cause for celebration, and in recent years the quality of artisanal cheese featured at area restaurants is better than ever. (It may not be entirely coincidental that New York star chef Terrance Brennan, whose Artisanal cheese cafe offers hundreds of varieties every day, is from Annandale and started out here.) Some restaurants list the cheese course last, some first (Dino does both); some have it only as part of the chef's tasting menu; and a few, such as the Irish Inn at Glen Echo, which includes a fabulous Guinness-streak blue in its trio, plate it with salad. Some have dozens to choose from, others only what the chef has chosen. If you want to learn how to match wine and cheese, sign up for Saturday's cheese and wine seminar with the sommelier and fromagier of CityZen in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel ($80).
AL CROSTINO -- 1342 U St. NW; 202-797-0523. Choice of three Italian cheeses for $8, five for $11 and 7 for $15.
BISTRO BIS -- 15 E St. NW (in the Hotel George); 202-661-2700. Choice of three international cheeses for $9.50, six for $17.
CITYZEN -- 1330 Maryland Ave. SW (in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel); 202-787-6006. Choice of up to six artisanal cheeses for $14.
DINO -- 3435 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-686-2966. Choice of three Italian artisanal cheeses for $12, five for $18.
GALILEO -- 1110 21st St. NW; 202-293-7191. Choice of four Italian, Spanish and French cheeses for $14.95.
MAESTRO -- 1700 Tysons Blvd. (in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel), Tysons Corner; 703-917-5498. Choice of six cheeses for $12 (included in fixed-price dinners).
OBELISK -- 2029 P St. NW; 202-872-1180. Course of three artisanal cheeses in fixe price menu, $65.
1789 -- 1226 36th St. NW; 202-965-1789. Three Spanish and Italian cheeses, $12.
SONOMA -- 223 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; 202-544-8088. Trio of artisanal cheeses for $10.
-- Eve Zibart