Melted, gooey, stringy cheese served between two slices of crispy, toasted bread – the grilled cheese sandwich is an American favorite, and it’s easy to see why. A staple of kid cuisine, and a beloved quick-fix for moms, the easy-made and readily-enjoyed sandwich is imbued with childhood memories of enjoying the simple treat. How could it get any better? A few good answers to that question can be found at Spacebar, a newly opened restaurant in the City of Falls Church: Serve the sandwich up every which way, add tots, and offer enough beer variety to make even a seasoned beer aficionado blush.
Lary and Erica Hoffman, who own and run Clarendon’s Galaxy Hut, opened Spacebar just weeks ago, setting up shop in the old Stacy’s Coffee Parlor spot on W. Broad Street. The tiny space has gotten a hip makeover, with the addition of an antique-radiator-mounted bar, black diner-style booths, and a tame amount of intergalactic decoration.
Orders are placed at the bar, where diners can peruse a menu of nearly 20 grilled cheese creations. The menu strays from the standard recipe of plastic-wrapped cheese “singles” on white bread. Different types of cheeses (classics like cheddar and mozzarella, but also atypical picks like gouda and havarti) and bread (rye, wheat, multigrain, and sourdough) are used to craft the sandwiches, many stacked with a host of vegetables and meats. Prices range from the more traditional grilled cheeses at $7, like a cheddar-mozzarella combination on sourdough, to more involved sandwiches boasting gourmet ingredients, the smoked salmon with havarti, grilled onion, and tomato on rye topping the list at $10.50. Some might be better recognized by different names; the No. 9 is clearly a patty melt with the addition of an angus burger patty, and the No. 6 of pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on rye is an obvious Reuben variation, but all have the winning cheese-bread combination.
Diners aren’t limited to the listed sandwiches. In fact, the No. 1 is a do-it-yourself option ($7 bread-and-cheese base cost, more for additional toppings), allowing customers to custom-build their ideal grilled cheese from a list of nine cheeses and 25 toppings, including meat and vegetable options, as well as vegan faux-meats and cheeses. A mixed greens salad ($6 base cost) can be ordered, as well, and customized with these same toppings.
Tots, too, are added to the equation. The potato shreds, packed into bite-sized bits and deep fried golden and crunchy, are available as a side dish ($1.50). A side salad ($1.50) can accompany the sandwiches for lighter fare.
The cheese-heavy menu may get mouths watering, but the flip side of the menu features the beer list and cannot be ignored. The craft beer roll call is divided into six categories (IPAs, Pale Ales, Belgian-Style, Dark & Rich, Lighter, and Fruit/Wheat), accounting for a variety of tastes and preferences. Served from a 24-beer-capacity row of taps, the libations come in pint or smaller goblet portions, most coming in at around $6 a pint. The selection is constantly rotating, as evidenced by frequent Facebook updates with a new lineup of what’s on tap. A handful of bottled and canned beers and a few wines are available, as are soda and root beer.
The Hoffmans have big plans for the young restaurant, like possibly bringing in live music acts in the future, but for now locals can enjoy some pub grub and wash it down with a new favorite beer at this much buzzed-about local spot.
Spacebar is located at 709 W. Broad St., Falls Church. For more information, call 703-992-0777 or visit facebook.com/spacebar.va. Restaurant hours are Sunday – Wednesday: 5 p.m. – midnight and Thursday – Saturday: 5 p.m – 1:30 a.m.