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Philadelphia is a renowned food city, from our James Beard Award-nominated chefs and restaurants to the local delicacies. Cheesesteaks may get all the glory when it comes to the latter, but the city and countryside are prime pretzel territory.
Sturdy and salty on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside, the Philly soft pretzel is a thing of wonder, and for pretzel pros, pairing it with mustard is a must. In the City of Brotherly (Pretzel) Love, there are unique twists (no pun intended) on the carb classic — from Auntie Anne’s-style buttery creations to snappy and sweet shortbread iterations.
Read on for where to find Philly’s second-most famous food tradition or a fun iteration of it. Or, hit up any food cart found on most Center City or University City street corners.
Family owned and operated since 1981, Center City Soft Pretzel Co. isn’t technically located in Center City at all, but the Italian Market. Offering a variety of pretzels, from the classic figure-eight shape to the pragel (a pretzel-bagel combo), the bakery’s creations are perfectly fresh and chewy, with the right amount of bite on the outside. Even better? They’re kosher, nut, dairy and preservative free.
Where: Center City Soft Pretzel Co., 816 Washington Avenue
Combining two Philly essentials, Miller’s Twist is home of the Philly Cheesesteak Pretzel: That’s steak and provolone wrapped in pretzel dough and baked to perfection. The Amish-style pretzels have buttery outsides and are less dense and chewy than traditional Philly soft pretzels. Make your way to Reading Terminal Market to try any one of their pretzel roll-ups (with fillings like chicken feta sausage and jalapeno cheddar) or a cinnamon-coated twisted pretzel.
Where: Miller's Twist, 51 N. 12th Street
Yeah, it’s a chain, but Philly Pretzel Factory pretzels are quintessential. (How many Eagles tailgates have you been to where a party platter of mini pretzels are proudly displayed?) With over 170 locations in over a dozen states — and some 30 locations in the Greater Philadelphia area alone — these pretzels are everything you imagine when you think about soft pretzels. Just the right amount of solid, soft and salty. Want custom pretzel shapes for your next party? The fine folks here have you covered.
Where: Various locations including 1401 W. Passyunk Avenue
To accompany their vast selection of German beers and sausages, Brauhaus Schmitz offers up German-style pretzels — dense, thick and a little crusty. A deep amber outer shell is perfect for dipping into the bar’s delightful beer cheese sauce.
Where: Brauhaus Schmitz, 718 South Street
There’s no greater pairing than a German beer and a massive Bavarian pretzel. At Frankford Hall, Stephen Starr’s Fishtown biergarten, everything’s bigger: the massive pretzels that have a crisp outer shell with a dense, doughy interior and the one-liter steins of lagers, hefeweizens, and kolsches.
Where: Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Avenue
A major deviation from the Philly and German soft-pretzel style, Lost Bread Co. delivers a delightfully snappy version of the delicacy. The shortbread pretzel combines savory butter and salt with slight sweetness and the crunch of a shortbread cookie. Find them at your local farmers market, specialty grocery, neighborhood coffee shop, their Howard Street bakery or order online. Eat ’em plain or dunk ’em in your favorite warm beverage.
Where: Lost Bread Co., 1313 N. Howard Street
Up your pretzel game in the most Philly way possible: swapping bread for pretzels. At Fitler Square’s Rowhome Coffee, La Colombe beans are brewed and the breakfast sandwiches come on a sliced soft pretzel. Varieties include pork roll, egg and cheese; sausage, egg and cheese; and vegan sausage, egg and cheese. Or, if you’d like, just slather a pretzel up with loads of cream cheese.
Where: Rowhome Coffee, 2536 Pine Street
Delco’s pretzel purveyors at Bernie’s Pretzel Bakery churn out doughy treats fresh from the oven daily. For all the hungry mouths you have to feed at parties and the like, go for their nugget tray to get their salty and chewy pretzels in beautiful bite-size portions.
Where: Bernie's Pretzel Bakery, 500 E. Providence Road, Aldan
If you’ve ever wanted cajun shrimp fondue on a pretzel, you’ve come to the right place. This fast-casual Point Breeze restaurant piles hearty portions of barbecue chicken, jerk chicken, chicken parm, curry, salmon and more atop a soft pretzel. The result is a delicious concoction of epic proportions.
Where: Pretzel Workz, 1250 Point Breeze Avenue
Tasty Twisters Bakery offers classic Philly soft pretzels (they’re kosher!), plus with fun toppings if you’d like. Think cinnamon, pizza and everything bagel seasoning.
Where: Tasty Twisters Bakery, 5002 Umbria Street
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for a rewarding getaway in one of 2021’s top destinations, per Condé Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Esquire and more.
The exclusive deal — booked more than 175,000 times since 2001 — includes buy-one-get-one-free attraction tickets purchased at the Independence Visitor Center to 33 of Philly’s iconic museums and attractions and free hotel parking (worth up to $100 in Center City Philadelphia).
Our picks for the best cheesesteak places to go for an authentic Philly experience...