I cannot in good conscience post the pictures of my family’s homemade soft pretzels (from last Sunday) before I post the pictures of the soft pretzels I encountered in Philadelphia (in DECEMBER).
Basically I imagined that I would walk right up to the window of a PRETZEL FACTORY (made of brick and smokestacks) (creepy? Dickensian?) and order a pretzel right off the coals. But all the pretzels I bought were (seemingly) from a third party, and most were a little cold/old. But… that’s the ropes! I didn’t get off my ass and FIND a pretzel factory.
The first place I bought a pretzel was from some little bakery-type place at the Reading Terminal Market. (I can’t remember which one, but it wasn’t particularly remarkable… they didn’t seem to be baking anything on the premises.) The exciting part was that they let me break a $100 bill (I’m a big cheese) on a 50 cent pretzel (because they were cash-only). WORTH IT.
Apparently Miller’s Twist has great, fresh pretzels. However, their pretzels looked kinda greasy/oily, and also large. Normally that wouldn’t matter, but we’d just consumed cheesesteaks (I STILL feel strangely ill/food coma-y when I think back on those cheesesteaks). Therefore, the smaller, colder pretzel at the cash-only place was fine.
But of course I took a creeper picture of Miller’s Twist, because AMISH GIRLS were hand-rolling the pretzels.
The second soft pretzel (er, pretzel bites) was consumed at The Continental Mid-Town. Sam’s parents took us there because it’s a Stephen Starr restaurant. And we must seem cool enough to take to a hip restaurant! Score.
Everything at The Continental was tapas-y and bite-sized.
For dessert, I got the upscale take on pretzels & beer: Soft pretzels with caramel dipping sauce, and Guinness ice cream.
Once again cold pretzels, but with caramel sauce and Guinness ice cream on either side of them– hard to really care. I was happy.
The morning before we left, we walked to the closest pretzel shop (A Taste of Philly in Chestnut Hill) to give the hope of warm pretzels one more go.
I really enjoyed walking through the neighborhood, which was still under a blanket of snow. The small-town vibe was so charming. I felt like I was in a movie! (East Coasters, feel free to roll your eyes.)
I liked the pretzel decor in the windows…
Have I mentioned the shape of the pretzels in Philly? It’s definitely distinct from anything I’ve ever seen on the West Coast. In fact, the pretzel decals on the windows in the background of this picture are what I’m used to seeing.
But I think the shape comes from the way they bake the pretzels in bulk (at the PRETZEL FACTORIES!), based on pictures I’ve seen. (Miller’s Twist is the exception, but they were hand-rolling, them, so…)
I don’t know if I believe in the PRETZEL FACTORY anymore, but apparently it exists. Apparently. (The closest thing I’ve seen to a pretzel factory is my family cooking them up, but that post will come later.)
In conclusion– If you want a warm pretzel in Philly and can’t find the FACTORY (smokestacks!), carry a little microwave or heating unit. (Or… go with the Amish.)
So I’m still on a trek for the best hot pretzels in Philly (apparently I have to wake up earlier in the morning, too– bakeries are overnight operations), but that’s fine. One of the many reasons to go back again. (It’s a cool place!)