Today, April 26, is National Pretzel Day.
According to the U.S. Pretzel Museum, the average Philadelphian consumes about twelve times as many pretzels as the national average. That’s a statistic we’re proud of.
And seeing as Philadelphia is home to the original soft pretzel thanks to the Pennsylvania Dutch, there is an abundance of ways to celebrate today.
For starters, head to any Philly Pretzel Factory location for a FREE soft pretzel, available all day. Plus, the veritable Miller’s Twist at Reading Terminal serves up hand-rolled soft pretzels baked fresh all day, from buttery plain to crunchy cinnamon sugar.
But as gratifying as those traditional pretzels — soft, chewy dough hand-twisted and baked to a golden honey brown, sprinkled with coarse salt — are, whether peddled from food carts, hawked by roadside hucksters, or picked up at a brick-and-mortar shop, Philadelphia’s gourmet dining scene offers pretzels in many deliciously inventive versions that are impossible to pass up.
Our picks, below, for some of the best gourmet twists (so to speak) on soft pretzels:
• 10 Arts at the Ritz-Carlton: Snack on warm soft pretzel nibs with creamy cheddar sauce, jalapeño jam and dijon mustard as part of the restaurant’s $22 Five Bite Lunch special.
• Continental Midtown: Turn your attention to the dessert menu for Pretzels & Beer, house-made salted pretzel bites served with caramel sauce and milk chocolate Guinness ice cream.
• The Farmers Cabinet: The in-house baker makes the dough on site for the Bavarian Pretzel, served alongside lignon berry mustard (the sweet-tart berries are also German) and a Rauchebier (literally, roasted beer) mustard.
• MidAtlantic Restaurant & Taproom: Chef Daniel Stern bakes up warm soft pretzels with Welsh Rarebit Fondue and a grainy housemade mustard, available for lunch, dinner and happy hour (lunch and happy hour, the plate is sans fondue).
• Mill Creek Tavern: It’s an appetizer but it’ll fill you up: hot soft cheddar pretzels filled with cheddar cheese and served with dijon.
• PYT: It’s worth the $12 for the Cheese Steak Pretzel Roll Burger, a beef patty topped with cheddar and stacked with a Philly style cheesesteak (“wit wiz”, of course). It’s served on a fresh-baked Philadelphia Pretzel Factory roll.
• Perch Pub: Order the Philly Soft Pretzels (you’ll get two) with ale fondue and chocolate stout mustard. Insider tip: Perch Pub is offering two tickets to selected Phillies games throughout the season. Visit the pub to submit your official entry; the drawing is done during a Phillies broadcast at least two days prior to each scheduled game date.
• Sidecar Bar & Grille: The not-so-traditional pretzel-crusted chicken fingers come with a traditional honey mustard dipping sauce.
• Smith’s: Perfect game-watching food: the hand-carved turkey sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, aged provolone, red pepper aioli all on a deliciously chewy Philadelphia pretzel roll.
• Supper: To complement his homemade soft pretzels, Chef Mitch Prensky whips up a beer mustard using local Dock Street brewery porter, which is delivered directly to the restaurant for use.
• Kildare’s Pub: Head to Manayunk for the “Tower Of Pretzels” (exactly how it sounds) with pub mustard, cheese dip and whiskey honey mustard.
• Mad River: The deep fried pretzel bites (yes, you read that right) are served with an American cheese sauce and spicy mustard. Alert: highly addictive.
• Brauhaus Schmitz: The Laugenbrezel is Brauhaus’s homemade version of a Bavarian pretzel. It’s served warm with curled white radishes. Just trust them.