8 Must-Try Gourmet Pretzels With Delectable Dips

By Danya Henninger  |  October 8, 2013
Credit: Danya Henninger

The soft pretzel is a Philly classic, and you can get it all over the city, whether from street carts, Wawas or stands in Reading Terminal Market. Spread with thick lines of yellow mustard, it makes a totally decent snack, but pretzels can be more - much more. Check out these eight establishments where both the pretzels and accompanying dips are reason enough to get excited.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger


    The winzig (tiny) pretzels at Mike Naessens’ Old City beer hall are sautéed to order in plenty of butter and served in a huge bowl with sharp and mild mustard on the side. Definitely opt for the cup of beer mustard cheese sauce for an extra buck ($6; 215-922-2958).

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    The outstanding beer and cheddar fondue is reason enough to make a trip down East Girard to this Fishtown brew mecca, and the puffs of pretzel are pretty fine too. Crispy on the outside and steaming hot when you bite in, these might be what craft beer was made to drink with ($7; 215-739-1700).

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    10 Arts

    When Eric Ripert was first setting up this Ritz-Carlton lounge, he stepped into Reading Terminal Market, fell in love with the Amish pretzel he picked up there and decided on the spot to reverse engineer them for his own menu. Current chef Nathan Volz kept the ultrafluffy nuggets on his menu, and he serves them with a trio of cheddar sauce, dijon mustard and truly standout jalapeño jam ($8; 215-523-8273).

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    Alla Spina

    Soft pretzels aren’t Italian (in Italy you’ll usually find the hard and crunchy kind), but this North Broad stop is a beerhouse and it’s in Philly, so why not? Chef Pat Szoke’s housemade nuggets are brushed with lye, salted and baked before they're served with spicy beer cheese that you will want to drink on its own ($6; 215-600-0017).

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    Lemon Hill

    Thick rounded rods of rye-seeded dough are baked golden brown and rolled lightly through large flakes of sea salt before landing warm in front of you at this Fairmount tavern. Chef Adam Zensinger’s house mustard is a thick, grainy affair, with nearly as much sweetness as welcome tang ($6; 215-232-2299).

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    Triumph Brewing Company

    Do not miss the quad of thick, soft pretzel fingers at this Old City brewhouse - they are serious contenders for best in the city. Pair one of the house beers with the salted puffs, which are best when dipped in the thick, cheddar-ale fondue. You may want to get a double-order just to be safe ($6; 215-625-0855).

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    Three kinds of mustard accompany the pretzel bites at this Wash West tavern from the Local 44 crew, but the piping hot nuggets are nearly flavorful enough on their own, thanks to a coating of fennel pollen and caraway seeds, their intensity underlined by flakes of smoked salt ($5; 215-873-0404).

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    Bru Craft & Wurst

    Midtown Village’s German cred grew with this Chestnut Street indoor-outdoor beer garden, but we’re not sure even the homeland has a dip as good as the smoked Gouda fondue, which clings to the baked dough with unusual gusto ($6; 215-800-1079).