Whether you prefer them twisted, braided or bald (without salt), a bite of soft pretzel is an essential part of the Philadelphia experience (and we have the Pennsylvania Dutch to thank for that!).
Hallmarked by a soft and chewy texture, a golden-yellow crust and a sprinkling of salt, a true Philly soft pretzel can be purchased from countless food carts and "mom and pop" delis throughout the city. However, if you were to ask a Philadelphia native to point you in the direction of the city's very best soft pretzel, they'd most likely name one of the below bakeries, where pretzels can be enjoyed hot and fresh from the oven. Considered the best of the best as far as pretzels are concerned, these six pretzel bakeries are definitely worth their salt.
In business since 1981, this family-owned and -operated pretzel bakery on Washington Avenue relies on just three ingredients to make its pretzels: flour, yeast and water. In order to make dawn deliveries, the bakery fires up its ovens at midnight, a fact known and celebrated by hungry night owls all over the city.
True, this pretzel bakery is in New Jersey., but Mart Soft Pretzel Bakery has been pumping out pretzels for over four decades. The fact that the company was founded by a former Philadelphia firefighter gives the bakery that much more street cred. (Insider tip: Here, bigger appetites can order a sandwich made with soft pretzels in place of bread.)
An Amish pretzel stand within Philly's beloved Reading Terminal Market, Miller's Twist tempts taste buds with hand-rolled pretzels in flavors that include sour cream and onion, cinnamon and garlic. Visitors with more adventurous palates can opt for pretzel roll-ups stuffed with broccoli rabe, sausage, smoked cheddar—even chicken cheesesteak.
Established in 1968, Phila. Soft Pretzel Inc. has earned a cult following due to its hand-twisted pretzels and "mom and pop" appeal. The bakery, which does most of its business as a wholesaler, has only one location (in Philly's Juniata section), a fact that Phila. Soft Pretzel Inc. believes adds to its pretzels' authenticity.
Founded by a Philly native in 1998, this franchise has grown from one single bakery in Philadelphia's Mayfair section into more than 100 store locations throughout the country. Still, pretzels are made on-site daily at each franchise. (Savvy customers know the pretzels here are best enjoyed in conjoined pretzel "slabs" with a hearty application of yellow mustard.)
This hidden gem in Philly's Roxborough neighborhood doles outs piping hot pretzels with an old-school charm. Most people stop in for a bag of 10 plain pretzels for $4, but regulars note that the cinnamon pretzels are the perfect accompaniment to a morning cup of coffee.