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Center City Pretzel Co.

816-18 Washington Ave., Philadelphia, PA - (215) 463-5664
Posted By Michael Stern on August 6, 2002 9:35 AM
Bad-tasting water = good-tasting food.

That was the inevitable conclusion we reached during a recent cheese steak-eating expedition through Philadelphia orchestrated by Roadfood team member Marc Bruno. Between cheese steaks (about which reviews will soon be posted here) we cleansed our palates at Rita’s Water Ice stand with cups of finely shaved ice saturated with bright red cherry syrup that was dotted with little bits of fruit. It was especially delicious (was that because of the water from which it was made?), so good that we all ate fast enough to suffer serious brain-freeze.

The other break in our cheese steak hunt was at Center City Pretzel Company, where we picked up eight freshly-made soft pretzels. By this point in the day, we had all eaten enough cheese steaks that appetite was becoming only a distant memory. But the aroma, then the taste of these big soft pretzels proved irresistible. There is a certain brackish tang to the flavor of the pretzel, especially to its tan skin, that is like no other – a flavor that many experts attribute to the Philadelphia water in which they are boiled before being baked. Whatever the cause, these pretzels, hot from the factory, are superb. They are supplied to vendors throughout the city, but by the time they get to where they’re going, in most cases they have lost their freshness and their sparkle.

When you get a pretzel at Center City, it will likely be warm, especially if you arrive early in the day (doors open at 4am!). It is dense, chewy, and full flavored – a true bread-lover’s pretzel – and it, is of course, sprinkled with coarse salt. Some connoisseurs like to have a little mustard as a condiment. As far as we’re concerned, one (or a few) of these big softies need nothing to attain street-food perfection.
5 star rating
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pretzel

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Posted By Heidi Pohle on January 26, 2011 10:02 AM
We stopped in here early, before our visit to the Franklin Institute. It was a cold morning, but when we opened the door and stepped inside, it was toasty warm. It also smelled great. I love that yeasty smell.

I ordered a dozen pretzels (and actually received 14), and got them in a brown paper bag. While I didn't see any pretzels coming out of the oven, these were still warm to the touch. One hint: don't close the bag while they are still warm, or they'll get kind of mushy.

These pretzels are much better warm out of the oven. You'll never feel the same way about a stale pretzel that was baked hours and hours ago. But then, I'm a pretzel nut!
3 star rating
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