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Best Soft Pretzels in Boston Area?

Where would you go to get the best hand crafted soft pretzel in the Boston area.

I'm not talking about the phony "pastry pretzels" at Aunt Annies, nor the frozen ones baked by hanging them on the pretzel tree with the sun lamp at the snack shop at Target or Walmart.

I'm looking for the old fashion hand twisted soft pretzels similar to the German Bretzen.Typically boiled in water with baking soda and then baked with coarse salt.

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  1. The bucket of pretzels at Jacob Wirth is one of the few really tasty things on their entire menu. I'll also give a plug to the soft pretzels and beer cheese at Deep Ellum. Actually, Allstonian and I went there on Friday, and I was surprised at how much better the food was than it had been for a while there.

    4 Replies
    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

      Deep Ellum changed their pretzel supplier this week. Crispier crust and not as moist inside. Not sure I approve of the change (regardless of the price increase).

      1. re: yarm

        Thanks, good info on the change in supplier at Deep Ellum. Any idea on why the new pretzel supplier there?

        1. re: postc

          The best answer I got was that they could get them in fresh daily. Then again, we had no problem with the old ones that were frozen for freshness.

          1. re: yarm

            Thanks, yarm. I'll have to give these new ones a try.

    2. After seeing reviews on this board, I just tried the soft pretzel at the Lower Depths in Kenmore for the first time. It was baked to order and very chewy with a nice spicy mustard accompaniment. The dough was a bit more buttery than I'm used to but still good. My gold standard for soft pretzels are the ones baked by the Amish in Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. Their dough isn't quite as buttery but they will brush fresh butter on top of them if you like.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Velda Mae

        Having grown up down there I'm a huge Reading terminal fan (especially DiNic'spark sandwich) and know the Amish style well. They're somewhere between Auntie Annies and the classic Federal Pretzel Company. I'm looking more toward the less buttery, more German style style from Federal or Philly Pretzel Company ....Sounds like Lower Depths and bamy's ,Deep Ellum might be more of a match. Jacob Wirth is a natural.

        I taste tested the Pretzel Rolls that deglazer mentions below and I was pleasantly surprised..Been trying to decide what best to stuff it with that goes well with german mustard...maybe a bratwurst...or some lebanon bologna.

        Oktoberfest is just 2 weeks away..so I see a "beer and soft pretzel craw" in my future.

        1. re: pondrat

          Lower Depths are definitely closer in shape to those of the Federal Pretzel Company. They're thick and the braid is tight as opposed to the Amish which are thinner and more open.

          I lived in Phila for 7 years and still pine for the Reading Terminal Market. Did you know that Tony Luke's is going into the old Rick's steaks space?

          1. re: Velda Mae

            Thanks Velda, this is EXACTLY the pretzel I'm looking for...I know there had been quite a legal battle about Ricks lease...to have Tony Lukes and DiNics in the same building is a dream..

        2. re: Velda Mae

          My gold standard is the Gettysburg Pretzel Factory. It's hard to find a good soft pretzel if you aren't at a hard pretzel factory (takes a real sweet oven).
          Of course, a real soft pretzel doesn't have butter in the dough...

        3. Have you tried Swiss Bakers http://www.swissbakers.com/ ? You can get them at farmers markets and some Whole Foods. I can't comment on the pretzels since I've only tried the pretzel rolls, but I like those a lot (different thing, I realize)

          4 Replies
          1. re: deglazer

            The Swiss Bakers pretzels look GREAT... I'm off to the Farmers Market next week...

            1. re: deglazer

              The Swiss Bakers pretzel is very good. A little denser than many and flavorful.

              1. re: deglazer

                If this is the pretzel they're selling at the pizza bar at WFM, it's quite good -- and less than $3 for a big pretzel. It gets a little overcrisp if they warm it in the oven, I find. In addition to the locations they list on the website, it has shown up at the new Somerville WFM.

                1. re: deglazer

                  I love the pretzel sticks from Swiss Bakers. One of the owners explained to me that you have to be certified to make authentic pretzels due to the use of lye (sp?)...and they are certified.

                2. Not in the Boston area, but via an excursion to Hillsborough NH, you can find Swabian-style, IIRC:

                  http://germanjohnsbakery.com/

                  1. I concur with Lower Depths' pretzel. Quite often, I get it as a pre-Fenway snack (the homemade mustard is chunky and spicy - I love it). Compared to Deep Ellum, I prefer LD's. The last time I had it at Lower Depths, though, it was a bit on the REALLY brown side, and even acknowledged by the server. I think the dough had too much butter and so they cooked/burned more quickly than usual.

                    Mariposa Bakery has offered a very tasty pretzel bread for their sandwiches. I have changed jobs - a bit further afield. Do they still have it?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: digga

                      Was there a preferred meat/cheese that you ordered on the pretzel bread ?? I wanted to try the Swiss pretzel bread they sell at Whole Foods but have been debating what would go best with it.

                      1. re: pondrat

                        I have had every veggie combination they had on pretzel roll - the avocado sandwich was particularly good to me.

                    2. Hi - this discussion is pretty ancient, but in the spirit of Oktoberfest I thought I'd add that there's a couple of semi-new places available in the Boston area with non-phony pretzels. Swissbakers on Western Ave, and Bronwyn in Somerville come to mind.

                      There's a listing of pretzel places at http://pretzels.spiderwebs-boston.com .

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: postc

                        Clear Flour Bread in Brookline is also making some excellent pretzels these days.

                        1. re: postc

                          The pretzels at Bronwyn make me swoon.

                          1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                            Whole foods in Lynnfield carry freshly made pretzels. Not bad

                          2. re: postc

                            Swissbakers is great - we enjoy their pretzel rolls with sausages. They also have a bread called Pajazzo which is kind of pretzel-bread like. Try the seeded one. http://store.swissbakers.com/ProductD...

                            I know the query was about soft pretzels but the sourdough hard pretzels from Snyder's http://www.snydersofhanover.com/sourd... of Hanover are really good and generally in most supermarkets.

                            Swissbakers
                            Allston, Reading, and at the Prudential plaza farmers' market on Wednesdays.
                            http://swissbakers.com/sb/?page_id=30

                            1. re: postc

                              I'm glad you resurrected this, postc, because I missed it the first time.

                              1. re: KWagle

                                Thanks. Yes me too. Glad to see all these comments on soft pretzels. Gives me ideas on places to try next :)

                            2. I have to say our go-to pretzel in the area is at Harpoon Brewery!! You don't have to go through the tour to get them -- just go in (get carded) and head upstairs to their amazing beer room. While there you can purchase any of a ton of great beer, cider, non-alcoholic options. Last time, I tried a pumpkin cider and a great root beer.

                              While we love the drinks, we literally go for the pretzels. We dream of these pretzels! Apparently, they use the spent grain from the brewery (?) to make them.

                              You can order the original buttery one or a sweeter version. There are about 10 different dipping sauces to choose from.

                              I'm telling you, these pretzels are amazing. I get so mad when I order a pretzel and it comes out tough or stale or cold. These are so fresh -- so yummy!! There isn't anything else on the menu - I don't think. It's totally worth the trip!!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: smatterchu

                                Unless they have changed the recipe, Harpoon's "pretzels" are just one step above the stuff they serve at the mall imo. Didn't taste like a pretzel to me, just a bready roll with a salty/crispy crust. It was good, but I wouldn't consider it a pretzel - especially in the vein that the OP is looking for.

                                1. re: smatterchu

                                  Hands down, the best pretzel I've every had! You are correct with all of your comments. A real sleeper. While traveling through Boston I stumbled upon upon these delicious treasures when visiting breweries only to put the tour on hold (because of my time frame) and find that the Harpoon Brewery beer room hospitality and technical proudness was overwhelming. They couldn't be happier to have you there. And the Pretzels, OMG A meal in themselves with a selection of the most amazing dips. Spending a day with my son who can't stop talking about the pretzels and atmosphere of this establishment confirms that his 1200 mile trip to Boston found the pretzels to be the icing on the cake.

                                   
                                  1. re: Howland_Dickens

                                    It's funny to suddenly see this thread again. I was just in Boston this weekend, and we stopped for our pretzel at Harpoon Brewery. I will never get tired of that place!

                                2. While not a traditional pretzel shape, I love the warm soft bar pretzels at The Hawthorne. They are small 2 inch round pretzels.They come with a ramekin of house made bourbon mustard. There is no extra charge for the mustard, and I usually save it, in case I end up with some other food that would benefit from it.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: kimfair1

                                    we order ours from lovely ladies in Newton who deliver in the Brookline/Newton area: Sweet Mandel. They make a number of German items, including a fine pretzel.

                                  2. I know this post is super old, but if anyone is interested, I have a recipe I can post if you wish, that is just as the OP described.....just ate one like 5 minutes ago! Sooooo good

                                     
                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: devilham

                                      Did you make this? It looks glorious!

                                      1. re: taterjane

                                        Yes! Super easy, recipe to follow

                                      2. re: devilham

                                        Oh, I would be sooooo grateful if you'd post the recipe. I actually have some food-grade lye in my pantry that I purchased recently, as well as some salt that looks pretty similar to yours.

                                        That is gorgeous!

                                        1. re: devilham

                                          Here you go guys!

                                          1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
                                          1 tablespoon sugar
                                          2 teaspoons kosher salt
                                          1 package active dry yeast
                                          22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
                                          2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
                                          Vegetable oil, for pan
                                          10 cups water
                                          2/3 cup baking soda
                                          1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
                                          Pretzel salt

                                          Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
                                          Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
                                          Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
                                          In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
                                          Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

                                          1. re: devilham

                                            That is very nice browning for a baking soda boil. Have you ever tried this recipe with lye?

                                            1. re: smtucker

                                              I have not, but the soda boil really works for me, so haven't felt the need to bring strong chemicals into the house, but I'm fairly certain it would work

                                              1. re: devilham

                                                I do the baking soda for bagels, and also haven't wanted to bring lye into the picture. They are just beautiful! Made bread this morning, so will have to wait to make pretzels. Thanks for the recipe.

                                        2. I just had one of the Pretzel Stix from Swissbakers, they were at the Boston Public Market today(Monday afternoon). They are $1.50, add mustard sauce for .50. A good little snack after a long hot walk, and right across from the Greenway.

                                          Swissbakers
                                          http://swissbakers.com/sb/?page_id=30

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: latertater

                                            I feel compelled to mention Karl's Sausage Kichen in Peabody. They are now making pretzels and sell them frozen to bake at home too.

                                            1. re: johncb

                                              And they are mighty good with a Weisswurst.

                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                Great pretzel and even better Weisswurst.

                                              2. re: johncb

                                                They even provide the rock salt is a separate little solo cup.