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Soft Pretzels

After living away for...too many years, I have just moved back to Philadelphia. As a hometown girl, I actually did grow up on soft pretzels, cheesesteaks, hoagies, scrapple, pepper pot soup and all the other things that make Philadelphia, well, Philly. My first question for the board is about soft pretzels. Philadelphia Soft Pretzel Factory pretzels are eh, alright...but a bit too soft, too light, to be really great...I grew up eating the pretzels sold by guys on the street, a dollar for a bag of four. I seem to remember them being a bit more flavorful and a bit coarser in texture than the Soft Pretzel Factory pretzels are. The greasy, soft, doughy Auntie Anne's-style pretzels are unacceptable!

So, is anyone willing to share your favorite places to get soft pretzels with me?

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  1. DiPalma's just off the Cottman Ave exit of 95 North has good ones.

    1. The favorite of most is Miller's Twist in RTM, however this is definitely not the style you're referring to. They are similar to Auntie Anne's, but much better IMO. I'm not all too familiar with getting Philly-Style soft pretzels other than the PSPF as you mentioned. My guess would be the street vendors are probably the best bet for what you're looking for.

      1. Center City Pretzel on Washington Ave. If you go there during baking hours (evening through morning) you can get them hot out of the oven. Many, maybe most, street vendors sell this brand and they are pretty good. Some of the carts have a sign up advertising Center City Pretzel but many do not.

        9 times out of 10 when you buy a pretzel from a street vendor in CC or West Philly it will be good. The earlier in the day, the better. I don't know of any storefronts to get anything better, the Factory is weak and Wawa and 711 are downright horrendous.

        6 Replies
        1. re: barryg

          I agree barryg (and OP). I grew up literally around the corner from Federal Street Pretzels, and remember buying them hot in the morning from The Pretzel Guy who sold them from a shopping cart. He'd walk around the streets yelling "Frr-esh, Prrr-et-zels!" at the top of his lungs and you'd run out of the house and buy 5 for $1 and eat 2 of them, crunchy and steamy, on the way back.

          I also remember getting decent pretzels at school for snacktime: a pretzel and chocolate milk or orange drink (never orange juice) :)

          What they pass off now for pretzels is pretty terrible. Even at a lot of street vendors.

          1. re: gwebber

            5 for a $1 !

            I remember 10 cents each or 3 for a quarter from the street carts in center city (early 70's). I'd buy 3 (in a small brown paper bag) and my jaw would be aching part way through the second pretzel.

            1. re: RitterSportRules

              Earliest/cheapest I remember was 15c/ or 2 for a quarter.
              it does seem to me that when i was growing up, there was less space in the pretzel - the same shape, but the braids woudl touch in teh middle more often. now, there's usually at least a half-inch of space there.

              1. re: Bob Loblaw

                Could that be because the ones from yesteryear were hand twisted versus machine made today Bob?

                1. re: cwdonald

                  In the late 50's a man with a cart came down 2000 block of N. Lawrence St. in North Philly daily (except Sunday) with 5 cent pretzels. 3 mini-pretzels for 5 cents also. Mustard was spread from a large jar with a stick. Jar was attached to the cart with a cut-out for the jar.

                2. re: Bob Loblaw

                  That's the price I remember pretzels at when I was about 7 and we had soft pretzels on Tuesdays and Thursdays at my elementary school.

          2. i will share my secret pretzel fix place --- halfway down umbria street in manayunk, across the street from the train station there is a large warehouse with a beer distributor in the front and the Furniture Workshop...there is a small sign to make a right for soft pretzels. make a right and go into the parking lot --the pretzel bakery (Twistys?) is the building on your right. park, go in the secret door and tell the grandmom at the counter what you want. she will go in the back and return minutes later with warm, soft pretzels.umbria street is on the way to anywhere and this is a 1/2 block detour.....mmmmm

            1. Italiano's Water Ice, 12th and Shunk in South Philadelphia bakes a great pretzel. They do a morning baking for when they open and a second baking in the mid afternoon.

              Alas they are seasonal, but should be opening sometime soon.

              3 Replies
                1. re: Holly Moore

                  Wow can't wait to check this out. Would love a heads up if anyone knows when they open!