My first bites of a baked good from The Pretzel Bakery proved quite elusive. Opening weekend they ran out of pretzels. Three times. Perhaps that’s a testament both to the spirit of the neighborhood in welcoming a new business and the simple goodness of a well-baked pretzel.
I was able to score a three-pack on the second day of business for the Bakery, located just across 15th Street SE from Payne Elementary School between C and D Streets. The walk-up cafe has a very limited menu, but the focus is on fresh, quality “Philadelphia style” hot pretzels which sell for $2 each or three for $5. They are definitely smaller than the New York City street vendor pretzels I grew up with, but the results from the oven at The Pretzel Bakery were tasty and satisfying. The pretzels I enjoyed had a slight crust and a soft, chewy inside, with a fair dusting of salt that managed to stay attached to its vehicle. Still warm and not at all greasy, you can watch the pretzels being rolled, twisted, and baked from the Dutch door where you purchase them.
Several dipping sauces are offered to accompany your baked goods, though most of the list can be found in an average home’s refrigerator. If you’re eating on the spot you might want a side of yellow mustard or even Nutella (yes please), but if you’re bringing pretzels home you can save yourself the extra bucks and raid your own condiment section. I did try the caramel mustard though – since that isn’t something we stock at home – and it was deliciously creamy and tangy. The pretzels are substantial enough to take on most any dip or spread, and I did have the thought of slicing one lengthwise to use for a sandwich. Maybe more creative dips and pretzel panini are in the Bakery’s future?
A variety of cold beverages are available to wash down your doughy delight, including Boylan’s sodas, Philly favorite Frank’s Black Cherry Wishniak, birch beer, and bottled water.
While The Pretzel Bakery is quite a specific niche establishment, it’s also a welcome addition to the small number of food and beverage purveyors that call Hill East home. The location across from Payne is ideal for after-school snacks, little league game vending, and a stop while walking the dog. No seating is available on the patio (yet?) but in nice weather there are places close-by to rest. They also offer pretzel platters, which would be a fun addition to a birthday or Superbowl party.
The Pretzel Bakery is open Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Their website isn’t up and running yet, but they do have a Facebook page with all the important information.