Gallery: 10 Pretzels We Love in Chicago

Pretzel with Welsh Rarebit at Longman & Eagle ($5)
Pretzel with Welsh Rarebit at Longman & Eagle ($5)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

From the moment I first dunked a hunk of Longman's crispy pretzel into the gooey side of spunky Welsh rarebit, I've been hooked. It's just one of those automatic orders, one I don't even think about too much. The crackly crust probably has something to do with it. Where some pretzels are soft and pliant, this one shatters before giving way to tender interior. Of course, one could argue that it's not a pretzel at all, but that wouldn't stop me from ordering it again.

Longman & Eagle, 2657 N Kedzie Avenue Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-276-7110; longmanandeagle.com

Weiswurst with Pretzel at The Publican ($13)
Weiswurst with Pretzel at The Publican ($13)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Considering The Publican specializes in expertly made sausages and craft beer, you better believe there is a pretzel on the menu. But to get it, you'll need to stop by for brunch, where you can either order it as an appetizer or with two enormous links of weiswurst (I went with the latter, and barely finished one of the sausages). Regardless of which route you'll take, the pretzel is the same—warm and soft, with a yeastier profile than most. Sure, it's not as transcendent as the pork rinds, but few things in life are.

The Publican, 837 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (map); 312-733-9555; thepublicanrestaurant.com

Soft Swabian Pretzel at Table, Donkey and Stick ($6)
Soft Swabian Pretzel at Table, Donkey and Stick ($6)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Like most of the dishes at Table, Donkey and Stick, the pretzel is based on one you'll find in the Alps. Specifically, it's like one you'll find in the Swabian Alps in Germany. If Wikipedia is to be believed, this style features thin and crispy arms and a larger, softer base section that is split open. That's definitely the case here, and it makes for a varied pretzel experience, one where each bite is unique. It's served with a cauliflower and gruyère fondue that's cheesy enough without being overwhelming.

Table, Donkey and Stick, 2728 West Armitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-486-8525; tabledonkeystick.com‎

Soft Pretzels at Allium ($5)
Soft Pretzels at Allium ($5)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

As is the case with most of the best dishes at Allium, you'll feel conflicted about eating the soft pretzel bites. Since you're in the Four Seasons, you'll initially try to eat one of those pillowy bite-sized nuggets by spearing it with a fork, only to knock it about without success. Eventually you'll give up and realize that chef Kevin Hickey meant for you to devour them with your hands. Fortunately, every other patron usually has the same dilemma, so no one will judge you.

Allium, 120 East Delaware Place, Chicago, IL 60611 (map); 312-799-4900; alliumchicago.com‎

Mustard Glazed Soft Pretzel with Welsh Rarebit at Owen & Engine ($6)
Mustard Glazed Soft Pretzel with Welsh Rarebit at Owen & Engine ($6)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Initially, Owen & Engine's pretzel looks like a clone of Longman & Eagle's; it's even served with Welsh rarebit. But instead of a crispy exterior, this one is soft and supple, making for a completely different experience. It's also glazed with mustard, making for a tarter bite. It's hard to imagine devouring this without one of the restaurant's excellent craft brews in hand.

Owen & Engine‎, 2700 North Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-235-2930; owenengine.com‎

Pretzel Twist at Dinkel's Bakery ($1.75)
Pretzel Twist at Dinkel's Bakery ($1.75)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

If you're looking to pick up a few soft pretzels for home consumption, it's hard to beat the offerings served up daily at Dinkel's. As is the case with the bakery's doughnuts, the pretzels are straightforward, but expertly done. Instead of cottony, the insides are soft and full flavored, making for an experience infinitely more satisfying than most cheffy versions ten times their price.

Dinkel's Bakery, 3329 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657 (map); 773-281-7300; dinkels.com‎

Pretzel at Floriole Cafe & Bakery
Pretzel at Floriole Cafe & Bakery

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Floriole goes a little crazy with its soft pretzel, sprinkling on poppy, sesame, and caraway seeds. The result is a very different kind of pretzel, one that requires you to contemplate the myriad of different flavors in each bite.

Floriole Cafe and Bakery, 1220 W Webster Avenue, Chicago, Illinois (map); 773-883-1313; floriole.com

House-Crafted Soft Pretzel at Hot Chocolate ($12)
House-Crafted Soft Pretzel at Hot Chocolate ($12)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Pretzels pop up twice on Hot Chocolate's menu, and since they are so different (and delicious), I couldn't help but include both. Start with the soft pretzel, which has a lightly crisp crust that gives way to a warm and pillowy inside. It's only lightly salted, so you won't feel too bad about dunking each bite in the Carr Valley pepper jack cheese sauce.

Hot Chocolate‎, 1747 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-489-1747; hotchocolatechicago.com‎

Chocolate
Chocolate "Souffled" Tart at Hot Chocolate ($12)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

All the desserts at Hot Chocolate are incredible, but my personal favorite is this one. It's all about the interplay of temperature and texture. The warm chocolate soufflé is soft and dark, while the salted caramel ice cream is creamy and cold. Set on top are two ribbons of pretzel, which add a satisfyingly salty crunch to each bite.

Hot Chocolate‎, 1747 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-489-1747; hotchocolatechicago.com‎

Obatzda Pretzel at Laschet's Inn
Obatzda Pretzel at Laschet's Inn

[Photograph: Josh Conley]

"Start with the Obatzda pretzel ($10.95), a soft, warm piece of love that spills over the edges of a large plate. The pretzel is well salted, deliciously buttery, everything a pretzel could possibly aspire to be." Read more here >>

Laschet's Inn, 2119 West Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60618 (map); 773-478-7915; Laschet's Inn