Peanut Butter and Philly

Last week I was in Philadelphia for my 9-5. But what’s funny about Philly is, even though it’s my hometown city, I barely know about it. I lived on the other side of the *bridge* and crossing that bridge was portrayed as such a big deal, such a hardship, such a production that it almost never occurred. And what my mom said goes, if she didn’t do Philly, we didn’t do Philly.

Of course, I still knew, and benefited from, many of Philly’s culinary offerings.


The soft pretzel. I never knew the soft pretzel was special to Philly. When I was little I thought all cities were filled with pretzel street vendors.

After a very brief google search, and a hunch of my own, it looks like Philly owes its signature snack to the Pennsylvania Dutch. The pretzels here are not dipped in butter and shaped like shoelaces, but have a crust, yet are soft and chewy inside. They do not need mustard. The office where I was working receives a weekly present of pretzels from a previously satisfied client. Pretzels are not just a snack, but a gesture of thanks, good taste and local flare.


I usually don’t take photos of my food at restaurants, but when melted peanut butter shows up at breakfast, my iPhone takes notice.

Friday night I drank around town with two of my old coworkers (and ES contributors broadandpattison and jakesg). Jakesg now lives in Portland and was jonesing for an East Coast bagel to heal his headache the next morning. We headed to Mugshots but the 30 minute line wasn’t going to cut it.  We walked to the next closest place and at 10:15 we weren’t going to wait outside for their 11am opening.


So we went to the next place, the next place and about 4 more places after that. Even getting stopped by a Starbucks employee to take the instant vs. freshly brewed coffee challenge. Broad guessed wrong, but of course, we concluded he was tricked.

After Starbucks, we tried a few more places and all were either crowded, not open, or only served brunch on Sunday. We circled back to Mugshots. There was still a long, long line. We ended up at Urban Saloon, the place that didn’t open until 11. It was now 11.

But all is well. They served perfect french toast with bananas and melted peanut butter. I have no idea why melted peanut butter is not poured over many more items. Watch this space for future peanut butter take overs.


Although it took freaking forever to get our order, I was entertained by their magically colorful array of straws. God I love straws.

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  • dad gansie April 12, 2010  

    yea philly soft preztel are and were great…i like spicy mustard on a warmed up one

    gansie..holding out on me….where’d you get the pb french toast???

  • Ashley April 26, 2010  

    We had pretzel carts on the street in Boston growing up. But I think you’re right, they’re definitely a Pennsylvania thing.
    “Productivity is important, but how can I be productive if i have this one little thing in my brain that I cannot get out… and that one little thing is a soft pretzel.”

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