The Endless Road Trip: Philadelphia’s Top 10 Eats 5. Pretzels, Pretzels Everywhere

New York can have its bagels, Chicago its hot dogs, LA its churros and  I will even spot NOLA its delectable beignets. For me, Philly’s signature on-the-go edible blows them all out of the water. I’m not talking about cheesesteaks or even wudder ice, but pretzels.  You can find Philly soft pretzels on just about every corner in the city and everyone has their favorite place to pick them up. The city even has a park named after the doughy treats!

Like any signature city snack, there’s significant debate about which variety is the very best. There are a few different styles you can find, so here’s a crash course for next time you’re in town.

1. Philly Soft Pretzel

This is the traditional version. A slab of pretzels shaped in figure 8s, baked and sold in multiples of twos. Fresh, soft and chewy, there is just the right amount of coarse salt. Walk on by the ones that look moist, as they have been sitting around too long, but just try to resist a batch of these fresh out of the oven. All these beauties need is a squirt of yellow mustard (forget about Grey Poupon). To this day, I am convinced these pretzels actually taste better when they are bought and then wrapped in a brown paper bag, which many mom-and-pop shops provide.

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Gridiron Grub: Polenta Crab Fries

Starting Monday, you’ll hear all about the dining/debauchery that went on when the entire ES crew descended upon Philly for a weekend. To ease us into that, here’s a Gridiron Grub dish inspired by my favorite football-related Philly food stop: Chickie and Pete’s Crab Fries.

Chickie and Pete’s is a local restaurant that started in the late 70’s and has grown to include locations in all the city’s stadiums, Philadelphia International Airport, southern New Jersey and more. It sounds like a chain and out-of-towners grow even more perplexed by the fact that these “crab” fries don’t even contain crab. Despite this obvious omission, for locals they are synonymous with hot summer nights watching the Phils and cool fall afternoons with the Eagles. That being said, if you are not from Philly and you saw ES  put up a recipe about sprinkling some Old Bay on french fries, I know we would get even more complaints than we do about our potty mouths. So, here’s my updated take, with some much needed crustacean added in.

Polenta Crab Fries w/Horseradish Cream Sauce

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