Soft and warm bread shaped into chewy, salt-sprinkled twists and baked to a crusty brown sheen — there’s no snack more satisfying than your classic soft pretzel. From street food to bakery and brewery staple, pretzels are commonplace in Europe and America but haven’t been all that easy to find in Calgary (beyond the mall food court) until recently. Times are changing though and as pretzels become more than a passing trend, there are handful of local spots to indulge in this taste of Bavaria all-year long.
If a casual, pretzel-centric restaurant sounds like your idea of heaven on earth, make the trip to Calgary’s deep south for Cordon Bleu-trained chef Rob Low’s pretzels. Sweet, savoury, pretzel bites, sandwiches on pretzel buns — you name it, he does it. Low bakes his pretzels fresh daily and they all come with your choice of dipping sauces and mustards, which he also makes in-house and from scratch. Pretzel purists can opt for the plain with your classic dijon mustard dip while the rest of us have flavours like three cheese or onion and cinnamon, maple or lemon for sweet options.
#3, 1221 Canyon Meadows Dr. S.E., (403) 523-0989, justaroundthebend.ca
While there has been a boom of pretzel joints opening in Calgary malls recently, this American chain is worth noting simply because their flaky, buttery pretzels are so addictively good. There’s pretty much always a line of shoppers waiting to get their hands on one at CrossIron Mills. Auntie Anne’s offers an original plain pretzel but other flavours include cinnamon sugar, sweet almond, sour cream and onion, roasted garlic and parmesan, pepperoni, jalepeno and raisin.
CrossIron Mills, 261055 CrossIron Blvd, Rocky View, Alberta (825) 222-9228, auntieannes.com
Thomas Schweizer is a man with a passion for pretzels. IT expert by day and baker by night, he created his small pretzel business in 2017 because he missed the taste of home. Originally from a small town outside of Zurich, he now makes his artisan pretzels in small batches for establishments outside of the city including Chestermere’s Township 24 Brewery, Black Diamond’s Hard Knox Brewery, Piston Broke Brewing in Brooks and the new Fahr Brewery in Turner Valley. Schweizer’s pretzels are dense, chewy and salted just right. During the summer, you can find Schweizer and his wife Jennifer at the Millarville Farmers Market every Saturday. Special orders can also be made on request.
(403) 869-3270, bretzelking.ca
Tucked in the base of a nondescript condo tower just off 17 Ave. S.W., this family-run bakery is where husband and wife Shaqir and Luma Duraj have been baking some of the freshest breads you’ll find in the city for the last 13 years. Their specialty is burek, a Baltic savoury pie of sorts made with thin, phyllo-like flaky dough and fillings like meat, cheese, spinach and potato. As for soft pretzels, they only bake a dozen daily. Simply sprinkled with sea salt, their twists are extra soft and light — perfect for snacking. And at less than a dollar apiece, these are the best priced fresh pretzels you’ll find in Calgary.
#160, 515 17 Ave. S.W., 403-806-3768, eurobakerydeli.com
Expanding from its original Crossroads Market location, this doughnut and pretzel stall opened its second location in the new Avenida Food Hall & Fresh Market in December. Fantasy’s many pretzel flavours go way beyond the classic original salted — choose from spinach asiago, jalapeno, parmesan and thyme, cinnamon sugar, vanilla bean and even Oreo-coated ones. Fancy a pint with your pretzel? You can also get Fantasy’s truffle cheese with marinara sauce pretzel at Cabin Brewing Company in the Manchester area.
Avenida Food Hall & Fresh Market, 12445 Lake Fraser Dr. S.E.; Crossroads Market, 1235 26 Ave. S.E.; facebook.com
This East Village bakery only features its traditional German-style ‘Laugen bretzel’ sporadically, but if you happen to drop in when they’re available, you’re in for a treat. The hand-thrown and knotted pretzels are shaped, scored and then dipped into a food-grade lye (laugen) solution, which gives it a distinct flavour and beautiful rich brown finish. Flavours can range from plain to ones topped with sesame, poppy seeds or cheese. Around the holidays, keep an eye out for their whimsical seasonal designs, including heart-shaped ones for Valentines Day, bretzel trees for Christmas and pumpkins for Thanksgiving. Here’s hoping their classic pretzels become a regular fixture on the menu.
529 Riverfront Ave. S.E., 587-356-4461, maribakeshop.ca
Turn your pretzel fix into a meal at National by ordering the Grilled Kielbasa Sausage Board ($17), which comes with the sausage, two warm pretzels, ale mustard, pickles and a beer cheese spread. Their chewy pretzels are a classic mahogany colour with coarse salt on top. If you don’t want this entire spread, you can ask to order the pretzels on their own for $2 each.
Four Calgary locations, ntnl.ca
Pretzels only recently started to make an appearance at this Sunnyside hotspot in the fall. Time your visit for after 10 a.m. — not too early, not too late — and you may just get chef Brian McVicar’s pretzels just as they’re coming out of the oven, which is the ideal time to enjoy a fresh pretzel. He only bakes around six to eight every day so you can’t any fresher than that. The plump golden twists are lightly salted and $5 apiece.
940 2 Ave. N.W., (403) 453-1140, vendomecafe.com
Beer and pretzels are a natural pairing, and you can get both at this German beer hall in Mission. Wurst’s Big Pretzel ($10) is a fair size but it’s equally chewy and crunchy and, get this, brushed with pork fat. It comes with sweet, hot and grainy mustards but you can also choose to add bier cheese sauce on the side. You’ll find it on the menu under share plates but who are we kidding — you won’t want to share this.
2437 4th St. S.W., (403) 245-2345, wurst.ca
At this Parisian-inspired boulangerie at the Calgary Farmers Market, you can get decadent desserts like tarts, cakes and homemade bread. But it’s also worth lining up to score one of the two flavours of pretzels served on weekends. Yum’s classic pretzel is buttery and salty with a double-knot design, while its sesame pretzel is the same but with a sesame seed topping. Whichever you choose, this carb-loaded snack is super filling on its own.
Calgary Farmers Market, 510 77 Ave. S.E., (403) 668-6164, yum-bakery.com