Food & Drink, Travel

The Pretzel Tour of Munich

April 6, 2019

 

Or should I say Bretzel.

More than just bread, these giant, salty bretzls, are things of beauty. You’ll find them everywhere in Munich: bakeries, beer halls, restaurants, parks, at any given point in the city, it’s almost certain you’ll be in walking distance from one of these chewy, salty snacks.

But with some many options, which do you choose?

I took one for the team. Being a vegan in Munich wasn’t ideal, and especially one who doesn’t like beer. So I decided to swap the sausages and cheese for Bretzels. A lot of them.

Over our 4 day trip, I sourced, tried and rated the best Bretzels that Munich has to offer. With many competitive contenders for the top spot, it was a tight competition, but I finally came to a verdict.

In reverse order:

 

  • Chinesischer Turm in the Englischer Garten: 6 /10

On our first day, we went to probably my favourite Beer Garden in the English Garden , but sadly not the best bretzel we had. The dough was a bit dry and far too much salt, especially on such a hot day. Don’t let a very average bretzel put you off visiting the Chinesischer Turm; the second large beer garden in Munich dates back to 1790 and attracts a young crowd due to its closeness to the university. Boasting a great atmosphere and offering a large variety of Bavarian food in a self service style it has unsurprisingly become a favourite meeting or lunch spot of locals. On the weekends it is packed and has the added bonus of brass-bands performing live on the first floor of the tower.

The English Garden is Munich’s largest park area; over 417 hectares, it is bigger than Hyde Park in London or Central Park in New York. At the southern edge of the park, a man made river called The Eisbach flows at around 5m per second. Around fifteen years ago, a few of the locals noticed that a wave about 4ft high would appear with high rainfall, they have since been able  to stabilise the river’s flow and make the wave a permeant feature. This wave in The Eisbach has now turned into a bonafide surfing destination. A great spectacle, and a lot of surfing skill required!

 

  • Karnoll’s Stall in the Viktualienmarkt: 7/10

I ventured to the grandfather of all Munich food markets, Viktualienmarkt, to try out the self-proclaimed best pretzel in Munich.

The Viktualienmarkt was originally a farmers’ market, but now a popular market for gourmet goods, it is located in historic centre of Munich. Karnoll’s is a small family run coffee and bakery stand that’s been a staple of the market since 1974, specialising in fresh-from-the-oven bretzels baked in the traditional Bavarian style. You can grab a large fresh bretzel and coffee for just €2.25. Yes, this was a must on my breztel tour.

As keen as I was to try this bretzel and coffee delight, I arrived too late. They had already sold out of all the big ones. Due to popular demand and baking them fresh each morning, I should have heeded the advice and got there early to avoid disappointment.

I settled for the small breztel (only 55 cents), which is dwarfed by its huge cousin. The little dough that was there, was light and yummy but its size meant it was crunchier than I would have liked, the saltiness was good and it still tasted fresh despite being in the early afternoon. With this all considered, I awarded a 6/10. Not ideal, but a fighting effort from a small, afternoon bretzel.

This market is a must visit; always bustling and busy, and offers a great selection of Bavarian food to buy and enjoy in the picturesque square.

 

  • Backwerk: 7 /10

I entered this Munich-based bakery franchise, often looked down upon as the McDonalds of the Munich bakery world, with low expectations for their bretzel. Wow I was wrong. Don’t let bretzel snobbery put you off! With branches all over the city and still in the same family after three generations, this bakery chain makes incredible large fluffy bretzels that are great value – starting from just 59 cents!

Just missing out on the top spot as was a bit hard in the centre of the knot.

 

  • Schanke in the Viktualienmarkt: 9/10

A clear winner!

This was a surprising victor. Originally we went to Viktualienmarkt in the hope of trying a Karnoll’s bretzel, only to discover that they were closed on Sundays (we learnt the hard way that this is common for the majority of shops/ cafes / stalls in Munich). Somewhat disappointed and determined for my bretzel tour not to fall flat on the second day, I sourced a huge stack of still warm bretzels in the window of Schanke, located in the centre of the square. Eagerly parting with my €3.50 (a standard price for a large bretzel in busy or more touristy areas) any remaining disappointment quickly dissolved.  Fluffy and light – almost like a baguette – this breztel was the perfect ratio of crispy on the outside but soft, chewy and doughy in the centre. The salt was just right (didn’t have me immediately running for a drink) and it was enormous! I think my face says it all – breztel perfection!

 

  • An extra bite: EDEKA bretzel stick: 8/10

A bretzel stick (just the doughier part of the bretzel) from the local supermarket EDEKA didn’t make the contest- as technically not a true breztel –  definitely deserves a mention: soft, light and a lovely doughy texture, good salt ratio if not slightly chewy on the outside.

I have to say, all the baked goods in Munich were really fresh and high quality, even those from supermarkets and ‘cheaper’ chains. The cafe culture and bakery galore is something which England just sadly hasn’t grasped.

 

A couple of shots of the central Marienplatz square: Munich’s main square since 1158.

 

I think I have eaten enough bretzel for the foreseeable future… or at least until my next visit to Germany. Munich a gorgeous city, with lots to offer, not just their famous bretzels.

A great city break which isn’t overly touristy.

 

Disclaimer: this city takes baking extremely seriously. A bretzel tour is not for the faint hearted!

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